What’s your racket? Yes, I do want to speak like they do in Gangster Squad

100 movies of 2013

Gangster Squad

Los Angeles, 1949: A secret crew of police officers led by two determined sergeants work together in an effort to take down the ruthless mob king Mickey Cohen who runs the city.

I’m just going to come out and say it. Yes. I enjoyed Gangster Squad. There. Done. Happy? Confused? Does it feel like I’ve let you down?

You know, the thing with Gangster Squad is that, like a few other past films that have disappointed film fans, there was a lot of hype behind it. The cast. The whole look and feel of the trailers that were getting pumped out. It looked effortlessly cool and a film to be looked forward to.

I didn’t let my expectations get the better of me. And it worked. Sure, Gangster Squad is laden with gangster and crime drama clichés. Everything from the dialog to the characters to the story. It’s all very predictable. But damnit I didn’t give a crap.

The characters are perfectly clichéd. The gruff police sergeant, the smooth talker, sharp shooter, the dame, etc. All expertly played by the impressive cast members. None of the characters are a stretch for any of the actors to play. But this gal sure didn’t care. The action is perhaps a little over-stylised. I’ve never been a huge fan of computer generated blood splatters, but director Ruben Fleischer seems to love them. But, the action sequences were still fun to watch.

Of course, this increased enjoyment factor could all be down to the fact that I saw Gangster Squad in a stunning little cinema. I wonder if I’d have thought the same if I’d have seen the film at my usual multiplex.

Gangster Squad (Viewed: 15/01/13 | Rating: 4/5)

Check out all of the films I’ve seen this year:

100 movies: Seven Psychopaths

100 movies of 2012

[yellow_box]Every year I set myself a target, usually of about 100, of films to watch. These are new films. Not new, new films. But films that are new to me. Any time I’ve seen a new one, I post a bit of a brain dump of my thoughts on the film here. Enjoy![/yellow_box]

Seven PsychopathsSeven Psychopaths (12/12/12)

A struggling screenwriter inadvertently becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his oddball friends kidnap a gangster’s beloved Shih Tzu.

Chaos. Mad and utterly beautiful chaos is how I choose to describe Seven Psychopaths. In the best possible way. The plot is pretty hard to describe. Well, apart from the very simple summary that’s on IMDB. That describes the surface of the film.

Seven Psychopaths had me from the opening scene. It sums up the feeling and theme of the entire film. Also, it’s pretty damn hilarious. You can see it coming and yet the characters are none the wiser.

And now I’m stuck for what to say. Trying to collect your thoughts on a film which you thoroughly enjoyed and yet stumps you when you’re trying to talk about it is a little frustrating. It’s just that sort of film.

Yes, I enjoyed it. Seven Psychopaths is a great film. It’s got some fantastic laugh out loud moments. The clichés are thrown about and talked about at length. I like that sort of self referential humor. The characters are all completely unique and cracked me up. This is what Colin Farrell needs to do more of and less of the Total Recall crap. (Not that I saw it, but going on general consensus!) Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken stole it for me. Christopher Walken’s Hans’ last tape recorded message to Marty brought silence to the entire cinema. Great way to end it all.

Seven Psychopaths is bat shit crazy at the best of times and surprisingly touching for the rest of those times.
Rating: 4/5

Read on to see all the films watched this year…

100 movies: Lawless

100 movies of 2012

[yellow_box]Every year I set myself a target, usually of about 100, of films to watch. These are new films. Not new, new films. But films that are new to me. Any time I’ve seen a new one, I post a bit of a brain dump of my thoughts on the film here. Enjoy![/yellow_box]

LawlessLawless (30/08/12)

Set in Depression-era Franklin County, Virginia, a bootlegging gang is threatened by a new deputy and other authorities who want a cut of their profits.

Lawless was a film I was looking forward to. I was looking forward to Lawless being that end of summer hit. After all the blockbusters were over with, in would come this great little film with a fantastic cast that would just end the summer film season perfectly.

I didn’t quite get my wish. See, I think my expectations were too high. Aside from the Shia inclusion, I was blown away by the casting in this film. Not just Tom Hardy in a leading role, but Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, Jessica Chastain and Guy Pearce. That is a whole lot of good to fit into a film. And it turns out, there just wasn’t enough film to fit all those good people in it.

Lawless is based on the true story of the Bondurant boys – a family of bootleggers. Like the IMDB summary says, their way of life is threatened when Guy Pearce’s Rakes enters the game and his only goal is to get shot of al booze in the county. Simple story. Which is fine. But the story itself didn’t amount to much. Thing happened. But there was never a real climax. It felt like watching a very pedestrian story of a family of bootleggers. Well, ignoring all the bloody violence, of which there was a fair amount of.

