1997 Movie Review: COP LAND, 1997

COP LAND,  MOVIE POSTERCOP LAND, 1997
Movie Reviews

Directed by: James Mangold

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta, Rober De Niro, Peter Berg, Janeane Garofalo, Robert Patrick, Michael Rapaport
Review by Jarred Thomas

SYNOPSIS:

The sheriff of a suburban New Jersey community populated by New York City policeman slowly discovers the town is a front for mob connections and corruption.

 

REVIEW:

Writer/director James Mangold creates a film that examines the underbelly of corruption among New York City cops who reside in New Jersey, bending the rules to fit their needs while hiding a dark secret about a recent murder. Sylvester Stallone plays the morally straight New Jersey cop who suffered an ear injury that has relegated him to only work small time crimes. He has become something of joke among most of the residents, in particular NY cops led by Harvey Keitel who reside in the community.

Stallone’s understated performance plays against type and he does a wonderful job in his role. Stallone gained weight for the role and it adds to the character as he appears slow and out of shape. He looks like a real person and not some caricature. It’s a quiet performance unlike his previous films and one that gained Stallone critical praise from critics and peers.

Freddy Heflin (Stallone) is the sheriff of a fictional town called Garrison in New Jersey. When he was a teenager he jumped into the river to save a girl who plunged in from the bridge. In doing so, he damaged his ear making him unable to become an officer on the streets. Now, he’s relegated to perform small deeds such as preserving the peace, scolding rowdy children and check parking. His authority is limited, if he has any at all.

Cop Land is a look at big city corruption in a small town. Harvey Keitel as Ray Donlan does a nice job in his role playing a corrupt officer who acts with more authority in town then he really has, but when he speaks, people listen out of fear. Donlan has ties with the mob which have allowed him to have certain cops placed in his town, giving the name “Cop Land.” Many of the houses in town were bought through dirty money and the depravity doesn’t end there.

Ray’s nephew, Murray (Rapaport), a young cop, unintentionally kills to two black teens after his car side swipes them. Out of fear of racial incident, Ray tries to fake Murray’s suicide. However, when Moe Tilden (De Niro), an Internal Affairs investigator comes investigating, he smells a cover up. Not willing to get caught, Ray tries to have Murray killed, but the job doesn’t go as planned leading Murray to seek the help of Freddy. Can Freddy stand up against the corruption in town or is he simply out of his league?

Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel both provide a well needed boost of energy in this film because although Stallone does a solid job as the slow witted sheriff, there’s really not much to speak of with the other actors. Liotta plays a good/bad cop whose conscience is starting to get the best of him and his loyalties come into question. But it feels clichéd like most of the other characters who hit only one note.

Cop Land has its strong moments, most coming from the three actors De Niro, Keitel and Stallone, but it’s not entirely enough. Towards the middle of the movie, it meanders a bit like Freddy does, maybe even more. Perhaps Stallone being out of his action element too draws attention to itself, and when he finally picks up a weapon the action scene is far too predictable to be even remotely believable. There’s just not enough to recommend this film despite the standout performance of Stallone.

 

1967 Movie Review: WHO’S THAT KNOCKING AT MY DOOR, 1967

WHOS THAT KNOCKING AT MY DOOR MOVIEWHO’S THAT KNOCKING AT MY DOOR, 1967
Movie Reviews

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Cast: Harvey Keitel, Zina Bethune, Anne Collette, Harry Northup, Lennard Kuras, Michael Scala, Robert Uricola
Review by Vinny Borocci

SYNOPSIS:

Three young men living on the New York City streets engage in trivial violence and unproductive activities. They enjoy hanging out at bars, watching movies, having parties, etc. Suddenly, one of the men, J.R., meets a girl and begins to have a relationship with her. The other men are skeptical not only because of J.R.’s unusual changes in his behavior, but the amount of time spent with her as opposed to hanging out with them. J.R. feels the pressure from both his friends and the girl. In the process, the strains become too much for J.R. to handle, where hostility and a sense of aggression result, along with making some very poor judgments. As a raised devout catholic, J.R. feels the only one to turn to is God.

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REVIEW:

During the 1960’s, Americans spent much time engaging in street protests, focusing on topics such as feminism and gay rights, events such as various political assassinations and anti-war messages, along with numerous public outbursts against racial and sexual intolerance. In other words, the Vietnam War came knocking on everyone’s doorstep. Fittingly, during this time, director Martin Scorsese provided the audience with his first feature film, Who’s That Knocking at My Door, which remarkably took almost 6 years to complete. During this public outcry and chaos, we see in this film Scorsese provide many delicate and subtle references which not only reveal his own views on the war, but specifically reflects the attitudes of the “student movement” taking place.

Even though the film has a look of a student film – the opening sequence is of a simple match-action sequence of a mother baking bread for children – we can clearly see his first utilizations with the camera to capture various shots in a very original and unique method. We can see his influence from the French New Wave as he includes various jump-cut shots and freeze frames, while also displaying his childhood love for Italian Neorealism films through the morality of his images, capturing closeup shots of assorted Christ-like images and statues, emphasizing the blood, scrapes, and cuts on the figures to reinforce the violence and suffering of the human condition. Despite his “European” visual style, Scorsese incorporates American rock music throughout the film, serving as a function to link the youth movement of the 1960’s.

