Brian, I look forward to thoroughly taking apart your specious arguments and wrong impressions about this year’s Oscar contenders. Unfortunately, that won’t be the case here. I find it interesting that you reference so many movies in your post. You probably take more time discussing other movies than American Gangster. By the way, just because a movie is under two hours, that doesn’t make it “taut.” French Connection may be a classic, but that doesn’t mean it is a good movie.

To me, I think you are referencing other movies in an attempt to underscore American Gangster‘s plainness.

It is a decent enough movie, but falls short of being great, let alone spectacular or even memorable. A year from now, can you see anyone referencing anything about this movie in a debate? I mean, yes, that Crowe and Washington are only in two scenes together is kind of cool, and maybe even bold for a movie of this type. But heck, that was done much more effectively in Sleepless in Seattle. What, you though I couldn’t reference a romcom in a discussion of a gangster movie? Still, the point holds true, I think.

You talk about American Gangster falling into two genres, mob drama and cat/mouse chase. To me, part of American Gangster’s problem was that it wasn’t a genre movie. Well, I put that poorly. I don’t think the movie was really a mob drama and it certainly wasn’t a cat/mouse chase movie. Yeah, OK, it was about organized crime and was a drama, but I never really got the feel of a typical mob movie. Actually, I felt the movie was almost devoid of style, or failing, never really found its true “voice”. Instead, it felt almost like a simple re-creation of the facts. I agree that the backstory of all the cops (sleazy and not sleazy) didn’t really add much to the movie.

And about the cat/mouse aspect, going back to Crowe and Washington only being a few scenes together, I never really felt any tension in the chase. Or that there was any chase at all, really.

So yeah, I wouldn’t not recommend the movie, but I feel like there’s better stuff out there.

My random thoughts:

Cuba is way underrated. Of course, I’m one of the two people in the world who found Boat Trip funny. But it was, dammit.

Ted Levine is the man. (Ted Levine is Russell’s boss. And, of course, the captain on Monk.)

My uncle (a prosecutor in Newark) used to work in the same office as Richie Roberts. He said that Roberts said Frank Lucas basically has no redeeming qualities as a human being. That statement is borne out by some things other people are saying. Doesn’t really affect my opinion of the movie at all, I know it may affect others.