52 posts categorized "Crime Drama"

April 22, 2018

YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE — CANNES 2017

You_were_never_really_hereIf only I had never really seen this atrocity of a movie I’d feel much better. That does it; I’m giving up on Lynne Ramsay for good. I loathed Ramsay’s last film “We Need To Talk About Kevin” (2011).

Still, I was willing to give her latest effort a chance. Big mistake. I thought it possible that Ramsay had grown as a filmmaker. The complete opposite appears to be the case.

Screen Shot 2022-01-11 at 9.47.00 PM

Ramsey steals a dozen little tropes from movies like “Reservoir Dogs” and “Taxi Driver” to piece together a baloney narrative that hangs together like wet seaweed on the beach. Some people might call it experimental, and I can see why. You certainly feel like a guinea pig being experimented on while watching this awful movie. Ramsey based her self-penned screenplay on Jonathan Ames’s novel, but you’d never guess that this movie had any formal underpinnings.

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Joaquin Phoenix plays Joe, a hit man/cop killer who rescues underage girls from sex traffickers. A New York politician hires Joe to rescue his pubescent daughter. So topical, you think. Wrong. Ramsay treats the issue with such cavalier sloppiness that she trivializes sex trafficking into something so fake that it's no wonder so many people don't believe such a thing even exists. Judging from this film, it doesn't.

If revenge fantasy is your thing, Michael Winners 1974 “Death Wish” did it meaner and with real heart from the great Charles Bronson. Joaquin Phoenix just looks like he needs a good long nap. Joe suffers from delusions, so not everything we see is for real. Joe is a white dude sociopath whose chosen weapon is a hammer. If I never see Joaquin Phoenix with his shirt off, it will be too soon. 

Joaquin

If this set-up sounds like something you want or need to see for some imagined reason, just know that there is an underwater scene that is a very close copy of a similar scene in “The Shape of Water.” You could always stream “You Were Never Really Here” and turn it into a drinking game where you have to drink a shot every time you see a reference to another movie.

The influences here are much more accessible than the arcane ones you find in a Tarantino movie. Then again Quentin Tarantino is a real filmmaker; Lynne Ramsey isn’t.

Rated R. 89 mins.

Zero Stars

COLE SMITHEY

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June 14, 2016

CHOUF — CANNES 2016

COLE SMITHEY

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on Patreon to pledge your monthly support.

Thanks a lot pal! Your generosity helps keep the reviews coming!

Chouf2

Cannes, France —Audiences new to modern-day gang related international crime dramas could get a crash course in the genre from Tunisian-French writer/director Karim Dridi. The filmmaker checks off every violent trope right down to a shock ending that will seem oh-so-profound to the film’s targeted audience of urban youth.

Chouf” means “look” in Arabic, and takes on the meaning of a lookout for the purposes of this formulaic waste of celluloid. The heading doesn’t have much to do with the Marseilles-set drama that takes place in an area of high-rise housing projects, but that’s beside the point. “Chouf” is an exploitation crime flick meant to send hearts racing for pubescent boys who dream of the thug life. Such fantasies of making fast money selling drugs in the company a bunch of predictably volatile thugs goes exactly as you would expect for good-kid-turned-bad Sofiane (Sofian Khammes).

Chouf

Our not-so-gold-hearted protagonist visits his high-rise-living Muslim family in Marseilles while on summer vacation from college in Lyon. The family patriarch is a disciplinarian hard-ass for all the good it does for his ostensibly doomed sons. Naturally, Sofiane’s older brother runs with the local hoods that shoot him dead in the film’s first act. Rather than following through on the promise that his more educated mind seems fated for, 20-year-old Sofiane chooses to seek revenge instead. He joins up with his brother's gang of drug dealers. Evidently, the best thing college has taught Sofiane is how to run a drug operation like a McDonalds. Genius. 

It’s an old saying, if you seek revenge dig two graves. There, I just saved you the two or three hours you might have wasted seeing this piece of cinematic garbage. Next.

Not Rated. 108 mins.

1 Star

Cozy Cole

May 04, 2016

A MONSTER WITH A THOUSAND HEADS

COLE SMITHEY

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon. Thanks a lot pal! Your generosity keeps the reviews coming!

Cole Smithey on Patreon

A-Monster-with-a-Thousand-Heads

The “monster” in Uruguayan-Mexican director Rodrito Pla’s crime drama is a bureaucratic medical insurance hydra that prevents the desperate Sonia Bonet (powerfully played by Jana Raluy) from obtaining proper medical care for her husband Guillermo, who has cancer.

Her insurance company refuses to pay for an expensive drug that could be effective in treating Guillermo’s tumor. Sonia’s husband is dying, but she will go to any lengths to save him.

If the Mexican medical system has aspects in common with North America’s notorious Big Pharma-driven health care structure and its conspiratorial insurance complex, the coincidence is built on a pattern of blind greed overriding concerns for the wellbeing of patients.

ColeSmithey.com

Sonia takes her punk rock-loving teenage son Dario (Sebastian Aguirre Boeda) with her to track down her husband’s doctor (Dr. Villalba — Hugo Albores), with whom she has discussed her husband’s situation in depth over the phone. Sonia doesn’t fall for the stalling tactics employed by the quack physician's secretary. Instead, Sonia intuits Villalba’s identity when he tries to sneak out of his office. A pistol in her purse comes in handy in convincing the doctor to see things her way.

Still, blood must be spilled.    

A-monster-with-a-thousand-heads1

It’s a nice start. Unfortunately, clocking in at just 74 minutes, “A Monster With a Thousand Heads” feels like a film missing its third act. The filmmaker cobbles together a four-angle courtroom surveillance composite shot to serve as a tableau to say that Sonia will pay for her crimes. It’s a shame that the filmmakers didn’t see fit to better flesh out what could have been a thought-provoking commentary on the corporate medical system in Mexico. The film has some good things going for it, but the version being released isn’t really a complete movie.    

Not Rated. 74 mins.

1 Star

Cozy Cole

Cole Smithey on Patreon

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