"If victory favors me, I will protect your child with my life."

"I ask you not to worry about that possibility. Because my son and I live on the Demon Way in Hell, we're prepared to descend into Hell through the Six Realms and Four Lives."

Archive for the ‘Crime’ Category

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…)

Cash On Demand

Wednesday, December 19th, 2018

CASH ON DEMAND is a 1961 Christmas crime movie that I learned about from that Yuletide Terror book I keep mentioning. Though the book is about Christmas-themed horror movies they included this crime one because it’s a Hammer production starring the great Peter Cushing. Apparently he didn’t want to get stuck only playing Dr. Frankenstein and Van Helsing and shit, so the studio threw him a bone.

It’s a simple story with only a handful of characters, entirely limited to a couple locations inside and just in front of a small town bank. I thought it might be based on a play, with the black and white photography and the snow falling outside the window adding a very cinematic atmosphere. It was in fact a remake of a television episode by the same director, Quentin Lawrence (THE TROLLENBERG TERROR, THE SECRET OF BLOOD ISLAND). I guess that makes sense too. (read the rest of this shit…)

Innocent Blood

Wednesday, December 12th, 2018

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, I’m saying it now: when it comes to balancing horror and comedy, AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON is the goal. I mean, there ones I love just as much that I consider a little heavier on the goofiness, like RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD and EVIL DEAD 2, but AMERICAN WEREWOLF is that ideal where it’s a perfectly serious horror movie and also it’s funny because of the situations and the way the story is told, and neither quality takes away from the other, in fact they only enhance each other.

Well, what seemed like a million years later, but was actually only eleven, director John Landis did a far lesser known but confidently crafted horror-movie-that-is-funny, this time in the vampire realm. INNOCENT BLOOD tells the story of an out of control couple of nights in Pittsburgh when a well(ish)-intentioned bloodsucker named Marie (Anne Parillaud, LA FEMME NIKITA) decides to feed on the local mafia, and it turns into a big mess. (read the rest of this shit…)

Widows

Tuesday, November 20th, 2018

When last we heard from director Steve McQueen U.K., his movie 12 YEARS A SLAVE had won best picture. Five years later he finally has a followup, and it’s a violent, artfully crafted heist movie. Now you’re earning that name, my friend.

It’s credited as “based on ‘Widows’ by Lynda La Plante,” which seems to refer to the 1983 ITV mini-series, though there’s also a book version that says “SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE” on the cover, and I have found no definitive answer as to which La Plante wrote first. Anyway, McQueen adapted whatever it was he adapted with Gillian Flynn of GONE GIRL (both book and movie) fame.

Liam Neeson (THE DEAD POOL), Jon Bernthal (THE ACCOUNTANT), Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO) and Coburn Goss (MAN OF STEEL) star as a Chicago-based crew of highly skilled, even highlier armed and armoured robber motherfuckers in the vein of HEAT or L.A. TAKEDOWN or DEN OF THIEVES or POINT BREAK or POINT BREAK REMAKE. And by “star” I mean for a couple minutes at the very beginning we see a tiny bit of their heist intercut with them saying goodbye to their wives beforehand and then they get blown up. You barely even see that last guy’s face. Because this is not about dudes like that. It’s about their loved ones who have to clean up their mess. (read the rest of this shit…)

Out of Sight

Wednesday, July 18th, 2018

June 26, 1998

OUT OF SIGHT pretty much struts onto the screen, David Holmes’ funky organ already jamming on “It’s Your Thing” as the Universal logo spins, George Clooney as Jack Foley storming out of a situation that we’ll only understand later, his frustrations underlined by freeze frames, when he spots a bank across the street. And he goes over unarmed, alone, winging it, and robs the place.

Clooney had already become a superstar on ER and proven himself big-screen-worthy in FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, but it was Steven Soderbergh who taught him to cut down on his trademark head-bobbing and become a real movie star. Wearing a suit I thought I heard somewhere was inspired by Cary Grant’s from NORTH BY NORTHWEST, he manages to charm his poor bank teller victim enough that when he tells her to have a nice day as he’s leaving with the money she reflexively says “You too.”

It’s a small, funny moment, but it’s also important. We have to believe this guy is so damn charismatic that the federal marshal who witnesses him digging out of Lompoc and gets thrown in the trunk of a car with him will fall for him. And Clooney pulls it off. (read the rest of this shit…)

Ocean’s 8

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

Before seing INCREDIBLES 2 and JURASSIC’S 5 I wanted to catch up with OCEAN’S 8. It’s that all star ensemble heist movie that came out in theaters a month ago. I know whatever conversation there was has already died off, but I wanted to see it.

Debbie Ocean, who kind of looks like Michael Jackson and is played by Sandra Bullock (SPEED 2: CRUISE CONTROL), gets out on parole with nothing but forty-some dollars, a glittery party dress and a master plan for stealing millions of dollars worth of jewelry. So she’s in good spirits. Plying her trade of theft and scams she gets herself a fancy hotel room and amenities (the fancy lady’s version of Porter building himself back up from nothing at the beginning of PAYBACK) and then goes to find her old partner Lou (Cate Blanchett, HANNA). Lou claims to have not known she was in prison, just thought she changed her number, and she says it so dryly I didn’t know at first if she was joking. I like these two.

Much like OCEAN’S ELEVEN, we get to meet the Mission: Impossible team of heisters in their regular lives as the two go around recruiting them. They rescue jewelry expert Amita (Mindy Kaling, A WRINKLE IN TIME) from working for her mom and Tammy (Sarah Paulson, THE SPIRIT) from suburban boredom. They hire hacker Nine Ball (Rihanna, BRING IT ON: ALL OR NOTHING) and three-card-monty hustler/pickpocket Constance (Awkwafina, CRAZY RICH ASIANS). Most crucially they trick movie star and soon-to-be Met Gala host Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway, HOODWINKED!) into hiring past-her-prime former fashion design legend Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter, PLANET OF THE APES) who they’ve gotten in on a scheme to get Kluger to wear a ridiculously valuable Cartier necklace that would otherwise be in a vault. (read the rest of this shit…)