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  • Because it's based on facts, you begin to watch this movie knowing perfectly well what's going to happen and what the ending will be - nevertheless, it's gripping and deeply involving. The story of judge Falcone is faithully recreated - though too shortened for my liking - and does him justice. Chazz Palminteri plays Falcone much better than I expected, and while F. Murray Abraham does not look like the real Tommasso Buscetta, he does a fair portrayal of a "man of honour". The role and part of Toto Riina, while secondary, is worth mentioning too - it's truly frightening!
  • This film, largely created in Palermo, is a decidedly solid attempt, in a quasi-documentary form, at presenting many of the facts revolving about the courageous efforts of the Sicilian judge, Giovanni Falcone (played by Chazz Palminteri), to staunch the political power of the Mafia in Italy. Few real-life stories could be as dramatic or as meaningful to a nation as Falcone's sacrifice for his country. Director Ricky Tognazzi, son of Ugo, kept this work within a tight and neatly edited framework. The acting was solid throughout, particularly by Palminteri and Anna Galiena. It will probably be of limited interest to those not familiar with the facts upon which it is based, but will reward those who watch it by its well-crafted performances by cast and crew.
  • "Excellent Cadavers" is an HBO docudrama which tells the story of Italian hero Giovanni Falcone; a Sicilian judge who dared to take on the Mafia in its homeland and did more to rid Sicily of its age old scourge than any other man since Mussolini. As with most docudramas, this film leapfrogs through time hitting the historical high-points while trying to maintain continuity and build a dramatic tale. The result is a better history lesson than dramatic biography and a film which will play best for those with a specific interest in the Sicilian Mafia of the late 20 century. (B-)
  • Excellent Cadavers has only two things going against it: A) it gives away the ending in the first couple minutes of the movie, and B) it is way too short and never gives us a chance to really hear the whole story. The ending is awfully truncated, but then again the main character's life is just like the movie.

    F. Murray Abraham and Chaz Palminteri both turn in expectedly strong performances, as do a number of native Italian actors doing their best to deliver their lines in English and generally doing quite well. Fausto Lombardi (from RATS and TERROR EXPRESS) has a good cameo as a mafioso interviewed while in prison. Dubbing voice provider Andy Luotto, who made no impression on me at all as Ben Gunn in TREASURE ISLAND IN OUTER SPACE, turns in a surprisingly heartfelt performance as Palminteri's second-fiddle who takes over the battle later on.

    The romance for once feels fairly realistic and not too tacked-on. The woman he falls in love with sort of reminds me of an Italian Charlotte Rampling (the eyes anyway). It actually works more toward the movie's benefit than it's detriment, as well as the numerous mafia gun battles and assassinations which are all generally handled quite well.

    Definitely worth a purchase if you can find it. It tends to pop up in bargain bins where you'd least expect it to be.
  • RodrigAndrisan29 August 2018
    Ricky Tognazzi did a really good job, the movie is great. Chazz Palminteri, F. Murray Abraham, Anna Galiena, Andy Luotto, Lina Sastri, are all great. The entire cast is extraordinary actually. Filmed impeccably, impeccably edited, direction, music, everything is superlative.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    As a TV movie, it's incredible. The script did a splendid job, making a hard to forget experience. The lines are perfect, the details are insightful, and the case is shown extremely effective. It gives us many events, points of view, and characters in a classy breathless way, showing Italy vs. mafia in the first half of the 1980s, exposing how the mob bought all; the ministry of justice, the parliament, and even the church.

    As for the direction, I was amazed. Not too many "based on true story" TV movies got that concern. Look at the clothes, the cars' brands, the haircuts.. the accuracy is outstanding. For instance, the movie's first sequence; the pre-credits one that takes place in the 1970s, is clever to a degree that forces you to swear that that was made in the real 1970s (otherwise, it's a stock shot). The movie is intense, having a non-stop energy as the same as its main character. There are so many good moments, and simple yet powerful artistic touches. And I just can't forget the final assassination scene; that was richly done and unforgettably shocking. By the way, in the real murder, 350 kg of dynamite were used.

