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The General [DVD] 
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Crime drama about Irish gangster Martin Cahill (Brendan Gleeson) who became known as 'The General' after co-ordinating a series of armed robberies in Dublin during the 1980s. Hailed in some quarters as a folk-hero for his defiance against the authorities, Martin pulls one job too many when he steals paintings belonging to the Beit collection. With the police, headed by Ned Kenny (Jon Voight), closing in, Cahill's problems are multiplied by the increasing interest of the IRA in his activities.
Best known for Deliverance (1972), John Boorman produced what is arguably his greatest film with Point Blank (1967). In that ambiguous gangster flick, set in a pastel L.A. wasteland, Lee Marvin may or may not be a walking dead man, animated by the desire to avenge his fatal betrayal by the woman he loved and his best friend. Many of Boorman's films take the form of quests, fuelled by some dream of utopia; on some level, Point Blank is the tragedy of a just man, appalled and ultimately defeated by the complexity of his world's corruption. The General begins with the death of Martin Cahill--celebrated Dublin gangster who stole millions during the 1980s--then literally reverses the approach and assault of his IRA assassin, flashing back in time, back through Cahill's colorful, criminal quest for his kind of ideal community. Boorman says his Cahill is a throwback to those Celtic chieftains of old who ruled by thievery and violence; as an anachronism, this charming, brutal bear of a man (perfectly incarnated by Brendan Gleeson) is undeniably reprehensible, but he stands in deliberate contrast to the institutionalised hypocrisy and corruption of church, state, and IRA alike. Brazenly hanging out in police HQ to establish an alibi; manoeuvring gracefully through perfectly choreographed heists; dispensing affection to his wife, and her sister; nailing the hands of a suspected cheat to a pool table; handing out food to women whose husbands are out of work--Gleeson's bluff, often comic gangster is always bigger than life, an eruption of unsocialized energy through the layers-deep sediment of socially acceptable sin. (In real life as in the film, Cahill always hid his face under a sweatshirt hood, or behind his spread fingers--he looks like some mischievous, giant-child.) Shot by the great Seamus Deasey in colour, then transferred to black-and-white stock, The General is visually voluptuous, the anatomy of a charismatic monster's soul expressed in lustrous light, silken shades of gray, and ebony shadows.-- Kathleen MurphySee all Product Description
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I checked out "The General" after watching "Veronica Guerin," in whichCahill's murder is an early scene. Ironically, both films begin the sameway, with the death of the title character. We then go back to the pointin their lives where the filmmaker begins to explain how they came to sucha violent end. Cahill starts off stealing potatoes and promising youngFrances that he will never be caught. Having been forced to break thispromise once he grows up to be man who plans on avoiding returning toprison by planning his robberies with such care than he is nicknamed "TheGeneral." But he also has a great sense of flair, which he demonstrateswhen his wife and mistress, who happen to be sisters, persuade him to buya house for 80,000 pounds. Then there is his habit of always wearing ahood or having his hand in front of his face in public so that his picturecan never be taken.
The Dublin police play into making Cahill look good by sinking to hislevel and well below. There is also the clear implication at the start ofthe film that there were complicit in Cahill's murder, although more by anact of omission than commission.Read more ›
The movie utilizes the flashback and frame mechanism, so we know its outcome from its beginning. Cahill (superbly played by Brendan Gleeson,In Bruges [DVD] ), goes through the gangster's usual career arc: tough kid from tough project; increasingly successful, big, talk of the town thefts; finally, too high a profile, which is his undoing: he is, increasingly, seen as an enemy by the then very powerful Irish Republican Army.
Gleeson, a talented, flexible, very popular actor, though not a very good-looking one, may never have played lead in any other movie, although he's made many. But he inhabits Cahill, called "The General" by his troops, as if born to play the titular part. He's sure perfect for it physically. He's ably assisted by the also very popular Adrian Dunbar,(Hear My Song [DVD] ), as his lieutenant, Noel. Sean McGinley does a memorable turn as Gary, one of the regulars.Read more ›
First thing to ask is why the film is released in Black and White (though I understand it was made in colour). It's a distancing device. We're not going to be drawn into wholesale identification here. The result is that we're pulled in different directions by contradictory emotions. On the one hand Martin Cahill (Brendan Gleason) is brutal, ruthless and violent. On the other he is charming enough to hold the affections of two women, generous to his family, treats his men fairly (except where he tortures one who he thinks wrongly he is a squealer), and shows a fine contempt running rings round the Gardai, in the impressive shape of Jon Voigt. We get all the contradictions and we're invited to make up our own minds. This makes uncomfortable viewing, and it's not surprising the film didn't do brilliant business.
Martin Cahill is the product of a time and place; a sink estate at perpetual war with a police force as corrupt and brutal as any of the criminals. His rise and fall reflects the changing times. His gang is built up on the loyalty which comes from hanging together in good times and bad.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
purchased for my brother he really loved it its his favourite filmPublished 13 months ago by skarlet kray