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Internal Affairs (1990)

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All cops are crooked. As in life, so in movies. And low-ranked Dennis Peck (Richard Gere) is bad like Supercop. His coke-addled colleague Van Stretch (William Baldwin) is at his mercy so when overly keen IA Dept newbie Raymond Avilla (Andy Garcia) arrives to investigate Stretch, an old Police Academy friend, Peck senses the walls closing in around his corrupt real estate/murder empire which has made him ridiculously wealthy for a street cop but he knows what buttons to push: mainly sexual. This is a guy who does everything to excess:  three ex-wives, eight children and one on the way with his current one (Annabella Sciorra). Avilla’s Achilles Heel is gorgeous wife museum curator Kathleen (Nancy Travis). Peck has Stretch murdered and turns his attentions to Avilla and Avilla starts to resemble him. This is an excellent study in evil by screenwriter Henry Bean. Director Mike Figgis handles the explicit violence and shocking sex with incredible fluency and the great photography of Los Angeles is courtesy of Chinatown‘s John A.Alonzo. None of it would work however unless the characters convinced and they are brilliantly drawn in an ensemble portrait of LAPD, the gift that just keeps giving.Gere’s work here  is superlative and transcends most of his other work. Garcia’s phased changes as Avilla pushes him to the edge is notable. Laurie Metcalf is his IA partner, and she’s just one of the fabulous women here, and the only one not to truly succumb to Peck’s dubiously priapic charms principally because she’s Lesbian and he wants to kill her. This is really tough stuff and worth revisiting. While the film was in post, Gere had dinner one evening with Figgis. The next day a story about his supposedly simultaneous visit to the ER surfaced in Hollywood and has never entirely left him. Something about a gerbil. It was courtesy of Sylvester Stallone’s agent. Some urban legends you just don’t want, eh?

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About elainelennon

An occasional movie-watching diary.

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