Category Archives: crime

Shimmer Lake – Oren Uziel (2017)

I saw this film last weekend and apparently forgot to review it. I do not remember much of it, which is probably a bad sign.

Both the Netflix announcement and IMDb immediately tell you that the film is told backwards. How inventive! Watching “Memento” (2000) for the first time, it is a lot more fun when you do not know the clue.

That said, some not too bright hillbillies think it is a good idea to rob the local bank. Of course everybody knows everybody in the small community, so it is not exactly difficult to figure things out. Just one character’s part in the whole scheme is somewhat elusive.

The film has a few descent jokes and amusing situations, but I do not remember many details, so I guess it was just alright.

The Poison Rose – Francesco Cinquemani & George Gallo (2019)

IMDb.com

The creators wanted to make a 1970’ies style film noir set in the 1970’ies. This worked out well for quite a bit.

John Travolta is the old, yet cool, private investigator Carson Philips. While he prefers to remain in L.A., he is sent for a job in his home-town in Texas, a town that he had left two decades before.

Travolta is also the voice-over, there are the typical introduction titles, way of filming, “femmes fatale” and silly, but good humour. Philips works himself into a web controlled by “Doc” (Morgan Freeman) and everybody seems to know Philip’s every move.

Of course the plots shifts a few times and Philips continues his investigations against all odds and prevails at the end.

The first three quarters are quite good, the ending is just fine.

Son Of A Gun – Julius Avery (2014)

IMDb.com

JR is sent to prison for six months where he lands between two gangs. Taken into protection by Brendan Lynch (Ewan McGregor as the tough guy) this naturally requires compensation. When JR is released, he is taken into Lynch’s gang and his first job is helping Lynch to escape.

After this JR is dragged from one job to the next, never feeling quite at his place and trying to find a way out of this world of heavy crime.

“Son Of A Gun” is an alright film with a very good McGregor.

Small Town Crime – Eshon Nelms (2017)

IMDb.com

John Hawkes (Sol in Deadwood) is great as Mike Kendall, an alcoholic ex-cop who can’t get his life back together.

After yet another drunken night he finds himself in a field and driving home, he finds a heavily wounded girl alongside the road and drives her to the hospital. When his old colleagues do not support his help in the investigation of this crime, Kendall decides to do the investigation himself.

What initially looks like a crime in a small town, proves to be a big muddle of ‘big town crime’ and Kendall works himself and the people he knows right into it.

In a nicely slow ‘Coen-like pace’ with similar harsh humour, the two directors Nelms tell their not too original story in a not too original style, but the result is an amusing film with the humour and violence typical for this type of film.

The Highwaymen – John Lee Hancock (2019)

IMDb.com

Woody Harrelson in a part in which we have seen him before. An old, grumpy police officer who is sent on a job in his old age. More surprising is that Kevin Kostner has the same part. Kostner as the touch guy. He handles it well, bur Harrelson is better in his part.

The two are retired government killers who get asked to get rid off the problem of Bonny and Clyde who drive through the country killing policemen and robbing banks and getting more famous as filmstars doing so.

“The Highwaymen” is a slow crime film. Not original in style, but well executed. Hamer and Gault try to get a step ahead of Bonny and Clyde. Initially they are the laughing stock of the 1000 men force of the FBI with the same assignment and the latest techniques. Of course Hamer and Gault find a way to get the job done.

Gotti – Kevin Connolly (2018)

IMDb.com

As you can see on the cover, John Travolta plays John Gotti. Gotti was an outsider who worked himself into one of New Yorks maffia families. Not entirely satisfied with ‘management’ he sets up a plan to take over when the second in charge passes away.

Travolta plays Gotti in different phases of his life, from relatively young to old and plagued by cancer. Travolta’s face looks… botoxed, but he still manages to convey emotions.

We follow John Gotti from the violent early days when he tried to make a name in the Gambino family. Lengthy parts are about his role as one of the local leaders and then, of course, we move to his moving up in the world and the media attention this brings.

“Gotti” is a descent film about the violent life of New York maffia and the family life that was part of it.

Rise Of The Foot Soldier – Julian Gilbey (2007)

IMDb.com

The violent life of Carlton Leach. As a youngster he was active as a football hooligan who liked to kick the shit out of people. Then he gets asked to be a bouncer for a club, a task he violently commits to. When he needs personnel, he gets his old mates. There are more clubs who need cleaning up and then the possibility arises to see to the security of drug deals. Of course then the step to violent crime is but a small one.

The film is full of brutal fighting, going over to torture and when the group gets a problem with the Turkish maffia, things really go out of hand.

The film makes quite a brutal watch. It is unimaginable what violence people are capable of. Of course his ‘work’ seeps into Leach’s private life as well.

Chinatown – Roman Polanski (1974)

IMDb.com

This film is older than myself. Polanski made a descent crime thriller in which a private investigator (Jack Nicholson) is hired for an apparently simple job, but he quickly walks into a swamp of corruption and intrigue.

The story unfolds nicely with new elements, suspects and information as we go along. The film is moody. Of course it has the pace of a 1980’ies film which immediately shows in the tranquilizing opening credits.

True Detective (series, season 3) (2019)

IMDb.com

After a few years of silence, here we have the third season of “True Detective”. The first season was brilliant, the second less so, it was different, good, but not like the first season. This review of the third season is a bit like that of the second.

The first two episodes are great and like the first season. Very slow and minimalist, a droning soundtrack that suggests something terrible. Then we continue with a police investigation of two quite different officers, quite like in the previous series. The initial investigation is repeated a decade later and again later, so we get the story in three time-lines. The case itself looks small. Two kids get lost. Initially something sinister is suggested, but as the investigation continues, the focus of the series goes more to the drama of the investigators and the parents of the lost kids.

The series gets a bit of a Memento edge as one of the main characters’ memory starts to fail him in the timeline in which he is old. The story of the lost children is told in bits and pieces and in the three timelines only slowly clearing things up.

Season 3 is descent, mostly moody and well-written, but just as the previous one, 3 does not really rise above the level of descent.

Crying Freeman – Christope Gans (1995)

IMDb.com

I thought that I bought some hip action film as a ‘spare film’, but only when I put it on, I noticed that it was directed by Gans who made some more descent films.

The freeman from the title is a killer for the Chinese maffia. When a woman sees him working, she is supposed to be killed too, but the freeman has second thoughts.

Then we jump forward to a feud between Japanese and Chinese maffia and the freeman’s mythical reputation. The film being based on a comic gives it a somewhat ‘poetical vibe’.

What really adds to the atmosphere are the slow, stretched scenes with 1990’ies synth music, very moody. The scenes are often dark. There are some weaker scenes, but overall I found “Crying Freeman” unexpectedly moody with here and there a violent shootout.