Jan 15, 2012

Bugsy (1991): C

Once infamous for courting a round ten Oscars, now seemingly all but forgotten, Barry Levinson's gangster drama Bugsy is exhausting in all the wrong ways, suggesting less of a handsomely mounted epic period piece than it does a begrudgingly completed middle school biography paper -- all that's missing is MLA formatting. Warren Beatty is Benjamin Siegel (the name Bugsy instills him with rage, so we don't hear it often), and maybe it's due in part to the fact that his turn as the titular senator in Bulworth is my political wet dream fantasy, but I just can't believe the man as a borderline-psychotic, hairpin-trigger madman with visions of grandeur. The character study is only skin deep, and the central financially-dependent drama lacks enough thrust to sustain two plus hours running time, although Annette Bening, as Siegel's lover Virginia Hill, instills the proceedings with a sporadically volatile intensity (I'm happy to have seen the film if only to have heard her epic iteration of "philandering fuck"). A curious and curiously dull misfire.

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