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Carlito’s Way (1993) | List of Shame

This is not my first Brian De Palma film, though I believe it is the first one of his best of’s. I’ve quite obviously watched Mission: Impossible. I’ve also seen Black Dahlia, though completely unaware it was a De Palma film – but honestly, it was 2006, I was 14 years old, all I cared about was that Josh Hartnett was in it. So between Hartnett and some stylish sunglasses, my perception of this director wasn’t that great. But with a record like Scarface, The Untouchables and Carlito’s Way, one cannot be unaware of him.

Carlito’s Way came across to me as a rather funny film. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be that way, but the characters seemed almost like a caricature of the typical latin-american-gangster. I’m a big fan of gangster movies. I rejoice with the sleek hair, those over-the-top gold rings, and of course, the character’s names. Carlito’s Way actually has some good ones: Carlito Brigante, Pachanga, the traditional Vinnie, Tony and Frankie Taglialucci, Guajiro, Rolando, and perhaps the film’s most iconic name, Benny Blanco – played by the amazing John Leguizamo. Such musicality.

But on a more serious note, the acting is superb. Al Pacino is Al Pacino, that owl-like look is unforgettable. But Sean Penn was the one that truly surprised me: I knew it was him playing Kleinfeld, but I had a hard time believing it, and not only because of that flashy hairstyle, but mainly because of his voice. The last two Sean Penn films I saw were Milk and I Am Sam, and the variation of his voice in these three films is astonishing – not only concerning accents but also, and most importantly, in terms of tone and rhythm. From the entire length of this film, the only part that I didn’t particularly like, and actually annoyed me a bit, was that last scene – she cries don’t leave me, Charlie way too many times. Or maybe that’s just me.

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