Category Archives: crime

Ocean’s Twelve – Steven Soderbergh (2004)

I remember when this film was shot, even the news mentioned that George Clooney and Brad Pitt were in Amsterdam for filming. Only a small part of the film plays in Amsterdam though, but indeed, a somewhat touristic part that is.

Story-wise “Twelve” is a lot less interesting than the first film, but the fun the crew had is visible. Silly jokes such as Julia Roberts whose character has to pretend to be Julia Roberts and Bruce Willis in a small part playing himself make the film an amusing watch.

The film starts somewhat weak. The man who was robbed in the first film has found all of Ocean’s eleven and forces them to pay him back. So they have to come up with another big robbery to make up for the money.

Hopefully the last part of the trilogy is not yet another step down…

Ocean’s Eleven – Steven Soderbergh (2001)

Only recently do I more often feel light light-footed Hollywood action films. There are some classics in the genre that I never saw and some of them are on Netflix, so I have added a few titles on my watch-list, such as the “Ocean”-films.

The first one is indeed amusing. Danny Ocean (George Clooney) hires 10 other men to elaborately rob three Las Vegas casinos. With a good script, descent humour, a nicely developing story and a whole pack of big-name-actors, Soderbergh takes his viewers to perhaps not a surprising finale, but he does manage to keep a ‘high level of entertainment’ and little surprises.

The film is much older than I thought. “Ocean’s Eleven” can be considered a heist classic. Not much action in this one by the way.

Uncut Gems – Benny & Josh Safdie (2019)

Howard Ratner is a New York Jew with a very typical profession. He deals in diamonds and other expensive objects. Howard is well-known among the rich and famous and everybody who wants to be.

Howard does not always make the best decisions though, so he also builds debts and enemies. His complete naivety shows when he receives a long sought after rough diamond. His already precarious situation becomes worse rapidly.

“Uncut Gems” is an amusing film with strange situations and an ADHD Ratner doing his best, but he should listen to other people’s advice more often. The film has a bit of a mafia film atmosphere and in spite of the ‘small story’ easily fills its 2:15 hours.

Talvar – Meghna Gulzar (2015)

Often IMDb.com is a good indication if a film is any good. I found this film on Netflix, the story sounded alright and IMDb has this five year old film rated at 8.2, so I gave it a go.

Well, “Talvar” proves to be an Indian film. It is spoken half Indian and half Indian-English. The acting is alright, but the film almost completely lacks atmosphere while it is supposed to be a mystery thriller.

What is somewhat nicely done is that the death of a 14-year-old and a servant is investigated three times. The investigators come to wholly different theories as to what happened and how and these theories are made into film, so you get three different versions of the same story.

For the rest, I found “Talvar” quite unconvincing.

Peaky Blinders (series) Steven Knight (2013-)

When the series were first shown in 2013 it sounded like everybody was watching “Peaky Blinders”. I am never so quick with watching a series. First I need to know it does not become one of these milked out 10 season series. Also I often wait to see if people still think it is so great after a couple of years.

So a while ago I was looking for a new series to watch and ran into a note saying “Peaky Blinders”, so I watched the first episode. I must say: that was great!

The series are somewhat gloomy, play in the interbellum (the time between the World Wars) mostly in Birmingham, UK. There are lengthy scenes with nothing but shots of industrial workers, exploding fires from metal workers, etc. and the series have great music which does totally not fit the 1920’ies setting, but which fits the atmosphere of the series well. Especially the great opening tune of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds is great and often wonderfully incorporated into the opening scene.

We follow the family Shelby who own the factories in Birmingham, but who also form some sort of maffia with a gambling house. There are a couple of brothers and other relatives. After a while it becomes clear that not the oldest brother Arthur runs things, but the next in line Thomas/Tommy.

The first season is great. The characters develop, they run into amusing situations when they try to slowly convert from illegal business to legal businesses. Of course they keep running into old and new enemies, local authorities, etc.

