LIFE OF CRIME Review

by     Posted 22 days ago

life-of-crime-review

[This is a re-post of my review from the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.  Life of Crime opens today in limited release.]

I’ve never read any of Elmore Leonard’s novels, and yes, I’m ashamed. But I know from the film adaptations of his crime novels that there’s a way to do them right and wrong. They have a confidence, a swagger, a sly wink, a braggadocio, and they’re smart. They have the talk for the walk, and some directors, most notably Quentin Tarantino with Jackie Brown (based off Leonard’s Rum Punch) and Steven Soderbergh’s Out of Sight, are smart enough to bring that confidence to the screen. Those films make the uninitiated feel embarrassed that they haven’t joined the club. Even with Daniel Schechter’s cautious adaptation of Life of Crime (based on the novel The Switch) the audience can hear the author’s voice. Schechter’s direction is serviceable enough to not get in the way, he wisely trust his strong cast, accents the comedy, and lets Leonard do the talking.

John Hawkes Kidnaps Jennifer Aniston in the First LIFE OF CRIME Trailer

by     Posted 122 days ago

life-of-crime-trailer-john-hawkes-jennifer-aniston

The first Life of Crime trailer has been released for director Daniel Schecter’s adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel The Switch.  The film features younger versions of the Robert De Niro and Samuel L. Jackson characters from another Leonard adaptation, Jackie Brown, with John Hawkes and Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) filling the roles this time around.  The story kicks into gear when Hawkes and Bey kidnap the trophy wife (Jennifer Aniston) of a wealthy man (Tim Robbins), only to find out her husband doesn’t actually want her back.  The pic looks to be a fun criminal-centric comedy with strong performances from the leads, and Leonard’s authorial voice comes through loud and clear.

Hit the jump to watch the Life of Crime trailer, and click here to read Matt’s review from TIFF.  The film also stars Isla Fisher, Will Forte, and Mark Boone JuniorLife of Crime opens in theaters on August 29th.

TIFF 2013: LIFE OF CRIME Review

by     Posted 1 year, 6 days ago

life-of-crime-yasiin-bey-john-hawkes-slice

I’ve never read any of Elmore Leonard’s novels, and yes, I’m ashamed.  But I know from the film adaptations of his crime novels that there’s a way to do them right and wrong.  They have a confidence, a swagger, a sly wink, a braggadocio, and they’re smart.  They have the talk for the walk, and some directors, most notably Quentin Tarantino with Jackie Brown (based off Leonard’s Rum Punch) and Steven Soderbergh’s Out of Sight, are smart enough to bring that confidence to the screen.  Those films make the uninitiated feel embarrassed that they haven’t joined the club.  Even with Daniel Schechter’s cautious adaptation of Life of Crime (based on the novel The Switch) the audience can hear Leonard speaking.  Schechter’s direction is serviceable enough to not get in the way, he wisely trust his strong cast, accents the comedy, and lets Leonard do the talking.

SONS OF ANARCHY Season Finale Recap: “J’ai Obtenu Cette”

by     Posted 1 year, 288 days ago

sons-of-anarchy-season-5-slice

Emotions have run high in these last few Sons of Anarchy episodes, and while much of it has made up for the unevenness of the season, one wonders how entertaining the full season will be upon rewatch knowing that resolution evades.  Still, “J’ai Obtenu Cette” (which is one hell of an unnecessarily pretentious title) was in and of itself a great episode, and it set up a very emotionally complex fifth season.  Of course, that’s also the reaction most of us had at the end of last season.  While Season Five has indeed been about Jax versus Clay and their ongoing power struggle, the show has wandered a great deal in between, (even though it’s extended its episode count and occasionally the runtime to allow for more storytelling).  Hit the jump for a look at the best parts of “J’ai Obtenu Cette” i.e. “I Got This.”

SONS OF ANARCHY Episode Recap: “Darthy”

by     Posted 1 year, 295 days ago

sons-of-anarchy-season-5-slice

It’s been an emotional season for Sons of Anarchy, but the feelings in “Darthy” were some of the deepest and most difficult yet.  Though the season has put us through some horrendous deaths and near-deaths, to see the club and its members at such a crossroads, breaking apart more and more after each incident rather than rallying together, has been unsettling.  This has been especially true as members are picked off one by one, and the morally grey lines become increasingly blurry for every character, even those who have traditionally been on the side of right (at least, as right as any SAMCRO member can be).  Hit the jump for why Opie was right: the gavel does corrupt.

