Archive for the ‘Crime’ Category

A Perfect World

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

tn_aperfectworldI started 2013 with a review of the broad but likable baseball movie TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE, where I wrote, “I don’t know if this is true but I heard it’s good luck for movie critics to start a year with a Clint Eastwood review.” I made the whole thing up, and the results were inconclusive anyway. I wouldn’t say last year was exactly a day at the races for me, but at least I wasn’t one of the horses. There were a few scares but they coulda been worse. I’m still going.

It doesn’t really matter if the superstition holds water, though, ’cause a Clint movie is a good way to start a year anyway. I might make it a tradition. I decided to go with A PERFECT WORLD this time because I’d been meaning to see it for a long time and I was reminded of that recently when the screenwriter, John Lee Hancock, directed SAVING MR. BANKS. Between that and THE BLIND SIDE (and maybe THE ROOKIE, I haven’t seen that one) Hancock’s John Hancock has become sort of better-than-expected middlebrow feel good type movies. In comparison his script for A PERFECT WORLD, directed by Clint and starring Kevin Costner, is pretty bleak. I mean it’s about a sweet relationship between a fugitive and a little boy. And it means it. But it doesn’t try to make you forget that this is a murderer taking a little boy hostage, putting him in danger and exposing him to terrible, traumatic events, even making him point a gun at people. He tries to be nice to the kid and encourages him to do harmless fun things his mom doesn’t let him do, but that doesn’t make him Mary Poppins or Sandra Bullock. More like a deadbeat uncle who tries to be your bro. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Wolf of Wall Street

Monday, December 30th, 2013

tn_wolfofwallstreetTHE WOLF OF WALL STREET is the incredibly entertaining new movie from director Martin Scorsese (Michael Jackson’s BAD), based on the memoir of scumbag fraudulent stockbroker Jordan Belfort (executive producer of SANTA WITH MUSCLES), adapted by Terence Winter (writer of a 50 Cent video game and 2 episodes of The Cosby Mysteries). Leonardo DiCaprio (POISON IVY) plays Belfort in the saga of his meteoric rise from innocent Wall Street rookie to multi-millionaire cokehead innovator in greed and callous thievery. After THE GODFATHER and all these other classics that show how organized crime operates like a business, here Scorsese flips it around to show how business acts like gangsters.

Man, we take it for granted after so many big, showy movies with great directors – or we don’t want to admit it ’cause he’s still got kind of a baby face and we remember when he made the teenage girls faint in their pants – but jesus, DiCaprio sure has turned into a good actor. WOLF is Scorsese picture #5 for him, and it seems for a while like he’s mostly doing his usual moves. He’s got the intensity, the energy, the accent that’s old timey and not very naturalistic but he goes so all-in that I buy it, the face that teeters between boyish and Benicio Del Toro. Early in the movie he even crash-lands a small aircraft and stumbles away, as if he’s doing callbacks to THE AVIATOR. He should do that in all his movies, it could be his “I’ll be back.” (read the rest of this shit…)

Homefront

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

tn_homefrontHOMEFRONT is a Jason Statham vehicle with an interesting pedigree: screenplay by Sylvester Stallone (Academy Award nominated writer of ROCKY), meth manufacturing villain played by James Franco (Academy Award nominated lead for 127 HOURS), James Franco’s girlfriend played by Winona Ryder (Academy Award nominee for LITTLE WOMEN and THE AGE OF INNOCENCE). Unfortunately the weak link is director Gary Fleder (CableACE Award winner for an episode of Tales From the Crypt), who’s just the guy who did KISS THE GIRLS and RUNAWAY JURY and stuff like that. He’s not terrible but also not the type of strong director that could shoot a bullseye with a simple story like this.

This is the second movie in a row where Statham starts out wearing a long hair wig. This time it’s because he’s a DEA agent undercover in a biker gang. He busts the kingpin Danny T (Chuck Zito), whose son gets shot to death by other cops. Danny and his gang want to kill the shit out of him for this so he has to shave his hair. Also he either goes into witness protection or just retires and moves to a small town somewhere in Louisiana. (read the rest of this shit…)

Green Street Hooligans 2

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

tn_greenstreet2GREEN STREET HOOLIGANS 2: STAND YOUR GROUND opens with another BRAVEHEART style two-crowds-running-at-each brawl set to an upbeat punk anthem. But the ground they have to stand in this one is fenced in – they’re in the joint. It’s about exactly what you dreamed the DTV sequel to GREEN STREET HOOLIGANS would be about: one of the supporting characters from part 1 is in prison for the big fight they  got into at the end and continues to feud with the guy that killed Petey, now played by a different actor.

Ross McCall (SUBMERGED) triumphantly returns to his role of Dave, he was the guy who was the airline pilot, he called them up and warned them there were a bunch of guys that were gonna beat them up at the game or whatever. I don’t remember him being that important of a figure but prison is one of those small ponds that makes his fish parts look bigger or whatever. It’s just him and two oafs we never saw before from the GSE (Green Street Enthusiastic Soccer Fans Club dot org) and all the sudden he’s the brains of the operation, he acts like the leader and they follow him around and stuff. McCall is good actually, I had to look him up to make sure he was in the first one because he has a much stronger presence here, he seems like a different guy. (read the rest of this shit…)

