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on December 11, 2016
another series (am remembering The Wire) that is supremely educational in the ways of bad-ass, is rich in realism (setting etc.) (or at least, is convincing enough to me, which isn't saying all that much), and gives employment to many very fine actors... very edifiying

I do really enjoy watching this show. By watching all these "baddies", a little bit every day over many many days, I begin to see what my values REALLY are. It is all relative. In this one, for example, I find that the main guy (Nucky Thompson), who, as the man with the cash, is in the role of being the engine for all the murder and double dealing, and who in doing so makes only as much pretense as is politically expedient of being anything but faithless and cynical, is much less repulsive to me than so many of the others, on whatever side of the law, who exercise their testosterone in such a style as if they ultimately believe themselves to be honoring some kind of a moral code, with all the stuffiness/stubbornness that honorable adherence ultimately entails. Nucky engineers/finances a murder, but he's not the one who I have to watch commit it, so he's not the one I end up hating. Amazing ? Until now I never thought I liked politicians... huh. Was wrong. Be as two faced as you want. Just keep the peace as best you can without clogging the money flow and don't bore me ...that's where my true heart lies.
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on January 28, 2015
The first season of Boardwalk Empire sets the stage for a well-written, well-acted story which winds through the Prohibition years. Political corruption, criminal alliances, ethnic tensions, and the role of women in society are just a few of the starting points for several great storylines. Bootleggers, war heroes, mothers and mistresses, temperance leagues, Atlantic City, and the famous boardwalk intertwine in recognizable and relatable episodes which sometimes seem as current as today's headlines.

Season One seems all the more remarkable for a series which becomes better in each successive season. By the time you reach the end of this boardwalk, the final episode in the final season, you'll be far removed from the Nucky Thompson who celebrated the beginning of "the noble experiment".

I would also recommend watching Ken Burns documentary on prohibition, it will explain many of the small details which are included in each episode.

Boardwalk Empire does what is rare in film, it takes its time and builds a believable world around interesting characters, and provides numerous challenges.

You will laugh, you will be shocked, and you might even cry. What was the last movie you watched which had such an effect?
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on June 14, 2016
When BE first appeared in the trade papers I remember people questioning whether Steve Buscemi could carry an entire series as did the late, great James Gandolfini. I think he has proven beyond a doubt that he is one INCREDIBLE actor. I ordered this Season because I somehow misplaced (lent?) it to someone and so had to replace it. I have seen the entire 5 seasons and each one was a winner: great characters, great performances, incredible sets and camera work, tremendous writing, brilliant directing. Some of the actors took a little taking used to, especially Vincent Piazza as Lucky Luciano, Steven Graham as Al Capone and the actor portraying Bugsy Seigel (sorry buddy,, your name momentarily escapes me). A NY native (via Brooklyn) I found Piazza's "Newyorkese" a bit too exaggerated with it's sibilant "s" but over time grew to rather enjoy his increasingly nuanced performance; I've heard Piazza in other films and with the exception my earlier criticism, thought the manner in which he modulated his voice quite commendable. I was ambivalent about Steven Graham's performance of Al Capone which was quite over-the-top; granted Capone was addicted to cocaine, was suffering from what would eventually become tertiary syphilis (while being treated in a way today which would have been deemed malpractice and was the actual cause of his death) but I doubt he was that much of a clown and that off-the-wall to have survived as long as he did as Public Enemy #1. You don't rise to the top of that heap by being a dolt.Ruthless, vicious, Yes. Out of control, irrational, no. He stayed on top because his men feared him and they would not have feared someone they felt was crazy, outlandishly narcissistic as he is portrayed in most of the episodes. Along with their fear there was also a certain amount of respect for is position. these men don't want a "cowboy" running things I pretty much found Graham's Al Capone to be the same performance he gave as Baby Face Nelson in "Public Enemies"" and yet, as the series went on, his family scenes especially with his deaf son, and the one when he tells Jimmy that his son can't hear him when he plays the mandolin and sings to him, having need to touch his throat but never hearing the sounds were quite touching. I found his final scenes provided a balance to his earlier ones when resigned to his fate, he "plays the role" for his public while realizing it's only his farewell moment of "Glory" and his slight nod to the undercover cop who brought him down an admission of respect and defeat. Nice touch.
I also doubt that Bugsy Seigel would have ever survived as long as he did if he were ever the eternal juvenile; they simply weren't tolerated by those who controlled organized crime in the day. I also doubt he had that whiny voice. He was called Bugsy because he was psychopathic with a hair-trigger temper, a lot like Abe Reles, so I found his characterization unbelievable however that is a question of interpretation and doesn't mean the man is a poor actor as much as it was the way the role was conceived by others.
As for the rest of the cast, just as in "the Wire", "The Sopranos" and "Godfather's 1,2" and "Goodfellas" what makes these series and films so great aside from what I mentioned above are the other supporting actors and brilliant character actors and this entire production from Series 1-5 had an abundance of these: Kenneth Williams, Kelly MacDonald, Michael Pitt, Gretchen Moll, the various children...all too many to mention but each one perfect in their roles. Boardwalk Empire? ONE OF THE GREAT ONES.
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on February 11, 2017
I binged-watched this just recently, after the series concluded on HBO. I would watch an episode; it would end; I'd look at the time and convince myself I had time to watch another episode, and maybe another. I did the same with "Breaking Bad."

