“I’m Paul Barlow, and this is my daughter Jo.”

“Malone.”

“You got a first name?”

“Yeah.”

Archive for the ‘Crime’ Category

Triple Frontier

Tuesday, March 19th, 2019

TRIPLE FRONTIER is last week’s straight-to-Netflix-no-theaters release from director J.C. Chandor (MARGIN CALL, ALL IS LOST, A MOST VIOLENT YEAR). This one is higher profile than most such releases because it floated around various big name directors and studios before Netflix bought it with the bottomless money supply their CEO famously received by catching a magic fish, and it stars Oscar Isaac (SUCKER PUNCH), Ben Affleck (ELEKTRA, director’s cut only), Charlie Hunnam (KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD), Garrett Hedlund (TRON LEGACY) Pedro Pascal (THE GREAT WALL) and Adria Arjona (PACIFIC RIM UPRISING). It’s such a big deal for the company that they made the uncharacteristic choice of promoting its existence!

Isaac plays Santiago “Pope” Garcia, an American advising the Colombian military in violent raids on drug gangs. His informant/sometime-girlfriend Yovanna (Arjona) claims to know the location of a jungle fortress where cartel boss Lorea (Reynaldo Gallegos, MONKEY TROUBLE) hides out with all his money. So Pope goes back to the states to recruit some of his old retired spec ops buddies as a team to go in and do reconnaissance and pocket a percentage of the money the police ultimately seize.

At least that’s what he says until they get there, and then it becomes clear that the police don’t know anything about it yet. He wants his buddies to do a heist with him. Ah, shit, Pope. Are you kidding me with this shit? (read the rest of this shit…)

Cold Pursuit

Monday, February 11th, 2019

COLD PURSUIT – which could be called HELLY HANSEN PRESENTS ‘COLD PURSUIT’ in my opinion – is an odd duck of a Liam Neeson vehicle. His character Nelson “Nels” Coxman is a man with a very particular set of skills, but they mostly involve driving a snow plow. He lives a simple life in a big house in a tiny ski resort town 3 and a quarter miles from Denver, Colorado. It’s one of those places where people have to be kinda rugged but they’re also laid back and individualistic. It’s always cold outside so they mostly just find ways to relax in their big houses. Nels’s wife Grace (Laura Dern, WILD AT HEART) smokes a joint while cooking up some meat from the reindeer that Nels and their son Kyle (Micheal Richardson, VOX LUX) hunted a while back.

Nels is a little nervous about having to make a speech after winning Citizen of the Year. Otherwise they seem to have a nice comfortable lifestyle going when all the sudden Kyle turns up dead – we know he was murdered by drug dealers, but the coroner (Jim Shield, SHANGHAI NOON, who looks like a more hard living Chris Pine) says it was a heroin overdose. Nels is so broken up he puts a shotgun in his mouth but when he’s interrupted by Kyle’s bloodied and apologetic friend Dante (Wesley MacInnes, POWER RANGERS) and learns what really happened, it’s not long before he’s sawing off said shotgun to fit in his jacket and go trying to find the people responsible. (read the rest of this shit…)

Destroyer (2018)

Tuesday, February 5th, 2019

DESTROYER is the latest from director Karyn Kusama (THE INVITATION). It’s a dark, character-driven crime thriller starring Nicole Kidman (BATMAN FOREVER) as Erin Bell, an extra-crispy-burnt-out LAPD detective breaking all the rules to chase a bank robber (Toby Kebbell, FANTASTIC FOUR). It’s personal to her because years ago she went undercover in his gang and her partner/lover (Sebastian Stan, THE COVENANT) was killed. But she’s a total fuckin mess and she seems to be acting on her own and keeps ignoring her partner (Shamier Anderson)’s voicemails asking where the fuck she is.

