Nick Leshi

Nick Leshi
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Bronx, New York, United States of America
Birthday
December 13
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Writer, actor, media professional, fan of entertainment, pop culture, and speculative fiction. Contact nickleshi@aol.com for more info.

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NOVEMBER 4, 2011 11:47AM

Upcoming Gangster Movies

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Even though they are often fraught with stereotypes, gangster movies are still one of my all-time guilty pleasures.  Some of my favorite films are in that genre: The Godfather, Carlito's Way, Goodfellas, Donnie Brasco, TV's The Sopranos, and countless others.  Hollywood is a slave to trends, and it looks like a swarm of mob movies are coming our way.  Here are a few that grabbed my attention:

Gangster Squad - An all-star cast highlights this period piece set in the 1940s and 1950s about the Los Angeles police trying to deal with East Coast mafia members who are trying to expand their illicit operations to the City of Angels.  It stars Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Giovanni Ribisi, Nick Nolte, Robert Patrick, etc.  It's directed by Ruben Flescher who previously helmed the crime movie 30 Minutes or Less and the cult action flick Zombieland.

Gotti: In the Shadow of My Father - HBO is producing this eagerly anticipated biopic starring John Travolta as John Gotti, Sr., and Ben Foster as John Gotti, Jr.  It also stars the amazing Al Pacino, Chazz Palminteri, Kelly Preston, and Ella Bleu Travolta.  Legendary Barry Levinson (Sleepers, Wag the Dog, Bugsy, Rainman, The Natural, Diner, etc.) is directing, so I have high expectations for this project.

The Iceman - Based on the true story of hitman Richard Kuklinski, it stars Michael Shannon, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Ray Liotta.

The Irishman - This adaptation of I Heard You Paint Houses (the new title is much, much better) deals with a guy who has amnesia and is working for a mobster.  It stars the phenomenal Joe Pesci.

J. Edgar - Okay, this technically isn't a gangster movie, but it's a biopic of notorious law enforcement icon J. Edgar Hoover, played by Leonardo DeCaprio and directed by the always awesome Clint Eastwood.  I can't wait to see it.

Looper - Here's a twist.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, and Emily Blunt star in this science fiction mob movie -- a killer recognizes one of his targets as his future self.  It's directed by Rian Johnson who gave us the con artist flick The Brothers Bloom.

Mob Street - Another true story is dramatized for the big screen, this time a look at the mafia's infiltration of Wall Street.  The cast includes tabloid problem child Lindsay Lohan who could use a hit to keep her entertainment career alive.  Did I mention that Chazz Palminteri wrote the screenplay?

Now You See See Me - It might not really be gangster, but this crime story certainly has the feel -- it covers a team of "Robin Hood" bank robber illusionists who give their stolen money to their audiences.  It features another great cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Morgan Freeman, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Michael Caine, and others.  The director is Louis Letterier who brought The Transporter, The Incredible Hulk, and the Clash of the Titans remake to life.

Scarface - Diehard fans of the Al Pacino version must be crying "blasphemy" at the news that Universal Pictures plans to remake that iconic Brian DePalma cult classic about mobster Tony Montana. No doubt, it will be tough to beat, but remember, it too was a "sort-of" remake of the Howard Hughes classic about gangster Tony Camonte.  More news as it develops.

Takers - A detective battles a group of bank robbers.  Again, not strictly mafia, but close enough.  The film stars Chris Brown, Hayden Christensen, and Matt Dillon.

As usual, if any of those hit it big, expect to see even more in the pipeline.

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People really need to see the Howard Hawks' "Scarface". Howard Hughes was one of the producers, but Hawks directed. Shot in black and white with amazing camera work and thematic directorial flourishes it is film student must. Pay close attention to the way Hawks places an x on Tony's next victim, even to the point of taping Cesca's criss-cross back straps to her dress to her shoulder blades after Tony tears the front of her dress down. Paul Muni has a deeply threatening presence that Pacino's Tony couldn't generate despite his constant scenery chewing.