Posts Tagged ‘Crime’

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Goyokin 1969/ Toho/ Dir. Hideo Gosha

For reasons of my own, I was watching some heist movies. I like a good heist flick, and there aren’t enough of them. There are lots of heist flicks, but only a few good ones. I had gone through the usual line-up of movies, and after I had exhausted my supply I still felt the need to go once more into the heist film vault. So what I did was examine what you need for a good heist movie. That led me to this Japanese samurai movie set in the 1800s. As opposed to a French samurai movie set in the 1460s I guess? Well, some samurai movies are set during the 1600s, that seems to be the two times we generally get. During the early days of the Tokugawa shogunate or just before the Meiji Restoration, which is the end of the Tokugawa shogunate. Soooo, during the Tokugawa shogunate. You know what? Forget this part! I’ve already said shogunate way too many times.

Why do I call this a heist movie and not a samurai movie?
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Arsenic and Old Lace (1944/Warner Bros./Dir. Frank Capra)

A little while ago, I posted a list of movies that you can watch at Halloween that aren’t horror movies. When I posted that, I “missed” one important movie. I put missed in quotes because I didn’t miss it so much as decide that I would rather do a review on it. While not a perfect movie, nor even a perfect comedy, it is enjoyable and it does work as a film. It’s one of m favorite Cary Grant performances, and that is really saying something. And hey, it takes place on Halloween!

Here’s the thing though, the best thing to do would be to go into this movie totally blind. I’m going to spoil some things about this movie, but one of the biggest spoilers is on the back of the box. For best results, don’t read anything and just go watch it. As of right now, it’s on Netflix Streaming (but who knows what tomorrow might bring, right?) so just go watch it. Seriously, don’t even bother reading this review because you should just go see it.

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Okay, so when I first heard the concept of Brick, I was not a fan. Oh goodie, I thought, a Film Noir set in a high school. There will be teens in fedoras and talking fast like their trying to be Jimmy Cagney, despite the fact that Cagney never made a film noir because he was too big a star to be in those b movies. To be perfectly frank, I was expecting a high school version of Bugsy Malone, complete withy pie shooting machine guns. However, I heard some things and someone sent me the movie as a gift and I had to watch it then. So I watched it and was pleased to discover that my fears were misplaced. This wasn’t a bunch of teenagers playing at film noir, it was film noir playing with a bunch of teenagers. That probably sounds like I said the same thing, but it’s the difference of “I mean what I say is the same thing as I say what I mean.” If you get my drift. To put it in a short, declarative sentence: These guys got what film noir means rather than just trying to ape what it looks like.

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The Great Train Robbery (1903/Edison Studios/Dir. Edwin S. Porter)

Made in 1903, this is possibly the earliest western movie, although even the director of this movie would disagree with that statement. Not important, but he thought another movie was the first western, however I don’t think it was a proper narrative film like this is. See, before this time, most movies were just an event. Not even a series of events but a single scene with the camera simple pointed at whatever was happening. The earliest movies are quite frankly, dull. Unless you’re a movie nerd, or a history nerd, most of the “first” movies in history hold little to no interest because they were primarily just pointing a camera at a city street and capturing what was there. This was back in the day when simply seeing a picture move was enough to get riled up over. Now it’s true that there were movies with plot and editing and before this, but The Great Train Robbery was the first one to really bring everything together in a way that made it a big hit. One might say that this one proved there was something to this whole movie making thing. If you’re able, go out and buy Edison – The Invention of the Movies, which is where my copy of the movie comes from. If you get other versions, you may not get some of the brilliant use of colors that this one has.

