Mean Streets – Martin Scorsese (1973)

I may be old, but I am not as old as this film! This old Scorsese is available on Netflix.

“Mean Streets” has a very young Harvey Keitel, Robert de Niro and other actors that made name later.

The story seems to play at the lowest layer of New York mafia. The youngsters are set to collect money from restaurants, rough up some people here and there, selling drugs and -of course- trying to work themselves up the ladder.

The result is an amusing crime film, not about mafia big shots as you see most often, but the lives like those of most people who grew up in these surroundings.

Law Abiding Citizen – F. Gary Gray (2009)

I like the title of this film, but it took me a long time before I watched it. Unfortunately, I like the film a lot less than the title…

Clyde Shelton sees his wife and daughter get murdered. The perpetrators are caught but the persecutor does not aim as high as Shelton’s wishes.

Suddenly we are 10 years down the line. One of the perpetrators gets a lethal injection, while the other has been out of prison for years. Apparently Shelton has been cooking on revenge for all that time and a fairly boring story unfolds in which Shelton came up with all kinds of incredible ways to take revenge on the people involved a decade earlier. This involves some quite violent scenes.

It all results in an unconvincing film with a lot of ‘yeah, right scenes’.

Notre Jour Viendra – Romain Gavras (2010)

The name of the director rings a bell, but I do not think I have seen a film by Gavras. That is until a friendly ‘Redditor’ suggested “Our Day Will Come” with Vincent Cassel.

The box promises a weird film. The actions of the main characters may be a bit off, but the film itself it a pretty straight forward drama.

Rémy has red hair (very dark red) and he has been bullied for that his whole life, slowly building up anger. In a quite strange event he meets the bored psychiatrist Patrick (played by Cassel). It is not entirely clear to me if Patrick is also supposed to be a redhead and shares in Rémy’s fate or if he just wants to break his boredom provoking Rémy.

An unlikely roadtrip unfolds in which Patrick tries make Rémy grow up by force (getting him into fights, connecting him to easy girls, etc.). Patrick’s delusion grows and he turns to violence and so the two work themselves into more and more problems.

“Our Day Will Come” is a drama with some violence and madness. It very faintly reminds of “Natural Born Killers”. The film is alright.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs – Ethan & Joel Coen (2018)

Well well, Netflix has a Coen that I had not yet seen. Actually, this is a Netflix production.

“The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs” is not really a film, there are six short stories told from a book with this name.

The first film is a typical Coen, weird, humorous and violent. Other films are more drama, but always with the Coen black humour, just not always of the screwball type.

“The Ballad…” is not the Coens greatest, but an amusing watch if you want something light.

Red 2 – Robert Schwentke (2013)

Light Netflix entertainment. Apparently at some point I also saw the first “Red”. Judging my review of part 1, I found it entertaining.

Bruce Willis is again an old superhero. He is approached by his friend and former colleague Marvin (a weird John Malkovich) and talked into another assignment.

Just as with the first film, there is a stack of big actors in this film. One of them is the marvellous Catherine Zeta-Jones, but there are also David Tewlis (always fun) and a highly amusing Anthony Hopkins.

Some bad guys have bad plans with the world, Frank and company set out to prevent it. There is of course action, humour and a little romance.

Light entertainment, but not bad.

Snowtown – Justin Kurzel (2011)

Jamie grows up in an Australian slum town. His single parent mother tries her best with four sons, but things are hard. Life in general is hard and everybody vents his/her frustrations to the ones closest.

Then mother Elizabeth meets a man who is good to her and her sons. Too good perhaps. He evens runs some sort of neighborhood vigilante group, often inviting the neighbors for meetings.

Soon it becomes clear that Gavin’s group is somewhat over active. Are they actively looking for pedophiles and homosexuals to take care off? Are these people even what somebody says they are or is everybody too afraid to not be able to present victims to Gavin?