SONS OF ANARCHY Episode Recap: “Crucifixed”

by     Posted 1 year, 309 days ago

sons-of-anarchy-season-5-slice

At some point I should upload a scan of my notes for Sons of Anarchy, because they are far, far more chaotic than any other show I have ever reviewed.  Even Boardwalk Empire, with its myriad plots, can’t compare.  At least with Boardwalk, certain stories develop in their own world, like little vignettes whose significance may not be made clear now or ever, but they’re still enjoyable to watch unfold.  Sons of Anarchy has plenty of strange, throwaway plots too (look to almost any guest stars during the season and you’ll find the filler) and has been chastised by many, myself included, for being just about plot points more than character development (though not unusual for a series in its fifth season).  Still, one’s mind is impressively boggled by the incredible amount of layers in not just the outside forces pressing on SAMCRO, but the changing alliances within.  Hit the jump for my attempts at untangling some of the spider’s web.

SONS OF ANARCHY Episode Recap: “Andare Pescare”

by     Posted 1 year, 316 days ago

sons-of-anarchy-season-5-slice

So much happens in any given episode of Sons of Anarchy it can be hard to know where to start.  Even though in each season the action does focus down to a core four or five characters, with a few constants (Jax, Gemma and Clay) and a few rotations (in the past, Chibs and Unser, now Bobby and Nero), with Tara always floating around in the background as the most unevenly written character maybe of any show I’ve ever given serious consideration to … there’s always a lot going on.  It’s helpful to have so many cards in play for Sons‘ incredibly complicated stories, though they can mange to veer too much into just a litany of plot points without enough character building.  But “Andare Pescare” actually slowed down for some telling conversations and interactions, which made it a fairly strong episode.  Hit the jump for why I don’t break into mausoleums — I’m not Tig!

SONS OF ANARCHY Episode Recap: “Ablation”

by     Posted 1 year, 323 days ago

sons-of-anarchy-season-5-slice

Now here’s the stuff!  After a shaky few weeks, Sons of Anarchy gives us a great, dense episode that answers old questions, brings up new ones, and even has its own complete in-episode dramas.  Jax is at a breaking point with everything surrounding him, pressures from the club, his family, Pope, Eli, Frankie, Nero, the RICO case, the cartel … the list goes on and on.  Still, Jax keeps his cool, maneuvering his pieces to battle Clay as club business, meaning that the club could vote to exile him and kill him.  It ain’t easy bein’ a Son.  For more on the episode and why if you don’t do what I say then you’d better get used to living in a brothel, hit the jump.

SONS OF ANARCHY Episode Recap: “Toad’s Wild Ride”

by     Posted 1 year, 330 days ago

sons-of-anarchy-season-5-slice

Until the last few minutes of “Toad’s Wild Ride,” I was having a rather nice go of things.  Sons of Anarchy threw some weirdness at us this year, and a lot (and I do mean a metric crap ton) of violence, but in “Toad’s Wild Ride” there were some really interesting moments about loyalty and betrayal, especially bringing Juice’s story to the forefront.  Alliances change often on the show, but Bobby, Chibs and even Tig are firmly in Jax’s corner right now.  Clay is delusional if he thinks he could get back at the head of the table and past all of them.  I sincerely doubt, too, that Juice would ever fully back Clay in a coup, especially if Chibs was on the other side.  Still, seeing Clay carefully play Unser and Juice and the Nomads was fun to watch, especially the trick he pulled at Unser’s Airstream.  Clay is just as dangerous as ever, and now Jax knows that giving him a second chance was a mistake.  Of course, most of us would have thought the first time after someone tried to kill everyone we love but, you know, things are different in Charming.  For more on the wild ride and what Joel McHale has to do with it all, hit the jump.

SONS OF ANARCHY Episode Recap: “Small World”

by     Posted 1 year, 337 days ago

sons-of-anarchy-season-5-slice

It’s been a rough week for TV characters across the board, and I was desperately hoping that Sons of Anarchy would be just as weirdly funny as it was last week.  Alas.  Despite Jax telling Tara that it was a quiet day, nothing could have been further from the truth.  Everyone had something difficult to deal with and, in a surprisingly high number of cases, people died.  Murder, suicide, more murder … there weren’t any laughs in Charming for the Sons or anyone else.  “Senseless,” Tara says to Gemma, thinking back on her afternoon seeing Otto.  “It’s been that kind of day,” Gemma replies, not knowing the half of it.  But let’s pause and consider how truly senselessly violent and insane “Small World” was.  Hit the jump for my picking apart the deaths this week and how much we did (or didn’t) need them.

