Entries Tagged as 'Crime'

Rope (1948)

I’m watching Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope (1943)  this morning, and it’s odd how the lense of time has turned a lighthearted society thriller into an unlikely, Gay sitcom.

Rope is, of course based upon the Leopold and Loeb case in Chicago, during the ’20s of the last century. Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb were two precocious University of Chicago undergrads (both 19 y.o.), who had taken Nietzsche too close to heart, and decided that the best way to exercise their new, Randian philosophy was to murder a 14 y.o. neighbor-boy, Bobby Franks, if only to determine if they could get away with it.

Though the Loeb case took place in Chicago in 1924, Hitchcock relocated his story to New York City, presumably in the late ’40s. The shocking thing here is how Gay the Leopold and Loeb characters appear by 21st c. standards. The villains in Rope are less monstrous than the real Leopold and Loeb because the two teenagers killed a younger boy; all of the characters in the Hitchcock film were adults. [Read more →]

‘Appropriate Adult’ (2011)

'Appropriate Adult' 2011 Appropriate Adult (2011) is a two-part dramatization of the life of  Fred West (1941–1995) a rural. British serial killer that operated in the British Midlands for over 30 years.

The twist is that the filmmakers concentrate upon the relationship between West and his Social Worker, Janet Leach, when he she is brought in to assist West in the mid-90s.

In the UK, the term ‘Appropriate Adult’ has been given to the advocates of mentally deficient citizens and children, much like a Social Worker.

Fred West was a piece of work — blue collar, illiterate and mentally impaired. West had been brought up in an abusive household where he was likely the victim of the sexual predations of both his parents. West also suffered numerous non-fatal head injuries that may have contributed to his disposition. [Read more →]

‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ (1961)

Dbreakfast at Tiffany's (1961) Has anyone ever appraised this films as anything but a sunny Audrey Hepburn vehicle? It’s one hour and 55 minutes of dissonance. Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard play two characters who are, by all appearances middle class yuppies living in Manhattan during the early ’60s. But this would be a mistake.

In the eponymous Truman Capote novella it is clear that Holly is a high-end call girl and Paul a gigolo. Blake Edwards’ film supresses the gauche details by making Peppard and Hepburn squeaky clean.

The juxtaposition between who these two characters appear to be and how they earn their money percolates in and out of focus as the story proceeds: [Read more →]

5 Upcoming Genre Features, 2010-12

via Squidoo.com

Captain America: The First Avenger ‘ (2011) • IMDb l ink Captain America:The First Avenger

This one’s a bit contentious — Joe Johnston, who directed The Rocketeer way, way back in 1991 should have been a good choice to direct a period piece about Marvel’s Captain America set during WWII. But then, Johnston turned in the pointless and unnecessary Wolfman remake this past year, and then cast Chris Evans ( Fantastic Four ‘s Johnny Storm) as Steve Rogers, rather than  Mark Valley , (‘Human Target’) an actor born for the role.

Understandably, Marvel and Disney are reaching for a younger actor for the role, but I really dobt that those 18-49 women should be the marketing department’s target. Rather, the target audience ought to be 4 generations of American men aged 7 to 70 that Marvel ought to be aiming for. That, and the fact that 25 year-old Evans will have to go up against 46 year old Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Hemsworth and Samuel Jackson in ‘ The Avengers ‘ (2012) and make it somehow appear that they are peers. [Read more →]

“Boardwalk Empire” (2010)

Boardwalk Empire is this Fall’s new HBO drama starring Steve Buscemi as Enoch “Nucky” Johnson (1883–1968), Atlantic City’s Prohibition-era Mayor. The combination of boardwalk Carney hijinks and organized crime here make this into vintage HBO — an interesting cross between Carnivale and The Sopranos . Martin Scorcese directed the 70 minute pilot.

The unsurprising thing is that it works really, really well. The Prohibition-era paradigm shift is similar enough to our own era of ascendant faith to make it relevant. The first scene features Buscemi’s Johnson speaking before a local Temperance group and the environment is as colorful and bannered as a Baptist tent revival. As colorful as Johnson’s life of whoring, dealmaking as the mayor and political boss of New Jersey’s Sin City. [Read more →]

Short Cuts:’The Honeymoon Killers’ (1969)

Freaky. They refer to Albany N.Y. as ‘the big city’ here.

