Category Archives: crime

Lilyhammer (series)

Some time ago I was looking for a somewhat lighter series to watch and I ran into “Lilyhammer” on Netflix.

The main character is played by Steven van Zandt whom “Sopranos” watchers (which I am not) will know. He plays the Brooklyn mafioso Frank Tagliano who testifies against his former associates and moves to Lillehammer, Norway and takes the name Johnny Hendrickson, because he was impressed by the winter Olympics held in that place. Another main actor in the series is Trond Fausa who we have met before in “The Bothersome Man“.

Johnny is used to getting his way and he has got several ways of persuasion. Norway is a whole different game though, but Johnny manages to blend his old nature with his new.

The series are made by mostly Norwegians and is largely spoken in Norwegian too. It makes fun of the Norwegian way of life with its extremely social system, men in healthcare, immigration policies, etc. Then there is the blunt approach of Johnny who is a heartily man to the people he likes, but you do not want him as your enemy.

Johnny opens a club which allows the creators to put in quite some music in the series. Besides his club, Johnny puts his fingers in about every pudding that comes by. These situation make fairly thin (and usually short) story-lines which are only to make a couple of jokes in a few episodes.

The series are amusing. Van Zandt is a funny guy and the enlarged differences between American and Norwegian ways of handling things is amusing too.

Not a high-flyer, but if you are looking for something light. Three seasons was quite on the edge for me though.

Journal 64 – Christoffer Boe (2018)

Apparently there is a “Department Q” series of Danish films. We meet the same couple as in “Kvinden I Buret” that you can see on the cover. Carl Mørck is the grumpy detective and Assad plans to move to another vocation. Of course the two have a last case.

A gruesome find is done in an apartment. Mørck steals the case from a colleague and he hauls in his partner-for-only-one-more-week Assad.

The film jumps back and forth in time. We find an institution for girls in the past which somehow connects to the find in the apartment. Of course Mørck and Assad find that connection and go after the bad guys.

The story involves a past that may well be historical and the somewhat extravagant present may be somewhat far fetched, but also shows present tendencies.

The film is an alright Scandinavian crime thriller.

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.

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.

Mindhunter (series) – Joe Penhall (2017/9)

I guess I missed why these series are so lauded. 8.6 At IMDb.com? Not by far in my opinion. Not that “Mindhunter” is boring, but neither did it live up much to my expectations.

We mostly follow Holden Ford, a young FBI agent who in the 1970’ies wants to use psychology to profile delinquents in order to be able to catch them faster. This is completely new in the time. He teams up with Bill Tench who has been doing something similar in the Behavioral Science Unit. Through Tench they come in contact with psychologist Wendy Carr who eventually joins the team.

In order to create profiles, Ford decides that he is going to interview convicted people who have committed multiple crimes (not yet called serial killers then). They start with Edmund Kemper, immediately a success as Kemper is a very talkative person. With Richard Speck things do not go as smooth and when the star of the team rises they even talk to Charles Manson.

The team records the interviews and starts to categorize the perpetrators adding new categories as they go along. Slowly but surely they are able to use the knowledge in running investigations.

The main part of the series is interesting. The first season has some unnecessary drama. Holden has a girlfriend who studies sociology so I expected her to get involved in his work somehow, but she does not and that storyline is pretty superfluous. In the second series a new angle is brought in when Carr proves to fancy women rather than man. The series put a magnifying class on a few elements of society of the 1970’ies. Homosexuality was still taboo and through an investigation also the treatment of blacks in American society is dealt with.

Actually, both these extra storylines again do not add much to the series which also suddenly stop. I expect work is done on a third season.

“Mindhunter” is alright, but not more than that.

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.