Jamie is a quiet boy, which is not strange as you will soon learn. Initially Gavin is some sort of father figure, but just as with his group, Gavin’s idea of making a man out of Jamie good way off into the extreme.

“Snowtown” is quite a heavy drama. You better not know more about the story than the above. Story wise it would have been easy for this film to have been a thriller of sorts, but instead of focusing on Gavin, the film is mostly about Jamie.

Not great, but especially since the film is based on true events, a somewhat disturbing film.

Smokey And The Bandit – Hal Needham (1977)

A classic on Netflix. This film is about as old as myself. Of course I saw it some time, probably decades ago. There is one scene that I remembered.

The main character is “Bandit” played by Burt Reynolds. “Smokey” is his buddy, or partner in crime perhaps.

Reynold’s character is a truck driver, or was he a stuntman, who takes an illegal job to pick up a load of beer in a neighboring state. Not only that, he has less time than anybody has managed to make that tour in the first place. Apparently he has done the same before, because he puts his buddy in his truck and he gets a fast car for himself to distract the police so they will not investigate the truck.

So the whole film we see wild boy Bandit being chased by the police, raising his problems by picking up a girl along the way. His hero status comes in handy will all kinds of help.

The film is still very amusing.

Leto – Kirill Serebrennikov (2018)

It has been a while since I saw a music movie. “Leto” (meaning “summer”) plays in 1980’ies Russia. There are youths who lean somewhat to Western music, much to the demise of many, but not to all.

Mayk does alright. He has a rock band and he is the star of his scene. He and his beautiful wife Irina have parties at their house all the time.

Contrary to what you may expect, there are actually concerts. As a matter of fact, there is a venue called “Rock House”. Well, the concerts are not entirely what you would imagine. The music, whether punk, rock or something else, is played acoustic, the audience sits in a theater and it is strictly forbidden to show any appreciation safe applause at the end of a song.
A band that wants to play at the Rock House has to have approval for the lyrics which of course are supposed to be patriotic, but a little irony here and there is allowed too.
All this leads to amusing situations of course.

Then we have a bored group of youths who enjoy the fringe of American music, from The Beatles to the Sex Pistols and Velvet Underground to Debbie Harry. Even though most of them to not understand the lyrics, some try to write out and analyze the lyrics.

The film revolves around Mayk and Irina, but also the upcoming musician Tony. You get an idea of the Russian music scene (very tame!) and what youths do to entertain themselves.

Then we have a couple of brilliant over-the-top punk scenes in which famous songs are misused and animations make the weirdest effects, these scenes really make the film a must-see.

Informative and entertaining!

Órbita 9 – Hatem Khraiche (2017)

A sci-fi drama from Spain, not too bad.

Helena was born on a spaceship that her parents abandoned. For most of her life, she has been alone on the ship. Then there is a problem and a young man comes to fix it, Helena grabs her change.

The viewer then learns that the story is not entirely what it seems and Álex cannot get it over his heart to not let Helena in on the information, but he chooses a fairly rough way to do so.

“Órbita 9” starts as a bit as an “I am Mother” type science fiction drama, turns into more of a romantic type of film but there are also thriller and action elements.

The Departed – Martin Scorsese (2006)

Jack Nicholson, Leonardo Di Caprio and Matt Damon in a Scorsese film noir rated 8.5 on IMDb.com. How comes that I had not seen it?

“The Departed” tells two stories, or perhaps it is only one. Both Leonardo di Caprio and Matt Damon play “Southies” who join the police force. Their background disqualifies them from the start, but Damon manages to launch a rocket career, while Di Caprio’s character is immediately muffled to undercover work, pretty much his old life.

As Collin (Damon) tries to work for his family from within the police force, Billy (Di Caprio) has a growing dislike for the function he was put in. A 2.5 hour crime drama unfolds in which both sides are compromised looking for the rats in their organisation.

The acting is great (Nicholson reminds a lot of Ian McShane by the way), the story is not unnecessarily complicated, the atmosphere is good too. A very descent ‘thrillerish’ drama.