Crime

PLACE BEYOND THE PINES

Note: Andrew Robinson’s review originally ran during TIFF 2012, but we’re re-running it now as the film opens in limited theatrical release. Derek Cianfrance‘s The Place Beyond the Pines is broken up into three chapters. We open with Luke (Ryan Gosling) coming back into town with the circus and finding out that he has a son. He decides to stick around, but since he’s unable to make a living to support his family, he begins robbing banks using his skills as a professional motor bike rider. The narrative is then handed over to Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper), a police officer heading into politics and struggling with family matters. The film takes its time in making sure that we get a good grasp on each character as there’s very little overlap in screen time between each. The reckless rise of Gosling’s bank robbing spree and the troubled rise of Cooper’s political/social standing in the world parallel one another beautifully. What the film truly discusses is what someone is willing to do selflessly for others. While, morally, Cooper and Gosling’s acts are complete opposites of each other, their motivations start out in the same place, the intention to provide for their family. Luke’s robbing banks was never about himself; he never wants to take credit for them, reflecting his clear shame. Cross’s actions are one of motivations head-butting his own desires, even at the expense of his son’s affection.

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Jackpot Film Review

Oscar is having a bad day. When we first meet him, he’s lying underneath a massive woman clutching a shotgun at a strip club full of corpses. The police are obviously curious as to his connection with all this death and destruction. As Oscar sits in the interrogation room of the police station, he relays a bizarre tale of soccer betting winnings, of gangsters, and of murder. Is Oscar a liar, a killer, or just completely out of his mind? More and more, the collected nations of Scandinavia are proving to have an unparalleled mastery of the crime film. Whether it be a brutal descent into the depths of human ugliness like Sweden’s Millennium Trilogy or something intricately tense and darkly comedic like Norway’s Headhunters, it’s gotten to the point that the assemblage of the words Scandinavian and crime film are enough to heighten many a film geek’s excitement and expectation. Sharp as a concealed knife, and dripping with black comedy, Jackpot proudly takes it place beside the best of this budding new wave of rule-breaker cinema from the north of Europe.

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Alex Cross Matthew Fox

If you needed further proof that making your voice gravely doesn’t make you seem nearly as cool as you think it does, look no further than the trailer for Alex Cross. Tyler Perry – like Karl Urban’s constipated Eastwood in Dredd and Christian “Where are the Drugs?” Bale – forces out a low guttural that makes him sound like he’s doing a hard math problem in his head while recovering from a cold. Of course, it doesn’t help that he seems to be sleepwalking. Fortunately, Matthew Fox looks like he’s gone full-on insane to play a vicious serial killer obsessed with causing pain. Based on the James Patterson novel “Cross,” the trailer shows a bit of promise, but Perry is going to be a hard pill to swallow. Check it out for yourself:

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According to Deadline Tokyo, John Woo will director his first non-Red Cliff movie since 2003′s Paycheck. Fortunately, he’s chosen something that will definitely facilitate the use of slow motion doves. He’ll be tackling the world of the Yakuza for a remake of the 1963 Seijun Suzuki film Youth of the Beast, which will aptly be titled Day of the Beast. Production will be handled by Lion Rock and Nikkatsu – Japan’s oldest major movie studio which celebrates a full century in business this year. According to the release, the movie “follows a western outsider with a grim past as he becomes embroiled in a global turf war between a vicious new breed of Yakuza and old school Cold War Russian mobsters. It’s an action-packed saga of loyalty, revenge and redemption which erupts in the heart of Tokyo.” Yes, yes, and yes. The original was a 60s-trippy, frantic crime story with a lot of ins and outs (and whathaveyous), so it’ll be fertile ground for Woo to get as weird as he wants to be.

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Editor’s Note: Max Allan Collins has written over 50 novels and 17 movie tie-in books. He’s also the author of the Road to Perdition graphic novel, off which the film was based. With his new Mickey Spillane collaboration “Lady, Go Die” in great bookstores everywhere, we thought it would be fun to ask him for his ten best films noir. In true noir fashion, we bit off more than we could handle… We have to begin with a definition of noir, which is tricky, because nobody agrees on one. The historical roots are in French film criticism, borrowing the term noir (black) from the black-covered paperbacks in publisher Gallimard’s Serie Noire, which in 1945 began reprinting American crime writers such as Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain, Raymond Chandler, Chester Himes, Horace McCoy, Jim Thompson, Mickey Spillane, W.R. Burnett and many others. The films the term was first applied to were low-budget American crime thrillers made during the war and not seen in France till after it. The expressionistic lighting techniques of those films had as much to do with hiding low production values as setting mood. In publishing circles, the term has come to replace “hardboiled” because it sounds hipper and not old-fashioned. I tend to look at dark themes and expressionistic cinematography when I’m making such lists, which usually means black-and-white only; but three color films are represented below, all beyond the unofficial cut-off of the first noir cycle (Kiss Me Deadly, 1955). Mystery genre expert Otto Penzler has […]

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In Death For Sale, the three best friends that anyone could ever have falter under the weight of their petty crime lives and the economic reality facing twenty-somethings in Morocco. They’re lost youth, scumming their way on the streets and in the nightclubs without any kind of direction. Writer/director Fauozi Bensaïdi‘s story picks up just as the group is beginning to diverge. Malik (Fehd Benchemsi) has fallen hard for a prostitute called Dounia (Imane Elmechrafi) despite her status as forbidden fruit. The naive Soufiane (Fouad Labied) hatches a plan to steal a rich girl’s purse that has profound, unintended consequences. The hardened Allal (Mouhcine Malzi) is determined to become a big fish in the suddenly empty drug-dealing pond. Everything should work out fine, right? Like most films from the Arab world, this one deals with 1) what it means to be a man and 2) crime. Yet, even within a sea of sameness, the film has its own statements to make and its own way of making them. Most directly, with a strong visual eye and a serpentine story where chasing dreams leaves its inhabitants out of breath standing right where they started.

