Archive for the ‘Crime’ Category

Hit & Run

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

tn_hitandrunHere’s how I know marketing failed HIT & RUN: I was one of its test subjects. Some time last year I was at the multiplex picking up tickets for later in the day. In the lobby sometimes they have these survey people showing trailers on little monitors and asking focus group type questions. I always wondered what that was about, and I had some time to kill, so when they asked me to do it I said yes.

I saw other people being tested on THE EXPENDABLES 2, which at the time seemed exciting. But too my disappointment the survey focused on HIT & RUN, which I learned was a comedy starring Dax Shepard, Kristen Bell, Tom Arnold and Bradley Cooper as the bad guy. They showed me variations of different commercials, mainly consisting of Arnold yelling, Shepard getting hit in the face with a golf club, a car going off a jump, and the various actors in cars looking scared like they’re gonna crash. Some had a heavy emphasis on a scene where squeaky-voiced Kristen Chenoweth talks about taking Xanex. I struggled to answer questions like “What do you think the movie is about?” and “What is your favorite part?” (Answers: 1. “Well, they said he was a bank robber, so they’re after him? I don’t know.” 2. “I guess Bradley Cooper in dreadlocks looks funny.”) In the end I had to answer that no, I did not think there was any chance that I would see this movie, because it doesn’t look funny at all.
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The Bling Ring (2013) vs. The Bling Ring (2011) (plus Spring Breakers)

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

tn_blingringIt’s a crazy story, and it really happened pretty much like this: a group of well-off high school kids in the Valley, obsessed with celebrities and their clothes, decided to start robbing them. Using Google to find their addresses, and TMZ and Twitter to find out when they were out of town to host a party or attend an awards show, they’d show up at their mansions, let themselves in, then have the run of the place like it was the mall in DAWN OF THE DEAD. They stole clothes, handbags, jewelry, cash and (they say) cocaine. They chose Paris Hilton as their first victim because they thought she was “dumb” and might leave a door unlocked – sure enough they say they found the key under the welcome mat. Others (Lindsay Lohan, Brian Austin Green, Orlando Bloom, some reality show people I never heard of) left doors or windows unlocked. These kids chose celebrities whose fashion they admired, and they happened to be people with so much shit that they didn’t even notice when it was gone. Not until more experienced criminals got involved and knew to take the most expensive jewelry. (read the rest of this shit…)

Eden

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

btisltn_edenIf you trust me to say “Go watch this intense crime drama, I thought it was excellent” without needing me to tell you anything else about it, then go do that. I’m awarding EDEN my controversial The Best Thing I’ve Seen Lately medal to encourage you. It came out on the DVD last week under the title ABDUCTION OF EDEN, but the title on screen and when it was playing film festivals was just EDEN. (I hear they had to change the cover and name for Redbox – artistic decisions now determined by vending machines. Today’s cinematic art must have the same wide appeal as Doritos or Chips Ahoy.)

Because of the new title we know there’s an abduction of some kind, and the movie opens with a girl crying, tied up in the trunk of a car (as crappily photoshopped on the generic DTV-looking cover). If you insist on knowing more than that then read on. (read the rest of this shit…)

Snitch

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

tn_snitchIn SNITCH, Benjamin Bratt (CATWOMAN) plays El Topo, a notorious ex-military badass who leads a Mexican drug cartel. He’s elusive to the authorities, preferring to stay back in a car and watch his underlings from afar, but when the shit goes down he’s the first to pull out a huge gun that looks like it should be mounted to a jeep. He’s very dangerous, especially to the naive Americans who he convinces to drive his drugs across the border. What they don’t understand is they don’t need to be working on a playlist for the drive back.

The obvious question: is this supposed to be a loose remake of EL TOPO, or a sequel, or what? I gotta go with prequel. At the end of EL TOPO El Topo (originally played by Alejandro Jodorowsky) had achieved enlightenment, gone underground and become a Saint. It just doesn’t follow that he would then become a cartel leader. Instead, SNITCH shows how the El Topo we first met riding through the desert with his young son came from a troubled background. It gives him all the more darkness to be redeemed from, retroactively adding more depth to Jodorowsky’s film. (read the rest of this shit…)

