3 posts categorized "Heist Movie"

June 08, 2018

AMERICAN ANIMALS

American_animals

For the first time since Quentin Tarantino reinvented the heist genre with “Reservoir Dogs” way back in 1992, a filmmaker has broken the whole thing wide open. With a handful of documentaries under his belt writer-director Bart Layton crafts a snappy docudrama rendition of a small-town heist at a university in Lexington Kentucky that finishes with appropriate grace notes of hubris and pathos. Bart Layton isn’t a household name, yet.

Layton uses interview clips with each of the real-life young men who schemed to steal rare books and manuscripts from Transylvania University’s library, as overseen by a lone librarian — one Betty Jean Gooch. A first edition of Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species” and four double-size folios of John James Audubon’s “Birds of America” are on the would-be thieves’ shopping list.

American Animals1

We relish as the amateur heist team of college students assemble. Pals Spencer (Barry Keoghan) and Warren (Evan Peters) watch a collection of heist movies ranging from Kubrick’s “The Killing” to “The Thomas Crown Affair.” Naturally, the guys gets colors for names. Warren names himself Mr. Yellow because he’s his mom’s “sunshine.”

American Animals2

No one wants to hurt the librarian, the only person guarding the university’s precious books, but pain must be inflicted. By the time the heist takes place, the suspense is gut-wrenching. Here is a thrilling caper movie that makes us empathize with the crooks and their victim in equal measure. By interviewing the real thieves, while dramatizing their story, Bart Layton adds a meaty layer of social realism to the film. Get out your knife and fork; this is one movie you can really sink your teeth into.

Warren Lipka - Evan Peters

Rated R. 116 mins. (A) (Five stars — out of five / no halves)

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October 02, 2017

THE ANDERSON TAPES

Anderson_tapesChristopher Walken has his breakout performance as a recent ex-con on a mission with his former prison mate (Sean Connery) to rob the tenants of “1 E 91st Street” — namely the Otto Kahn mansion.

Quincy Jones’s score is no bueno, but the film’s goofy sci-fi sound effects are cheesy beyond belief. Here is a movie that could be made 10 percent better by deleting its sound effects and updating the score.

Nonetheless, “The Anderson Tapes” provides the most up close and personal tour of the beautiful Kahn mansion that you could hope for. This lush building shows up in a lot of movies, but none so explored as the mansion is here. 

Dyan Cannon provides sexy window dressing as Connery’s girlfriend who belongs to the sugar daddy who owns her apartment in the mansion.

Kahn Mansion

Keep an eye out for great supporting turns from Margaret Hamilton (“The Wizard of Oz”) and from the great Garrett Morris — who went on to fame with Saturday Night Live during the program’s salad days in the ‘70s.

Sure the heist is full of plot holes — how does Christopher Walken get in the van inside the Mayflower moving truck?

For all of the narrative’s focus on the mansion’s high-tech surveillance, the plot point is nothing but a ruse. Although one of Sidney Lumet’s minor efforts, “The Anderson Tapes” functions as a cool retro caper movie full of nostalgic details. The film’s car chase climax is no joke. Did I mention Dyan Cannon is in the movie? Sparks fly from hard and soft surfaces in this kooky heist flick with a great cast. The contrasts between Connery's and Walken's acting styles creates a buoyant effect of character dynamics. This is fun stuff. 

Colesmithey.com

Rated GP. 99 mins. (B-) (Three stars — out of five / no halves)

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August 20, 2017

LUCKY LOGAN

Logan-lucky-posterAside from one very cheesy subplot misstep involving a little girl (Farrah Mackenzie) singing “Country Roads,” Steven Soderbergh’s “Lucky Logan” is a rollicking heist movie with an appropriately greasy sense of slick humor. An ensemble piece in the vein of Soderbergh’s “Oceans” franchise, “Lucky Logan” pinballs between a litany of goofball characters with bell-rings and comic zaps.

Most enjoyable is Daniel Craig’s comic turn as Joe Bang, an incarcerated bomb specialist of the Appalachian persuasion. Craig’s sense of comic timing is every bit as sharp as his snappy determination in his typecast role as James Bond. There’s something deeply satisfying about hearing Craig chew on a West Virginia accent like a stiff piece of jerky.

First-time screenwriter Rebecca Blunt balances comic set pieces with no-nonsense action sequences as Channing Tatum’s blue-collar construction worker Jimmy Logan concocts a plan to rip off the freshly minted Charlotte Motor Speedway during a big race day. Jimmy is especially motivated due to his recent termination from helping build the raceway. The ever-versatile Adam Driver plays Jimmy’s bad-luck-plagued Iraq war vet brother Clyde whose fortunes are poised for a 180-degree turn.   

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As with any good heist movie, the joy is in the planning for the theft and the stuff that goes wrong during its execution. The movie wisely plays its narrative poker hand so that its closing reveal comes as a welcome surprise, albeit with a lurking plot element points to a sequel. Movie audiences could certainly do a hell of a lot worse than for Soderbergh’s Logan to get lucky twice, or more. This could be where Steven Soderbergh trades in one heist franchise for another. If so, sign me up for Luckier Logan now.   

Lucky Logan

Rated PG-13. 119 mins. (B+) (Four stars — out of five / no halves)

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