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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

No Country vs. American Gangster

Two recent movies which are all about greed, The American Dream and drug dealer's money are "American Gangster" and "No Country for Old Men". The similarities of these movies basically is they both star Josh Brolin and both feature the greed and ruthless nature of drug dealers as they kill, plunder and ruin lives to pursue wealth. Both movies take us into the world of drug dealers who will move forward at all costs, killing everyone in their way.

"American Gangster" stars Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe. It depicts Frank Lucas (Denzel) who started out as a driver for the notorious gangster named "Bumpy". Frank was with Bumpy everyday and learned his mentor's gangster ways. When Bumpy passed one day, Frank took over the operations and decided to expand. He became very business-minded and money hungry. Capitalizing on the Vietnam War and the increasing use of marijuana, heroin and opium, he began to ship product in from overseas with the military. The product was called "Blue Magic" which was 100% pure and Frank's brand. Frank quickly became the biggest name in Harlem, and one of the most ruthless. He still had to deal with crooked cops and rival gangsters, as well as the realization that a dream built illegally can come crashing down. Crowe plays the detective tracking Frank and trying to bring him in, while also trying to mend his own broken life. The movie served as Jay-Z's inspiration for the great album of the same title as the movie. While I didn't find this movie any more impressive than other mobster movies such as Goodfellas, Bronx Tale or Scarface, it definitely serves an important purpose and has relevance as it depicts how our society has evolved.

"No Country for Old Men" stars Tommy Lee Jones and Woody Harrelson as well as Javier Bardem, the winner of this year's Best Supporting Actor award for playing a seriously crazy serial killer. The movie itself won best picture, so it's worth seeing. Without giving away too much of it, it tells the tale of a Cowboy (Brolin) who is out hunting in the vast country fields of Texas. He stumbles upon a gruesome drug deal gone bad, with dead bodies strewn everywhere. Not far off from the crime scene, is another dead man with a suitcase full of money. The cowboy decides to take the rich prize, which includes a tracking device in it. Of course, the drug dealers want their money back and the man quickly becomes the target for the craziest of the drug dealers, a serial killer who stalks him, and his family. Tommy Lee Jones serves as an older law enforcement agent in the area trying to track the seriously whacked out killer down. The movie was entertaining and kept you wondering what would happen as the killer pursued the man who stole his money. The ending may be a let down for some but provide relevance to others. Give this one a try and see what you think of the latest "Best Picture" Oscar winner. If nothing else it does include some great acting performances from not only the serial killer but also Tommy Lee Jones and a swimming drug dealer's dog.

While both movies are set in different times with different characters, they both serve to show that the drug trade as well as greed in our country will almost always lead to the destruction of many lives and families. Not only that, but money made illegally will almost always catch up to the person who made it.

(Also of note, American Gangster stars several rappers: TI, Common and RZA from Wu-Tang Clan.)

No Country for Old Men available on DVD at

American Gangster (2-Disc Unrated Extended Edition) available on DVD at

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