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Movie Review: Mean Guns


Mean Guns (1997/ Dir. Albert Pyun)

We haven’t talked about a good old fashioned bad movie in a while, and this is close to as bad as they come while still being enjoyable. Oh yes, this movie is enjoyable, but it’s terrible. You don’t watch it for the fine performances or the sparkling dialogue, you watch it because you’re fascinated that this sort of thing got made despite the fact that clearly no one much cared about the end product. It’s also interesting to see how far some people have fallen. This was shown as an HBO original movie, and it’s not even a very good one, but it has some names that people would recognize like Ice T and Christopher Lambert. They’re okay in this movie, but they cover the range of performances for actors who are just picking up a paycheck. Ice is chewing the scenery and Lambert is half asleep. Still, the movie is fun, but for all the wrong reasons.

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New Jack City (1991/Warner Bros./Dir. Mario Van Peebles)

Made in the early nineties, when the crack epidemic was still a thing the media talked about on occasion, this is the story of one inner city drug lord’s rise and fall. So how does this early 90s gangster movie hold up when trying to watch it today? Surprisingly well actually. While some might want to compare this movie to gangster epics like Scarface, The Godfather or Goodfellas, I think there are a few points that separate them. For one thing, this is way shorter, it clocks in at just under two hours while the other films I mentioned hover around three. For another, there is a completely different flavor to this film and for a third… well, let’s talk about the movie, shall we?

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Holy crap! Someone stole the intro for this piece. Darn them thieves.

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The Immortals (1995 Nu Image Films Dir. Brian Grant)

Because it takes place at Halloween, that’s why! What, was that? You hadn’t actually asked why we were watching a heist movie as part of our Halloween special? Well, that’s probably because you’d never heard of this before. And why would you? As far as I know, it was just a direct to video/cable movie that came and went like the wind during the mid-nineties when HBO was showing things like this about once a week. I saw it back in the day and I remembered it well enough that when I noticed it was part of a pain box set I bought it. I got this from Target, as part of a 1 disc, four movie set from Echo Bridge Entertainment. Welcome to the Pain Box Club guys! Actually, Echo Bridge can’t be blamed for this movie. Like most Pain Box distributors, they didn’t make this thing. They just acquired the rights to it. Interesting point though, they actually seem to own the rights to this movie, at least in North America. Most Pain Box makers just grab whatever is in the public domain and throw it out there. Not that I believe they meant to buy this and distribute it. I’m going to go ahead and assume that when they bought Alliance Atlantis, it was part of the library that they got with the sale. I can’t imagine anyone deciding to seek out this movie so they could have the rights, particularly not so they could release it on a disc with two other forgotten mid-90s gangster movies and a blaxploitation film. No, this smacks of “We have the rights to these, what’d you want to do with them?” However, that doesn’t mean the movie is horrible, we should give every movie that comes across our plate an equal chance to delight or at least surprise us. Particularly this one, as I remember it being pretty good.

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An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe (1972 AIP Dir. Kenneth Johnson)

Okay, so I’m cheating a little here. This isn’t really a movie, so much as it’s a TV special, and it’s not even a proper narrative because it’s actually a one man show. Vincent Price recites four Edgar Allan Poe stories. In order they are… The Tell-Tale Heart, The Sphinx, The Cask of Amontillado and The Pit and the Pendulum. If I seem to be a bit short on explanation, that’s because that’s really all this is. It’s a 53 minute made for TV special that probably bumped I Dream of Jeannie for a week. There isn’t a hell of a lot to say about this.

Doesn’t mean I won’t fill a few pages with wit and snark though. Come on! Let’s tear into this baby. Who’s with me?

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Title page!

The Spirit (2008 Lionsgate Dir. Frank Miller)

Get out your manliest whiskey for this one kids. Not because you like it, but because that’s what a Real Man® is supposed to drink. Yes, once again, my love for the silly and the stupid comes through. Here’s a controversial statement for you, The Spirit is actually pretty good. Okay, yes, the movie is bad. BUT! It’s a good kind of bad. It’s a “Saturday night with friends and a bottle” bad. In fact, it’s a lot of fun if you watch it with the right mindset. Yes, that mindset is that this is going to be a fun, campy, adolescent thrill ride, but I will point out it is based on a comic book.

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