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Kamis, 19 Mei 2011

Barry Levinson - Bugsy (1991)

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Plot
Bugsy is a character study of mobster Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel wrapped up in a gangster movie. Siegel (Warren Beatty in a flashy performance) arrives in California in the Forties, assigned to oversee the L.A. rackets. He is quickly seduced by both the glamour of Hollywood and actress Virginia Hill (Annette Bening), whom he romances despite being unable to leave his wife and children. Siegel soon has a vision to transform a barren stretch of Nevada desert into an oasis of gambling and entertainment -- the seeds from which Las Vegas was sown. Funded by his gangster bosses, including Meyer Lansky (Ben Kingsley), the flamboyant Siegel sees his budget soar past its original $6 million, a problem compounded by the fact that Virginia has embezzled $2 million of it. In trouble with his superiors, Siegel flies back to L.A. to face the music, telling Virginia to keep the money. He would not live to see his dream of Las Vegas come true. The film is fast-paced and well-directed by Barry Levinson, with an intelligent script by James Toback and excellent support from Kingsley and Harvey Keitel as gangster Mickey Cohen. ~ Don Kaye, Rovi

Review
Barry Levinson's biopic dazzles with glitter but lacks gold. The film deals primarily with Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel's obsessive quest to turn a Nevada desert wasteland into the American gambling mecca of Las Vegas. While this is an engaging enough subject, no attention is paid to Bugsy's New York background and rise through the gangland ranks, making his character interesting but ultimately one-dimensional. Within the film's narrow scope, compelling plot lines are drawn, including Bugsy's torrid romance with femme-fatale Hollywood starlet Virginia Hill (Annette Bening). However, the film drags on for over two hours, making the resolution more welcome than scintillating. The grit and darkness of the Godfather-style gangster flick is absent, replaced by Hollywood gloss. However, the direction is fairly plush and the gangster American Dream theme is fleshed out poignantly. Moreover, Warren Beatty gives an inspired performance in the title role and Harvey Keitel as Mickey Cohen and Ben Kingsley as Meyer Lansky give solid supporting performances. The end result is an entertaining film that works, but unfortunately its epic length is not matched by epic quality.

~ Mike DiBella, Rovi

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