Carlito's Way
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54 of 58 people found the following review helpful
When I rented this DVD I hadn't realized that I had seen it in a theater when it was first released in 1993. I remember that I liked it then. And, guess what? I like it even more now.

Directed by Brian DePalma and adapted from two novels by Edwin Torres, who just happens to be a judge in the New York Supreme Court, the screenwriter, David Keopp, did a wonderful job of bringing this story to the screen. Yes, it's fictional. But it has all the gritty realism of authenticity. And it also has some wonderful actors.

Al Pacino stars as Carlito, a Puerto Rican gangster. When we first meet him, he's just been released from prison because of a technicality. He wants to go straight now. Keep out of trouble. But it seems impossible. He's immediately drawn into to some heavy gunfights when his nephew gets involved in some drug sales. It's bloodshed and murder and a very exciting scene.

Sean Penn is cast as his lawyer. He's a sleazy type. He's flashy, he's obnoxious and he's addicted to cocaine. And Carlito also owes him a favor, a big favor.

Carlito really tries to go straight, and even re-ignites a flame with his old girlfriend. He's working as a manager of a nightclub and saving his money. Supposedly, if he can get together $70,000, he'd be able to move to a Caribbean Island and run a car dealership. That's his dream. And I found myself wishing it would happen.

Naturally there are complications. The mob is involved. And so is the lawyer. And Carlito is drawn into another crime, this one with dire consequences. The ending is inevitable.

The film moved fast, the story was tight and well constructed, and I felt real emotion for Carlito and the hard choices he had to make. The story was set in the 1970s and I loved the soundtrack of all the old music too.

As an added bonus, there was a wonderful special on the DVD about the making of the film. There are interviews with the judge who wrote the novel and he talks about it being based on his own experiences growing up Puerto Rican in New York. We also hear from the screenwriter and the stars themselves. All this really added to my enjoyment of the film.
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42 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on April 13, 2001
In one of his best performances ever, Al Pacino is the engine that keeps "Carlito's Way" moving from beginning to end. Recently-released from prison, Carlos Brigante (played marvelously by Pacino) is a former Puerto Rican drug lord who ruled New York City's drug world during the 1960's and 1970's. Assisted by his lawyer (Sean Penn) Pacino is determined to stay out of the trade that landed him in prison in the first place. However, as usual trouble always lurks in every corner.
Deciding to buy and operate a Latin nightclub from an owner who is seriously in debt (played by the famous Argentine comedian Jorge Porcel, who had a cult following throughout Latin America due to his sexually-charged comedy skit show "A La Cama Con Porcel; he is know as the Latin-version of "Benny Hill"). Yet as old faces reemerge onto the scene, newer faces have also started to take a foothold in Brigante's former empire, especially Benny Blanco (played by the ever-wonderful John Leguizamo).
Directed by Brian de Palma ("Carrie"), this is one of the most realistic, and historic accurate pictures of life in New York City's urban jungle during the late 1970's/early 1980's. Penelope Ann Miller ("Adventures in Babysitting" is great as Brigante's love interest, and Luis Guzman always is a scene-stealer playing Pacino's right-hand man.
The DVD version contains production notes, cast biographies, and the original theatrical trailer and the sound and picture quality are excellent. Pacino (a Bronx native) masters a perfect Puerto Rican accent in the same way he mastered his Cuban-emigre accent in "Scarface". "Carlito's Way" is guaranteed to keep you entertained due to thrilling performances by the entire cast, amazing cinematography, great directing, and most importantly, incredible realism. Destined to become a modern urban classic.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2005
There was a lot of anticipation when Carlito's Way was released in 1993. Director Brian De Palma had just come off a lukewarm reception for yet another Hitchcock homage, Raising Cain and was in need of a hit to appease the studios. And so, a re-teaming with Al Pacino in an effort to recreate the magic of Scarface made commercial sense. Carlito's Way was much more sombre in tone than the cinematic shotgun blast that is Scarface. It is a tragedy about how a criminal tries to go straight but is ultimately doomed from the get-go. This is the third version of the DVD, timed to coincide with the direct-to-video release of the prequel, but is it worth purchasing if you already own one of the previous incarnations?

Carlito is a role tailor-made for Al Pacino, allowing him to essay another larger-than-life character. Carlito is a smart guy who cannot escape what he is no matter how hard he tries and Pacino conveys the melancholy that lurks behind the bravado of his character. The real scene stealer, however, is Sean Penn's sleazy, coked-up lawyer. The actor reportedly did the film to help finance his directorial debut, The Crossing Guard. For a paycheck role, Penn does a great job as he disappears into the character, complete with a frizzy afro and cheap suits. It's almost as if Pacino's presence inspired Penn to step up his game. And this makes Penn's memorable turn so much fun to watch.

