Sunday, March 27, 2011

Kill The Irishman

I was intrigued by the title first, then I did little WTH? sleuthing and decided that I had to see this one, even if it did require a 50 mile drive into Orange County.

Kill The Irishman (I love that title) chronicles the rise and fall of crime boss Danny Greene, centering on events leading up to his assassination and subsequent collapse of the Cleveland mafia.
I was a little young to remember details of all this, but I do remember that it happened, and the headlines of the time.

Accordingly, the films characters portray the real life individuals of this drama, but since I have zero knowledge as to the personalities connected to the names and am unable to judge how well the actors lived up to their roles, I'll just call 'em as I saw 'em...
  • Danny Greene: Large and muscular, with a big set of balls. An 'alpha' kind of guy. Men and women are drawn to him out of respect, fear, admiration or a combination of all three. The kind of guy you didn't mess with, but also contained a rare bit of goodness in him. Played by Ray Stevensen. I'd say he pulled this off quite well without over doing it.
  • Shondor Burns: a Jewish loan shark and nightclub operator, played by Christopher Walken. walkien is supposedly a good actor, especially with the gangster/strong man boss roles. Still, every time he opened his mouth all I saw was .... from True Romance, and this scene kept returning to my mind.
  • Joe Manditski: a detective and /acquaintance/friend of Greene, who also serves as narrator. Played by Val Kilmer. Unconvincing, Kilmer is better than this, much better. I guess the role wasn't that meaty to begin with.
  • Joan Madigan: Greene's wife. Loyal yet suspicious, she eventually leaves him in disgust over his activities. Portrayed by Linda Cardellini, who is cute.
  • John Nardi: Union racketeer, loyal ally and jock sniffer of Greene. Portrayed by Vincent D'Onofrio in the wussiest depiction of a mobster I've ever seen. Lame and unconvincing.
  • Ellie O'Hara: Greene's post-wife girlfriend, played by Laura Ramsey. Seems her main purpose here is to appear really cute and flash an impressive rack. She pulls it off with aplomb.
  • Ray Ferritto: Hitman, and first domino that led to the whole Cleveland mob being brought down. Played by Robert Davi doing his type of thing.
Things I liked:
  • Period appropriate architecture and cityscaping: It seems to have been filmed in the Cleveland of the 70's, but it was actually filmed in Detroit. I assume it's because Detroit hasn't built anything or upgraded their city since the 70's. (Still, it would have been nice to have it filmed in the city it is set in, especially when it concerns such recent history. OK, recent to me and you. A lot less recent for Tully, my inactive co-blogger and native Clevelander.)
  • Automotive Porn: A feast for my eyes showcasing lot's and lot's of American made, 60-70's era cars. Of all makes and models. So now you know where my car gene resides: Right here, in this era. I love the look and feel of these machines, and still miss my Gran Torino, my Cordoba, my Rambler and my Maverick and would be thrilled to have any one of them back and sitting in my garage again.
  • Celtic Music: Pipes touch the soul, and nothing accentuates the subtlety of a minor dramatic moment like an appropriately placed skirl in the 'background'.
Criticisms (yeah, here it comes...): Danny Greene fancied himself a Celtic warrior under the protection of the Saints, and wore his Irish pride like a royal robe. If anything, he was a white trash thug wearing a cheap green suit. Any romantic presentation of his life does a disservice to the decent and hard-laboring Irish descendants whom he routinely stole from.
And those Irish who took pride in one of 'their own' and cheered him on disgrace their heritage, their culture, and their Faith.

What's more, this film's release was intentionally scheduled to coincide with St. Patrick's Day in cities with a large Irish presence, in an obvious attempt to cash in on Irish pride as it currently manifests in this country. As a hesitant-to-admit Irish descendant and a Catholic in the Celtic tradition, I find this source of 'pride' to be pathetic, disgraceful, and an offense to everything St. Patrick stood for and taught to the people he dedicated his life to.
My word to some of the Irish: if such a vile man amongts you is estimable, then God bless Cromwell.

In closing...
Though not the best production for the silver screen cause it seems to lack the grandness of vision one would expect for something intended for the theaters, and would be more suitable as a cable production, HBO or something, the direction was tight, the story well told and not once did my mind wander while the screenplay kept my interest.
It's a solidly entertaining movie that I heartily recommend to anybody and everybody with one caveat... it's a limited release that may not be in your market just yet, unless you live among the Irish hordes. If that's the case, don't trip over any drunks passed out in the aisles. And don't wear green, or somebody might think you're one of them.


Brian said...

Sounds like it'll be on Netflix in a few months...

I wondered whatever happened to Linda Cardelini. She was great on Freaks and Geeks, and one of the few players on that show that didn't seem to make it kind of big afterward.

Mr. D said...

Linda Cardellini was on "ER" for years. Yeah, I know, nobody watched ER after the first few years, but she was a pretty major character. And I agree, she's cute.

Brian said...

I quit watching ER when they gave Goose brain cancer. Glad to know she's done alright, even if I haven't seen any of it...

Gino said...

yeah, but any thoughts on Kill The Irishman?

Mr. D said...

Kill the Irishman hasn't gotten to Minnesota yet, dude. Assuming it gets here eventually, I'll see if I can check it out, based on your recommendation.

Now can we get back to talking about Linda Cardellini? ;)

Brian said...

Yeah, not enough Irish in Seattle, I guess.

Seriously, though, I almost never go out to the movies anymore. I've got a nice TV, comfortable seating, and unlimited access to booze in my living room.