HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
First Love
Countess from Hong Kong, A
Storm Boy
Storm Boy
Frozen II
White Sheik, The
Whalebone Box, The
Hunt, The
Invisible Man, The
Honey Boy
System Crasher
Judy & Punch
Bacurau
Battling Butler
Vivarium
Seven Chances
Dogs Don't Wear Pants
Navigator, The
Knives Out
Hit!
Charlie's Angels
Passport to Shame
Le Mans '66
Keep Fit
Doctor Sleep
Friend or Foe
Brass Target
Mine and the Minotaur, The
Sky Pirates
Syncopation
Sea Children, The
Ghost of a Chance, A
Go Kart Go
Great Buster, The
Seventy Deadly Pills
Wings of Mystery
Treasure at the Mill
VFW
Crime Wave
Terminator: Dark Fate
   
 
Newest Articles
The End of Civilisation as We Know It: The 50th Anniversary
The Whalebone Box: The Andrew Kotting Interview
Being Human: The Elephant Man on 4K UHD Blu-ray
It's! Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 3 on Blu-ray
Put the Boot In: Villain on Blu-ray
The Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 2: Vic Pratt Interview
All the Lonely People: Sunday Bloody Sunday on Blu-ray
Desperate Characters: Beat the Devil on Blu-ray
Chansons d'Amour: Alfie Darling on Blu-ray
Ozploitation Icon: Interview with Roger Ward
Godzilla Goes to Hollywood
Demy-Wave: The Essential Jacques Demy on Blu-ray
The Makings of a Winner: Play It Cool! on Blu-ray
Sony Channel's Before They Were Famous: A Galaxy of Stars
Start Worrying and Hate the Bomb: Fail-Safe on Blu-ray
Completely Different: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 2 on Blu-ray
Bash Street Kid: Cosh Boy on Blu-ray
Seeing is Believing: Being There on Blu-ray
Top Thirty Best (and Ten Worst) Films of the 2010s by Andrew Pragasam
Top of the Tens: The Best Films of the Decade by Graeme Clark
Terrorvision: A Ghost Story for Christmas in the 1970s
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
   
 
  Funeral, The Walken in a gangster wonderland
Year: 1996
Director: Abel Ferrara
Stars: Christopher Walken, Chris Penn, Vincent Gallo, Annabella Sciorra, Isabella Rossellini, Benicio Del Toro, Gretchen Mol, Victor Argo, John Ventimiglia, Paul Hipp
Genre: Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: Abel Ferrara’s brooding gangster drama is almost certainly the director’s classiest movie. Which isn’t to say it’s not filled with bloody violence, explicit sex, vicious language and mountains of Catholic angst, but the top-draw cast and general restraint that the director displays here places this 1996 movie well away from those unhinged Ferrara favourites of the era - Bad Lieutenant, Dangerous Game and The Blackout.

The film opens deep in the Depression of the 1930s, a few days before the funeral of young gangster Johnny Tempio (Vincent Gallo). Johnny is the young, firebrand brother to established New York mafiosi Ray and Chez Tempio (Christopher Walken and Chris Penn), who recently entered into a deal with a factory owner to aid his cause and offer protection to non-union workers who have chosen to break the strike. This move does not sit easily with Johnny, a recent convert to communism, and his loud mouth (and wandering eye) soon bring him into conflict with rival mobster Gaspare (Benicio Del Toro). Days later, Johnny is gunned down in broad daylight outside a movie theatre.

Written with Ferrara’s regular collaborator Nicholas St. John, The Funeral does establish a mystery early on – who shot Johnny, and why? – and while much of the film is presented in flashback, charting Johnny's last few days, it quickly becomes clear that the director is far less interested in answering this question than exploring the effect of his death on his brothers and their families. Although Gaspare is set up as the most obvious culprit (indeed, it is Ray’s first presumption), it doesn’t really matter whether he is or not; Johnny’s radical politics and brave/stupid habit of speaking his mind were going to get him killed sooner or later anyway.

Much of The Funeral’s power lies in the acting of Walken and Penn. Ray handles the death better than Chez – older and less inclined to act upon his instincts, he has a quiet weariness about him, and a resignation about his own fate. Nevertheless, the appeals of his wife Jean (Annabella Sciorra) not to seek revenge and endanger their family fall on deaf ears – Ray fully believes he is destined for hell anyway, whatever course his life now takes. Chez’s grief is less hidden, and Johnny’s death is pretty much the final straw for this man tormented constantly by rage, guilt and alcohol. And yet unlike Jean, his wife Clara (Isabella Rossellini) truly loves her husband, and is desperate for him to seek some kind of religious therapy before it’s too late. Walken and the late Penn play to their strengths here, and if their performances are of the sort we’ve seen before, it doesn’t stop them from being amongst their very best.

With only 90 minutes to play with and considerable moral and theological depth, it’s not that surprising that The Funeral feels less well developed in other areas. The Tempio brothers’ relationships with big business and the unions is never really explained, and the characters of both Johnny and Gaspare – despite striking turns from Gallo and Del Toro – remains sketchily drawn. Johnny in particular seems a fascinating figure – part immature thug, part passionate intellectual – and it’s shame that St. John and Ferrara don’t spend longer exploring how this gangster found himself attending Communist Party meetings and passionately speaking up for the rights of the working man.

Nevertheless, this is a tough, intense film of considerable power. Ferrara’s low-key approach to much of the material pays off when the film does explode into violence – usually involving Chris Penn’s character – while Joe Delia’s mournful score and the muted photography evoke both the sombre mood and the economically-troubled era very well. The unsurprisingly tragic ending may seem a little forced, but in many ways it’s the only apt way to close a film that is so concerned with matters of moral redundancy, fate and loss.
Reviewer: Daniel Auty

 

This review has been viewed 7069 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Abel Ferrara  (1952 - )

Controversial New York director whose films frequently centre around sex, violence and moral redemption, and often feature Harvey Keitel, Christopher Walken or Willem Dafoe. Debuted in 1979 with the infamous Driller Killer, in which he also starred, followed by rape-revenge thriller Ms. 45/Angel of Vengeance. Several slick, less distinctive movies followed - Fear City, China Girl and Cat Chaser, as well as work on TV shows Miami Vice and Crime Story.

1990's King of New York was a return to form, while the searing Bad Lieutenant quickly became the most notorious, and perhaps best, film of Ferrara's career. The nineties proved to be the director's busiest decade, as he dabbled in intense psycho-drama (Dangerous Game, The Blackout), gangster movies (The Funeral), sci-fi (Body Snatchers, New Rose Hotel) and horror (The Addiction). He continued to turn in little-seen but interesting work, such as the urban drug drama 'R Xmas and the religious allegory Mary until his higher profile returned with the likes of Welcome to New York and Pasolini.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
Andrew Pragasam
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton
   

 

Last Updated: