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Friday, May 06, 2005

Organized Crime Movies

My wife and I watch movies like crazy (we belong to Netflix). A few weeks ago we saw Ocean's Twelve, with George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, etc. It wasn't nearly as good as the first one (which itself was a remake of course), but it did raise an interesting point: How to compare the relative criminal talents of Ocean (Clooney), who is a great leader, versus this other master thief, who always works alone? It seems to me a good criterion would be how much money (on net) they steal per gang member. E.g. even though the casino heist (in the first movie) may have netted more total, Ocean should be penalized for having to use ten (or 11? I don't remember if "Ocean's Eleven" counts Ocean himself) other guys.

We also finished the Godfather trilogy. The third one was nothing compared to the first two, but that's somewhat like saying the Holy Ghost is nothing compared to the first two persons of the Trinity. I wonder how much Pacino got paid for III? He carried that movie, but again, there aren't too many movies that have Al Pacino plus Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, James Caan, etc.

Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that the reason Vito Corleone was so much more respected (and feared) than Michael was that Vito never lied. Sure, he wasn't a good libertarian; he'd initiate aggression all the time. But at least in the movies (I can't remember if this is true in the novel), the original Don Corleone wouldn't pretend to be your friend and then have someone shoot you two months later.*

* A possible exception I suppose is in II when the young Vito (Robert DeNiro) pays off that one guy, then tracks him down and shoots him in his apartment. But even here, it's not nearly as duplicitous as Michael's antics.

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