Film Reviews by Genre: MURDEROUS
BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL-NEW ORLEANS
Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendes, Val Kilmer, Fairuza Balk
This film turns its genre upside down and spits on it. It does for police crime stories what Cat Ballou (1965) did for westerns. From singing iguanas to philosophical drug kings to a hero with a bad back and a roaring coke habit; it has it all.
The tone, story, and intentions are all very different from Abel Ferrara’s original Bad Lieutenant movie (1992). All that is preserved is Cage’s interpretation of Harvey Keitel’s famous blowjob scene in his patrol car (now a stand up fuck in a parking lot).
At the center of this amazing maelstrom is Nick Cage in a role he was born to play. Not since Honeymoon in Las Vegas (1992) has he worn a suit that fits so well. In Vegas it was a flying Elvis suit. In Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call – New Orleans it is a light tan stoop-shouldered business suit that looks bought off the rack at Syms. He’s permanently bent over by a bad back and an equally oppressive cocaine habit. His snort and chase method of getting the bad guys is fascinating to watch.
His girlfriend, Frankie, is Eva Mendes. She has trouble wearing anything that is not sexy. But then, she’s a prostitute and her clothes are her uniform. Steve, (Val Kilmer) is Terence’s (Cage’s) better-looking cop partner who always manages to look cool while Terence looks more and more manic.
The plot makes no difference because writer William Finkelstein has written so many TV crime show episodes he can name the scene by its button line (that wrap-up line when movie and TV cops leave the room or get out of the car or walk away from the cemetery).
Werner Herzog is no stranger to obsessed characters. Fitzcarraldo is his masterpiece, and My Best Fiend is his doc that probes the dark soul of Klaus Kinski. Cage gets the Kinski prize in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call-New Orleans.
Kinski is dead but we’ve still got Cage to play splendidly insane characters. Too bad he also keeps doing dumb movies where he is tries to be sensitive.
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call-New Orleans failed at the box office. It was mistakenly sold as a crime story and nobody screamed loud enough to viewers that it was a truly original and totally inventive genre-busting black comedy.
Hopefully it will become a cult on Netflix streaming. It would make a great evening with The Big Lebowski as a double feature.
I hope God keeps a credit list where there are special awards of merit for Cage, Herzog, and Finkelstein. Would be nice if Eva Mendes and Fairuza Balk (Heidi here, but amazing since her first appearance in Gas, Food, and Lodging) are included as honorable mentions. In fact, there’s not a single actor in this whole cast who isn’t pretty amazing.
Antonio Resines, Jose Coronado, Goya Toledo, Felix Alvarez, Dafne Fernandez
Can you believe a bank manager as the hero of an action crime film? Remember this was 2002 and bankers hadn’t yet become villains. His daughter has been burned to death in a suspicious forest fire in primo tourist area of the Spanish coast.
An unrelated bank robbery at his branch turns up a mysterious map of the same forest area when one of the safe deposit boxes is rifled. The only problem with this otherwise gripping, original, and character filled thriller is the confusion between two safe deposit boxes that both seem to contain clues. Kind of The Wrong Box though this has nothing to do with that comedy and is not even a comedy.
If you can get buy this plot confusion that took me two fast-backwards of the DVD to understand ( that is, to understand that I would never understand); the rest of the film is gripping. The banker wants to find the truth about the death of his daughter. An ex-cop on the take wants to blackmail those who can deliver enough money to send him and his alcoholic wife out of the country for a better life.
The two plots and the two guys are going to meet somewhere (see the clip) and nobody is going to be happy with the outcome. The film is fascinating: full of great characters played by great character actors. They always pulling you forward to the next scene. Americans don’t get to see many European action films. They don’t come to art theaters where the crowds wants picture postcard views of Europe, and they never come to multiplexes where the audience can’t even read the subtitles
So this is a rare opportunity to see a really good European action movie (if you can forgive the story sloppiness about the two safe deposit boxes). It is also a deliciously violent film, assuming you like guys getting shot in the back of the head. I do.
