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on June 14, 2007
This film is not THE GODFATHER; it is not MYSTIC RIVER; it is not GOODFELLAS; it is not THE DEPARTED. This is THE FUNERAL!!! I simply will not lump this film into a category that defines this as another "gangster movie."

Director Abel Ferrara (BAD LIEUTENANTS) has crafted a tense and unflinching psychological look at three Italian brothers in the politically/crime charged 1930's who have been scarred by the violence into which they have been plummeted from their earliest childhood. The film carefully examines the deep contradictions of religion, family,morality and fidelity that combat the souls of those who "inherit" the criminal world as their family legacy. Unlike so many "Italian gangster movies", THE FUNERAL has incredible heart and soul. These characters are "trapped" in a world that causes such vaccilation of emotion that no matter how they might try to change they simply cannot.

Yes..this film is full of bloody violence, sex and explosive rage, but Abel Ferrara asks us to understand WHY these brothers and their companions act the way they do.Ferrara wants us to examine these men and their women who fall for and fear them. We are also forced to examine the continued place that Roman Catholicism and it's teachings had as a foundation for life and thought of these people.

As a rule, I simply do not care for mob/violent films. I must say,though, that THE FUNERAL is completely unique. The script is intelligent in that instead of senseless and gratuitous violence, we are asked to think about the causes, motivations and devastating consequences of violence when it is passed down from generation to generation.

One special note about the acting: CHRIS PENN is downright frightening as middle brother Chez.

The ending was a positive shocker!!!
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on June 9, 2006
Well its not your typical mob film, it does not contain alot of tough guy bravado, nor does it have that element of comedy most mob films have, No its a realistic modern morality tale from the brilliant and underrated Director Abel Ferra. Here just like Bad lieutenant and King of New York he displays a hard crime story with religious morality thrown in for good measure,its really sad that this brilliant trilogy of films will never get the credit there due since lets face these excellent movies ( The Funeral my favorite) are the type of films mainstream society just cannot accept, why? because no one cares about originality anymore they want all flash and no substance overrated actors and actresses who could not act to save there lives, and pathetic remakes. Is that a fair assesment of all people in todays modern day society? perhaps but there is still a strong minority who demand something more from films, the basics of originality, a good plot, and actors and actresses who give a damm. Plain and simple Abel Ferrera and his films are a blessing in todays world since there is to much crap that is in todays theaters, and while there are his critics about him and his complicated films lets just say they should look closer at Abel Ferreras works of art and this brilliant crime trilogy of King of New York, Bad Liutenant, and The Funeral, should be viewed by all and if you don't understand or somehow are bored LOOK CLOSER.
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on June 19, 2008
It is a very good movie. I really enjoyed the way the story was told. The casting was also very well done. Walken, Penn, Del Toro all played great roles.

If you enjoy movies like Miller's Crossing, or other low key organized crime films, you will enjoy the funeral.
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VINE VOICEon January 12, 2011
Abel Ferrara's fourth installment in the noirish, violent, deranged and masterful trilogy Ms. 45 (King of New York (Special Edition),Bad Lieutenant,) he has inflicted on New Yawwkers throughout the years

The detournment to detourn all mafia films, Ferrara uses a despairing 1930's backdrop of the Depression and a "family feud"--three mob brothers (a mischevious Christopher Walken as Ray, the head of the family, the late Christopher Penn as monstrous nutcase Chez, and Vincent Gallo as Johnny, the idealistic/hopeful baby of the family who is killed (hence the title) before the movie begins.

Ferrara snuffs out all hope at the getgo: all that's left is to crawl over the funeral pyre with him and the very dysfunctional family which has received a monstrous blow.

Everyone in this film, with the exception of Johnny who is quite dead and Walken's beautiful wife Jean (played by Annabella Sciorra), is pretty much an animal. This is particularly true of Benicio Del Toro's corporate gangster Casper: a ruthless opportunist who evens go so far as to betray his own by allying himself with business partners that cause even more dire consequences for the unemployed during the 30's. And this the director's point--gangsters are not Don Corleone, they are not Tony Soprano, they are not even the publicized images of John Gotti as basically a good man who was just doing business: they are evil animals who, as Jean notes, simply refuse to rise above their "harsh, illiterate upbringing" and are unable to.

Flashbacks into the family's past reveal that all three brothers were witness and, in Ray's case, participants in the murder of a man who crossed the Don. They are each given a bullet and Ray is told by his father that he can let the man go, but that he will most certainly return to kill them all. Ray does so. This sets the pattern for the entirety of this anti-mafioso Dante's Inferno: bullet leads to bullet leads to bullet.