If you aren’t aware of the plot, it’s a late, experimental variation on noir , about 2 grifters in the Hustler-Older Woman game. For reasons that seem to make no amount of sense, real life con-artists/lovers Martha Beck and Raymond Fernandez posed as brother and sister during their scams, their schemes allowing the 200-lb. Beck to accompany Hernandez and their target on ‘dates’ as a chaperone up to and after the ‘wedding’.

It’s an odd film, with primitive camera movements, clumsy direction and stilted dialogue. Conversation and character interaction seem to be second-thought here — almost every line is exposition. describing things that are going on off-screen. [Read more →]

‘Shutter Island’ (2010)

[ WARNING :Uncharacteristically, this review is all SPOILERS, but this film is so well put together that you should consider my spoilers a feature, rather than a bug.]

Operation Paperclip Nazis working in criminal sanitariums off the coast of Washington State? Mind control? A WWII veteran and widower with PTSD? Visuals by David Lynch.

It’s 1951 in this film and the most unfortunate thing about Shutter Island is that Scorcese and writers Stephen Knight and Laeta Kalogridis decided that it’s okay not to make sense. They decide to just let go. Film is a visual experience and flourishes are flourishes, so why the fuck not? If your local cinemat can affor to spend $750k on a new 3D projection kit, you can sit and watch Martin Scorcese orchestrate some crazy in 2D. On Shutter Island, the Eater Eggs and Red Herrings run thick, wild and free. So wild, that you may want to pause and consider throwing a few back, before deciding which ones you want to take home to eat. [Read more →]

‘Watchmen’ (2009)

With the publication of Watchmen in 1985, comic books took a sudden, dark and grity turn, similar to police drama after Steven Bochco’s ‘Hill Street Blues’. Like Grant Morrison’s ‘Doom Patrol ‘, and later, ‘ The Authority ‘ and Marvel’s ‘ Ultimates ‘, ‘Watchmen’, the book is not about about capes and tights, but rather the misfits who choose to pursue auperheroics. In ‘Watchmen’, Alan Moore seizes upon the idea that great power might produce monsters — individuals devoid of values and restraint even as they fight the ‘good’ fight.

Terry Gilliam attempted to bring ‘Watchmen’ to life twice, once in 1989 and a decade later, in 1999. He gave up because he felt that the story couldn’t be adequately covered in 2 hours’ time and that the material might be better dealt with as a miniseries, Though there is no Gilliam ‘Watchmen’, I credit ‘Watchmen’ and it’s alternate-apocalyptic 1985 for the rich visual landscape of thr film that Gilliam went on to produce in the mid-’90′s, ’12 Monkeys’ (1995). [Read more →]

“Fringe” (2008)

Not just another X-Files knock-off. Really.

Before that damnable show went off the air 6 years ago, all of the major broadcast networks — NBC, ABC and CBS each tried to catch some of Chris Carter’s alt.conspiracy.ufo fire.

Fringe ‘s distinction is that the show is hard science-fiction, a rare event for network television — HARD science-fiction , is based on real science, not fantasy, not urban mythology and not old Saturday matinée fare. Though there are plenty of whiz-bang moments in there, most of the spectacle on Fringe is derived from current available technology. [Read more →]

‘The Dark Knight’ (2008)

Christopher Nolan’s ‘ The Dark Knight ‘ is the latest addition to the trend of painfully overplotted comic book movies. I’m not exactly certain when the habit of inflating a paper-thin pulp story into a full-blown bildungsroman . But since the late ’80′s it’s been necessary for each comic book movie to have at least two villains and as many as 4 . (Notably, Tim Burton’s 1989 movie only had one villain, The Joker.)

While this installment of Batman seems to be the most successful commercial film since James Cameron’s ‘ Titanic ‘, you’d think that such a movie would have to have a simple storyline to keep selling tickets at such a rapid pace, week after week. Not so, here. [Read more →]