Nicolas Winding Refn
Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Ron Perlman
The genius he brings to Bernie Rose, the character he plays in Drive, is the embodies the characters he plays in all his earlier films but with a world-weariness that has turned him lethal. There’s the same “wouldn’t you know it” sigh and resignation but now the disappointment is not losing all his money in Las Vegas and ending up a school crossing guard; but seeing his gang fuck up the big one and sadly setting it right by killing everybody.
His scene with Shannon (Byran Cranston) is one of the coldest murders ever on screen. Bernie slashes the artery in his arm and says sympathetically, “that’s it, no pain,” as if he was Shannon’s nice guy father come to administer a little spanking to a child who knows he has it coming.
Brooks is not the star of Drive. That honor belongs to Ryan Gosling, who drives the movie extremely well. And the cool-y observed existential LA of nights and freeways is the amazing creation of Nicolas Winding Refn, the director. Every generation creates their LA existential movie. Refn: a Dane from New York and Copenhagen has defined it for the now we live in.
But the movie belongs to Albert Brooks as much as another movie with a great heavy many years ago belonged to another comedian. That film was about a pool shark at the end of his days much like Drive features a petty mobster at the end of his days. Brooks looks at the racer up on a grease rack and says his name could have been on the side. Jack Gleason looked at a pool cue in The Hustler and thought he could come back for one more win. Both movies show us what happens when laugher turns to anger and younger men snatch the dreams. See them both.
Ji Woo Chung
Do Yeon Chun, Min-sik Choi, Jin-mo Ju
Husband kills wife out of concern for their child. Like many of the reverses that make Korean films so delicious, the concept of wife murder for child welfare is kind of endearing. Or at least it is well justified as the ending in Happy End.
Bora (Do Yeon Chun) is having a torrid affair with a young guy, Il-beam (Jin-mo Ju). He lives in the same super giant apartment complex where she lives with her husband Ki Min (Min-sik Choi) and their baby. It’s tough enough to take the train to work with everyone she knows, but sneaking into her neighbor’s apartment for nightly trysts (she says she is working late) gives the affair a flash of daring.
And it is quite an affair. The sex is hot and hotter, and she can never get enough. Her lover wants her so much he gives her a key to his apartment. But Bora wants nothing of him but his penis, it seems. She tosses the key in her purse and forgets it. When he takes the big step of buying her a toothbrush of her own: she says enough. Any sign of permanency freaks her out. Her real life is down the hall and up the elevator with her husband and baby. She’s carefully to take only pictures, leave only footprints.
What she forgets is the Polaroid pictures Il-beam has been snapping of them in just about every position. Her husband finds the key, finds the apartment, finds the pictures.
Husband Ki Min carefully plots his wife’s murder down to the smallest detail of human hair. This crime of passion is accompanied by a sound track swelling with classical music using the sucking sound of steal penetrating flesh as a counter rhythm. (Min-sik Choi is the same actor who channels blood so well in Old Boy and Lady Vengeance (MovieWIthMe).What is so delicious about Korean cinema is its perfect mixture of art and gore. We’re led down a path festooned with rich characters and images only to find ourselves at the doorstep of depravity. How much more wonderful could movies be than this?
Hye-ja Kim, Bin Won
I’m never sure if director Joon-ho Bong is a comedy director. Mother is a serious murder mystery where a mother tries to clear her son. But it is so funny that you can’t help wondering if the world-weary mother and her dullard son aren’t really playing dead pan humor.
He’s accused of killing a girl, but mother won’t give up on him, no matter that it costs her everything else in her life.The strength of the movie is Hye-ja Kim as the mother. She’s an actress whose face is lined with suffering and whose eyes are set in resolve.
Who couldn’t love or hate a mother like this? There is really nothing between those two poles. The story and characters are all delicious, even if the plot meanders like the stream on the golf course where Bin Won found the golf club driver that is the crucial piece of police evidence. Even minor characters are delicious; like a police detective who watches phone videos or his female evidence clerk who asks whether they really need to send the golf club to forensics because anyone can see the red stuff is not blood, but lipstick.
