We’ll Be Hanged Hangman

DATELINE:  Pacino & Shahi

 Hangman stars

Al Pacino is at an age when Robert DeNiro plays comedy roles, but Pacino is still looking at detective action thrillers.

He is a bit long in the tooth, and we worry when he falls down that he may break a hip. He looks great actually.

In Hangman, he has chosen the role of a detective who retired a year ago (at 77) and is back on special assignment with his young partner (Karl Urban) when a serial killer calls out their badge numbers.

There is some initial interest in seeing this movie because of the cast, and Sarah Shahi (Person of Interest) as the young, tough woman captain of the force in some small city.

For some reason inexplicable to anyone, Pacino plays his detective with an Andy Griffith, aw shucks, Mayberry accent. He’s the only one with such a speech impediment among the New York actors.

If that were not weird enough, the serial killer wants to play Hangman, literally, hanging his victims with a letter carved into their bodies.

Well, if koo-koo descends into ridiculous, we do not find it sublime. We’ve had our fill of brilliantly smart serial killers. We are challenged to stay with this film, mainly because of the actors.

The plot does not thicken: it curdles. We discover both detectives have a personal connection to victims, but this does not disqualify them from the case.

And, to make matters worse, there is a Lois Lane type tagging along to all the crime scenes. When told not to obstruct justice, she enters the case and compounds trouble. Call her the plot hole.

It’s enough to throw in the noose and call it a hang dog day afternoon. Just terrible, and what a waste of talented actors.


Two Godfathers in Righteous Kill

DATELINE:  Pacino & De Niro as Cop Team

two godfathers

Al Pacino and Robert De Niro have made several movies together. We were surprised by the 2008 entry called Righteous Kill from 2008. When this is all we will ever receive from the two legends in tandem, we take it gladly ten years later.

You have a special treat with this movie. The two legendary actors play New York detective partners. They must’ve flipped a coin to see who got which role. We suspect they have equal numbers of scenes, but play off each other quite well. Nothing less could be expected.

Their Lieutenant played by Brian Dennehy, notes that they must have about 120 years experience between them. Yes, they seem a little long in the tooth and beyond retirement age. This is especially noticeable in De Niro’s love scenes to a girl more than half his age.

Their foil cop detectives are played by John Leguizamo and Donnie Wahlberg, more age-appropriate detectives. They play mincemeat for laughs to the stars. Pacino calls them gay Starsky and Hutch.

There are many 60s and 70s references in this movie, like it should’ve been made 25 years earlier.

However, the stars will not disappoint their fans. Short of them playing mobsters, these roles are the best they probably could find in a script together.

The mystery about the serial killer may easily be figured out,  But the fun is watching Pacino and De Niro act up a storm.

Righteous kill pushes all the right buttons. It is formulaic, yes, but De Niro and Pacino transcend.

To prove we watched every minute including the credits, we can tell you that Pacino and De Niro each has a hairdresser; each has his own make up artist; each needs a personal Stand-in, and each has a personal driver, But Pacino has two personal assistants to De Niro’s one.

The movie is a game of one upsmanship.





Cruising 35 Years Later (Without Al Pacino)

Leather Bar.


James Franco is everywhere lately—from authoring books, directing movies, appearing on Broadway, and tweeting underage girls.

So, we have come upon his latest film fantasy: Interior. Leather Bar. Franco is giving the gay gossipers more fodder as he tries to re-enact the lost 40 minutes from 40-year-old Al Pacino’s shocking gay movie Cruising, directed by William Friedkin, to the tune of an X rating.

That controversial film depicted the underground world of gay S&M in pre-AIDS New York City. Al Pacino played an undercover cop looking for a serial killer among the bar scene denizens.

Film studios demanded forty provocative minutes within the S&M bars be cut from the finished movie. Whether this is true or not, or what was in the never-released takes, Franco has decided to re-imagine.

We recall being surprised by the film that showed us S&M drag queens in leather and stiletto heels. It remains our lasting memory of a so-so detective film. Yet, James Franco’s attempt to show the lost footage suggests there was either something sinister or politically repressive about the film’s lost moments.

