Tag Archives: crime

Animal Kingdom (2010)

7 Aug

With an ensemble cast of Jacki Weaver, Joel Edgerton, Ben Mendelsohn, and Guy Pearce, and stellar screenwriting and direction by Daivid Michod,  Animal Kingdom is a terribly underrated indie gem which stands out as one of the best films to emerge from Australia in recent times.  Part coming-of-age story, part crime-thriller, the film documents the life of a 17-year-old boy who is trying to fit in to an elusive but colorful family with a criminal past.

After the sudden death of a particular family member, the Cody family decides to take up arms and start a vendetta with the local law enforcement. What unfolds is an unpredictable and captivating series of events that set a new standard for the domestic crime drama. Animal Kingdom’s greatest strength is in it’s rich characterization. Though Jacki Weaver got the Oscar nomination, Ben Medelsohn gives the performance of his career, creating the elusive and multilayered “Pope” Cody.

While it lacks the depth of films like The Godfather or City of GodI thoroughly enjoyed this film and director David Michod really knows how to create effective tension that drives the story without missing a beat.

Rating: 8/10

Similar to: L.A. Confidential, Training Day, The Town

The Place Beyond the Pines (2013)

8 May

If you are wondering what the best movie in theaters is right now, I would recommend Place Beyond the Pines. The film is really a compilation of three mini-stories that cover over 15 years of father-son relationships. Bradley Cooper is great. Ryan Gosling might be even better. Sometimes the movie’s ending feels like it’s never going to come, but I was so absorbed in the story I didn’t want it it to. When the credits finally do roll up, I felt like I had taken an emotional roller coaster ride that lasts over 2 hours. This film is epic.

8/10 stars

Similar to: Traffic, Heat, Lord of War

Thin Ice (2012)

4 Sep

I first heard about his film as it was making the festival rounds last year.  Something about this film’s crime-gone-wrong aspect felt very reminiscent of classic Coen brothers, so I was very curious about what this film would actually be like.

Thirty minutes into the film, and I could not help but thinking about how much this was like Fargo – which isn’t a bad thing at all.

The first hour of Thin Ice was extremely captivating.  The film has a great cast with Billy Crudup, Alan Arkin, Greg Kinnear and Bob Balaban giving wonderful and pure performances. Arkin and Crudup are always great, but in Thin Ice they play some particularly interesting characters.

The problem with Thin Ice is it tries to pull of a twist ending and fails.  Or it succeeds and by doing so, undermines the first 70 minutes of what would otherwise be an extraordinary film.

I have this theory that the director/writer behind the film, Jill Spreecher, would have known that people would be familiar with Fargo, and thus this film must have some sort of twist to it, in order to avoid being labeled as a copycat of a beloved classic.

There is nothing wrong with having one film remind you of another.  Especially with such a great film like Fargo.  In fact, it is what we, as audience members expect to see.

I am reminded of two other notable films. Dances With Wolves (1990) and Avatar (2009).   Are the stories basically similar?  You bet.  Does that makeAvatar any less of an entertaining film than Dances With Wolves?  No, not really.

Why is it considered a bad thing among film makers these days if a film resembles another? Is it because then the film maker would somehow have the reputation of having less creativity or intellect?  I would much rather see a film that resembles the story of Blade Runner in 2013 than I would see hollywood do an outright remake of it.

If Thin Ice would have gone the way it should have – without the twist ending – It would have been a very good film.  Better than Fargo? probably not, but still a very good film.  Instead the ending just felt rushed, senseless, illogical and out of place and it really does undermine the acting and character choices that I had loved for the previous 70 minutes of what I was watching.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about Thin Ice is that other than the ending, this film is flawless. The acting is brilliant in particular and the story is extremely captivating.

Perhaps the director was afraid she would be intimating the Coens a bit too much, but in an effort to avoid traveling down that road, she ended up intimidating M. Night Shaylaman instead.  Which is a very bad thing here.

rating 6/10

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