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A Most Violent Year

A Movie About Democratic Mayors in NYC


Yes, it was.

My second year in NYC is a testament to the "stalwart" leadership the Upper West Side of Manhattan puts into Gracie Mansion. Times Square did its best to imitate northern Las Vegas; Central Park led the way in assaults, robberies, and general inhospitality; and Hizzoner Ed Koch set a record for asking, "How'm I doin'?"

To which the beleaguered residents replied;

"Lousy, you dick!"

In 1981, Yours truly would run for his proverbial, and literal, life after the dinner shift at the Waldorf. I took the 6 train to either 103rd or 116th as I lived in East Harlem at the time. I don't think Usain Bolt could have run me down as I fled to one of my apartments.

"A Most Violent Year" chronicles the plight of Abel Morales, the owner of a heating oil distribution company. As Rodney Dangerfield said in "Back to School," "I don't need to remind you who runs that business."

Abel is a decent man, and refuses to mob up his company. This leads to his competition, all mobbed up, to purloin his trucks; beat his employees senseless; and put his attempts to expand in jeopardy.

The film has excellent secondary characters. Jessica Chastain is great as his supportive, formerly mobbed up wife. Albert Brooks as his partner, Andrew is just excellent. Albert should be the Character Actor of Month flavor in Hollywood. He's always good. David Oyelowo turns in his usual wonderful turn as a POSSIBLY compromised D.A.

Then what's the problem?

Oscar Isaac as Abel Morales.

He's good. In fact, at times he's VERY good.

But he can't quite carry the film.

I do recommend it. "A Most Violent Year" captures the stark and depressing state of New York at the time. The art direction is mundane and colorless. The autos are a collection of cobbled together K cars foisted on the American public by a government and industry outrun by the Japanese. The clothes are utilitarian at best. The scenery is cold and uninviting.

On the whole, it is a good film. As someone who survived the stupidity of the feckless leadership of New York (Sadly, might have to do it again), it brings back memories of despair and hopelessness. I missed the two terms of Rudy and the three of Bloomberg, and am sorry I did.

The film captures the, God I hate this word, malaise of a city caught in the grip of the criminal element with nowhere to turn for help.


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