Miller's Crossing
**** GM
Starring: Gabriel Byrne, Albert Finney, Jon Polito, Marcia Gay Harden, John Turturro, Steve Buscemi, J.E. Freeman


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Damn, this is such a cool movie.

This could be the Coen Brothers' best movie. Doublecross on top of doublecross, a chess game with rogue knights between two affable crime bosses and a lot of great dialog combine into this spiffy masterpiece. Yes, I'm saying masterpiece - a term I don't use often, because it's not SUPPOSED to be used often - there can be only ONE masterpiece in any given collection of films. There cannot be 'another new masterpiece' because a new masterpiece would mean the last masterpiece ceases to BE a masterpiece. It is now just a drooling-manservantpiece or something. Although I haven't yet seen Barton Fink or Blood Simple, for now, I'm calling this the Coens' masterpiece.

Tom (Gabriel Byrne), a genius at knowing all the angles, is the right-hand man best friend to Leo (Albert Finney), but he's also playing a bad one by secretly carrying on with Verna (Marcia Gay Harden), who's publicly carrying on with Leo in an effort to get protection for his no-account brother Bernie Bernbaum (John Turturro), who's been sellin' info about the fixed fights that up-and-coming power player Johnny Caspar (Jon Polito), who's trying to get Leo to allow him to ice the dirty rat for doin' it. Leo, unaware of Verna's deception, doesn't give up the rat, which Caspar interprets as being given "the high hat," and it starts off a gang war between Caspar and Leo that catches everybody up in the crossfire and has Tom riding the fence and playin' both sides against each other.

Lots of twists and turns, Byrne's smoothness, and lines like "Take yer flunkies and dangle!" and "You think yer so smart... 'cept ya ain't!" make this a lot of fun to follow, and in the same way Lawrence Tierney made "Reservoir Dogs," Jon Polito makes "Miller's Crossing." A crotchety bastard with a gravelly voice that says funny things all the time. It's got powerful moments, eerie moments, hilarious moments and gut-wrenching moments. Turturro's a great little rat weasel, J.E. Freeman as Caspar's gay right hand bad-ass Dane is pretty snappy and imposing, and Finney is as good as he always is. It's just a great crime story, and ya can't help but love great crime stories.

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