Monday, January 27, 2014

2013's 11-20

Once again there were some tough calls in carving out my favorite ten crime flicks watched in (and released in or only just previous to) 2013. These are some I enjoyed a bunch, but didn't quite make the top 10.

Antiviral - Brandon Cronenberg - One of my most memorable viewings of the year- it made me squirm and gasp and laugh pretty hard. It involves heaps of transgression and white collar crime, but in the end it was just enough off-center from what I tend to brand 'crime flick' to get to the top. Horror, sci-fi... Cronenbergian. Yes, yes and most definitely yes. This is some good shit and I can't wait to see what young Cronenberg does next.

Elysium - Neill Blomkamp - Seems like several of my favorites of the year received critical drubbings this one among them, but however heavy the hand coloring the crayon allegory, there was nimbleness of sensory manipulation and holy-shit delivery of the action goods to more than right the scales for my tastes. For every quip about Jodie Foster's accent I offer Matt Damon's parole officer, for complaints about the mush in Sharlto Copley's mouth I counter with the mush made of his face and the breathtaking rebuilding sequence. And for those looking for a softer sell on message I say, what about the hardware on display? There was just too much to excite me here and I dropped each picked nit. Once again tho - more sci-fi and action flick than straight up crime. Gets a very honorable mention.

Fast & Furious 6 - Justin Lin - This is the kind of picture that gives big dumb meat-head action movies a good name. Just holy crap, once again they had me gladly suspending (hell, expelling) my disbelief so's I could watch people do wicked stupid things with automobiles. And tanks, did I mention tanks? And jumbo jets? I have no idea what this movie was about, but I enjoyed it.

The Iceman - Ariel Vromen - The bio-pic of small time pornographer and family man turned mob button-man and freelance killer Richard Kuklinski is ambitious and good looking and stocked with an amazing cast of mustaches. It also features good turns by a strong cast and weirder than fiction material just too strong to overlook even if the film holds up better on a sequence by sequence basis than as a singular work (a tricky thing to cover decades of salacious material in a two hour movie and give it a central emotional current). I really am interested to watch it again and maybe my perceptions will change and it will pull together better than I recall, but I'll be haunted by many of the individual moments regardless... someday there'll be a wicked string of them popping up in Michael Shannon's career retrospectives.

Seven Psychopaths - Martin McDonaugh - Talky? Yeah. Indulgent? Absolutely. Dull? Never. Nor is it a shaggy dog - it's remarkably tightly constructed - though what the film cares about and what its audience does may diverge. End of the day you'll just go with it and enjoy the strange procession of one moment into the next (plus the great dialogue delivered by performers clearly enjoying themselves and their work), or you'll lose interest among the manifold plotlines and asides. Count me solidly among the former.

Sleepless Night - Frederic Jardin - No aspiration beyond shorting out your pace-maker and that goal, it turns out, is realistic. If you dug the French thriller Point Blank, you'll recognize the energy behind this one and dig it equally if not more. One expertly added turn of the crank after another until it all unravels and you arrive at the end, bruised, shaken and ready to go again.

Spring Breakers - Harmony Korine - Gives you back exactly what you bring to it and then expertly lets you down. You want it to be a satire, you'll find that, but you'll get caught up in the fun despite yourself. You want it to be a crime thriller, it's there, but prepare to have some velocity knocked off your bullet by the dreamy style. You want hedonism and abandon? Slick glossy trash and disarming sincerity? Humor, violence, music, tongues in cheeks and hearts on sleeves? We got you covered. It's an arousing, intoxicating, too-sweet cocktail of violently opposing forces and in the end... You take away a twisted up version of what you wanted from it. Great stuff from the cast, the editing, the soundtrack and the cinematography. It's exactly what you think it is, but not what you think that is.

This is Martin Bonner - Chad Hartigan - In the end, just not concerned enough with crime to make a top slot on a crime blog, but such a great picture with a toe dipped in the world of post-incarceration criminals that it deserves a slot here. I don't know what to say. See it if you haven't.

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