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THE FUNERAL

USA, 1996 (MIFF 1997, International)

Director: Abel Ferrara

Bronx hard man Abel Ferrara has obsessively chronicled New York's criminal underbelly. Strip club low-lifes, corrupt cops and murderous mobsters - these are the central figures in Ferrara's neon-lit testaments to the power of the gun and the knife. The Funeral is the eccentric director's first historical work, set during the 30s depression, and through a series of flashbacks recounts the events leading to the needless assassination of Johnny Tempio, the youngest of three ruthless gangland brothers.

Ferrara favourite Christopher Walken stars alongside Chris Penn, Isabella Rossellini, Annabella Sciorra and Vincent Gallo in this unrelenting saga of revenge and redemption, faith and false hope, insanity, extreme violence and codes of honour. The viewer is assaulted with salvos of rapid fire dialogue - typically threatening and histrionic - and morbidly attracted to scenes of graphic sex and coldly executed violence.

The Funeral adheres to the conventions of the gangster genre that have made it so popular while advancing a number of fresh interpretations of classic elements. Authentic, gut-wrenching performances, verbal exchanges sharper than a Wise Guy's shiv and Abel Ferrara's amped-up directorial style - get in the car, you're going for a ride!

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