Archive for the ‘Crime’ Category

The Place Beyond the Pines

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

tn_placebeyondFrom the trailers, THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES, from director Derek Cianfrance (BLUE VALENTINE), seemed weirdly similar to DRIVE.  Instead of a movie stunt driver who’s also a getaway driver, Ryan Gosling plays a carnival motorcycle stunt driver who becomes a bank robber. Instead of having a weird relationship with a married woman and her son he has a weird relationship with an ex-fling (Eva Mendes) who he’s just found out has his son (but lives with a boyfriend who doesn’t want him coming around). I’d heard that it wasn’t really what it looks like, that it “turns into something different,” that it’s “epic.” All these things are true, and I’m glad I didn’t know the specifics of it. But I gotta talk about those specifics if I’m gonna review it, so be warned. (read the rest of this shit…)

Dead Man Down

Friday, August 9th, 2013

WWEstudiostn_deadmandownNothing has changed since yesterday. I’m still against WWE Studios flying their prestigious banner above movies starring non-wrestlers. But I gotta admit that DEAD MAN DOWN is probly the best movie they’ve had their initials on so far. It stars Crusher Colin Farrell, Notorious Noomi Rapace and Terrence Dastructshon Howard in a moody revenge romance. (The token actual wrester is somebody named Wade Barrett as some character called “Kilroy.”) I think the movie it reminded me of most is LEON, but it’s a little more downbeat, and no uncomfortable underage business. But that’s a pretty abstract comparison, I don’t even know what it is that connects them. This is the rare movie that feels like it doesn’t really follow an existing template. Or if it does it’s a bunch of different templates collaged together in a weird way that’s hard to recognize. (read the rest of this shit…)

Only God Forgives

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

tn_onlygodforgivesFor ONLY GOD FORGIVES, the latest from writer-director Nicolas Winding Refn (DRIVE, VALHALLA RISING, etc.), Ryan Gosling trained in Thai boxing to play a quiet American running a Muay Thai gym in Bangkok. That lady who sued DRIVE for not being like THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS is gonna have to sue this one for not being like BLOODSPORT.

Or for not being like DRIVE, for that matter! This is not a commercial movie at all. It’s all mood and ambience. Slow, deliberate camera moves down hallways, precise, Kubrickian compositions, men introduced standing in poses rather than walking into rooms, not alot of dialogue, credits in Thai. It doesn’t explain much and leaves alot of weirdness lying around to either interpret, enjoy as surrealism, or get frustrated by. Of course I like to read a little symbolism into some of it, but I think it also works taken literally. This is a foreign, dangerous world that people like us wouldn’t understand. Not just because it’s Bangkok, either. The Bangkok you live in is just a sugar coated topping. (read the rest of this shit…)

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.
(read the rest of this shit…)

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…)