Category Archives: Crime

Killer Joe

Bill C’s Review 3.5 out of 5

Matthew McConaughey gives a very good performance as Killer Joe, a policeman by day and a hit man by night.  He is hired by a family that needs the insurance money from knocking off the mother/ex-wife.

Killer Joe is rated NC-17 due to violence and the rating is well earned.  This is a dark comedy with much of the comedy coming in the final third with McConaughey’s very polite but ruthless character. There are also good performances by Thomas Haden Church, Gina Gershon and Juno Temple.  The excellent  screenplay was written by Tracey Letts based on his play (he also wrote August Osage County) and is well directed by William Friedkin (The French Connection and The Exorcist)

It’s a good story with some good twists and surprises thrown in and if you don’t mind the violence you should check this out.

IMDB

Rotten Tomatoes

The Dark Knight Rises

Bill C’s Review – 3.5 out of 5

The final entry in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy is a good but not great finale. Set eight years after 2008’s The Dark Knight, this is a satisfying ending to the trilogy and ties up loose ends nicely. After the events at the end of The Dark Knight, The Batman has retired and Bruce Wayne has become a Howard Hughes-like recluse. However a new menace faces Gotham City and The Batman is lured out of retirement.

The new menace, Bane, is good but not nearly as entertaining as The Joker in the last movie. Bane has a contraption over his face to help him avoid pain. With it, my son thought he sounded like Winnie the Pooh, while I thought it made him sound more like Darth Vader. The two characters who I thought really stole the show were Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a young, idealistic police officer and Anne Hathaway as Catwoman/Selina Kyle.  The Catwoman storyline was as interesting as the Batman one.

While they did tie up loose ends, I had forgotten most of the plot points about The League of Shadows and Liam Neeson’s character from the first film, Batman Begins.  Remembering that would have helped in following some of the plot. It was interesting how Nolan has weaved in some themes here about things like the Patriot Act and wealth inequality, but that should not wreck the movie for anyone, no matter where you stand on these issues.

The movie begins with a good action set piece aboard an airplane and there is some good action throughout.  There is also some that is just chaotic. The movie is long – 2 hours and 44 minutes – but went pretty quickly and was worth seeing.

Bill I’s Review – 3.5 out of 5

I agree with Bill C, good but not great film. It’s great in some respects: special effects, acting (also agree, Anne Hathaway is tremendous, and some other smaller characters also excellent, Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine as always, Gordon-Levitt, e.g.). And Bane’s voice did sound like Darth Vader. His character is evil incarnate combined with an MMA fighter’s sensibility (what, no need for guns when you’re jacked like that?). Now let me outline where I was bothered, and it wasn’t in minor ways (some of these may be considered spoilers, but I will try to minimize what I give away): 1) Gotham is clearly NY City in this film, and I have no stomach to watch my city get terrorized and bombed once again. The Muslim jihadists will love this aspect, and after the Colorado movie theatre real-life massacre as well as innumerable accounts of innocents being slaughtered, I have no desire to see this dramatized in fiction for our entertainment. I felt the same way about Tarantino’s Inglorious Bastards which has the Nazi social elite being burned to death trapped in a movie theatre while the “good guys” enjoyed their triumph. And this film takes a NY Giants-like football stadium and shows off it’s fantastic special effects while bombs go off and the players get swallowed up, we are supposed to be enjoying this vicariously. This was enough to sour me on this film. 2) I do not buy into its portrayal of New Yorkers, or any Americans actually, being subjected to a madman dictator/terrorist so easily. I bet this is what Osama Bin Laden dreamed about, tearing down Wall Street and major infrastructure, unleashing the masses of lower class poor people, and seeing our society turned into chaos and the rich people being thrown out on the streets. Maybe when the Nazis marched into Poland, but not here. Whoever wrote this crap and thinks we will think it believable is just patronizing us by assuming the movie going public will believe this scenario. 3) Hold NYC hostage and have the federal government reduced to delivering relief packages? Come on, where’s the effort to communicate with the captive New Yorkers, to infiltrate the city? There’s no way you can isolate the city like this. And the fact that Bruce Wayne, Robin and Commissioner Gordon all are aware of exactly when the ticking clock will expire is not also known by our army? What is this, Gerald Ford again telling NY to “drop dead”? That’s enough of my blowing off steam, but you can tell I was seriously bothered by these aspects of this otherwise great film.

