Cast: Gabriel Byrne (Tom Reagan), Marcia Gay Harden (Verna), Albert Finney (Leo), John Turturro (Bernie), Steve Buscemi (Mink)
Director: Joel Coen (Fargo, True Grit, The Big Lebowski, O Brother Where Art Thou?, Raising Arizona, Barton Fink)
Plot: Without giving anything away, the film is about the Irish mob in the 1930s, smack in the middle of Prohibition. Byrne's Tom Reagan works for Finney's Leo, but feels that Leo is being led around by the wily charms of Harden's Verna. This leads to gang wars between the Irish and Italian mobs, and a denouement which is refreshingly satisfying.
Why you should watch it: First, it's a Coen brothers movie. The chances are good that if you didn't get burned out by The Big Lebowski and its over-saturated impact on popular culture, you should enjoy this film. The Coens are sticklers for detail, and the dialogue used in this movie represents the hard-boiled gangland terminology and diction which made Prohibition-era 1930s such an interesting time in American history. I've always been a huge fan of Gabriel Byrne and Albert Finney, and they are both perfectly cast in their roles. Since this came out in 1990, moviegoers weren't bludgeoned to death by Steve Buscemi yet. This film came out before people were formally introduced to him in Reservoir Dogs. John Turturro is characteristically solid, as he continues to be a very underrated and talented actor. The film was released in the shadow of such behemoths as Goodfellas, Dances with Wolves, Reversal of Fortune, and (ugh) The Godfather Part III, so it flew well under the radar. I cannot recommend it highly enough. If you are a fan of the gangster genre, and would like a unique take on it, rich with language, visuals, and an engaging plot, I suggest you watch this film. You'll thank me.
Availability: DVD, Blu Ray, Streaming, free on Youtube