The Hustler and The Color of Money

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The Hustler and The Color of Money

Post by Kazu » Sat Jan 03, 2004 4:25 am

Kean mentioned obsessive personalities in his Vertigo post, which immediately brought to mind the character of "Fast Eddie" Felson played by Paul Newman in both Robert Rossen's The Hustler and the Scorsese-directed sequel, The Color of Money.

I was recently doing some research on Paul Newman films and saw what a wonderful list of roles he had chosen for himself in films like The Verdict or The Hustler. Very flawed characters with all-too-human self-destructive tendencies. Watching these films, I felt cleansed, in a way, after seeing a man make the kinds of drastic choices we are all bound to make should we let our obsessive desires and duties take over our lives. Or maybe that's just something that speaks to me. :D

Anyway, The Hustler and The Color of Money feature Paul Newman at the top of his game in performances that show a man at his most confident and his most vulnerable, often jumping quickly between scenes. The pool-playing sequences are top notch, as are the performances of the supporting actors, with Jackie Gleason as the respectable and formidable Minnesota Fats, and Tom Cruise as a brash young upstart protege in The Color of Money. Good stuff.
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Post by Kean » Sat Jan 03, 2004 10:14 am

The Hustler is an absolutely fantastic movie, but I just couldn't get into The Color of Money. It was a significantly weaker story compared to The Hustler, and although some of the pool shots in the movie were pretty darned cool, even Scorsese couldn't save the sinking ship that was the end of the film.

Actually, Scorsese tends to do that to me -- I run either hot or cold with the guy. I didn't particularly think Gangs of New York was all that strong either, mostly because I had issues with the lack of a plot for a three-hour movie... but then again, one of Scorsese's virtually plotless films (Taxi Driver) is still one of the greatest films ever.

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Post by Chevalier » Sat Jan 03, 2004 2:48 pm

I liked the Color of Money, but only at it's entertainment level. But then again, I've never much cared for Scorsese. I felt that the strength for 'Taxi Driver' came not from him, but from Paul Schrader and De Niro. Schrader's 'Hardcore' was almost as good a film. 'Hardcore' starred George C. Scott, who, to return to 'The Hustler', also played Bert in that film.

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Post by Kazu » Sat Jan 03, 2004 4:39 pm

Great points, guys. I do agree that Scorsese can falter a little more often than most people care to admit, but he is still a solid director. During his films, I usually get the feeling that I know I'm watching something really, really good, but I'm watching it all from a distance. It's probably due to the incredibly high intensity of the performances and their almost too-perfect dialogue. You get a strange mix of grittiness and evangelical tough-speak from people you are most likely too frightened to meet in real life. Does that make any sense? Hehe. I think Tarantino does the same thing, but he tends to be a lot more tongue-in-cheek. With Scorsese, I can definitely see he's stepping outside the material and creating great theatre, but the rawness of the performances tends to muddle the viewer a bit. For example, I watched Gangs of New York right after seeing Adaptation and it was one of the most harrowing movie experiences I've ever had. It's like watching something that opens up your brain a little bit and having somebody come in and attack it with knives. Khang actually had to walk out of the theater and go home. Hehe.
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Post by douglas a. bot » Sat Jan 03, 2004 5:35 pm

I watched Gangs of New York right after seeing Adaptation and it was one of the most harrowing movie experiences I've ever had.
Have you tried reading the book? Thats how i felt reading the book. It's something you have to just pick chapters from and read every now and then. Incredibly overwhelming trying to read it from cover to cover...but there are some amazing stories in there.
I'm a bit of a Scorsese slut...so...i love pretty much everything he touches...though it's been years since i've seen colour of money so i may have to give it another go.
Why did your friend walk out of Gangs?

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Post by Kazu » Sat Jan 03, 2004 9:15 pm

I think he felt the film was a little too emotionally violent (after watching Adaptation, which is such a self-reflexive film) and theatrically over-the-top. I know how he felt, because I was squirming in my seat the whole time. Had it been the only film I watched that day, I know I wouldn't have felt the same way.

Daniel Day-Lewis's performance as Bill the Butcher is mesmerizing. He steals every scene he's in and eats it all up. The fact that both Day-Lewis and Scorsese can make you understand such a monstrous individual is just incredible.
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Post by Kean » Sun Jan 04, 2004 1:06 am

I completely agree that Daniel Day-Lewis was great in Gangs. From Doug's description of the book, I might actually give it a look through. Mostly because I've been doing something similar lately -- reading random paragraphs and passages from Ballard's The Atrocity Exhibition before going to bed each night.

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