Green Street Hooligans

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

tn_greenstreetGREEN STREET HOOLIGANS (as we call GREEN STREET in America) is a very watchable but meat-headed movie about assholes (as we call cunts in America) obsessed with soccer (as we call soccer in America) and exploiting the American fascination with English exoticism. Elijah Wood (THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY Extended Edition Blu-Ray + Blu-Ray 3D + UltraViolet Digital Copy combo pack) plays Matt Buckner, a young writer who gets unfairly expelled from Harvard and decides to go visit his sister (Claire Forlani, POLICE ACADEMY: MISSION TO MOSCOW) and her family in London. His brother-in-law Steve (Marc Warren) wants to get rid of him so he sends him to a soccer game with his little brother Petey (Charlie Hunnam). So they go out to drink beer and sing songs with the fellas and then go to the game. (read the rest of this shit…)

Drug War

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

tn_drugwarbtislJohnnie To’s DRUG WAR is a hell of a procedural, a fast-moving, heavily detailed look at a batallion of Chinese narcotics cops flipping a big time meth manufacturer and trying to use him to take out a guy that’s above him. We watch them step-by-step, finding the guy, making him give in, making a plan on the fly, changing things up as the facts on the ground evolve. They gotta worry if they can trust him, is he gonna blow the whole operation, are they gonna get him killed. They’re like high stakes gamblers almost. Seems like stressful work in my opinion.

In the opening scene the squad catches a bus full of drug mules on a toll bridge. They bring them to the hospital and proceed with the unglamorous work of making them shit out the “drug pods” into bowls before they burst inside them and kill them horribly. I’m looking for a HOLY MOUNTAIN Alchemist/shitting in a bowl joke here, but maybe I’ll just let the moment pass. I am nothing if not classy as all fuck. (read the rest of this shit…)

Redemption (aka Hummingbird)

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

tn_redemptionREDEMPTION, huh? ‘Bout time somebody made a movie about redemption.

Okay, this might tie WAR for “most generic Jason Statham title” (except in the UK, where it has the more-distinctive-for-a-Jason-Statham-movie title HUMMINGBIRD), but the movie itself is something else. Written and directed by Steven Knight (the guy that wrote EASTERN PROMISES), it’s in the BLITZ category of serious-minded British crime dramas where Statham gets to beat the shit out of a couple people without it really being an action movie. They hired him more for acting than action on this one.

Stath plays Joey, a.k.a. Crazy Joe, a homeless crackhead who was an elite commando in Afghanistan until he lost it, committed war crimes and went AWOL. You think that’s different from most Statham characters, wait ’til you see his long hair! (read the rest of this shit…)

The Counselor

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

tn_counselorI’m a lightweight when it comes to reading Cormac McCarthy books. I read No Country For Old Men, loved it, then loved the movie version. I was deeply moved by The Road, the movie was decent. Before those I tried to read All the Pretty Horses, but I think it was too dense for my brain at the time, I didn’t get very far. I haven’t tried Blood Meridian yet, I know that’s the one everybody recommends.

But from my limited experience THE COUNSELOR, the Ridley Scott movie made from McCarthy’s first original screenplay, is sure recognizable as his work. It’s a crime story full of colorful characters and the occasional brutal violence, but it’s not interested in a straightforward approach to storytelling. I mean, it’s never as aggressively untraditional as that one really abrupt thing that happens toward the end of No Country (I had to flip back a few pages after that one ’cause I thought I missed something), but it takes it’s sweet ass time getting to a point where you even know what it’s about on the surface. (read the rest of this shit…)

Empire State

Monday, September 30th, 2013

tn_empirestateDito Montiel is a director I’ve kept an eye on since I saw his underground fighting movie FIGHTING. That one’s not good for action filmatism, but it’s really enjoyable as a more realistically textured take on the LIONHEART type of movie, and it has alot of personality. The example I always give when I try to convince somebody to see it is that the ultimate goal of the fight manager character played by Terence Howard is to get enough money to franchise an IHoP. So see that one, everybody. Totally underrated.

EMPIRE STATE is Montiel’s first movie that doesn’t have Channing Tatum in it, instead it stars an occasionally Tatum-esque Liam Hemsworth, a.k.a. the only expended Expendable as of part 2 (spoiler). There’s something odd about an Australian doing a New York meathead character, but Thor’s little brother has more range than I knew. Maybe Tatum was Montiel’s DeNiro, and Hemsworth will be his DiCaprio. I guess we’ll know that’s what’s up if Tatum starts doing a bunch of DTV cop movies with 50 Cent. (read the rest of this shit…)

Pain & Gain

Sunday, September 29th, 2013

tn_painandgain“Well, I didn’t think it was terrible or anything.”

–Vern, outlawvern.com

For the most part PAIN & GAIN is not that bad in the usual ways that Michael Bay movies are bad. Check this shit out: I honestly had no major stylistic problems with this one, other than some late-in-the-game freeze frame/on screen graphic things that are supposed to be funny (listing the side effects of cocaine use, saying “this is still a true story” during a crazy part, etc.) Even the action scenes are fine and have a good energy to them. I think maybe when Bay is limited to what he considers a low budget ($26 million) he has to do more planning and less shooting everything from a hundred different angles to slap together later.

What I really expected to be deadly in this movie was the jokes. Of course I hold a grudge against Bay for the way his and Simon West’s editing and framing began the crumbling of the visual language of action cinema that led to the current state of things where only a very small percentage of American action movies are worth watching if you are hoping for there to be action scenes in them. That’s what he’s gonna have to answer for when he gets to the Pearly Gates, but it’s definitely not the worst thing about his movies – that would have to be his terrible sense of humor. BAD BOYS 2 and the TRANSFORMERSes especially can’t go a minute without some unfunny ad-libbed jibber jabber, or a cut away to a dog fucking something, or a sassy black lady swearing at somebody (or vice versa), or a cartoonish service person or government stooge being an asshole for no reason other than to reflect Bay’s world view. So when this joker said his next movie was gonna be a comedy I heard the JAWS music.

(read the rest of this shit…)