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there was, at least from my recollection, where sean penn was a great actor put wasn't fulfilling his promise. he has pretty much stuck as spicoli from fast times. well, with carlito's way all that changed. he is so good in this he became a legend of the silver screen. he is so good in this you don't even realize you are watching him (at least at the time of the film's release).
but it isn't only penn that makes this one of brian de palma's best pictures, it is everything and everyone involved. luiz guzman kills it, john leguizamo kills it and penelope ann miller has never been better. and then you have al pacino in one of his greatest roles and greatest understated performances. together pacino and de palma have made a film that not only acts as a pseudo sequel to scarface (if tony montana had gone to prison instead of dying) but actually succeeded in being a better and stronger film than their previous effort.
the cinematography is gorgeous, the music is emotionally fabulous and the editing is tight, tense and terrific. it pretty much beats scarface on every level of filmmaking, except cinematography where it doesn't beat it but it easily matches it.
not a second too long and not a scene overdrawn, carlito's way is a perfectly realized story of a former gang leader trying to make it straight when he's released from the slammer. by far one of de palma's best works, easily one of his most accessible films and truly magnetic in it's execution.
if you want to watch a staple of 90's faces and two of cinema's greatest talents (de palma and pacino) in a film that won't leave you disappointed then you cannot miss carlito's way.
this, my friends, is what cinema is all about.
production design: 9 out of 10
cinematography: 9 out of 10
re-playability: 8 out of 10
originality: 9 out of 10
costumes: 10 out of 10
directing: 9 out of 10
editing: 9 out of 10
acting: 10 out of 10
music: 8 out of 10
script: 8 out of 10
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