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Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) does whatever is necessary to succeed in Ridley Scotts

Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) does whatever is necessary to succeed in Ridley Scott’s American Gangster

AMERICAN GANGSTER (Ridley Scott, 2007)
Nitehawk Cinema
136 Metropolitan Ave. between Berry St. & Wythe Ave.
Sunday, July 16, 11:00 am
Series runs through August 26

Nitehawk Cinema turns back the clock a decade for its summer series “Back10: 2007,” presenting sixteen films that premiered that year, which saw No Country for Old Men nab Best Picture, Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood) win Best Actor, and Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose) capture the Best Actress trophy at the eightieth Academy Awards. The series begins July 15 at midnight with David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises, followed Sunday morning by American Gangster. Based on a true story, Ridley Scott’s American Gangster tracks the path of two very different men during the Vietnam War era. Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) is a proud, dedicated man from poor southern roots who is determined to become the most respected and loved drug lord of Harlem. Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) is an honest-to-a-fault Jewish cop studying to become a lawyer while failing miserably in his personal life. Cold, calculating, and smooth as silk, Lucas will do whatever is necessary to ensure his absolute success, including shooting another player in the head in plain view on an uptown street. Meanwhile, Roberts becomes a pariah in the corrupt police department when he finds nearly a million dollars in cash and turns it in. As the war escalates in Southeast Asia, Lucas and Roberts are both on a dangerous road that threatens to explode all around them.

Filmed in New York City, American Gangster — featuring an excellent script by Steven Zaillian and intense, superb direction from Scott (Blade Runner, Alien — is a compelling thinking man’s mob pic, a worthy successor to (and mash-up of) such genre classics as The French Connection, Serpico, and New Jack City. The diverse all-star cast also includes Chiwetel Ejiofor, RZA, T.I., Josh Brolin, Carla Gugino, Cuba Gooding Jr., Armand Assante, Idris Elba, Joe Morton, Roger Bart, Common, Kevin Corrigan, John Hawkes, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Norman Reedus, and the great Ruby Dee and Clarence Williams III. Nominated for two Oscars — Dee for Best Supporting Actress and Arthur Max and Beth Rubino for Best Art Direction — American Gangster is screening July 16 at 11:00 in the morning in Nitehawk’s “Back10” series, which continues through August 26 with such other decade-old fare as J. A. Bayona’s The Orphanage, Rob Zombie’s Halloween reboot, Tony Gilroy’s Michael Clayton, Jason Reitman’s Juno, and Danny Boyle’s Sunshine.

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