These are the touches that make Mother delightful. The same attention to detail and offbeat characters can be seen in Joon-ho Bong’s earlier horror movie, The Host. That one also deals with water but not on a golf course. The Host is about a monster that comes out of the river to terrorize a city. Humor and terror, the meal is best as a mix of both dishes.
Read more: http://www.moviewithme.com/blog/?p=2179&preview=true#ixzz1eemRl4iC
Emery Eduardo Granados, Carlos Ceja, Alan Chavez
This is not a glamorous profession like bank robbing. All it takes to steal cars is a screwdriver and guts. The initiation of Ivan starts in a junk yard. His uncle Jaimie orders him to strip naked, then locks his shirt, pants, and underwear in different wrecked cars. He hands him a window shiv and tells him if he can jimmy the car doors open, he can get his clothes.
Every big city has a section for stolen cars. In LA it’s Bramfield Street in Pacoima. In New York it’s Willet’s Point in Flushing. In Mexico City it’s everywhere. Vast tracts of land set to one purpose: a thieves market for auto parts. Partes Usadas is about the low-lifes who steal by night to fill parts orders by day.
You don’t find moments like this in Grand Theft Auto. The fascination of Partes Usadas (Used Parts) is that it looks as low-life as the characters it portrays. No lovely lighting or polished dolly moves here. Even the quality of the film looks like it was outdated stock that was stolen.
At first I wanted to click “eject” because the movie has the smell of amateurism. But I got slowly hooked as I realized the lack of style was the style. Emery Eduardo Granados could be another Gael Garcia Bernal if he gets some breaks. Meanwhile Partes Usadas is a primer about what happens when your BMW disappears. Chances are if the police don’t find it in two hours there won’t be enough left to honk the horn.
TELL NO ONE
Francois Cluzet, Kristin Scott Thomas, Gilles Lellouche
The irony of Tell No One is a French film based on an American novel by a kid from Newark, New Jersey. Once upon a time American action filmmakers prided themselves and telling really great stories. No more. Shutter Island is a mess, and French cliffhangers like Tell No One are excelling at a genre we thought we owned.
It gets more embarrassing. Once this film became a hit in American art cinemas, Hollywood decided to remake it. Kathleen Kennedy, a big time feature producer, is transferring the action back to the US where it was set in the first place. Whether the remake will every see daylight is dubious.
Meanwhile the French, along with the Germans and the Koreans, are creating some of the best action and suspense films anywhere. Tell No One is a hard-plotted story of a guy who goes skinny-dipping with his wife, is hit over the head, and wakes up to find her dead. Or at least she is dead for several years until he starts getting disturbing notes from her. Then her best friend, who knows more, is killed. And then he is stalked by both the killers and the cops.
You want to see heart stopping ingenious action? Watch the chase across the Paris Paripherique expressway. Watch it again and again. American stunt men usually slow the traffic and speed up the camera. This is different: an intricate ballet between men and machines.
And when you’re finished analyzing that action sequence, take a look at District 13, also on MovieWihMe.com. It’s another amazing action picture that is supposedly in work for an American remake (called Brick Mansion). Don’t make any bets you’ll see it at a theater near you soon. Better to watch the original versions and marvel at truly great filmmaking.
Yun-seok Kim, Yoo-jeong Kim, Jung-woo Ha
In The Chaser, Joon-ho Eom ( Yun-seok Kim) is the rogue cop turned pimp who sends his girls out to the grittier districts of Seoul. When one of them sends panicked cell phone calls back to him he frantically tries to find her and save her. She’s disappeared but the killer is in plain site.
Without evidence, and scorned by the police he once worked with; Joon-ho starts a long slog to bring down the killer (Jung-woo Ha). Along the way he bursts into his former whore/employee’s apartment for evidence and meets her little daughter (Yoo-jeong Kim).
From then on the movie has to follow the inevitable march to a life or death fight with the killer while the hero takes care of, and falls for, the adorable precocious child.
It all sound like we’ve seen it before, but the strength is in the delivery. Pathos, comedy, and great fights. The Casher is writer/director Hong-jin’s first film. The Yellow Sea is his second. He’s worth a look at both films.
