The Cotton Club

Rated R 127 minutes 2013

Ostensibly Francis Ford Coppola's return to the genre that made his reputation, this 1985 gangster film turns out to be much more closely related to One From the Heart with its strategy of forcing a musical stylization on straight dramatic action, its self-conscious confinement to a closed studio world, and its attempt to emotionally revive a collection of timeworn Hollywood conventions. It was the most assured film Coppola had made in a decade, full of casual wit and visual invention. And even though the split narrative doesn't quite cohere (Richard Gere is a trumpet player who finds himself enserfed to gangster James Remar; Gregory Hines is a tap dancer who becomes a star at the famous Harlem nightclub), Coppola wins an amazingly high proportion of his risky bets, including a finale that takes off into total abstraction. With Diane Lane, Bob Hoskins, Nicolas Cage, Fred Gwynne, Julian Beck, and Joe Dallesandro.

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