So no, turns out it’s not a remake of the 1988 slasher movie starring Lyle Alzado, and it’s not based on a novel either. Writers Phil Hay & Matt Manfredi (CRAZY/BEAUTIFUL, THE TUXEDO, AEON FLUX, CLASH OF THE TITANS, R.I.P.D., RIDE ALONG, THE INVITATION), adapted it from the 1976 Kiss album of the same name featuring “Detroit Rock City” [citation needed]. (read the rest of this shit…)

In Order of Disappearance

Wednesday, January 30th, 2019

IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE (Kraftidioten) is another great movie I was pushed into watching by an impending remake. In this case the remake is the Liam Neeson movie COLD PURSUIT. The same director, Hans Petter Moland, first did the story in Norway in 2014 with Stellan Skarsgard (DEEP BLUE SEA) as Nels Dickman, the stoic small town snow plow driver who up and dedicates his life to violent revenge after a drug gang kills his son (Aron Eskeland). There’s a darkly comic tone as he questions and kills his way up the ladder, rarely having much to say to them, then easily disposing of the bodies in the snow. Each time someone dies in the movie their name is written on the screen in memoriam. At first it kinda seems like chapter titles, but as shit escalates these cards become comically frequent and even cut to as shorthand for “and then they killed him.” (read the rest of this shit…)

Polar

Tuesday, January 29th, 2019

POLAR (a new Netflix original, exactly like ROMA) is one of these movies about a legendary hitman trying to retire. And it’s the type that takes place in a very exaggerated world where murder-for-hire is a thriving business populated with many quirky and talented individuals possessing a flair for fashion and creative violence. It seems like if it’s not inspired by the JOHN WICK saga it’s at least given aid and comfort by it, but technically it’s based on a comic book that started in 2012. Polar was a web comic, improvised by writer/artist Victor Santos in black, white and orange, and posted one page at a time, with no dialogue until it was later collected into a graphic novel by Dark Horse Comics. The movie is far from silent or monochrome and it’s more structured than that sounds like it would be, but when you hear it’s based on a comic book it makes plenty of sense. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Old Man & the Gun

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019

THE OLD MAN & THE GUN is a slight but pleasant lovable-bank-robber tale that Robert Redford (THE HOT ROCK) apparently chose as his one last job. He plays Forrest Tucker, a real life thief who from the age of 15 to 83 spent his time stealing and getting locked up and escaping and repeating. Based on a New Yorker article, this takes place in 1981, when he’s 70 and at it again shortly after escaping San Quentin in a kayak he built and cheekily decorated with the county logo and a yacht club flag. I gotta admire attention to detail in a jailbreak, especially when it’s only for artistic purposes. (read the rest of this shit…)

Widows (2002)

Thursday, January 17th, 2019

One of my favorite movies last year was Steve McQueen U.K.’s heist movie WIDOWS. I feel like it got a little less attention than it deserved, but it stuck in my mind for weeks. So I got curious about the source material, a 1983 mini-series written by Lynda La Plante (Prime Suspect). It does exist as a PAL DVD but I don’t have access to it. I did, however, find a 2002 remake (also scripted by La Plante) that was an earlier attempt at an American version. This one takes place in Boston, though it was filmed in Toronto.

As I expected, this isn’t a patch on a patch of the McQueen version’s balls, but I was able to enjoy it for what it was. Keep in mind this aired on ABC, and at a time right before TV started to evolve into what we have now – The Shield and The Wire started that year. And also American Idol and The Bachelor. So this is the type of television event where you might roll your eyes a little at first, but then you get drawn in. And it’s interesting to see an alternate take on the material. The heist is different and the characters have different backgrounds than in McQueen’s, but the story isn’t too far off.

