Welcome to another installment of Movies, Movies, Movies! This week a couple of more light-hearted ones along with one dud and one decent detective film.
Life of Crime (2013)
Starring: John Hawkes, Jennifer Aniston, Yasiin Bey, Tim Robbins, Isla Fisher, Will Forte, Mark Boone Junior, and many more
Director: Daniel Schecter
Genres: crime, comedy
Synopsis: Frank (played by Robbins) is married to Mickey (played by Aniston.) Frank is not only involved in organized crime, he’s not a very nice man. Frank goes on what Mickey thinks is a work trip, which it is; yet it is also a chance to roundezvous with his mistress, Melanie (played by Fisher.) While Frank is gone, a hatched plot by Louis, Ordell, and Richard (played by Hawkes, Bey, and Junior) three small-time criminals, is put into motion to kidnap Mickey and hold her for ransom. Insider information tells them about the big money criminal activity Frank is involved with so they plan on using that for extra leverage in their scheme. What they don’t plan on is the possibility Frank doesn’t want Mickey back!
Impressions: Hawkes and Aniston steal the show. The two have good chemistry on screen. I enjoyed the ensemble and the plot. The criminals are laughably inept. The dialogue is cutting and dark humor permeates most of it. There is a strong racist/fascist side thread to it that some might find offensive, but I like the way it is handled.
Etc.: based on the book, “The Switch,” written by Elmore Leonard; I made a note while watching, “1978 soundtrack”
Awards: none known
Warm Bodies (2013)
Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Lio Tipton, Rob Corddry, Dave Franco, John Malkovich, Cory Hardrict, and many more
Director: Jonathan Levine
Genres: comedy, horror, romance
Synopsis: R (played by Hoult) is a young adult zombie who falls in love with Julie (played by Palmer) who is a zombie hunter, girlfriend of Perry (played by Franco,) and daughter of Grigio (played by Malkovich,) the head military leader in charge of zombie eradication. It’s an obvious mismatch, but you know how love is.
Impressions: I really enjoyed this unlikely love story. I mean you have to admit it’s a pretty creative plot idea for a movie. I think I saw the trailer for this on the, “Life After Beth,” disk and was intrigued by it. Plus it has Nicholas Hoult in it, whom I’ve been keeping an eye on ever since his role of Nuk in “Fury Road,” which I absolutely adored him in. Palmer has a lot of expression in her role. These two elevate what could have been cheesy into something very enjoyable to watch. Malkovich can play any role and make it stand out, as he does in this. Corddry has a good role as R’s buddy and eventual leader of the “zombie rebellion.” Although it is a zombie movie, there is not a lot of graphic violence. There is also an important metaphor tucked into the story.
Etc.: The movie is based on a novel of the same name, written by Isaac Marion.
Awards: 2 wins and 10 nominations
Hard Night Falling (2019)
Starring: Dolph Lundgren, Hal Yamanouchi, Natalie Burn, Mario Opinato, Brice Martinet, Andrea Scarduzio, Sinne Mutsaers, Ralph Palka, Ruben Rigillo, Gioia Vicari, Yoon C. Joyce, Chiara Arrigoni, Marianella Bargilli, and many more.
Director: Giorgio Bruno
Genres: action, crime
Synopsis: Michael (played by Lundgren,) is a member of a SWAT-like Interpol team. One night he and his estranged wife and adult daughter attend a swanky party at a country estate. The place is raided by a very large group of well-armed men, helmed by the ruthless Goro (played by Yamanouchi.) He’s looking for what he knows that owner of the house, Giuliano (played by Opinator) has, which is a very valuable collection of coins. The entire group of dinner party guests are held and used as leverage to get Giuliano to tell where the coins are. The movie revolves around Michael getting his family to safety and taking out the many henchmen person by person until his elite team shows up to help him.
Impressions: I was curious to see if Lundgren still had his badass skills. He’s still in great shape and has the moves, but not even that was enough to redeem this jumbled up mess of a movie. The plot was tired, they tried to develop some feeling of any kind with a few of the characters, but the assembled cast felt like it was going through the motions. Yamanouchi was good as the ruthless villain as he was given quite a bit of screen time and has some pretty good lines. The rest of the performances were wooden except where they were over the top.
Etc.: Italian movie filmed in Rome, but in English language
Awards: none known
The Little Things (2021)
Starring: Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, Jared Leto, Chris Bauer, Michael Hyatt, Terry Kinney, Natalie Morales, Isabel Arraiza, Joris Jarsky, Glenn Morshower, Sofia Vassilieva, Jason James Richter, John Harlan Kim, and many others.
Director: John Lee Hancock
Genres: crime, drama
Synopsis: Joe “Deke” Deacon (played by Washington) is a deputy sheriff in Kern County when he gets pulled back to his old stomping grounds where he was a homicide detective when the MO of a serial killer he tracked years ago but never caught presents itself in new victims. Baxter (played by Malek) is the skilled detective assigned the case but he’s reached an impasse; the bodies are piling up, so his usual by-the-book methods get set aside when he welcomes Deke’s help.
Impressions: Washington and Malek do a great job of pulling you into the story. You really want them to catch Albert (played by Leto) the man they know is the killer but who is just too damned slick again and again to be stopped. The director does an excellent job of setting tension with and between each of these 3 characters. There’s a solid support cast, but the spotlight remains firmly on these three. Washington is a joy to watch in anything he does and he’s given a chance to show what he can do in this one.
Etc.: from imdb:
The license plate 2GAT123 (ubiquitous and nearing mythical status as a Hollywood prop license plate) appears at the 12-minute mark and can be seen on the car parked in Spot #28 as Deke (Denzel Washington) and Sal (Chris Bauer) walk through the parking lot outside of the police station. The prop plate has appeared in numerous other films, including L.A. Story and Beverly Hills Cop 2, among many others.
Awards: 2 nominations