Killshot

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

tn_killshotDo you ever notice the movie posters where it shows the faces of all the leads but then the names above their heads don’t match? You see that and you understand that it was some legal thing, they were required to list them in that order by contract, there’s alot of politics involved. But then you wonder why they don’t plan for that reality ahead of time and make a composition with that in mind. I know it can be done. And KILLSHOT, the long-delayed-then-poorly-received-then-put-off-seeing-by-me-until-now Elmore Leonard adaptation from the director of SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE, does something rarer. It introduces the characters in the actual movie in credits order so the actor’s names can appear over them on screen. I was really impressed by that extra effort. (read the rest of this shit…)

Baytown Outlaws

Monday, April 8th, 2013

tn_baytownoutlawsI only gave this a chance because I knew Zoe Bell was in it somewhere and I thought it starred Billy Bob Thornton. Turns out both are pretty small parts. And the opening has alot of signs that this is one of these post-GRINDHOUSE prefab exploitation movies that I can’t stand. It uses that old stylistic device that has pretty much never been used in a cool way, the freeze-frame-turns-into-shitty-Photoshop-tracing-that’s-supposed-to-look-like-a-comic-book-panel. The titlated outlaws are three crazy gunhappy berserker redneck brothers, the unshaven type with greasy hair and fetishistically dirty tank tops, ugly tattoos, biker jewelry, of course a rebel flag on one of them. #1, I don’t understand why these type of characters are so appealing to people who make movies like this, and #2 are we at a point where SMOKIN’ ACES is actually an influential film? Holy shit. I thought I was the only one who liked some parts of that.

But you know what? This BAYTOWN OUTLAWS isn’t bad. It won me over. (read the rest of this shit…)

Spring Breakers

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

tn_springbreakersI have this dumb joke that always amuses me: whenever they’re looking for a director to do a new MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE or a Marvel Comics movie or something I suggest Harmony Korine. It’s funny to picture the director of GUMMO and TRASH HUMPERS selling out or deciding to do a normal mainstream movie, because it just seems like something he would never be interested in. I picture him as a smartass New York art kid for life.

So it was pretty funny to see his new one at a multiplex with an IRON MAN 3 trailer playing before it. I think this was by accident. In style and substance it’s not that much more normal than MISTER LONELY (the one about the commune of celebrity impersonators), it just happens that it focuses on a topic that can be very commercial: young girls in bikinis spraying beer on each other and jumping up and down and sometimes they have guns. And one of the stars is James Franco, who seems to have alot of interests in common with Korine, but is also the star of a $215 million Disney 3D fantasy movie that was #1 at the box office just last week. (read the rest of this shit…)

Freaky Deaky

Monday, March 11th, 2013

tn_freakydeakyI guess different people are free to interpret Elmore Leonard different ways, but to me he writes serious stories that are funny. As far as this movie is concerned he writes comedies. I guess that’s the GET SHORTY approach as opposed to the OUT OF SIGHT/JACKIE BROWN/Justified one. Too bad this isn’t as good as GET SHORTY.

It’s been years since I read the book, but I think this is fairly faithful. In my memory Skip (Christian Slater) is one of the main characters, which is not really the case here (despite the terrible cover making him way bigger than everybody else). But the basic storyline I think is intact and the movie’s biggest strength is lots of funny dialogue, largely from the book I believe. (read the rest of this shit…)

Sushi Girl

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

tn_sushigirlI know they say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but a movie is not a book and a cover is not always the same art as a poster so I sometimes feel okay writing off a movie because of its poster. And these days when a movie has kind of a quasi-retro poster with a sort-of-old-school-ish illustration and attempted ’70s font, I assume it’s just some bullshit by somebody who liked GRINDHOUSE like I did and thinks if they know about old movies they can make a movie like that even if they don’t have the chops. But some of you said I had to watch SUSHI GIRL, so I gave it a shot. I forgive you.
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The Mighty Quinn

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

tn_mightyquinnTHE MIGHTY QUINN is a 1989 Denzel joint where he does a Jamaican accent. Or maybe it’s a Jamaican-ish accent, because it takes place on a fictional Caribbean island, where Denzel’s character Xavier Quinn is the chief of police.

One day a white guy at the rich white people resort gets his head chopped off, and the white guy in charge blames it on Quinn’s irresponsible childhood best friend Maubee (Robert Townsend). All the authorities are convinced except Quinn, who’s a little unsure at first and alot unsure the more he investigates and uncovers a conspiracy.

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