Kicking the Tweets
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Colors (1988)

Though Dennis Hopper’s Colors is almost thirty years old, I won’t (totally) spoil what elevates it above the countless other hotshot-rookie-cop-versus-cynical-seasoned-veteran movies of its weary genre—except to say that the climax involves a character death, enhanced by one of the most upsetting, realistic performances I’ve ever seen. Sean Penn and Robert Duvall play members of a Los Angeles anti-gang task force, who have very different ideas about how to deal with the Crips/Bloods turf war (not to mention the criminal startups looking to make names for themselves). Beyond the Penn character’s obsessive primping; his superfluous fling with a barrio waitress (Maria Conchita Alonzo); and unintentional flashbacks to Hollywood Shuffle’s “Black Acting School” sketch (thanks to appearances by Damon Wayans and Grand L. Bush), Hopper and writer Michael Schiffer paint the boys in blue with bold moral grays. These cops live and die (spectacularly) by codes at once arbitrary and inviolate.

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