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City By The Sea

Starring: Robert DeNiro, James Franco, Frances McDormand, Eliza Dushku and George Dzundza
Directed by: Michael Caton-Jones
Rated: R


City By The Sea is a riveting true tale of a cop, Vincent LaMarca (Robert - Mr. Talent - DeNiro) that just can't seem to escape his horrible past. A dark forgotten past that appears to be resurfacing in a new generation of his family.

Long Beach New York was once a booming seaside town. A self- proclaimed "city by the sea", filled with happy homemakers and tourists wallowing in the surf. Times change and towns morph. Now Long Beach is a shell of its past dotted with war-like storefronts and street urchins searching for their next fix.

One junkie Joey "Nova" (James Franco) is having a particularly bad junkie day. He just wanted a quick fix to ease his growing withdrawal. He found a his fix...along with a murder rap.

Joey and his dealer 'Picasso' have a drug frenzied battle where Joey ends up - accidentally - killing the equally strung out dealer fellow. Great. As if this kid's life didn't suck enough…

Joey's in deep trouble with Picasso's (Jay Boryea) uber boss Spider (William Forsythe) and he better watch his back because the small neighborhood he calls home is serving him up like a happy meal at a all-night drive thru. These people are cold and been under the heat lamp a tad too long and there aint a nanosecond of thought for the guy.

But wait Joey's not just some kid lost in a world without love hot footing it to a quick dreamland, he's Detective Vincent LaMarca (DeNiro) of the NYC bureau's son.

LaMarca Sr. is a straight and narrow cop that is called in on the case when Picasso's puffy body washes up on his turf miles from the surf.

Within a day the "friends" of Joey Nova lead LaMarca to the terrible truth that his son is a murderer. At least all the evidence points in that direction. He has no quams about dragging the kid in on murder. Nice dad...

But this LaMarca's not winning any father of the year awards anyway, ir-regardless of his cool cop demeaner- he's a bastard. He walked out on the kid years ago and in some way is probably responsible for the kid's troubles. Think? Yeah but it's even more than the usual kid-gets-whacked- to-forget-his-woes-look-for-the-bad-parent-for-cause-and-reaction scenario too we are to learn.

While the hunt for Joey "Nova" LaMarca grows so does the buzz around Vincent LaMarca's tragic past - an eerie past. Vin's got a big old secret in the form of a executed-child-killing- parent hidden in his closet of shame.

Growing also, is the rap sheet on Joey as now it seems he's killed LaMarca's partner Reg (George Dzundza) down in Long Beach too.

Boy is this kid heading to hell in a handbag.

Det. LaMarca starts to battle father LaMarca but not in some two-dimensional way - in a DeNiro way. And that's what makes this sometimes-long film actually work. DeNiro and Franco.

Robert DeNiro is a legend and his abilities to effortlessly leak soul into another man's skin shine through here, as always. Bob is believable and unswerving as eventually regretful tough as nails Vincent. Did you expect less? Me neither. This man is not just one of our all-time greatest actors but he's one of the sexiest men alive! Dear god is he put together right. This heaping helping of man heroin makes a gal wanna forget all the years of etiquette training and leap on him with girlish glee. Slurp.

James Franco is wonderful as Joey the Junkie. You wouldn't know it from his look in this that he's a studmuffin of extreme proportions - but trust me this one's a yummatini with a twist of purrfection folks. His acting abilities shine through the character and the "kid" holds his own with DeNiro.

One of my all time faves, Frances McDormand, plays Michele, Detective LaMarca's gal pal. She didn't have too much to work with, but as always, brought class and perfection to her role. I am not alone in my adoration for this strong brilliant chickbabe! Find anything with her name on it - like say Fargo or Blood Simple - and you'll get a treat.

The movie drags along sometimes, and wields a gooey typical melodramatic soundtrack (almost as loud as Franco's dialog at times) apparently erroneously added to orchestrate our feelings through out the film. What, they didn't trust the legend and his protégé to handle the material? Goons. And worst of all CBTS keeps Frances McDormand as scenery - hence its three star tag. But, still the caliber of performances in the meat of the film will keep your interest firmly awaiting the out come. Hey! It's DeNiro 'nough said?

Snack Recommendation: Bananas and a bowl of cereal.

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