City Hall (1996) is a English movie. Harold Becker has directed this movie. Al Pacino,John Cusack,Bridget Fonda,Danny Aiello are the starring of this movie. It was released in 1996. City Hall (1996) is considered one of the best Drama,Thriller movie in India and around the world.
A young boy dies from a stray bullet during a shootout between a cop and mob family member who had previously been supiciously given probabtion, only to break its terms. New York's Deputy Mayor, Kevin Calhoun starts digging for information.
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I had been long awaiting this movie ever since I saw the trailer, which made it look like a political drama, starring three of my favorite actors; Al Pacino, John Cusack, and Bridget Fonda. And even though it was directed by Harold Becker, who has done uneven work, he and Pacino did combine on SEA OF LOVE, which ranks among each of their best work. But interference on some level(for starters, several of the scenes in the original trailer don't appear in the movie) and changing of tone(subsequent trailers make it look like a thriller) make this, while watchable, nowhere near as it could have been. Which is too bad, because I really wanted to like this movie. There was great potential here to be a film about how government can still be worthwhile despite all the corruption, and to make a complex statement about that corruption, not the usual good guys vs. bad guys. And there is good acting here. Pacino and Cusack are both very good, and Danny Aiello gives one of the best performances of his career. But Fonda is wasted in her role, having nothing to do, and while there is merit in the central storyline, when it turns to a thriller, the movie loses its way, briefly recovers in the final scene between Cusack and Pacino, and then falls down completely in the end. I wish I could like this more, but no.
I liked this neglected movie quite a bit, for a number of reasons. The characters. I found them believable, real, with some depth, in conflict. Not cardboard, cartoon-like. I found that I could really identify with and care about them. The story. I thought it was really interesting and realistic. The behind-the-scenes look at political machinations was exciting. I tend to like movies without special effects, that are not unrealistic fantasies. ("Ordinary People" generally comes to my mind.) I thought that this movie simply took real-life type people, put them in interesting situations, filled with conflict, and had us watch them deal with the problems they were in. I also think the movie had a message for us, in terms of right and wrong. In fact, it's downright Shakespearian. (Contrast this with another Al Pacino movie, "Heat", where the criminals are portrayed just as sympathetically as the law enforcement officers, and there is no inkling at all that there is anything morally wrong with armed robbery. I'm uncomfortable with that.) It's refreshing to see a movie in this day and age without gratuitous sex, violence, bombs and bullets, profanity. On a cinematic level, I found the directing, acting (the entire cast) and production to be first rate. I realize that many, many people (possibly the large majority) don't see things as I've described here. But if what I've written resonates, then you'll probably like this movie a lot.
Well, there is a plenty of ways how to spoil a political thriller. Usually they are derivative or too ambitious, often they feature a conspiracy that is totally paranoic and unbelievable. But City Hall does not do neither of the above mentioned. The plot is cleverly crafted, story is believable. As far as characters go I would say this movie is a solid average. No character seems out of place and Al Pacino is brilliant as always. His portrayal of a charismatic NYC mayor is superb and proves again that Al Pacino belongs to the absolute top of American actors nowadays.
Excellent political thriller, played much quieter and slower than other, higher ranking films in this genre. When people talk about Pacino and Cusack how do they manage to skip over these amazing career topping performances? A story of friendships, father-son relationships, corruption and deceit. The two actors gel amazingly well together, and the supports from Aiello and Fonda are equally as impressive, although Aiello is brilliant, especially when the papers run to press. Instead of focussing on an over complex corruption scandal, it creates wonderful characters who show the human side of failure an political bribery, The final scenes with each of the main characters are wonderfully written and acted.
Being a transplanted New Yorker, I might be more critical than most in watching City Hall. But I have to say that before even getting to the story itself I was captivated by the location shooting and the political atmosphere of New York City that Director Harold Becker created. For example there's a reference to Woerner's Restaurant in Brooklyn where political boss Frank Anselmo likes to eat. There is or was a Woerner's Restaurant on Remsen Street in downtown Brooklyn when I lived in New York back in 1996. It was in fact particularly favored by political people in the Borough though they did have a couple of other hangouts. No surprise because the script was co-authored by Nicholas Pileggi who still writes both political and organized crime stories. He knows the atmosphere quite well and he sure knows how those two worlds cross as they do in this film. A detective played by Nestor Serrano goes for an unofficial meeting with a relative of mob boss Anthony Franciosa and things erupt and three people wind up dead, including an innocent 6 year old boy whose father was walking him to school. The story mushrooms and at the end it's reached inside City Hall itself. Al Pacino plays Mayor John Pappas and John Cusack is his Deputy Mayor a transplanted Louisianan, a state which has a tradition of genteel corruption itself. He's the outsider here and in trying to do damage control, Cusack finds more than he bargained for, Danny Aiello plays Brooklyn political boss Frank Anselmo and for those of you not from New York, his character is based on the late Borough President of Queens Donald Manes who was also brought down by scandal. He's very much the kind of Brooklyn politician I knew back in the day whose friendship with organized crime and favors done for them, do Aiello in. City Hall was the farewell performance on film for Anthony Franciosa, one of the most underrated and under-appreciated talents ever on the screen. No one watches anyone else whenever he's on. Al Pacino's best moment is when at the funeral of the young child killed, he takes over the proceedings and turns it into a political triumph for himself. His is a complex part, he's a decent enough man, but one caught up in the corruption it takes to rise in a place like New York. For those who want to know about political life in the Big Apple, City Hall is highly recommended.