Boardwalk Empire is a hell of a lot of fun to watch. Martin Scorsese directed the first episode in Season One, setting the stage. It's fun to watch because the 1920s were a fascinating time. I kept thinking that it's hard to believe it was set 100 years ago, and that the young showgirls would have been well over 100 years old today; that Nucky Johnson (a role I think was perfectly written for Steve Buscemi) was in his prime, but in a time that was coming to an end. There is a scene at the end of the series that brilliantly foretells how time was about to pass him by.

There are a lot of reviews, and there's probably not much more I can add. It was fun to watch because: 1) The great story, of bootleggers and speakeasies and the Atlantic boardwalk of the 1920s, 2) The characters and the actors who played them. So many great characters, so unique and vivid. Hard to summarize them all: Besides Nucky, you have a host of mobsters (some historical like Capone, Luciano, Lansky -- portrayed in their younger years). Kelly MacDonald's Margaret Thompson is the girl next door from Ireland who is not above taking advantage of the situation. Chalky White (played by Michael K. Williams) is at the top of his game in this world, but is destined to be judged and treated by his skin color. And Michael Shannon steals the scene as the creepy erstwhile Treasury agent Van Alden. You know what else steals the scene? 3) The menswear. Take a look at the opening credits on youtube, in which Thompson is on the beach. Looks at those shoes, look at the fabric of his suit, look at that cigarette case! 4) Finally, the sets and the scenes (which, may I add, includes many of the female leads at one time or another in the buff).