    The production values are above average. HBO made it look like any big cinematic movie made by independent studio. I think with another, more bankable, cast, this could have made it to the theaters easily. The music glorifies the title's character, mirroring his loftiness, in the same time it has a sad and grieving feeling to it. (F. Murray Abraham) reproves again how charismatic he is, and the script gave him a super role; the noble gangster, the wounded father, the star witness, the lord who's going to live lowly because of his confession, and the literally "wise" guy who his last words are: "Love is the only thing that matters at the end". I just didn't like the shot in which he hides his sudden tears while remembering the murder of his 2 sons; this second looked fake.

    Still, what could be more dazzling than the hero himself was the *real* hero (Giovanni Falcone). His courage is historical, and his struggle is inspiring. Very few characters of this kind you would meet in real life, so making a movie about him is rare and desired. It is unbelievable biography that beats all the imaginary superheroes and the true criminals that the American cinema falls in love with. Which sorrowfully leads us to the major flaw that this movie suffers, and I mean its lead actor.

    I believe they picked out (Chazz Palminteri) as someone who has Italian roots on one hand, and as American - kind of known - actor, to assure distributing the movie internationally on the other hand. But I was highly disappointed due to his performance. In all of his movies, (Palminteri) is no one but (Palminteri), delivering mostly a usual performance. This time, it was sub-bar usual. The man dealt so belittlingly with that great character, playing him from outside, while using the (Palminteri) known-by-heart signature moves (the same old diction, body language, tone..), in a way made him the movie's weakest factor. And I didn't understand the matter of the big mustache too. The actual (Falcone) was a handsome man, not having that fur ball over his face! So obviously it wasn't enough to see (Palminteri) doing his routine in the totally wrong place, to have even more problems while trying to "see" that itself! Many scenes were ruined by this pale portrayal, and it's just bad irony, considering how high the whole movie was.

    Maybe I blamed the editing slightly for using the same spirit while dealing with everything. You can see that the length of cutting was about the same; whether the event was bloody or emotional. Maybe it didn't get to show the side of the enemy, or give us a chance to hear them. But any of this or that wasn't a problem which could harm this fine movie. However, the problem of this movie about (Giovanni Falcone) is the one who played (Giovanni Falcone). He played down the character, and the movie.
  • Why bother seeing a fictionalized account of such trauma and horror when the real McCoy is available as a documentary? I haven't seen this account, but I have seen the documentary produced by Stille in the same year as this.

    I have great admiration for Chaz Palminteri and F. Murray Abraham, two fine actors, whom I'm sure acquitted themselves well. Much more interesting, however, to find out how Stille unraveled the truth behind the assassinations of Falcone and Borsellino.

    I'd read about the efforts of those two martyrs as it all happened: press coverage at the time was quite good, and I was amazed at how those two judges managed to avoid death so often.

    But, as we all know, that cowardly organization of Cosa Nostra aka the Mafia has seemingly unstoppable reach, right into the upper echelons of Italian government. And, Stille holds nothing back as he shows the connections between government officials of all types – including another judge – and the Mafia. There is even the strong implication that, after the trial and sentencing of 384 Mafia gangsters, rogue elements in the Italian government may have been involved in efforts to stop and kill Falcone and Borsellino.

    Unhappily, where there's money, there's always corruption. No society seems to be able to avoid that.

    With the Mafia, however, the control of Sicily and Italian government seems complete, proving once again that everything changes, but nothing changes fundamentally.

    Scenes in the documentary are not for kiddies, with many real dead bodies, a severed head, bits and pieces from bomb blasts – an absolute carnage. Maybe the commercial production had the same shots, but somehow I doubt it.

    If you want the whole story – well, as much as you're ever gonna get – then see the documentary of the same name: Excellent Cadavers.