‘Who’s That Knocking’ follows a trio of young men: J.R., Joey, and Sally “Ga-Ga.” The three spend time hanging out on the rugged streets of New York, getting into fights, lounging in bars, picking up girls, fooling around at each other’s apartments. While we see these men engage in their everyday pleasures, we also see J.R. begin to have a relationship with a woman. Scorsese was not shy about exposing his own unique direction and style, moving away from the traditional Hollywood Studio system. For instance, in the beginning of the film, we see J.R. hanging out at a bar with the other men juxtaposed with his first encounter with the woman. This contrast in scenes, showing men sitting around doing nothing productive, with images of beautiful women can serve as a representation of the attitude of young men who were on the verge of leaving for Vietnam.

As we see J.R. slip into deep thought, we see Scorsese blend a parallel of scenes involving the interactions between J.R. and the girl and J.R. sitting at a bar with his friends, cleverly suggesting that while J.R. is hanging out with his friends, he still cannot get this woman out of his mind. When Joey tries to get J.R.’s attention, we see a point of view shot from J.R. looking not at Joey’s face, but of his lower body, indicating that J.R. still has something else on his mind. Continuing his European style, Scorsese utilizes a similar element of the French New Wave as he expresses his youthful love for Hollywood, making specific references and even including images (through freeze frames and snap shots) of John Wayne films.

Clearly, these three men do not have jobs, and have no intentions in pursuing anything work-related. We see J.R. get upset with the woman when she continues to ask what he does. After he replies, “I’m in between jobs right now,” she does not seem to get the message and obliviously continues to ask, “Well, what do you do now?” Scorsese presents these men as highly uneducated with a lack of understanding for human and personal relationships and interactions. As J.R. and the woman continue to see each other, the only conversations taking place is about John Wayne movies (or actually going to see a John Wayne movie). Additionally, we can see J.R. and the woman hold different religious values. In the scene at the apartment of J.R.’s mother, as we see closeup images of the Catholic images of Christ and Holy Candles spread out on dressers, the two lie in bed making love. While the woman, who does not appear to hold any religious concerns, wanting to go further, does not understand when J.R. suddenly stops. Asking, “What’s wrong?” the woman thinks there is something wrong in how J.R. thinks of her, instead of understanding how J.R. was raised as a devout Catholic.

WHO'S THAT KNOCKING AT MY DOOR.jpg

Happy Birthday: Harvey Keitel

harveykeitel.jpgHappy Birthday actor Harvey Keitel

Born: May 13, 1939 in Brooklyn, New York, USA

Married to: Daphna Kastner (7 October 2001 – present) (1 child)

Read reviews of the best of the actor:

Who's That Knocking at my DoorWho’s That Knocking at my Door
1967
dir. Martin Scorsese
Cast
Harvey Keitel
Zina Bethune

Mean StreetsMean Streets
1973
dir. Martin Scorsese
Starring
Keitel
Robert DeNiro

Taxi DriverTaxi Driver
1976
dir. Martin Scorsese
Starring
Keitel
Robert DeNiro

SATURN 3Saturn 3
1980
dir Stanley Donen
Starring
Farrah Fawcett
Kirk Douglas

BAD LIEUTENANTBad Lieutenant
1992
dir. Abel Ferrara
starring
Keitel
Frankie Thorn

THELMA AND LOUISEThelma and Louise
1991
dir. Ridley Scott
Starring
Geena Davis
Susan Sarandon

BAD LIEUTENANTBad Lieutenant
1992
dir. Abel Ferrara
starring
Keitel
Frankie Thorn

RESERVOIR DOGSReservoir Dogs
1992
dir. Quentin Tarantino
Starring
Keitel
Tim Roth
Steve Buscemi

MOVIE POSTERTHE CONGRESS
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Stars:
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Starring
Hunter
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PulpFictionPulp Fiction
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starring
John Travolta
Samuel L. Jackson

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Stars:
Saoirse Ronan
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From Dusk Till DawnFrom Dusk Till Dawn
1996
dir. by Robert Rodriguez
starring
George Clooney
Quentin Tarantino

COP LANDCop Land
1997
dir. James Mangold
Cast
Sylvester Stallone
Harvey Keitel

U-571
2000
dir. Jonathan Mostow
starring
Matthew McConaughey
Bill Paxton
Kietel

Little Fockers Little Fockers
dir. Paul Weitz
Stars:
Ben Stiller
Teri Polo

Wrong Turn at TahoeWrong Turn at Tahoe
2009
dir. Franck Khalfoun
Cast
Genevieve Alexandra
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National Treasure: Book of Secrets
Directed by Jon Turteltaub
Starring
Nicolas Cage
Jon Voight

MOVIE POSTERMOONRISE KINGDOM
dir. Wes Anderson
Cast:
Bill Murray
Bruce Willis