Atlantic City, USA (1980)
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"I don't use seatbelts. I don't believe in gravity".
Louis Malle's Atlantic City is aptly named. Not only is it the setting of the story, but Burt Lancaster's down-on-his-luck, talking-about-glory-days-that-never-happened, small-time crook Lou is the city's very avatar. Like the place we're presented, he's cheap under his vainglorious veneer. He makes promises that are impermanent, as Lady Luck tosses him and the people around him this way and that. And he's kind of fine with it, despite his ambitions. He's seen better days, but they were never that great, you know? Much more plotty than other Malle films I'm aware of, it's also a pretty good crime fiasco where the leads are ambitious but hapless (the Coen Bros. would soon take this formula and run with it), but the picture doesn't want to judge them for it. It makes the dramatic irony an undercurrent rather than a top filter.
Really different setting and characters, all different backgrounds and it all unfolds so well. Great to see that Burt got some good roles near the end of his career, like this and in LOCAL HERO.
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In 13 official lists
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This movie ranks #21 in Venice Film Festival - Golden Lion
This movie ranks #44 in The New York Times's Book of Movies
This movie ranks #47 in Time Out's 1000 Films to Change Your Life
This movie ranks #57 in The Guardian's 1000 Films to See Before You Die
This movie ranks #64 in 101 Gangster Movies You Must See Before You Die
This movie ranks #286 in Roger Ebert's Great Movies
This movie ranks #329 in Academy Award - Best Picture Nominees
This movie ranks #394 in Library of Congress's National Film Registry
This movie ranks #629 in Halliwell's Top 1000: The Ultimate Movie Countdown
This movie ranks #659 in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
This movie ranks #724 in Jonathan Rosenbaum's Essential Cinema
This movie ranks #728 in TSPDT's 1,000 Noir Films
This movie ranks #832 in David Thomson's Have You Seen?