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Based on Win Lyovarin‘s novel, Headshot (Fon Tok Kuen Fah) is a noir assassin story that features a killer who takes a bullet to the brain – leaving him seeing the world upside down. Considering that it’s from Thailand, has a crazy premise and involves violence, there’s a word of warning that should come along with writer/director Pen-En Ratanaruang‘s film: it’s far more drama than action film. For whatever reason, Ratanaruang and company chose to abandon anything about the story’s gimmick that makes it viable and loaded down their structure with faulty flashbacks and confused caricatures. It’s a fairly standard crime story with wasted potential, but it has a leading man that comes close to making it worthwhile.

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Cinematographer of many a short film, Óskar Thór Axelsson, is making his feature directing debut with a Stefán Máni novel. Black’s Game focuses on the evolution of the 1990s Reykjavik underworld from a tepid endeavor to a stirringly violent one. At the center is a gang (based on no gang in particular) of drug dealers who aggressively fight for control of the trade. From the look of the trailer, things are about to get ugly. Check it out for yourself (now with convenient English subtitles!):

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Why Watch? Will you sink back and be safe or step forward and put yourself at risk? This thoughtful, difficult short is a cinematic litmus test that can’t help but produce questions. In it, a young man boards a subway train headed for Brooklyn late at night and faces some primal choices. Well-shot with a dangerous view, you’ll find yourself riding in the same seat. What does it cost? Just 6 minutes of your time. Check out Train for yourself:

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Talk about non-traditional casting. According to Variety, Ray Liotta is going to play a corrupt cop in A Place Beyond the Pines. Can you even imagine it? Can you even wrap your mind tightly enough around the concept of Liotta being, not only a police officer, but one that’s not totally above board in order to envision how it might play out? Neither can I. Sarcasm aside, even if it is the most obvious kind of typecasting, Derek Cianfrance has got a ton of skill and a lot of talent lined up for his movie that sees Ryan Gosling as a motor cycle racer/bank robber being chased down by Bradley Cooper with a badge. Who better than Liotta to bring a sense of gravitas to a very necessary and particular role? At any rate, it proves the old saying about the corrupt cop character: If you build it, he will come.

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Director Andrew Dominik proved with The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford that he could create an intensely beautiful film with an insanely long title. He also proved that he could handle a large cast of formidable talent. Fortunately for fans, he’ll get another chance to wrangle a murder of talent. Not only will Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck be starring in Dominik’s forthcoming Cogan’s Trade – a film about comedy and crime in Boston (the only city in the United States with crime) – but Sam Rockwell, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Zoe Saldana, Bill Murray, and Mark Ruffalo are also possible to come on board. If they do, Andrew Dominik will have single-handedly kept the great actors of Hollywood busy and unable to appear in anyone else’s films next year. Well played, sir. The film is set to shoot in Louisiana in March, and it creates another reason to be excited for 2012. [Cinema Blend]

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I remain cautiously optimistic about Animal Kingdom, the blessed child of Cannes that’s gotten intensely high praise. It’s the story of a young man caught between a crime family and the long helpful arm of the law that’s intending to get him out before he’s pulled back in. Unfortunately for it, its premise, praise and promise of violent drama make it sound far too much like The Square which turned out to be more boring than riveting. Joel Edgerton’s involvement here doesn’t help the cause either.

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With Neil at Sundance, I decide to take my own personal trip by remembering a Sundance film from a few years back that deserves more recognition.

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public-enemies

Michael Mann’s latest is a worthy inductee into the gangster genre, combining a familiar story and great performances with a refreshingly new stylistic approach.

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whiteout-header

Kate Beckinsale is in a new movie, and the trailer would rather talk about how cold Antarctica is than show shots of her breathing or standing around looking sexy or anything like that. Because learning is fun! Oh, and there’s a murder!

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taking-of-pelham-1-2-3

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 is basically Deja Vu 2: Pelham 1 2 3, but that’s not such a bad thing.

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oam-killers

Ernest Hemingway’s famous short story The Killers is a cynical prelude to an unavoidable murder and has inspired two feature films since its first publication. The 1946 old ass version was directed by Robert Siodmak in typical film-noir style and was Burt Lancaster’s film debut.

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Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in Heat

While everyone is busy lambasting Righteous Kill, head to your favorite video spot and rent Michael Mann’s amazing Heat this weekend. You won’t miss going to the theater if you do.

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Every Sunday, Film School Rejects presents a film that was made before you were born and tells you why you should like it. This Week, Old Ass Movies Presents: Los Olvidados.

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William Monahan to Adapt London Boulevard

Things keep looking up for William Monahan. After exploding onto the scene with Kingdom of Heaven he followed it up by winning an Oscar with his The Departed script. Since then, he’s nabbed screenplay and writing credits for Ridley Scott’s Body of Lies, the upcoming Jurrasic Park IV, and now he’s set his sights on the director’s chair with his adaptation of the Ken Bruen novel “London Boulevard”.

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