It's too bad these things come to an end, in this case with five seasons. Occasionally I will watch an episode here and there, to savor, like a guilty pleasure.
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on July 5, 2016
I have watched this So Many times over. Besides being fun and a thriller, it's great history. But the best is Scorsese's directing. While other films keep upping the noise a visual chaos in hopes of getting audience attention (and turning me off), the brilliance of this film is the background music. It's fabulous period music that follows throughout, sometimes with two tapes running, one with music the other with even more subtle ambient sounds behind it. The music rarely takes over the scene or obscures dialog unless the scene, such as in a nightclub, calls for it. But otherwise it's in the background, where it belongs, just putting the icing on the cake of each scene. The performances by the whole cast are great, and Michael Pitt is terrific to watch. The scene where he and mother of his child girlfriend contemplate the outside beach scene and the meaning of life, laundry flapping in the ocean side summer breeze, is one of the best I have ever seen put together. Just plain fun and a real jewel for anyone who loves artistry in film.
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on May 14, 2016
Let me first say I have watched the entire series 3 times already (we own the complete DVD series and watched the series on HBO as it played.) and I am now watching for a 4th time! There are few storylines that keep my interest (my family get annoyed with this. If I am bored... I tell them I am bored... and that the show is dumb... and they should continue it without me. Because otherwise I get invited to watch... over and over again.). Set in the Atlantic City you are brought into the story at the start of prohibition. Your introduced to Steve Buscemi's character...Nucky Thomson. He is thought well of in Atlantic City and is even taking a stand with the women for prohibition when you realize (quickly) that he is complex and has many levels business wise. He is the founder of the Speakeasy (well not historically... but seems to be in this story line.). He leads this double life and has the best of both worlds... respect from community and business minds and is becoming a "player" in Mob infamy. They did a great job recreating what you think it would have been like flapper dresses and zoot suits with the penny loafers to match I am sure. It shows the "behind the scene's" of Mobster Endings and beginnings ... Al Capone starts out as a kid who just takes orders but is slowly making friends and moves that will make him the notorious Mobster he was... I love that the story line is complex... giving you glimpses of historical characters with stories that you can be sure are mostly made up but could have easily have been accurate crimes that were committed and traced back to the mob. I love that the storyline sticks to Nucky... Steve Buscemi plays it perfectly (Who knew he was THIS amazing!? I was very impressed and have a whole new level of respect for his talent!) What you see is someone who doesn't appear to be dangerous... an unassuming man who could have easily been a shoe salesman if that was the part... He doesn't look like a danger. But you quickly figure out his backstory and why he is "in charge". There is alot of nudity in the series... and violence. I am not someone who likes to watch shows with unnecessary nudity. If it doesn't fit in the plotline correctly it can quickly turn into porn.... I do think they played with those lines a little... because it was HBO. I think on some level it's expected. It didn't bother me... The violence... some of it is hard to watch... (especially some later in the series when your emotionally involved with the characters...) but even that didn't cross into the Horror film violence. Needless to say... it's not for young viewers... and it's not the History channel. If your looking for a historically accurate version... this isn't it... But if you want to step into what the 1920's-1930's may have looked like... this is a great story from start.... to sad finish. Well written, great cast and wonderfully directed! 5 stars!
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on May 28, 2016
First, a disclaimer of sorts: I am a political junkie. People who say they "hate politics" mystify me. It's like hating yourself because I believe Politics R Us. The world of Boardwalk Empire was us, with heightened drama, during the era of prohibition in the USA. If you hate politics, do what you can to change what you hate about it and don't bother reading this or watching Boardwalk Empire. Or watch the best made-for-TV series. Best in historical production, acting, direction, writing, cinematography, costuming, sets, lighting, and in sneaking in history lessons. (Where did the term "the real McCoy originate?) Way too sexy, violent, and addictive to be used for formal education, of course, but if you also catch director/writer/producer/actor Commentaries, this Empire is an education in film. And in historical accuracy in costume design--in those scenes when clothes are worn. Who doesn't want to walk in Steve Buscemi's shoes?
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on June 17, 2016
I loved it. I'm a fan of period settings and this one does it with flair. I have no idea if the costumes and Boardwalk are historically accurate, but it sure wows me. The cast is polished, with the characters presenting full personas that hint at their back stories without actually having to present them fully. I like a show that allows the audience to infer details without having to spoon feed the information. It is violent at times, with graphic depictions of murder. Personally, I never like seeing graphic violence, but it seems to be a common part of modern drama. I suppose an argument could be made that the brutality of the times warrants nothing less. There's nudity and sexual situations peppered throughout the episodes, so for those opposed to such displays, be advised. Every character is flawed, adding to the intricacy of the warp and weft of the tale. I'm starting season 2, something I wouldn't do if I didn't find the storyline compelling.
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on May 20, 2016
I worked and lived in Atlantic City area for 20+ years. I was working on South Carolina Avenue the day they blew up the Marlborough-Blenheim hotel. I did not go to watch this destruction - it was a sad day, near the beginning of the complete ruination of this fine city by greedy developers, business leaders, and selfish politicians. So I never tire of watching the intro with Enoch Thompson on the beach with a good view of (what appears to be) this departed landmark. In fact the episodes are, for me, extremely nostalgic. Even though they take place many years before I was born the scenes of gaudy buildings, beaches, and boardwalk images evoke smells of sand, salt water and creosote that are still with us (except the creosote). Even the prohibition-era characters are precursors of what the Atlantic City has become in spite of the efforts of many good and well intentioned residents and leaders. The passage of time adds an aura of fun and excitement and, just like millions of others, I can't get enough.
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on November 1, 2016
You've watched Good Fellas, The Sopranos and even the 1960's series The Untouchables, now enter into the world
of "Nucky" Thompson and his empire of bootlegging, whoring and crooked politics on the Boardwalk of Atlanta City
in the early 1920's. Based loosely on the actual mobster, Enoch "Nucky" Johnson, there is interaction between his
empire and that of New York City's Arnold Rothstein, Charles "Lucky" Luciano and Meyer Lansky as well as the Chicago
of Johnny Torrio and Al Capone. There is lots of drama and interaction of minor but necessary characters surrounding these
bosses of prohibition; the whores, thugs, still workers, prohibition agents, "business associates" and even families. Step back
in time and enjoy a shot of illegal hooch.
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