Carlito’s Way has spent much of the last decade hovering impatiently on the threshold of my top 5 films of all time, without getting in. The door is locked from the inside. But it goes without saying, in the Mediterranean bolthole of my all time top 10, Carlito’s Way can be found relaxing with a piña colada at the edges of the infinity pool round back.
It’s a story of decline and fall with a sprinkling of love and a bucketload of cocaine thrown in, one that an english teacher at school made us watch as a perfect example of Shakespearian Tragedy. Sean Penn plays Carlito’s lawyer Dave Kleinfeld, a brilliant Jew who gets sucked into his client’s former life of drugs and crime, the life Carlito is trying so hard to leave behind. There’s an exchange between the two that my man Alfie is particularly fond of.
You ripped him off, didn’t you?
Tony T. You did take the million dollars, didn’t you?
You ain’t a lawyer no more, Dave. You a gangster now. On the other side. A whole new ball game. You can’t learn about it in school, and you can’t have a late start.
On my 30th birthday I threw a Miami Vice-themed party. My brother came as Kleinfeld. One of the best outfits I can remember. Pressed grey suit, starched white shirt with golden collar pin, yellow tie, blonde afro wig. Like all good art it went over most people’s heads. Those who got it were smiling to themselves all night.
He reddened the area around his nostrils and put flour everywhere. To show the mountain Kleinfeld’s nose was climbing on the daily to keep on top of his habit. Miguel told me people kept coming up to him at the party saying by the way mate, sick party, but you might want to sort your nose out. Funny thing is, my brother didn’t touch the narcs all night. He doesn’t do narcs all that much.
He does poems.
Here’s one, about my niece.