Cruising was filmed in New York—mostly in gay cruising spots in Greenwich Village, Christopher Street, and Central Park. It was highly atmospheric, if nothing else.

Director Franco’s attempt at recreation uses California actors who were not born when the original film was made. They are not New Yorkers, and many are not even “gay” in the public sense. So, the concept starts from a metaphoric disadvantage.

When casting is done and California actors discuss the politics of 1980 out of sheer ignorance, the bar scenes have a timeless look. Perhaps cruising does not change, whether you are gay or straight, into leather or into dresses.

The great titillation is the notion that Franco may suddenly come out, come out, from wherever he hides in a brazen gay turn. But, like an old stripper, James Franco never takes off his pasties. The show is a striptease with the emphasis on tease.




You Don’t Know Al Pacino

DATELINE: Movie Mashup!



Always popular Brenda Vaccaro as Dr. Death’s assistant in YOU DON’T KNOW JACK!

Over the past few years the man who succeeded Marlon Brando as the Godfather in a bunch of movies has become an old character actor.

And, he has found his characters dominating headlines and history. Al Pacino seems now to be a cottage industry of biographical pictures about the weirdest men of recent years.

Pacino delights viewers at every turn. It’s like watching Bette Davis in her prime. She played “Miss Davis” to the hilt, and now Al Pacino plays Pacino with all stoppers yanked from their holes.

In Angels in America he played the controversial Roy Cohn, a closet case gay man who was Senator Joe McCarthy’s right-hand man wrangling with the ghost of Mrs. Ethel Rosenberg (Meryl Streep), the woman whose gas chamber traitorous fate was mostly his doing.

We thoroughly enjoyed him recently as Phil Spector, music producer turned oddball killer, and now we dug up his performance as Dr. Death in 2009 as the notorious Jack Kevorkian, who assisted many a man and woman into the grave.

You Don’t Know Jack is another of those brilliantly conceived HBO movies. If not for the cable productions that are events on TV, where would we go for our instant classic movies?

Pacino does not play these characters for sympathy, but he digs under their skin to make them flesh and blood figures of derision and tragedy. It’s a rare talent to hypnotize audiences with his train-wreck performances about wrecked lives that have run off track.

Like Bette Davis, Al Pacino has become stylized with his weather-beaten face. He’s earned every wrinkle and bag, and he spends them on great performances.

This Barry Levinson film featured unrecognizable Brenda Vaccaro at age 70 and standby Susan Sarandon.

We don’t know Jack, nor care to know him, but we were fascinated with his tale, thanks to Al.

Like short and incisive movie reviews? Try MOVIES TO SEE OR NOT TO SEE or its sequel MOVIE MASHUP, which feature dozens of movie critiques. Available on Amazon.com.

Pacino Picks Up the Pace


Al Pacino is on board to play Joe Paterno, the man who never met a pedophile even if the criminal was his best friend for thirty years.


The bigger question about the ridiculous homage movie to Joe Paterno will be the identity of the actor who will steal the movie as Jerry Sandusky.


Pacino should also be aware that his thunder may be overtaken by any actress who accepts the role as Paterno’s long-suffering and dim-witted wife. She never sees anything but good.


Joe Paterno was a lucky man to find a woman who was deaf, dumb, blind, and in love with him. As if the give us a sense of the comedy, the film is tentatively called Happy Valley.


Pacino, it should be noted, is planning on playing several notable people in movies over the next year or so. Another of his less controversial roles shall be Henri Matisse, the extraordinary French artiste. Called Masterpiece, it will detail the old man’s inspiration with a young beautiful nurse.


Al will also play Marco Polo’s father, and one of gangster John Gotti’s aides, reverting to an earlier successful typecasting.


Not to be outdone by modern shenanigans, Pacino will tackled King Lear. If there is a common thread to all the roles the former Godfather is accepting nowadays, it must be that they are all old fools.