Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Year Released: 1993, 2023 Arrow Video 4K & Blu-ray
Runtime: 2h 24m
Director(s): Brian De Palma
Writer(s): Edwin Torres, David Koep
Cast: Al Pacino, Sean Penn, Penelope Ann Miller
Where To Watch: Available on 4K UHD from Arrow Video on September 26, 2023; pre-order here: www.arrowvideo.com, www.mvdshop.com, or www.amazon.com
RAVING REVIEW: From the lips of another beloved Pachino portrayal, Michael Corleone, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!” These words could not have rung truer for “retired” gangster Carlito when he gets set free from a thirty-year jail sentence after just serving five. Back on the streets and loaded with nothing but his smarts and a dream of escaping to paradise, Carlito navigates life in the world that he thought he left behind, but in truth, he was left behind by the world.
Thirty years on, the multi-award nominated CARLITO’S WAY still stands as one of the most influential and fantastic films to ever come from Brian De Palma. With its incredible story (adapted from Judge Edwin Torres’ novels “Carlito’s Way” & “After Hours”), phenomenal direction from De Palma, and standout acting from Pachino and Sean Penn, the film signifies a landmark level of adoration and success of the gangster flick genre in the early 90’s. It would likely be difficult to pinpoint which film in De Palma’s (or Pachino’s, for that matter) filmography could be considered his best, but Carlito’s Way certainly deserves to be in the conversation.
Three years after reprising the legendary role of Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part III and ten years after portraying the legendary coke-slinging Cuban gangster Tony Montana in Scarface, Al Pacino steps back into the shoes of a dangerous yet likable and strangely relatable gangster. Pachino plays the character of Carlito in such a way that even though you, as the audience, understand that he is a bad guy, and I mean a really bad guy, you still want him to succeed. The film starts in a courtroom with Carlito giving a judge a long-winded spiel about how he is reformed and is intent on living his life on the straight and narrow. The thing is, this isn’t just boisterous babbling. Carlito is an interesting character who is incredibly conflicted between his loyalty to his friends and his self-interests. He serves as a tragic tale of why, in the end, the bad guys still lose. Without giving away any story details, I just need to say that by the end of this film, I had tears in my eyes because of how purely human Pachino played Carlito. He’s a bad man, but he’s a human, not so different from me. He loves, he hates, he makes mistakes, and he learns. He is truly a beautiful character.
The direction and cinematography in Carlito’s Way is everything to write home about. Seriously, go write your mother about it; I’ll wait… Done? Good. De Palma has a style wherein he captures the world around his characters and builds it to complement the story. He uses slow, wide shots that make his environment feel larger than life and serve as a grounding reminder that the world is bigger than these few characters that you’re getting a look at. For example, in the scene where Kleinfeld, Carlito’s not-so-innocuous lawyer who is played by Sean Penn (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Dead Man Walking), visits Mob Boss Tony T on Rikers Island Prison Barge, there is a shot where it slowly zooms out from Kleinfeld and shows this massive barge. It makes everything around it look like an ant and takes the focus of the whole scene. I loved that. The only thing I can really ding the film on comes from a bit of overuse of expository dialog, which comes from Carlito’s narrations. His inner monolog narrates the story throughout but only says things that could have been briefly mentioned by supporting characters and conveyed to the audience with context clues. Other than this, however, the film is absolutely remarkable.
So now that you know the amazing story of Carlito’s Way, let’s discuss this awesome brand new 4K UHD Limited Edition Box Set from Arrow Video, which is gorgeous and loaded down with physical and digital goodies.
WHAT’S IN THE BOX?!
– Limited edition packaging with a reversible sleeve featuring two original artwork options
– Double-sided fold-out poster featuring two original artwork options
– Seven double-sided, postcard-sized lobby card reproductions
– Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Barry Forshaw and original production notes DISC ONE: FEATURE (4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY) – 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray (2160p) presentation in High Dynamic Range
Bonus Features included are as follows:
– Original stereo, 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, and DTS-X audio
– Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
– Brand new audio commentary by Matt Zoller Seitz, author of The Wes Anderson Collection and The Soprano Sessions
– Brand new audio commentary by Dr. Douglas Keesey, author of Brian De Palma’s Split-Screen: A Life in Film DISC TWO: FEATURE AND EXTRAS (BLU-RAY)
– High-definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
– Original stereo and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
– Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
– Brand new audio commentary by Matt Zoller Seitz
– Brand new audio commentary by Dr. Douglas Keesey
– Carlito and the Judge, a brand-new interview with Judge Edwin Torres, author of the novels Carlito’s Way and After Hours, on which the screenplay for Carlito’s Way is based
– Cutting Carlito’s Way, a brand-new interview with editors Bill Pankow and Kristina Boden – De Palma’s Way, a brand-new appreciation by film critic David Edelstein
– All the Stitches in the World: The Locations of Carlito’s Way, a brand-new look at the New York locations of Carlito’s Way and how they look today – De Palma on Carlito’s Way, an archival interview with director Brian De Palma
– The Making of Carlito’s Way, an archival documentary on the making of the film, produced for the original DVD release
– Original promotional featurette
– Theatrical teaser and trailer
– Image Gallery
– Deleted Scenes
Overall, this film is really something special. The writing, direction, cinematography, and, of course, acting are all on point. The way this film captures the human condition is astounding and heartbreaking. The characters are all so well done, and the world that De Palma and writers Edwin Torres and David Koep built is nothing short of a mixture of shocking and intriguing. This film made me fall in love with Al Pacino all over again. It’s a crime that he wasn’t at least nominated for an Oscar. Is Carlito’s way a masterpiece? No. But it’s so very close.