Alongside that, the players in the film, while great, I left the cinema wondering why they were in it. Gary Oldman’s Floyd Banner was pretty much a cameo appearance. I wanted more Oldman – he was great in those short minutes we got him. Jessica Chastain’s Maggie was barely in it and her role just about amounted to a bit of eye candy. Why was she there? Tom Hardy was fantastic as one of the Bondurant boys. With a mere grunt he could convey so much! Also, I don’t think there has been such a manly man who can pull of cardigans as well as Tom Hardy did here. Jason Clarke was another stand-out for me. The ever loyal but oh so drunken Howard. The last thing I saw him in was The Chicago Code (which I do still miss). What about Shia LaBeouf? Well, I was pleasantly surprised by his performance here. BUT. I don’t think he has the chops for such a heavy leading role.

Lawless did have a great score and a beautiful selection of songs. It felt like it could be authentic. That you were watching this true story of the Bondurant boys. I just wish something happened towards the end.
Rating: 3/5

Read on to see all the films watched this year…

100 movies: Miller’s Crossing

100 movies of 2012

[yellow_box]Every year I set myself a target, usually of about 100, of films to watch. These are new films. Not new, new films. But films that are new to me. Any time I’ve seen a new one, I post a bit of a brain dump of my thoughts on the film here. Enjoy![/yellow_box]

Miller's CrossingMiller’s Crossing (18/07/12)

Tom Regan, an advisor to a Prohibition-era crime boss, tries to keep the peace between warring mobs but gets caught in divided loyalties.

Onto my third Coen Brothers film of the year. The others being The Big Lebowski and Raising Arizona. You know what? I definitely prefer their earlier films. Not saying that their more recent ones aren’t as good. But there’s just something different about these flicks that I find myself really loving.

Miller’s Crossing is being added to the list of my favourite Coen Brothers films. I’ll be honest. I was lost in the beginning. And I’ll be even more honest. This is the second time I’ve tried to see this film. First time barely counts. I was asleep for most of it! (I did the same thing with The French Connection earlier this year.)

Second time is the charm for me. Still a bit lost in the beginning. But I stayed awake and alert enough to get past the confusion. Those Coen Brothers do like to just drop you into the action. So to speak. There’s no real introduction. You have to piece together a few things along the way. The dialogue was so very 1920s. Sometimes I had no clue what was being said. I understood more of what those wacky kids in Attack the Block were saying. All this “high hat” business. What the what?

It didn’t matter. The characters drew me into the film. I have missed seeing Gabriel Byrne in a decent film! He’s great here as Tommy. Weaving his way through the gangs to his ultimate goal. Very clever. I did not see that coming at all. Marcia Gay Harden just oozes sex appeal throughout the whole film. But through it all, Verna never loses her credibility. Incredibly strong female character.

A lot of the look and feel of this film reminded me of the brother’s remake of True Grit. Some of the visuals definitely felt familiar, from that film. Miller’s Crossing has a wonderful feeling to it. From the dialogue to the sets and the music. Sure some of the fight scenes might have been a little over the top, but wasn’t everything back then?

A great Coen Brothers film. And yes, I did catch Sam Raimi’s cameo!
Rating: 4/5

Read on to see all the films watched this year…

100 movies: Insomnia

100 movies of 2012

[yellow_box]Every year I set myself a target, usually of about 100, of films to watch. These are new films. Not new, new films. But films that are new to me. Any time I’ve seen a new one, I post a bit of a brain dump of my thoughts on the film here. Enjoy![/yellow_box]

InsomniaInsomnia (16/06/12)

Two Los Angeles homicide detectives are dispatched to a northern town where the sun doesn’t set to investigate the methodical murder of a local teen.

There was a strong sense of familiarity while watching this film. Not the plotting so much but just the way it looked. Certain scenes. Use of score. In my head I could place scenes from everything from The Prestige to Batman Begins, Dark Knight and even Inception. I love it when you can see familiarity in a director’s work from his earlier films. The only difference I could call between this earlier film of his is that it’s a fairly normal and linear in the way the story is told. It is a detective story. A well told detective story.

The story itself was simple. Find the killer. Made more interesting by Pacino’s insomnia-ridden detective struggling with dealing with what he’s done. Whether he meant to do what he did or whether it was all just an accident. He was doubting himself. Which made me as the audience member, doubt him and what he himself was seeing.

I think the only weak point, which I couldn’t ignore in this film, was Al Pacino. I think he did a brilliant job and I’m not knocking his performance. It’s probably his last good film in recent years. But I couldn’t help but thinking the character called for someone a bit younger. Especially in the scenes where he needed to be a bit more, spritely. It just looked like he was struggling! Maybe that was the point. What with the whole insomnia thing.

Robin Williams was excellent as the creepy killer. He wasn’t overly creepy. Just weird enough. A muted performance. Him and Pacino worked very well together. Both the characters and the actors. Never thought I’d see Robin Williams and Al Pacino in the same film together!

Overall, a very good film. The ending didn’t really satisfy me. It felt too clean. Maybe I was wanting too much. But other than that, a good crime thriller with Nolan’s fingerprints all over it.
Rating: 3/5

Read on to see all the films watched this year…