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO
Niels Arden Oplev
Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace
The Social Network is about an unsociable guy who is out to prove being a runt Jew from Long Island is no handicap to making billions of dollars. Northern Europe is cold to this kind of money hugging. Swedish geekdom is caused by incest, trying to burn your father alive, and giving forced blow jobs to your parole officer. The reward is being a lifelong outcast who can play a computer keyboard like a harpsichord.
Mournful characters who have seen enough depression to jump over a bridge never falter in being fascinating in the three movies in this trilogy (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest). Depression seems to grow wild in Scandinavia. Every wonder why every restaurant has candles burning in the windows, even in summer? They’re trying to let a little light shine in.
Meanwhile the plot of Tattoo skips along with enough holes to swallow an 18-wheel truck. Let’s excuse novelist Stieg Larsson from these excesses: he wrote and died before anyone challenged his logic. The movie makers should take most of the blame because they had a chance to fix it.
A woman drives across a bridge to an island and vanishes. So naturally we think she is either kidnapped or dead. Later we find out she was fleeing someone. Later we learn she is still alive. And finally we are told she actually did drive back across the bridge, but she was hiding in her cousin’s car.
At this point we should throw rotten tomatoes at the screen. But what saves Tattoo from disgrace is the frigid mist that invades the story. It is filled with lost love, loneliness, and existential confusion. Mikael and Lisbeth so isolated in their self-created solitude that the love seen between them, actually more or a rape of Mikael by Lisbeth: is thrilling in its crude intimacy. The both really need it.
Despite the appearance of old Nazis and demented sadists (why do European films keep flogging the Nazis as villains, let’s have some Serbs or Belarusian’s for a change), the story works because Noomi Rapace is magnificent as Lisbeth.
No wonder that on all of the awards shows she made a point of being a glamorous as possible. Every actress who plays a weird character wants to say, “look at me, I’m really beautiful and sexy and quite normal.” Just once I’d like an actress to keep in character as the witch or jezebel she played. We’d like her better; she’d get more work. Look at Bette Davis, who made a whole career out of playing Bette Davis.
THE STONING OF SORAYA M.
Mozhan Marno, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Jim Caviezel
Jim Caviezel played Jesus in Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. In The Stoning of Soraya M. he plays a reporter happening upon a story about a modern woman who must walk her own steps to her village's version of the crucifixion. This actor's personal passion expressed in his adopting of special needs children, and his support of politically incorrect causes; makes his participation in this singular, powerful movie all the more interesting.
A movie is what it is on screen: that is everything. Or is it? The writer/director of The Stoning of Soraya M. is known for taking on non PC subjects and making statements of personal conviction. Both Caviezel and director Cyrus Nowrasteh are drawn to a story that defies audience sensitivities to paint truth, harshness, courage and sadness. Soraya (Mozhan Marno) brings dignity to her own death.
Mozhan too, is no stranger to speaking out. She starred in a one women show 9 Parts of Desire about women in war-torn Iraq. The play, written by Heather Raffo (also the title of a book about the Middle East by Geraldine Brooks), comes from Ali ibn Abu Taleb, an early leader and scholar of Islam who said, "God created sexual desire in ten parts: then he gave nine parts to women and one to men."
Soraya M's husband accuses her of adultery so he can be free to marry a younger woman he has found in a nearby city. That the punishment for adultery is death by stoning doesn't disturb him. Nor does he flinch at throwing the first stone at the head of the mother of his children as she waits defenseless: buried to her waist in the village square.
It's easy to eject the DVD after seeing The Stoning of Soraya M. and condemn Iran as a primitive country driven by the intractable dogma of the Ayatollahs. But Iran is, in may ways, actually quite permissive: if you are a man.
Soraya M. is about that one part of desire granted to men and how the rage, feared impotence and lust for domination over those other nine parts propels men towards madness and grisly murder. Ali ibn Abu Taleb did not restrict his observation to Muslims. Violence towards women can happen anywhere, and it does.
from around the world
Find a friend and see a movie.
mixed with genuine delight about films.
MOVIE WITH ME™ DISCLAIMER
You can't look at these movie clips unless you are at least 18-years-old. Don't lie!