"Brian De Palma on Carlito's Way" features the director criticizing the current crop of movies that merely copy or quote from other movies or TV shows (Tarantino anyone?) and don't draw from real life. De Palma puts a lot of thought into the visuals of his movies in an attempt to surprise the audience. He goes on to slam film critics who don't like visual filmmakers and then, in an act of typical hubris, compares himself to Alfred Hitchcock.

There are nine deleted scenes totaling eight minutes. There are a lot of extensions of existing scenes that feature some nice moments between characters (like one between Pacino and Penn).

Included from the previously released "Collector's Edition" is "The Making of Carlito's Way," a 34 minute retrospective featurette. Sadly, Pacino and Penn are not present for this featurette that is nonetheless informative and well-made.

Also included from the "Collector's Edition" is a "Photo and Poster Gallery" that features some really cool poster designs, stills from the movie and some of De Palma.

"Original Promotional Featurette" was done back in the day and is more like a five minute trailer than anything of real substance.

Finally, there is an original theatrical trailer.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2007
Who doesn't know this story about a gangster trying to find his way back into the straight life? Sadly, he doesn't make it. Too many old connections.
Although the first scene already gives away the end, Pacino's tight and heartfelt acting carries you through the story making you forget what you already know. When the shock returns, you wish it to be just another nightmare.
Pacino is more than perfect in depicting this terrific story about honor, revenge and the power of trying to live your dreams. Nobody but Al could have painted us this Carlito with more depth, sadness and humor. Everything is perfect here, camera, music, design, the pace, acting, the script. If ever you'll find the time, you've got to read the books the film is based upon by Edwin Torres.
Also starring in this Brian de Palma masterpiece are Sean Penn as his attorney, Penelope Ann Miller as his on and off girlfriend and Luis Guzman (the great) and a nice cameo by Viggo Mortensen.
The HD DVD transfer is wonderful. Pacino is almost entering the living room. Sound, picture: WOOW!
Extras include deleted scenes, an interview with the director and a making of.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2001
Carlito's Way ranks up there with Goodfellas as one of the best gangster movies of the 90s. Pacino is superb as Carlito Brigante, a legendary Puerto Rican gangster determined to leave his past behind after his release from prison, while Sean Penn is a revelation as the attorney who manages to get Carlito released after serving five years of a life sentence. The director, Brian de Palma, uses the unusual device of revealing what ultimately happens at the beginning of the film, but this does not diminish its impact, rather creating an air of incredible tension as we witness Carlito desperately struggling to escape the fate we know is in store for him. In particular, the chase scene through Grand Central Station, and the shoot out on the escalator, is superbly staged and every time I watch it I am left exhausted!
Like all tragic heroes Carlito has a fundamental flaw in his character that is ultimately his undoing. He is still bound by the code of honour of his youth, a code that the New York underworld is rapidly leaving behind, and he finds himself an anachronism in increasingly violent and ruthless times. Carlito's lawyer is on a downward spiral of self-destruction as his delusions of grandeur see him sucked into this world of crime, and due to the loyalty he feels he owes him, Carlito is sucked in as well. When he is implicated in the murder of a "made" Italian mafioso, Carlito's card is marked, and he realises too late that loyalty means nothing when you are the only one in thrall to it. A new breed of gangster, personified by Benny Blanco, is taking over, for whom honour means nothing and power means everything. The crux of the movie comes when Carlito has the chance to kill Benny, and although recognising that "the street is watching" he declines the chance, determined not to be drawn back into a world of violence. By letting Benny live, Carlito has shown "weakness" and in the final reckoning this weakness is ruthlessly exploited.
If I have a gripe with this brilliant film it is the ending. If De Palma could have resisted inserting Carlito's sentimental monologue into the last few frames, when he realises he won't live to see the future he dreams of with his girlfriend (played by Penelope Ann Miller) Carlito's Way would have been almost perfect. However, this is a small point and shouldn't detract from what is otherwise a magnificent piece of film making.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on November 11, 1999
This movie is both a serious film and sometimes a pulp-fiction style film. The portrayls by Al Pacino and Sean Penn & others reflect both qualities, but especially when the scene with Tony Taglialucci (Joseph Siravo) & David Kleinfeld (Penn) occurs at Riker's Island Prison Barge, the 'pulp' style shines through.
All the characters possess a richness that enables the film to stand on its own merits. But when viewed several times, it becomes obvious that Brian DePalma & Martin Bregman have anchored this film into their prior history. (Scarface) Many of the same actors appear in both films.