The questions Ferrara raises about God and Roman Catholicism through the mouth of Ray are not too difficult to comprehend. "If I didn't do the right thing", he says, "it's because God didn't give me the grace to do what's right. I'm only working with what I've been given." If that isn't the most absurd excuse for evil, I've never heard one. All are convinced they are going to burn in hell and one can see why. This is a mob masterpiece that does something no other mob film has done before: beneath the spaghetti dinners, talks about loyalty, honor, there lies only the blood of the innocent.
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on May 14, 2001
Abel Ferrara, like his star here, Christopher Walken, is not much noted for subtley. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed BAD LIEUTENANT, but it's not a particularly morally complex film, and tends to go just a wee bit over the top to make its points (which, really, is one of the reasons it's as impressive as it is -- sometimes bold strokes work, if you'll pardon an obvious pun). What's most interesting about THE FUNERAL is that it takes characters -- gangsters -- who all too often are treated in a cartoonish, romanticized fashion, and lends them considerable moral complexity. All the gangsters in this film are forced to continually confront their consciences in regard to what they've become; the characters played by Walken and Penn in particular are both extremely reflective, troubled men, and capable, in different ways, of being quite articulate about the moral ground they find themselves on. There IS something uneven and choppy about the film -- it almost feels like Ferrara was forced to cut it down from a considerably longer length to satisfy the studio, and there are things I'd've liked to see better developed -- but there is simply TOO much to recommend this film to take a star away for that. The performances are top-notch, and there's genuine thought put into a genre too often coloured with crayons. There may well be good things to say about GOODFELLAS and all that, but for their ills, this film is the remedy. Highly recommended.
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on August 31, 1999
Saw this film this weekend on cable and was wonderfully surprised by the somber atmosphere, striking performances, and the director's intent to not provide the kind of action and conclusions demanded by the ganster movie genre. This film is not Scorese's milleau; rather, it offers a familial portrayal about the viral effects of violence within a small family--and where that compulsion can lead. The cast is excellent, performances are rich, and the mise-en-scene is perfectly dark for the subject matter. Be patient, and be rewarded.
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on February 21, 2001
Am I the only person who enjoyed this film? Does that say something about me? Abel Ferrara's The Funeral was amazingly created with class and dignity. Although very dark and frigthning at times, this film gives new meaning to the "mafia flick" that everyone is used to. This is not in any way a Godfather or Untouchables film, but it has it's own flavour with, I believe, one of Christopher Walken's best performances. The cast is supurb, I'm not too sure about Benicio Del Toro's Italian, but he along with other members pull off an intensely in depth look into the "American Family".
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on June 12, 1999
Sure, if you've been used to films like Casino, Goodfellas, The Godfather, etc. you might find The Funeral somewhat boring. But it's an introspective film that grows on you. It's less concerned with the violence, and more concerned with what lies underneath. One of Christopher Walken's better films of recent memory, and just as good as his earlier Ferrara effort, King of New York. Excellent supporting cast.
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VINE VOICEon June 21, 2006
"The Funeral" is a mob movie. However, it's different from many other mob movies you'll see. It's got a different premise, different dialogue, same actors.

You won't find Marlon Brando or Robert DeNiro here, but I think Christopher Walken fills in nicely. The Funeral is kind of like The Godfather mixed with Eulogy. Both of those films are completely different movies (one's a Best Picture winner with Al Pacino, the other is a forgotten comedy with Ray Romano) but I like that analogy so I'll continue. The movie opens in a house where several obvious members of organized crime are gathering around a coffin that contains a guy named Johnny (Vincent Gallo, 'Buffalo 66' & 'The Brown Bunny'). Johnny has recently been killed and through flashbacks we see some events leading up to Johnny's death and his brothers

Ray (Walken) and Chez's (the late great Chris Penn) search for Johnny's killer. While there's really nothing to say about much of the plot, there's plenty to say about the performances and about the script. The script for the film is really good and it's unlike any mob movie before it. The dialogue is quite different, as is the whole mood of the film. This is the first mob movie I've seen where a character, in this case Ray, is about to kill the man responsible for Johnny's death but firsts asks him why he did it. When the guy gives Ray an answer that is quite surprising, Ray almost doesn't kill him. Ray gives the guy a chance to explain himself. Now, that's something I've never seen before. Chris Penn's character Chez is completely different, he's crazy over his brother's death and appears to be slightly unstable. Then there's Vincent Gallo. While Gallo has established himself more as the writer/director/b.j. reciever for the controversial movie "The Brown Bunny"

and is best known for either that film of "Buffalo 66" his prior acting gigs have been overlooked. The only movie I saw with him acting and not writing/directing was "Palookaville" where he was quite good. Here, Gallo delivers one of his best performances. First of all, regular people will know who Christopher Walken and Chris Penn are before Vincent Gallo; but Gallo manages to hold his own against the two Hollywood Heavyweights. Gallo gets really into the character, says his dialogue perfectly, he has the look for it. Well, anyway, besides not just being a regular mob movie which makes it unique; it's also entertaining, has a great ending, and is completely overlooked by people. If you've liked movies like The Godfather, Goodfellas, Casino, or the TV show The Sopranos; you should be quite fond of finding something different here.

GRADE: A-
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on July 5, 2001
This is a great film, one of Ferrara's best.
But the DVD is terrible. The transfer looks worse than an overwatched VHS and it is not letterboxed.
It is shameful for companies to release such bad DVDs, especially when the films deserve a whole lot better.
Unfortuantely not buying these badly released films does not punish the companies but the filmmakers.
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