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City by the Sea
  • Alternative view 1 of City by the Sea
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City by the Sea

3.5 2
Director: Michael Caton-Jones

Cast: Robert De Niro, Frances McDormand, James Franco


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Robert De Niro, at least in the last few years, is often better than the material he has to work with. Case in point: City by the Sea, an average film based on a true story. As a whole, the DVD doesn't fare much better. High marks, though, go to Warner for a top notch transfer. The 2.35:1 anamorphic image (yes, there is a separate pan-and-scan version) is as


Robert De Niro, at least in the last few years, is often better than the material he has to work with. Case in point: City by the Sea, an average film based on a true story. As a whole, the DVD doesn't fare much better. High marks, though, go to Warner for a top notch transfer. The 2.35:1 anamorphic image (yes, there is a separate pan-and-scan version) is as good as any new theatrical print. Detail is excellent and so are the muted, yet distinguishable colors. The darker scenes also come across very well, never showing any signs of breakdown. The sound, while there are no real complaints, isn't outstanding in any way. This 5.1 Dolby Digital track is basically centered up front, with some selective use of the surrounds and appropriate bass. Though it's not something to get excited about, at least the dialogue is clear, as well as the sound effects. As for supplements, they don't add up to a lot. Yes, there is a scene-specific commentary from screenwriter Ken Hixon and producer Matthew Baer, but it's full of silent gaps, and when they do talk, it's focus is on characters and less on the actual making of the film. A commentary from director Michael Caton-Jones would have been a welcome addition to counterpoint this track. What Caton-Jones does offer is an eight-minute discussion of the filmmaking process. It's certainly interesting, but with such a short time, he never has a chance to go into great detail. Beyond this is the standard cast and crew filmographies and the theatrical trailer.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
There's no Hollywood gloss to speak of in City by the Sea -- every character has a grungy, outer-boroughs brokenness that's totally life-sized. This is more a strength than a weakness of Michael Caton-Jones' film, but it leaves things so workmanlike that the movie blends into the cinematic woodwork. Still, a movie should hardly be blamed for refusing to elbow its way into the spotlight, and City by the Sea is a nice enough little cop noir set among the detritus of a splintered family and a broken-down New York boardwalk town. At its best moments, it resembles the kind of blue-collar American story a director like Sidney Lumet would have made in the 1970s. At other times, it tries a little too hard for thematic parallels between characters, resulting in some clunky, overly expository exchanges in the dialogue. Robert De Niro leads a cast of actors who effectively disappear into their roles. Fresh off a series of contrived characters in contrived movies, De Niro willfully downsizes to something more organic and small, which also pays homage to his New York roots. It's a successful endeavor. Frances McDormand initially seems too WASPish a choice for Vincent LaMarca's gruff-cop world, but she soberly crystallizes some of the issues facing him about choices and responsibility. James Franco goes deeper than his matinee-idol looks, arriving at a place where the audience has no trouble believing him as a skuzzy junkie. It's the strong character development in Ken Hixon's script that eventually creeps up and gives City by the Sea whatever emotional resonance it has.
Hollywood Reporter
An exceptionally acted, quietly affecting cop drama. Michael Rechtshaffen
San Francisco Chronicle
De Niro has been showing us great stuff for 30 years now, but in this movie he shows us something new. Mick LaSalle

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Warner Home Video
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Closed Caption; Feature-length commentary by writer Ken Hixon and producer Matthew Baer; Six words about filmmaking with Michael CAton-Jones; Interactive menus; Theatrical trailer; Cast/director/writer film highlights; Scene access; Languages: English & Français (dubbed in Quebec); Subtitles: English, Français & Español

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Robert De Niro Detective Vincent LaMarca
Frances McDormand Michelle
James Franco Joey LaMarca
Eliza Dushku Gina
William Forsythe Spyder
George Dzundza Reg Duffy
Patti LuPone Maggie
Anson Mount Dave Simon
John Doman Henderson
Brian Tarantina Snake
Jay M. Boryea Picasso
Leo Burmeister Lieutenant Katt
Dominick Angelo Cangro Baby Angelo
Pasquale Enrico Cangro Baby Angelo
Leslie Cohen Jean
Matthew Cowles Arnie
Michelle Daimer Terry
Drena De Niro Vanessa Hansen
Michael Dellafemina Angelo LaMarca
Gregg Edelman A.P.C. Johnson
Linda Emond Margery
Cyrus Farmer Carl
Teresa Kelsey Reporter Laura
Mark LaMura Mayor Jackson
Joanne Lamstein Screaming Teenager
Jill Marie Lawrence Evelyn
Stephi Lineburg Bree
Jim Marcus Medical Examiner
Michael P. Moran Herb
Orlando Pabjoy Will
Nestor Serrano Rossi
Jason Winther Jason
Teresa Woods Reporter Carol

