Thursday, 18 August 2016

Thursday Movie Picks: Crime Gone Wrong


I think I could have just picked three Coen brothers films for this week, but I want to spread those picks across genres. So I have two debuts and a final piece for this week. Or two old favourites (directors) and a great actor who left us too soon.

Don't forget to check out what Wandering Through the Shelves picked, the blog that started Thursday Movie Picks.

Blood Simple
The Coen brothers’ first feature length film has be praised by many and rightly so. It is dark and brooding take of lies, murder and revenge. Frances McDormand is Abbey who is unhappily married to dodgy Marty. She is having an affair with Ray, the bartender of the bar Marty owns. Suspecting their affair, Marty hires a private detective to tail them. Confirming the affair, he hires the P.I to kill the couple. Things, obviously go wrong. Film Noir with twists of thriller all blended together in story that paces itself but keeps the tension high. The beginnings of brilliance. 

Bottle Rocket
Wes Anderson’s first feature film isn’t a favourite of mine but you can see the beginnings of brilliance emerging. Eccentric Dignan, (Owen Wilson) ‘rescues’ his friend Anthony (Luke Wilson is in his first film role) from a voluntary psychiatric unit. He convinces him to join him in several heists he has planned. Dignan drags his other friend Bob who owns a car into the business too. But after robbing a bookstore of a very small amount they hide out in a motel. But the crime that goes wrong is much later when the trio is set up by local crime boss, Mr Henry. The middle part of the film drags on a bit but Dignan is entertaining enough.


Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
Sidney Lumet’s last film before he passed away is a harsh depressing story about two unsuccessful brothers, Hank and Andy (Ethan Hawke and the dearly departed Philip Seymour Hoffman), who decide to rob their parents’ jewellery store. Andy has been embezzling from his company to pay for his drug addiction and intends to flee the country. Hank is debt and owes back payments for child support, he also having an affair with Andy’s wife. But come the day of the robbery, it all goes wrong when the brothers’ mother is at the store. There aren’t any likeable characters in this film which isn’t always a problem but for me this was just too depressing. I actually saw this at the cinema. I remember sitting there uncomfortably on my own in an almost empty cinema rather wishing I had waited for the DVD. 

18 comments:

  1. I haven't seen both Blood Simple and Before the Devil Knows but both sounds interesting. Bottle Rocket is the least stylish Anderson film in my opinion, but this already shows the direction he wants to take his work, aesthetically speaking. Great picks!

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    1. I agree - it has the beginnings of Anderson-y ways and style but isn't quite polished. I'd still like to see the short he made of this - the very very beginning.

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  2. Solid choices. Blood Simple tries a bit too hard to echo classic film noir but for a first film is a very good effort. Love Frances McDormand! I think I would have enjoyed Bottle Rocket more with different actors than the Wilson brothers, both of whose allure escapes me, but it wasn't bad. You're right about Before the Devil Knows You're Dead being too grim, without even flashes of gallows humor it was a trial to sit through despite the cast.

    This was another week where choices came easily since I enjoy this type of movie:

    One False Move (1992)-After a series of drug deals go bad and result in several murders a trio of gangsters take it on the lam ending up in the small Arkansas town of Star City. On their trail are two LAPD detectives who team with the small town sheriff (Bill Paxton) to capture the three. Bracing, violent thriller excellently directed by Carl Franklin. Co-written by Billy Bob Thornton who plays one of the criminals.

    He Ran All the Way (1951)-Petty thief Nick Robey (John Garfield) teams up with his buddy Al to pull what they plan to be their big score, a payroll robbery. But they are foiled by a cop who shoots Al, panicked Nick shoots the cop. On the run he ducks into a public pool house and strikes up a conversation with a young girl named Peggy (Shelley Winters). Smitten Peggy walks home with him and he takes her family hostage until the tense finale. Low budget, taut noir was the blacklisted Garfield’s last film before his too early death at 39.

    Criss Cross (1949)-Armored car driver Steve Thompson (Burt Lancaster) is still carrying a torch for his ex-wife Anna (Yvonne de Carlo) who is now married to a L. A. gangster, Slim Dundee (Dan Duryea). Anna impulsive and restless is drawn to him as well and when Slim catches them together he forces Steve to participate in a robbery on the cars he drives. It does not go well and a series of double crosses lead to tragedy for all. If you only know Yvonne de Carlo from The Munsters this is the best place to see she was not only an incredibly beautiful woman but an excellent actress as well.

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    1. You're right about Before the Devil Knows You're Dead too - it was a trial.

      These are all great picks! I want to see them all. I think Criss Cross stands out as this has been a film I've been chasing for a while - trying to watch lots of film noir - and I do like Burt Lancaster. Thats really sad about John Garfield. Blacklisting ruined so many people.

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  3. I was going to do all Coen films too! Blood Simple is a great first feature by them and a great start of their careers. I totally forgot about Bottle Rocket, though not Anderson's best. I loved the Wilsons in it though.

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    1. They make a great team! Partly why The Royal Tenenbaums is my favourite Anderson. A theme for another time - Coen Brother, just them :)

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  4. Interesting picks...none of which I've actually seen. Though Blood Simple has been picked a lot so I plan on seeing it soon.

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    1. The Coen's debut feature, it won't disappoint. But if you fancy something different, there is a Chinese version 'A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop' that is quite recent.

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  5. Nice! I also picked Before The Devil Knows You're Dead. I need to see Blood Simple again, it's been years.

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  6. Hi Hogan! We've nominated you for the Sunshine Blogger Award: http://flick-chicks.blogspot.com/2016/08/sunshine-blogger-award-thank-you.html
    - Allie :)

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    1. Ah!! Thank you! This is exciting - checking it out right now!

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  7. I haven't seen any of these, but they all sound so interesting. I'll have to watch them.

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    1. If I could push forward just one - I'd say start with Blood Simple :)

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  8. Oh my -I missed you! I haven't seen any of these films but have wanted to see Blood Simple for a while now. I can only do small doses of Owen Wilson. It's not that I dislike him but after a while his nose talking gets to me. Others have picked the last film and it sounds good but it sounds like I would want to slit my wrists after seeing this film

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    1. Heheheh no worries! HIs nose talking does grate in the wrong role. He's actually very amusing and eccentric in Bottle Rocket so its not too bad.

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  9. All three of these are excellent movies! Great picks! I chose Blood Simple as well.

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    1. Blood Simple is difficult to ignore right? But you're a Coen Brothers fan you know this :)

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