Mercedes Ruehl (LAST ACTION HERO) plays a pretty different version of Ms. Rawlins, who brings together her fellow widows of a heist gone wrong to finish a job their husbands had planned. She’s meaner and bossier than Viola Davis’ version, more of a mob wife. And she has the original name, Dolly. When she first encounters the other widows at the morgue she acts like they’re beneath her and has no interest in talking to them. When she later wants their help she still doesn’t really treat them as people she has something in common with. Ruehl is really good as a tough lady who eventually softens as she comes to see the others as cohorts instead of employees. (read the rest of this shit…)

BuyBust

Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

(as in a bust during a buy)

Every so often in the world of action movies something or someone comes along that throws down the gauntlet and inspires others around the world to try to match it or top it. THE MATRIX, TAKEN and JOHN WICK are three that might qualify based on imitation alone. I think ONG BAK really started something with its insane stunts and flying knees and elbows originating from a country not previously known for movies. More recently THE RAID ignited an Indonesian action film scene and inspired people in other parts of the world to push the envelope in their own ways.

I’m not just talking about copycats. They might even become classics in their own right. Case in point: the amazing 2018 Philippine drug raid epic BUYBUST, which would’ve definitely made my best of the year write-up if I’d seen it in time. It’s kind of like THE RAID meets ELITE SQUAD. A highly trained team of drug enforcement agents go into a favela-like part of town tailing an informant (Alex Calleja) who is wearing a wire for a transaction with the vicious druglord Chongki (Levi Ignacio) in an attempt to draw out his boss, the elusive Biggie Chen (Arjo Atayde). It turns out to be a setup, the drug gang guns down most of the team and the surviving agents have a long, grueling night battling their way through endless attackers in a labyrinth of narrow, crowded passages and corrugated roofing while trying to figure out who betrayed them and where to find Biggie. (read the rest of this shit…)

Miss Bala (2011)

Wednesday, January 9th, 2019

I saw a trailer a couple times for this upcoming American movie called MISS BALA, and I thought looks good, but wasn’t that already a movie? Yes, in fact it’s a great Mexican crime/suspense drama from 2011, so thank you, Hollywood, for giving me the urgency to watch it so I don’t feel like an asshole if I see the new one. And not taking as long as you did getting me to watch BEN-HUR.

Laura Guerrero (Stephanie Sigman, WAR ON EVERYONE, ONCE UPON A TIME IN VENICE, ANNABELLE: CREATION) is a young woman living in Tijuana with her dad (Javier Zaragoza, GET THE GRINGO) and little brother (Juan Carlos Galvan). We don’t know much about her beyond the impression that we get from her mirror, seen under the opening credits: it’s collaged with photos of her with her friends and magazine clippings of Madonna, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, some anime lady, etc. But when she goes into the city to enter the Miss Baja California pageant it seems less like a dream of hers than just something fun to do with her best friend Suzu (Lakshmi Picazo, later on a show with the cool title Ask God For Forgiveness… Not Me). Laura is tall and gorgeous, but doesn’t seem to give a shit about that. She wears sloppy, loose jeans and walks into the audition with her pageant dress still wadded up in a plastic grocery bag. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Mule

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2019

Well, it’s a new year, and I’m keeping my tradition of kicking things off with a Clint Eastwood review. I think Warner Brothers may know about this practice, because they keep releasing his new movies at the end of December. (It’s not for Oscars – I heard they didn’t even screen this one for critics.)

Clint has been directing for almost 50 years. You don’t think of him as a guy who changes with the times, but he’s doing something to stay relevant at least some of the time. Here’s a guy from a couple eras ago still working while we have a cultural movement toward taking stock of our pop culture heroes, in some cases realizing that they were assholes the whole time, or worse. We find out about some horrible shit they’ve gotten away with or they say some shitty thing that makes us reconsider our respect for them.

This accountability is a good thing. Nobody should get away with abusing others just by being a movie star or rich or whatever. Personally I try not to have an itchy trigger finger on the “cancel” button though because I think there needs to be room for context and growth and making amends, if and when possible. But if you start to think some movie star has been a toxic force on the earth maybe it’s harder to enjoy watching them, say, appear in a weirdly titled Chinese propaganda movie starring Mike Tyson. I understand separating the art from the artist, but I can’t always do it. (read the rest of this shit…)