Miller’s Crossing (1990; USA; DuArt; 115m) *** d. Joel Coen; w. Joel Coen, Ethan Coen; ph. Barry Sonnenfeld; m. Carter Burwell. Cast: Gabriel Byrne, Marcia Gay Harden, Albert Finney, Jon Polito, J.E. Freeman, John Turturro, Steve Buscemi, Mike Starr, Richard Woods, Al Mancini, Sam Raimi, Frances McDormand. In the 1920s, an Irish gangster and his trusted lieutenant and counsellor find their domination of the town threatened by an ambitious Italian underboss. The Coen Brothers mix traditional gangster movie tropes with very black comedy to produce a lively but ultimately frustrating tale of false loyalties. It starts out well, establishing the key character of Byrne as he plays off Finney against Polito, but the story descends into an increasingly implausible sequence of double-crosses. Good period detail and handsome photography, along with frequently sharp dialogue, are the highlights. Based on the novels “Red Harvest” and “Glass Key” by Dashiell Hammett, which previously were filmed as or inspired ROADHOUSE NIGHTS (1930), YOJIMBO (1961) and FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (1964). 
Taking of Pelham 123, The (2009; USA/UK; DeLuxe; 106m) ∗∗½ d. Tony Scott; w. Brian Helgeland; ph. Tobias A. Schliessler; m. Harry Gregson-Williams. Cast: Denzel Washington, John Travolta, Luis Guzman, John Turturro, Michael Rispoli, James Gandolfini, Victor Gojcaj, Ramon Rodriguez, Saidah Arrika Ekulona, John Benjamin Hickey, Alex Kaluzhsky, Gary Basaraba, Katherine Sigismund, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Jake Richard Siciliano. Armed men hijack a New York City subway train, holding the passengers hostage in return for a ransom, and turning an ordinary day’s work for dispatcher Walter Garber into a face-off with the mastermind behind the crime. Scott’s dizzying visuals and frantic editing sucks the tension from this inferior remake that lacks the sardonic wit of the original. Washington, as usual, adds class, whilst Travolta over reaches as the chief villain. Based on the novel by John Godey. Previously filmed in 1974 and 1998 (for TV).