IMDB

Rotten Tomatoes

Breaking Bad

Bill C’s Review

I know – this isn’t a movie, it’s a TV show. I wanted to write about it anyway. For the last couple of months I’ve been watching seasons 1-4. I’m halfway through season 4 and season 5 begins this Sunday.

Breaking Bad is phenomenal television for those who like crime/drama and don’t mind a little language/violence. Breaking Bad is the story of Walter White, aka Heisenberg, an underachieving chemist who is teaching high school chemistry. After being diagnosed with cancer, Walter decides to cook meth to pay his upcoming medical bills and to leave a nest egg for his family when he is gone. Walter is the Julia Child of meth cooks. The show follows the metamorphosis of Walter as he goes from mild-mannered teacher/family man to ruthless/evil member of the drug trade. While his professed goal is to take care of his family, his life spirals out of control, his family life deteriorates, and his life is put at risk.  Despite his transformation to evil somehow you still root for him!

The show is sometimes funny, often dark, and always surprising. I love the pre-opening credit sequence which can be a teaser for something later in the episode or later in the season, or a commercial for one of the character’s businesses, or a music video about Heisenberg. Always tremendously original and, even if you can guess what is coming, you’ll always be surprised by how they do it. The show also does a great job of showing the backstories of some of the other characters in various episodes.

The cast is great. Bryan Cranston is awesome as Walter (previously from Malcolm in the Middle) and has won several Emmys. Aaron Paul plays Jesse, his former student and partner in crime, Jesse. Dean Norris is Walter’s brother-in-law and member of the Drug Enforcement Agency who also is hunting for Walter’s alter ego Heisenberg. Comic Bob Odenkirk is perfect as the sleazy lawyer. Giancarlo Esposito is also great in his understated performance as the drug kingpin. It’s amazing what he does with just his eyes…he is pure evil. It’s hard to believe that in 1982 he had a recurring role on Sesame Street! Other cast members are equally talented.

This is a show you should watch from the beginning of season 1 as you need to see the transformation of the characters to truly appreciate it.  .

 IMDB

Savages

Bill I’s Review – 3 out of 5

Reminiscent of the movie Traffic, this is a tale of surfer dude/drug kingpins having their Laguna paradise bubble burst by a dose of Mexico cartel reality. Shades of Tarantino when you see the great Travolta as a corrupt, scheming, sleazy DEA agent, and the wonderful Salma Hayek as the ruthless, but motherly, cartel leader. Blake Lively is excellent as the muse and key to the menage a trois with the surfer/dealers, who are  very believable and fun to watch. Benecio del Toro is Salma’s captain gone wild, and kills the role; he should get a best supporting actor nomination. Some brutal scenes of violence but it moves fast and holds your interest. Nothing groundbreaking here, but a good summer action movie.

Bill C’s Review – 3 out of 5

Overall I agree with  Bill’s review and assessment of the performances.  In addition to the good performances there were some good plot twists and it kept you guessing to the very end.  I was disappointed with the ending as Oliver Stone manipulated the audience down the stretch and the final ending seemed to be a bit of a cop out.

For those looking for additional drug related movies in addition to Traffic (Benicio Del Toro was in that one too!) and Breaking Bad (TV) here’s a list of some guys top 10 drug related movies.

IMDB

Rotten Tomatoes

Thin Ice

Bill C’s Review – 3.5 out of 5

Thin Ice was very entertaining with lots of good plot twists and turns. Greg Kinnear plays an insurance agent living in frigid Wisconsin with financial and other problems. When he meets Alan Arkin’s character, he sees an opportunity to take advantage of Arkin and resolve his own problems. Things don’t go according to plan and that’s when the numerous plot twists start kicking in. You may anticipate some of them but you wouldn’t expect all of them.

Greg Kinnear is good as the unscrupulous insurance salesman but I enjoyed Alan Arkin’s performance more. Billy Crudup also provided some comic relief.

With a wintery setting in Wisconsin and some similar plot lines, this film is reminiscent of Fargo. Although not as good as Fargo, Thin Ice is definitely worth seeing.

IMDB – Thin Ice

Rotten Tomatoes – Thin Ice