Best Seller - John Flynn - Brian Dennehy plays Dennis Meechum, a cop who's book about a famous robbery has made him a lot of money, a good reputation and the target of a professional killer named Cleve (James Woods). Cleve doesn't want to bump off Meechum - he wants Meechum to write the story of life in a tell-all book designed as a tell-all revenge bomb for the powerful man he's been working for, only Meechum is tough to convince. He's a grump. He's Brian Dennehy for fucks ache. Cleve tempts Meechum with tasty crumbs of the story and the two hit the road for a tour of Cleve's secret life's work while a string of heavies sent from Mr. bloody white collar (Paul Shenar) try to keep it all buried. It begins with a tense, gritty, no-flash heist sequence that had me hoping the film was going to amaze me, but five minutes later features one of the strangest action set pieces this side of Prime Cut that introduces Woods and after that? Well, it's a bit of a mixed bag ping-ponging between gutsy moments and gonzo ones. Always love Woods and shit, can I just say that I love living in a world where Brian Dennehy was a fucking movie star. In the body of Flynn's work this one lands in the middle... Which is saying something. Best moment: the opening heist.
Wolf - Jim Taihuttu - A first generation immigrant to Denmark fights for his place in the world through petty crime and kickboxing. But damn. It plays better than that. Just... trust me. It does. Love the black and white photography, the familiar/exotic urban setting, and the assurance that the character's struggles are universal. For Majid (Marwan Kenzari) the biggest obstacle to his own happiness and success is himself. He's stronger in character, smarter, more level headed and patient than his friend Adil (Chems Eddine Amar) who wants everything he believes comes easily to Majid, but Majid is a dumb fuck to most of the world - hotheaded, ignorant and brutish. The balance of perspectives is well handled and Majid's confusion in the world and horror at his own self-destructive actions are shared by the audience. Every opportunity looks very different from the base and the summit, as does every price and consequence. Kind of an anti-Rocky. Best moment: the armored truck heist is pretty great - ballsy, tense, sloppy, brutal.
Young Adam - David Mackenzie - Joe and Les, two barge workers in 1950s Scotland (Ewan McGregor and Peter Mullan), pull the body of a young woman out of the river one morning and provide a brief interview for the police, before getting on with their work. Joe is restless. He works for Les, whose family owns and lives on the boat, and shares a mutual sexual attraction with Les's wife Ella (Tilda Swinton). Soon Joe and Ella's affair is too flagrant to ignore and Joe takes Les's place in the world. Rather than satisfy Joe, this only makes more apparent the great sucking void at his core and soon Joe is following his dick whatever direction the erotic wind blows. A crime story on some level, it's better described as a noir - a cynical look at the character's drive and ultimate solution for pain-coated emptiness: indifference. Downbeat, elegantly drab and nasty, it may not have needed the NC-17 rating to make it instantly evaporate from popular consciousness, but it's these elements coupled with an amazing cast (including Emily Mortimer), the well-deserved critical lauding of director Mackenzie's latest flick (the prison drama Starred Up featuring Ben Mendelsohn and a breakout performance from Jack O'Connell) and the new medium of streaming video that make it ripe for a rediscovering (which may extend to the source novel by Alexander Trocchi). Best moment: Les confronts Joe and Ella.
Young Ones - Jake Paltrow - A community of hardy and resilient, if desperate, folks eke out a hardscrabble existence in a drought-plagued near future. Among them, Ernest (Michael Shannon) who runs a mobile mercantile with which he supplies the government workers who divert the water supply to more populated areas, Flem (Nicholas Hoult) an ambitious farmer with a vision to make the land fertile again and Jerome (Kodi Smit-McPhee) the son of Ernest, torn between his father's and Flem's ideas and ideals. The film's structure gives each character their own chapter in a more or less linear narrative that adds up to something resembling a novel more than a film, but holy crap, what a movie. Couldn't believe I'd not heard of this one at all before it popped up on Netflix, but I gave it a blind try and watched it in a single sitting - more and more rare, kids. Afterward I looked for reviews and was puzzled by the tepid to cool critical response I found online. Sounded like folks were disappointed that it didn't do more large-scale Hunger Games-style dystopia world-building - something the film clearly has no interest in doing. Did they see the same film I did? Maybe it's just the onslaught of YA-future-scape pictures souring their appetite for anything not set in the here and now, but I'd say this has far more in common with say John Steinbeck than Suzanne Collins. It's a small-scale, lived-in, neo-dustbowl sci-fi/western family saga full of great visual touches, wide-open spaces and dark implications. Do yourself a favor and get on this one pronto. Best moment: Ernest and Flem speak plainly.