Technical Credits
Michael Caton-Jones Director,Producer
Jason Alexander Musical Direction/Supervision
Jason Alexander Musical Direction/Supervision
Matthew Baer Producer
Don Carmody Executive Producer
Jim Clark Editor
Don Fleming Musical Direction/Supervision
Cathy Sandrich Gelfond Casting
Brad Grey Producer
Ken Hixon Screenwriter
John Keating Consultant/advisor
Dan Klores Executive Producer
Karl Walter Lindenlaub Cinematographer
Amanda Mackey-Johnson Casting
John Murphy Score Composer
Jane Musky Production Designer
Tom Nelson Sound/Sound Designer
Richard Owings Costumes/Costume Designer
Roger Paradiso Executive Producer
Tom Reilly Asst. Director
Elie Samaha Producer
Andrew Stevens Executive Producer
B. Lynn Tonneson Set Decoration/Design
Laura Viederman Co-producer
Trevor Ward Consultant/advisor
Patricia Woodbridge Art Director

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Then/Now Credits [3:19]
2. Getting High [2:33]
3. Picasso [2:07]
4. Believe Me This Time [3:10]
5. Thing for Cops [2:17]
6. Back to Long Beach [4:19]
7. "You're Dead!" [2:38]
8. Snake Rats [4:17]
9. Casino Visitors [2:55]
10. Drugs and a Doll [3:48]
11. Responsibilities [3:38]
12. Off the Case [1:15]
13. Their Problems [3:02]
14. Be His Dad [3:04]
15. Not So Simple [3:22]
16. Vince's Visitor [5:08]
17. Not Coming Back [5:33]
18. Officer Down [3:00]
19. All He's Got [3:44]
20. So Wrong [3:11]
21. Choice or Sentence? [2:11]
22. Both Cop and Father [3:23]
23. Minds Made Up [6:25]
24. The Best Thing? [2:39]
25. Simon's Lead [2:48]
26. Killer Bait [3:23]
27. Along Goes a Spyder [4:40]
28. Joey's Choice [3:14]
29. Grandpa at the Beach [4:04]
30. End Credits [4:18]


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City by the Sea 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Robert De Niro (''Good Fellas'', ''Backdraft'', ''Analyze This'' & ''Meet The Parents'') plays the part of Detective Vincent DeMarco, a respected New York City police officer. The product of a failed marriage and family, Vincent has moved from Long Island, where he left behind his own failures as a husband and father, to a quiet life in the big city. His downstairs neighbor, Michelle (Frances McDormand - ''Blood Simple'', ''Fargo'' & ''Almost Famous'') and he have developed a no-strings attached relationship that Michelle hopes will be more someday. Ever patient and understanding, Michelle tries to get Vincent to open up and communicate with her on certain aspects of his life, but then finds out later that maybe she wishes he hadn't. Carrying along with him the burdens of his own father's crimes and death, Vincent now finds himself investigating the murder of a drug dealer who washed up on the shore in his province and his own son, James Franco (''Whatever It Takes'', ''James Dean'' (Made For TV) & ''Spiderman''), is the prime suspect. Everything comes to a head as Vincent is forced to deal with his past, both as a son and a father, and try to save his son from himself. In doing so, Vincent finds that he is saving himself as well. *Based on a true life account, ''City By The Sea'' was a very well acted and filmed movie. However it lacked any sensationalism that most police action dramas do have, and had more of a ''made for television'' feel to it. I would compare this movie to the likes of ''Cop Land'' or ''City Hall''. Frances McDormand put in yet another good performance, and Robert De Niro showed us rare emotion as a father trying to save his son. And it is nice to see the young James Franco develop into a very good actor. Certainly worth watching and even owning. But the draw and appeal to ''City By The Sea'' will fade over time, until it won't seem as good a film to you as you seemed to remember it being.