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The Cotton Club
review by Zach B.
Running Time: 129 minutes
Starring Richard Gere, Gregory Hines, Diane Lane,
Lonette McKee, Bob Hoskins, James Remar, Nicolas Cage, Allen
Garfield, Fred Gwynne
Screenplay by William Kennedy & Francis
Story by William Kennedy & Francis Coppola and Mario
Directed by Francis Coppola
Retail Price: $19.98
Features: Theatrical Trailer
Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby
Digital 5.1, French Dolby Mono, English Closed Captions,
French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Scene Selections (16
It's 1928 in Harlem, New York. Jazz and gangsters are
king in an interesting lifestyle. Richard Gere plays Dixie
Dwyer, a musician who witnesses a murder. Because of this,
he becomes a private entertainer for a mob king named Dutch
Schultz. While Dixie begins to fall in love with his girl,
Vera, his brother Vincent starts to work for Dutch himself.
Another story involves a tap dancer named Sandman Williams
who tries to win the heart of lounge singer Lea Rose Oliver.
A lot of this and more intertwines through the exclusive
Cotton Club, a club which comes to represent so much through
the lives of people, including dreams and hopes.
"The Cotton Club" is one of Coppola's movies that some
people do forget, but with it, there is quite a rich history
of production problems and fights behind it. You'd think
with Coppola thinking up the story with William Kennedy and
Mario Puzo they'd have another "Godfather" like hit on their
hands, but the film did lower expectations of quite a few.
Sure it's no "Apocalypse Now", but it's no "Jack" either. Of
all of Coppola's movies, I'd say it falls somewhere in the
middle, perhaps a little higher up. But just a little higher
up. The movie did garner some acclaim, not to mention some
award nominations, but when people think of Coppola, they
don't really think of this movie.
"The Cotton Club" certainly has a wonderful premise and
setting, but I found the movie to be hit and miss. The
characters and story are certainly there, as they are nicely
developed and have a lot to them. The characters are quite
believable, as we see they have a lot of emotion and feeling
to them. Still, my problems with the movie is how it drags
on and times and I always didn't find things always so
enthralling. Still, the movie has a lot of moments that
certainly are memorable.
The acting in this movie is great, as Coppola has a
wonderful ensemble. Gere as Dixie Dwyer is a good fit, while
the chemistry he shares with Diane Lane is very good. Lane
herself stands on her own as a strong character, while
Coppola's nephew Nicolas Cage does a good job as Vincent.
Bob Hoskins has a smaller role as a mob boss, and it's
amazing as far as the range he features. Still, the real
standout is Gregory Hines. He also has great chemistry with
Lonette McKee. Still, Hines' enthusiasm, dancing skills (of
course) and presence is a joy to watch, and that can't be
denied. A great ensemble here.
Coppola's directing in this movie is certainly good, as
he really makes us feel like we're in Harlem during 1928.
The music stylings, the realistic and deep settings, the
props and his very nice shots give it a really remarkable
feel. The editing in this movie gives it all a nice flow
too. It's a bit hard to describe, but in all, he really does
transport us back to an interesting time as we feel all of
which is unfolding right before our eyes. While this movie
is not for everyone, Coppola fans and fans of old-time,
classic gansgter stories of sorts will want to check this
The 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer looks pretty darn good. It
shows wear and age, but it could have worse. Pieces of dirt
and blemishes appear on the print throughout, not to mention
the amount of scratches, nicks and blotches. This gets very
distracting and annoying. The picture looks a little faded
and soft at times, not to mention the visible grain. Blacks
are pretty solid and detail is decent, while hues and colors
that light up the clubs and fabulous settings are well
saturated and do stand out. Nothing groundbreaking, but
pretty good. Too bad the little annoyances all over the
print get in the way.
The new 5.1 Dolby Digital mix is pretty strong, though I
felt if the movie was a bit newer, it'd be stronger. Still,
it's really good for what it is. The variety of jazz music
has a really strong presence, as it is well mixed throughout
all the channels and makes the movie just come more to life
since it is a big focus and backdrop of the movie. There
really is a lot of it and often comes to represent scenes of
the movie. The violent sounds give off good surrounds, and
the .1 LFE is pretty good. Tap sounds, dancing, the sounds
of the street... it really takes you there surprisingly.
Dialogue is clean and not distorted, but now and then other
sounds get in the way. This is a strong mix for what it is,
and was a nice surprise that way. French and Spanish
subtitles, plus English closed captions are included.
The Theatrical Trailer that lasts a good length.
It's in anamorphic widescreen. Features on making the movie
or background on actual clubs in the 1920s and 1930s would
have been nice.
"The Cotton Club" has a decent transfer, a good new remix
and is pretty bare bones. While the price is cheap, die-hard
fans of the movie should only check it out. Everyone else,
give it a rental.
(3.5/5 - NOT included in
(2.5/5, NOT an average)