SONS OF ANARCHY Recap: “Orca Shrugged”

by     Posted 1 year, 344 days ago

sons-of-anarchy-season-5-slice

Tonight was the first time Sons of Anarchy made me laugh — and I mean really laugh, hard — in a very long time.  It’s something I’ve been moaning about for ages: yes the show is about a hardcore motorcycle gang, but one of the things that makes it so engaging is its bizarre, dark humor.  But what the scene starring Venus van Damme showed us more than anything was not only that the MC can still have fun despite the truly horrific things that have happened to them recently, but that there are alternatives to Clay’s violent approach to everything.  There are ways to threaten and blackmail that don’t include dressing up Fat Jake (Joe Caniano) from Boardwalk Empire (crossover moment — they’d better watch their backs or Al Capone is gonna get ‘em!) in some kind of S&M scene with a transsexual bouncing on him, sure, but that wouldn’t be as fun.  For more on these shenanigans and some of the darker moments of the week, hit the jump.

SONS OF ANARCHY Recap: “Stolen Huffy”

by     Posted 1 year, 351 days ago

sons-of-anarchy-season-5-slice

This week, Sons of Anarchy gave the club — and us viewers — some time to mourn, regroup, and refocus.  Jax wants to move to club away from “the shit that’s killing us” and try and get back into business with girls instead of guns and drugs.  The dealings with Pope have caused the club to reconsider itself, which is certainly a good thing.  The “blood for blood” retaliation that they were focused on under Clay has seen its day, and it was a great little moment when Chibs and Jax put their guns down to prevent a “hood war.”  As Chibs sagely said, “we’ve got to stop killing each other over a bit of gash.”  Speaking (derogatorily) of women, they were at the forefront of “Stolen Huffy” and did not get the good side of anything, but what else is new in Charming?  It’s a dangerous place to be a bit of a gash.  For more on that and why everyone seems to have a Gemma-sized problem right now, hit the jump.

SONS OF ANARCHY Recap: “Laying Pipe”

by     Posted 1 year, 358 days ago

sons-of-anarchy-season-5-slice

Since I have to save the heavy, spoilery shit until after the jump I’ll start off by taking a moment to comment on some of Sons of Anarchy‘s lighter fare, which amidst everything else actually got a little screentime in this episode.  Something that has been sorely missing from the series in its last few seasons is the trademark humor that made it so uniquely engaging to begin with.  We got hints of it tonight, with Juice “graduating” and Gemma beating the crap out of Ashley Tisdale from Disney’s High School Musical (file that under dark humor, and how many women has Gemma assaulted at this point?)  Sons continues to get darker and darker, and with it, much of the weird fun has been snuffed out.  Remember when Bobby was really Bobby Elvis?  And Tig was afraid of dolls? (one of my favorite recurring plot points) and Gemma took Half Sack’s girl out with a skateboard?  Those were the days.  Maybe they weren’t as big a part of things as I seem to think, but they made such an impact I remember almost every one.  For other unforgettable moments that you’ll wish you didn’t see, hit the jump.

SONS OF ANARCHY Recap: “Authority Vested”

by     Posted 1 year, 364 days ago

sons-of-anarchy-season-5-slice

Things certainly quieted down this week in Charming (if by quiet one means car chases, fights with police and visits to porn sets, and I do).  SAMCRO is still struggling with some of the remnants of last season with Tig’s inadvertent murder of Veronica Pope and the wrath of the Niners, as well as the club’s involvement with the Galindo cartel, the Irish and the CIA.  Then of course there are the new threats of the break-ins and the RICO case that Otto brought upon them (plus whatever Clay has up his sleeve, and you know it’s something).  SAMCRO really can’t catch a break, but just as too many chefs spoil a broth, too many open-ended threats to the club make the show more about running from place to place then about the relationships among the characters we’ve become so invested in.  For more on that and why nothing says true love like capital murder, hit the jump. If you missed our review of season five of Sons of Anarchyget caught up here

SONS OF ANARCHY Recap: “Sovereign”

by     Posted 2 years, 7 days ago

sons-of-anarchy-season-5-slice

Well that certainly opened with a bang. There were many of us in the SAMCRO fandom who feared the series was beginning to lose some of its luster during its meandering third season spent partially in Ireland. But not all who wander are lost — enter Season Four, which had the best cold open of any to date for SOA, and brought things (mostly) local again, focusing on club politics and betrayals (some of them quite severe). The end of the fourth season was compelling (Jax taking the clubs’s reins with a totally badassed-up Tara in support, a direct callback to Gemma and JT), but what made it even better was all that it set up for Season Five. Clay, The King, is not dead, the club is not rid of outside influences (in this case, the CIA via the Galindo cartel); they’re still running guns and drugs, and the members themselves, and their families, are in constant danger. Though there was no time jump from the end of last year’s run to the start of this one, things are already incredibly busy and incredibly dark. For a reminder of where things left off last year and a look at how things kicked off with the new season, hit the jump.

Click Here