Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

The Untouchables

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Brian DePalma's operatic homage to the Al Capone legend, based on the 60s TV series. Something of a change in direction for DePalma, and it looks like a change for the better. The new reference point is Sergio Leone rather than Hitchcock, and the switch from subconscious delirium a la Vertigo to Once Upon a Time in America's self-conscious epicality seems to have done wonders for DePalma's sense of formal organization (David Mamet's gnomic screenplay helps out a lot, too: basic literacy has never been a DePalma forte). DePalma can't match Leone for lyrical expansiveness, but he makes an interesting stab at it: you're waiting for him to take the out-of-control Scarface plunge, but he never really does--or if he does (as, briefly, in a tonally conflicted shoot-out scene at the U.S.-Canadian border), he doesn't stay in the muck for long. DePalma has always been a finger-on-the-pulse kind of talent, the inadvertent embodiment of American pop-culture contradictions (simultaneously supermarket-tabloid idiot and technical idiot savant); he seems to be losing some of this, but to the overall advantage of his art. With Kevin Costner (a subdued, interestingly deflated Elliot Ness), Robert DeNiro (Capone as Danny DeVito impersonator, pure theatrical lasagna), Sean Connery, Charles Martin Smith, and Andy Garcia; the score, appropriately, is by Leone's Ennio Morricone. (Esquire, Golf Mill, Ridge, River Oaks, United Artists, Woodfield, Evergreen, Hillside Square, Hyde Park, Norridge, Old Orchard, Yorktown, Double Drive-In)

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