Tag: Crime

Netflix Pick: ‘Cop Land’

Cop Land (1997)
Written & Directed by James Mangold
104 mins.

By Tim Lucia

The 1997 crime drama Cop Land is director James Mangold’s second feature, after his debut, Heavy.  He went on to direct Walk the LIne and 3:10 to Yuma.  The star-studded cast includes Sylvester Stallone, Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta, Robert DeNiro, Michael Rapaport, Janeane Garofalo, Robert Patrick, Annabella Sciorra, Noah Emmerich, Cathy Moriarty, and Frank Vincent.  There are also some serious mustaches in this film, particularly from DeNiro and Patrick. Garrison, NJ, sheriff Freddie Heflin (Stallone) patrols the seemingly dull streets of a town populated by cops who work across the George Washington bridge in New York.  Freddie always wanted to become a NYPD cop like them, but he is deaf in one ear, which has kept him out.  Late one night on the bridge, Murray “Superboy” Babich (Rapaport) is involved in a double shooting death, which will give the department a huge black eye.  Superboy disappears with the help of his uncle, Ray Donlan (Keitel).  Freddie begins investigating, but not before being warned not to by Donlan.  As Freddie begins sleuthing, he discovers his town, which was thought to be a safe haven populated by cops, is really a town full of corruption and betrayal.  Liotta portrays a sympathetic but troubled cop on Freddie’s side, and DeNiro ignites the screen as a no-nonsense Internal Affairs officer.  An overlooked crime drama, Cop Land is a fun film for any fan of the crime genre.

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Netflix Pick: ‘The Man From Nowhere’

The Man From Nowhere (2010)
Directed by Jeong-beom Lee
In Korean with English subtitles
119 mins.

By Tim Lucia

Korean films are always dark, and The Man From Nowhere is no exception.  Although it is still not as dark as any film by Chan-wook Park (Oldboy, Sympathy For Mr. Vengance) whose films could be described by Sam Elliott as “darker than a black steer’s tookus on a moonless prairie night”.  Jeong-beom Lee’s film is somewhat similar to Tony Scott’s Man on Fire, but without Scott’s trademark hyper-editing.  Former badass special agent Tae-shik (Bin Won) lives a lonely existence as a pawn shop owner after the tragic death of his wife.  He eventually befriends a young girl named So-mi (Sae-ron Kim) whose mother is a drug mule for a local gang.  Tae-shik is given the product by the mother, and soon both she and So-mi are both kidnapped by the ruthless gang.  Tae-shik rushes to their aid and quickly finds the mother murdered, and fears the same will happen to So-mi.  He then infiltrates the gang and begins taking out its members in a brutal, albeit kick-ass, fashion.  The Man From Nowhere is an intense, gritty, action-thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  One of the better action films in the past few years.

Netflix Pick: ‘Winter’s Bone’

Winter’s Bone (2010)
Directed by Debra Granik
100 mins.

By Tim Lucia

Winter’s Bone was my favorite film of 2010.  Debra Granik’s raw, gritty, nail-biting drama is one of the best American films in years.  17-year old Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence, The Burning Plain, X-Men: First Class) lives in backwoods Missouri, where she raises her younger siblings; her mother an invalid, her father an absent meth manufacturer.  Their dirt-poor Ozark existence and home is all they know.  One day, the local Sheriff (Seattle native Garrett Dillahunt) comes to door and informs Ree her father skipped bail and put their house up as collateral.  Knowing their home is all they have, and without it her brother and sister will be forced into foster care, Ree takes action.  She sets out on an incredibly dangerous journey through a meth and crime-filled Appalachian underworld to find her father and save her family.  John Hawkes (Deadwood, Me You and Everyone We Know) turns in an unforgettable performance as Teardrop Dolly, Ree’s mysterious uncle.  Lawrence also turns in the  performance of a lifetime as Ree.  Granik and her co-writer (and fellow Seattle native) Anne Rosellini adapted their script from Danny Woodrell’s novel.  Winter’s Bone received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress (Lawrence), Best Supporting Actor (Hawkes), and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Netflix Instant Pick: ‘Tell No One’

Tell No One (2006)
Directed by Guillaume Canet
In French with English subtitles
131 mins.

By Tim Lucia

Based on an American novel, Tell No One is a French thriller about the past and the present; murder and deception.  The protagonist is Dr. Alexander Beck (Francois Cluzet) whose wife is thought to be killed in the opening minutes.  Eight years later, Beck is still miserable.  He then receives an email with a video of his wife, who is very much alive.  Meanwhile at the old crime site, two more bodies are uncovered.  Beck is again the prime suspect, as he was with his wife’s murder.  He is then forced to go on the run in a race against time to find his wife and uncover the mystery, villains and police both hot on his tail.  Hollywood insists on remaking every good foreign thriller, and I’m sad to report that this one is next in line.  Ben Affleck is on board to direct after he finishes his current project.  Tell No One is a taut, suspenseful thriller.  Watch the original now on Netflix instant, before it’s remade.

Netflix Instant Pick: ‘The Killing’

The Killing (1956)
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
85 mins.

By Tim Lucia

 Available on Netflix Instant Watch, Stanley Kubrick’s “The Killing” is a must-see for any fan of film noir, crime drama, or classic film in general.  Centering around an elaborate racetrack heist, the film stars Sterling Hayden, best known as the corrupt cop who is killed by Al Pacino in The Godfather.  Hayden plays Johnny Clay, a veteran criminal planning one last heist.  Clay gets his crew together, and stages the robbery in a daring fashion, brilliantly shot and pieced together by Kubrick.  Naturally, things don’t go as plan; and Clay is forced to make a hasty exit with the authorities hot on his trail.  Colleen Gray pours on the femme fatale swagger as Fay, the wife of the crew’s “weak” man, eventually forcing Clay and his crew to deal with another gang of criminals.  The Killing is a great film, brilliantly blending the genre of traditional film noir with the genre of crime drama, which would soon become more prevalent in later decades.

Netflix Instant Pick of the Week

Mother (2009)
Directed by Joon-ho Bong
In Korean with English subtitles
129 mins.

By Tim Lucia

Director Joon-ho Bong’s previous films include The Host and Memories of Murder, and he has hit a home run with his latest film, Mother.  The narrative revolves around a mentally challenged young man and his protective mother.  After a murder rocks the town, the alibi-free boy becomes the main suspect.  When the legal system fails him, the mother sets out to prove her son’s innocence, desperately taking drastic measures to do so.  Bong and his co-writer Eun-kyo Park have crafted an excellent, well-layered story, rich with character development, conflicts, and social commentary.  This cinematography was incredible, as is the case with most Korean films.  Heavy and dark, but not over-violent, Mother is an outstanding, powerful film, a must-see for lovers of International cinema.  Even a general movie fan could enjoy it, especially fans of crime and mystery films.