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Revisiting 1990: Miller’s Crossing

August 9, 2010

Considered For: Top 5

“What’s the rumpus?”

This is the first movie I watched on my quest to figure out the best movies of the past twenty years. I knew I’d seen it before, but for some reason I couldn’t remember anything about Miller’s Crossing. Even reading the synopsis didn’t ring much of a bell. I wonder how long it’s been since I’ve seen it… certainly since watching films has become important to me, which makes it weird that I was drawing a total blank. Not long into the movie though, things started clicking, and I remembered liking Miller’s Crossing very much. I left it off my initial top five list for 1990, but after getting a grilling on a hip-hop forum I post on for omitting it, I knew it was time to revisit this early Coen Brothers production.

Joel and Ethan Coen have been some really consistent filmmakers over the years. No Country For Old Men, The Big Lebowski, and Fargo all rank amongst my favorite films of their respective years, and now, Miller’s Crossing can be added to that list. I have no doubt that when my journey through 1990 is finished, this movie will be in my top five and, possibly, my top flick of the year. In Miller’s Crossing, the Coens tell a mob story that finds Tom Reagan (Gabriel Byrne) playing a loyal advisor to crime boss Leo (Albert Finney). Tom finds himself in hot water when it’s discovered that he’s banging the boss’ lady (Marcia Gay Harden), but Tom is never one to panic when he finds himself in hot water and always seems to have a plan in motion.

While I won’t say Miller’s Crossing is a spectacular mob film like, say, The Godfather, it’s definitely a solid story. Byrne plays Tom with a calm, cool, and collected suave… so much so, that you never doubt that he’s in control of all his problems. John Turturro shows up as Harden’s brother, and the cause of the initial conflict in the film…. the shmatte. He’s at his pathetic best when he’s taken out to Miller’s Crossing for his reckoning. Albert Finney, Marcia Gay Harden, and Jon Polito all give solid performances as well.

It’s probably been a while since most people have seen this movie and for those of you that haven’t, I’d highly recommend it. An early Coen Brothers classic!

Grade: A
Viewings: 2
Replay Value: Worth owning
Oscars: Snubbed
Nudity?: I don’t think so.

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