The second season is enjoyable too, but from then on the story-writing goes down rapidly. Quite silly new characters are introduced for the next tension arc, story-lines that are suddenly wrapped up in half an episode to make room for something else. Jumps in time to not have to show how kids grow up or how Shelby’s move to the USA and back, dead and not dead and more and more it is all about Thomas… Somewhere in the beginning of the fourth season I started to slow down watching and I am not sure if I am going to finish even this season, let alone the next three (and probably running).

Yep, this is one of these milked-out series that should have stopped after two good seasons.

Legend – Brian Helgeland (2018)

This film reminds quite a bit of the Peaky Blinders series, mostly in the first half.

In the 1960’ies London, of which some stages remind of Peaky’s Birmingham, two brothers virtually run the city. They have both legal and illegal business, are ruthless towards the opposite and try to work themselves towards common businessmen.

That is to say, one of the half of the twins Kray does, the other prefers to be a gangster. While visually alike, the Krays are each others opposites character-wise and this starts to clash when the ideas start to run in opposing directions.

As I said, the first half of the film reminds of Peaky Blinders. In a gritty city wealthy gangsters live their luxurious lives. After a while the film moves more towards a typical mafia film, but it is still fairly well done.

The Bank Job – Roger Donaldson (2008)

I wanted something easy and this film with Jason Statham gets quite a rating so I figured this would be a descent crime comedy.

The film is based on true events and in the first part it fires off the different storylines in quite a messy way. When we are properly informed about the characters involved we mostly follow a group of small criminals who are talked into a big bank robbing. They come up with an inventive plan to get into the vault of a bank.

As is known from the start, the robbing does not only involve a few petty criminals getting rich, so when interests start to collide the situation goes out of hand.

“The Bank Job” is an alright crime film of which the biggest surprise is that the slightly unlikely story is supposedly based on true events.

Dragged Across Concrete – S. Craig Zahler (2018)

IMDb.com

This is a very slow and fairly grim crime film. Mel Gibson plays Brett Ridgeman, an old and cynical police officer who goes in a little too hard catching idiots. When he is suspended he takes up an idea to provide for his family.

Ridgeman and his also suspended partner Anthony Lurasetti (Vince Vaughn) start following a drug dealer with the idea of taking some money that he does not need anyway. Of course things do not go entirely as planned and Rudgeman and Lurasetti run into a much bigger piece of crime than they hoped.

Quite some actors appear on the screen. Don Johnson, Udo Kier and Jennifer Carpenter. This does add a bit to the film, but it remains a quite nice, but not great film.

The House That Jack Built – Lars von Trier (2018)

Lars von Trier made a bit of an American Psycho type film. We follow Jack, a man with an obsessive-compulsive disorder but mostly a serial killer. The combination leads to Jack cleaning up houses of his victims thoroughly and checking multiple times for remains of blood.

We have Jack telling his story to his psychopomp. We get flashes of his violent youth, brutal murders and the things that go around in his head. All this is told with cold humour.

The filming seems to have been hand-held, but not completely ‘Dogma 95 proof’. It is mostly the way of filming that takes the film down a bit.

“The House That Jack Built” is a descent film, especially when you start to figure out how the film is meant to be. It is not a masterpiece, but when thinking big about the films that I saw from Von Trier, it is probably one of his better.

The Irishman – Martin Scorsese (2019)

Scorsese made a classic mafia film with classical mafia film actors such as Al Pacino, Robert de Niro and Joe Pesci.

Robert de Niro is the man from the title, a small time man who works himself up in the mafia ranks. Pacino is great at the overheated head of the truckers union and became one of the most powerful men in the USA.

The Italians in the USA have their hands in many businesses, often illegal. When the Kennedys rise to power, they start to get opposition, but fortunately that problem solves itself. Then internal problems occur that need to be taken care off.

“The Irishman” is an alright mafia film that in my opinion needed not to last for three-and-a-half hours. I must say that De Niro does not really convince.