134. City of Hope (1991)

Leonard Maltin's Rating : 
Should be : 

IMDB Rating : 7.4

Rotten Tomatoes Rating : 79% with Audience, 94% with the Critics

In his review Leonard says: "Writer-director-editor John Sayles (who wrote himself a good part, as the slimy character Carl) brings vivid and believable characters to life, and makes some good pungent comments about contemporary society, but loses his momentum somewhere along the way."

I finally got to see this movie and I wasn't disappointed. I really thought it was a great movie, perhaps more relevant today, than when it was made. A movie about a city where everyone has hopes and aspirations. The crooked politicians hope to get rich, the developers hope to get richer, the reformer hopes, in vain, for reforms and the poor people just hope for a good life.

In his 4 star review Roger Ebert said
John Sayles' “City of Hope” is like a wheel of torture, to which the characters are chained. It goes around and around, sometimes through fire, sometimes through ice, and there is no way for them to free themselves. The film takes place in a fictional big city in New Jersey, where everyone is connected, and where all the connections seem tainted by greed, graft, dishonesty and corruption. Some of the players are on one side of the law and some on the other, but there is little to choose between them.
Sayles' method of telling the story of this city, and the people trapped there, is audacious. He fills his canvas with many characters - I didn't count, but I'm told there are 36 - and follows them through their days and nights, as they run into one another, make deals, tell lies, seek happiness, and find mostly compromise and disappointment.

Roger ends his review by saying :
“City of Hope” is a powerful film, and an angry one. It is impossible not to find echoes of its despair on the front pages every day. It asks a hard question: Is it possible for a good person to prevail in a corrupt system, just simply because right is on his side? The answer, in the short run, is that power is stronger than right. The notion of a long run, of course, is all that keeps hope alive.
I've only seen this movie once, but already I look forward to seeing it again.  Sayles brings together a bunch of different story lines and shows an ability like Robert Altman, to bring them together and make a coherent, powerful story.

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