Sean Penn
Robin Wright
Ed Harris
Gary Odlman
State Of Grace

Phil Joanou

Coming out of Southern California film school, Joanou showed immense talent and film making skill. Spielberg became his protegé, and he made his first feature…a cult classic…”Three O’Clock High” in 1987. Adults may not have seen it at the time, but the trailer alone had us kids interested.

High school, while you are in it, is dramatic as fuck. And even after you leave and you get to know the world, you can look back and realize how hard-core your experiences there were…how influential the experience of school as a whole will be to your development on this big blue ball we call home for now, and this film played as seriously as a public hanging. It was darkly funny, every corner was filled with stylized editing and camerawork, great performances and pretty remarkable first offering from the director.

Three O'Clock High

During post on this this film, Joanou was contacted by U2. They had just cracked the music scene wide open their massively successful 1987 album…
“The Joshua Tree”
They wanted to film a documentary of their upcoming American tour and they were interviewing directors. They asked him to come to Ireland the next day, he dropped what he was doing, pissed off the producers of “Three O’Clock High” and 24 hours later he was in Ireland.

He spent the next five days randomly being abandoned all over Ireland by U2, being left by the band at various events around Ireland…having to find his way around by himself as a sort of initiation before, after five consecutive days of this, they finally approached him and told him he had won the job.

Read more here:

Joanou would go on to film what I humbly consider to be the greatest rock ‘n roll concert documentary ever made, “U2: Rattle And Hum”
U2: Rattle And Hum

He also directed the video for the bands ballad, “One”

U2 ~ One “Manhattan nightclub ’92” (Directed by Phil Joanou) from Maria Perescu on Vimeo.

By the time he began “State Of Grace” he was 28 years old.

There were high expectations for him which I think he satisfied, but visual accomplishments are initially measured by their financial success what he and his team achieved tends to be overlooked.

Dennis McIntyre

McIntyre was an accomplished playwright from New York City. He had a terrific ear for  dialogue and a blunt and honest approach to his subjects, this was his first screenplay. Sadly, McIntyre passed away in February of 1990 of stomach cancer, months before the film was released. He never saw the finished work. The story from everything I can gather is original,  with moments and anecdotes taken from true story’s as told, freely and given as testimony, by members of The Westies. The Westies are he Irish Mob that ran Hell’s Kitchen on the west side of Manhattan for many years and is what the film is loosely based on.

With his playwrights sensibilities for character development, he wrote primary characters that each suffer with their own personal moral dilemmas. Along with his ability to write engaging dialogue, which rang both funny…and authentic more often than not, while also adding tense plot twists, and giving us a protagonist with a deep inner struggle with which even we the audience aren’t sure which is right and which is wrong for him by the end story…in my book he crafted the perfect original crime drama.

Jordan Cronenweth

Jordan Cronenweth is legend. You know his work even if you don’t realize it. He and Joanou had worked together before on “Rattle And Hum” Jordan Cronenweth shot the color footage segments for that film, but 10 years earlier he made his mark when he was the director of photography on another sci-fi movie directed by Ridley Scott that was so visionary it altered and influenced the visual aesthetic for everything from filmmaking to music-videos, from photography to graphic design from the moment it was released and still to this day.

That film is “Blade Runner”. The man who photographed that film, is the cinematographer here.

Blade Runner

Blade Runner

Jordan has since passed, but his visual legacy lives on through his son, Jeff Cronenweth.

Jeff, like his father, has the eye of a brilliant photographer, his talents have been on display also altering the visual storytelling world.

He was the cinematographer for a film directed by another one of the film worlds great visual storytelling pioneers named David Fincher on a film called “Fight Club”.

The Cinematography of Jeff Cronenweth

Ennio Morricone

The music to “Grace” is one of my favorite aspects to the film. The music was written and composed by legendary composer Ennio Morricone. Ennio has done the score for such films as:

  • The Untouchables
  • Once Upon A Time In The West
  • Once Upon A Time In America
  • Days Of Heaven
  • The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

He has over 214 soundtrack credits to his name and is one of the most respected and established film score composers of all time.  His score for this film is haunting and beautiful.  It is my ringtone actually, because the phone annoys me so much I have to have music I love play when the damn thing goes off or i’ll freak the fuck out.

Now, when my phone rings and I hear the score to this film play…I’m transported

His score adds an emotional depth to the film and atmosphere that amplifies the mood and draws you into its world.  The film wouldn’t have as thick a weeping and tragic air to it without this amazing score.


Now I haven’t seen it mentioned or given credit anywhere officially…but when I first saw “Infernal Affairs” in 2003, I recognized  the story immediately.

Infernal Affars

This was a retelling “State Of Grace”.

This was a Hong Kong film, and tells a similar story…this time of a man who grows up in and around the Triad, leaves and joins the police force only to return years later to infiltrate the Triad undercover. There is a retooling of the original story here also in that there a secondary charter that also grows up in and around the triad and goes to the police academy…but not to infiltrate the triad, this one is sent to infiltrate the police dept.

Both officers know of each other and must eek each other out in a tense cat and mouse game.
this film was a massive box office smash in Hong Kong…then world wide.

Then in 2004 it was announced that Martin Scorsese would direct an american remake of infernal Affairs, which he would call “The Departed”

The Departed

Now listen.
Hey man, I love “The Departed”, and the Academy needs to stop fucking with Leo…he acted his ass off in this movie.

In every movie.


But you can’t tell me, that these 2 movie would have existed had it not been for “State Of Grace”

Scorsese’s “Goodfellas” was one of the reasons that “State Of Grace” was overshadowed at the box office…and when oscar season came around, Scorsese was denied the Oscar and “Dances With Wolves” won. (Don’t get me started)

4 thoughts on “Sean Penn
Robin Wright
Ed Harris
Gary Odlman
State Of Grace

  1. Wes Candela - May 20, 2017

    Totally. I’ve Heard of the complaints about the ending also but he loses Kate, he lost Jackie, he quit his job…

    Frankie was gonna pay.
    This was a personall vendetta now, he was going to do the one last good thing he could do, even if it killed him. Which it probably did.

    The beautiful thing about what you point out:
    the flashes of violence in the bar and the celebration in the parade,

    Is that at the end, he has freed Kate.
    We see that shot of her just devastated watching the parade…

    But really this was about his love for Kate and Jackie, making Frankie pay, and stopping him from ever hurting her again.

    So beautiful!!

  2. Gomorra76 - May 19, 2017

    I know the ending gets abit of flack from some people,but I love that ending! Switching between the St Patricks day parade,where people celebrate all things Irish,and the shootout,where Irish-American’s are basically destroying each other.Love that juxtaposition.

  3. Wes Candela - May 19, 2017

    Oh my god. You know what, I knew when I was writing this that I we getting forgetting something. Godfather III & King Of New York
    Thanks so much for the compliment.
    Love this movie. It’s huge to me. It gets overlooked too much. Wanted to pay it some respect properly.

  4. Gomorra76 - May 19, 2017

    Marvelous article and review! Couldn’t have said it any better myself.I actually prefer it to Goodfella’s.An absolute masterpiece!
    King of New York and The Godfather 3 also came out that year.Big year for gangster flic’s.

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