One scene stands out as offering the viewer such tight attention to detail that I could barely believe it. -At the disco, Benny Blanco (John Leguizamo) is making a noticeable entry into the front door with his gang. The reaction by the people who know AND don't know his is big. Benny Blanco is walking briskly and swinging his body back & forth. Discogoers who are flanking his entry down the hall all make flagrant notice of his entry, turning heads and turning around to see who this obviously important person is. Then there's Saso's (Jorge Porcel) reaction. He looks shocked when he sees Benny. Benny Blanco walks quickly right up to Saso, grabs Saso by the throat and demands his money and that he's not screwing around. Saso looks terrified and, with his throat held by Blanco's hand, shifts his eyes sideways to see what his gang is suggesting by Blanco's actions. Saso unconvincingly says to Blanco, "Are you kidding?" Blanco then says that he IS kidding, and kisses Saso on the cheek. You have to see Saso's reaction at this point; it is priceless.
I recommend watching this scene in slow motion.
Penelope Ann Miller is excellent as Carlito's girlfriend and confidante.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2002
Wow!!! This movie was GREAT! I first saw this film when it came out in 1993 and I really didnt understand it but I just got done watching it and it was just terrific Al Pacino was great and so was Sean Penn and so was Penelope Ann Miller they all work so well together on screen and Brian De Palma has made in my opinion yet another classic. I've only seen one other movie by him "SCAR FACE" but they are both so well made I can't say what one was better all I can say is this is one of Al Pacino's best work and it still proves to me that he is one of the great actors of our time. The movie starts great right from the start.. Sprung from prison on a legal technicality by his cocaine- addled attorney (Sean Penn), former drug kingpin Carlito Brigante (pacino) stuns the local underworld when he vows to go stright. taking a job managing a glitzy , low-life nightclub, he tracks down his onetime girlfriend (Penelope Ann Miller) and rekindles their romance, promising he's changed for good. But Carlito's dream or going to legitimate is undermined at every turn by a murderous former cronies and even deadlier young thugs out to make a name for themselves. Untimately, however, his most dangerous enemy is himself. Despite good intentions, Carlito's misguided loyalties and outmoded code of "HONOR" will plunge him into a savage life-or-death battle against the relentless forces that refuse to let him go.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2003
This movie centres around Carlito Brigante, an ex-con who wants out of the cycle of crime he's been in all of his life. Everyone around him laughs at his dream of being part of a car dealership in the Bahamas with his ex-con friend, but he's determined to earn enough money to buy into this business by saving the profits over time from the night club that he is running. However, he can't seem to get away from the criminals that he used to be involved in, and the new crop of junior criminals who view him as a legend. The worst of these criminals is his own lawyer, played by Sean Penn, who has no idea how things work in the street and yet keeps on pushing the envelope to get what he wants from the various hoodlums.
Pacino and Penn both play their roles brilliantly and the cinematography is equally deserving of praise and notice.
Go rent it! It's a classic.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2002
When the guys that brought you Scarface team up again what bad
things can happen.Brian De Palma and Al Pacino two of the biggest
stars on their film duties in Hollywood today.This movie really
has the 80's,disco feel scarface as but as the De Palma plot turn
and twists seen in Snake Eyes,Body Double,and Raising Cain so it'
s all very entertaining.Along with another De Palma regular Sean
Penn(Casualties Of War) plays the coke addicted wacko lawyer to
absolute perfection.This film not as violent as Scarface as more
plot twists which makes it almost more entertaining with a great
cast including John Leguizamo and Penelope Ann Miller Carlito's
Way is one of Pacino's,Penn's,and De Palma's best films ever so
if you like a mixture of The Usual Suspects and Scarface give
Carlito's Way a watch it's great.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 1999
I bought this film in a box set with Scarface, and I consider this the better of the two. A simple story of a criminal who can't go straight, a man who can't change who he is, because of his past. Al Pacino is convincing as the Puerto Rican Carlito Brigante, and Sean Penn at last gets a good role. In fact, his performance as Kleinfeld, the shady lawyer is the real success of this film. Fine support too, from Penelope Ann Miller and John Leguizamo. I loved the soundtrack, reminding me a bit of Scorsese in it's compilation. DePalma's direction is as good as ever, and the film is not prolonged in the same way that Scarface was. The gangster genre is something which is difficult to break new ground with, but Carlito's Way is nevertheless very impressive.
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