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crime | John McDonald

crime

Kill the Messenger

November 1, 2014

One might assume the public is willing to believe anything bad about the CIA, which has become a byword for clandestine criminality in the modern world, but Kill the Messenger suggests otherwise. It tells the true story of Gary Webb, an investigative reporter on the San Jose Mercury News, who breaks a once-in-a-lifetime scoop about … More


A Walk Among the Tombstones

October 25, 2014

Lawrence Block is a crime writer whose style seems made for the movies. Flat descriptive passages are punctuated by bursts of terse, witty dialogue. After a few pages the film is already rolling in your head. Add Liam Neeson as Block’s ex-alco, ex-NYPD, private dick, Matthew Scudder, and the package seems close to perfect. All … More


Life of Crime

October 4, 2014

Comparisons may be odious, but they can hardly be avoided when it comes to Daniel Schechter’s Life of Crime and David O. Russell’s hit of last year, American Hustle. Both are slick crime-comedies set in a detail-perfect reconstruction of 1970s America – an ere that now looks as if it were designed specifically for comic … More


Italian Film Festival 2014 & Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

September 20, 2014

Masterpieces are by definition rare, and from what I’ve seen so far, this year’s Lavazza Italian Film Festival has nothing to match Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty, which launched last year’s festivities. Aside from that significant absence the mix of films is remarkably similar. Last year we saw Mr. Volare, a feel-good bio-pic of the … More


Deliver Us From Evil

August 2, 2014

Scott Derrickson, director of Deliver Us From Evil is obviously a film buff, as there is barely a scene in his hybrid horror/cop movie that won’t remind cinema-literate viewers of another scene in another film. The primary reference in this anthology of every fear and fancy that has taken up residence in the American psyche, … More


The Keeper of Lost Causes

August 2, 2014

An art critic of my acquaintance once boasted he had never read a detective novel. This claim was intended to make him seem an intellectual, but it only showed the narrowness of his mind. When writers such as André Gide and Francois Mauriac wrote admiringly of the detective stories of Georges Simenon, we can see … More


Two Faces of January

June 28, 2014

Some authors do not lend themselves to a cinematic adaptation, others write books that run through the reader’s mind like images on a screen. In the former category think of those tortuous psychologists of the Zeitgeist such as Proust, Mann and Musil. In the latter, close to the top of the list, stands Patricia Highsmith … More


The Rover

June 21, 2014

After the success of his debut feature, Animal Kingdom (2010), David Michod should have been in a position to make any film he liked. One imagines promising scripts and stories piled high on his desk; offers and ideas arriving by post, phone and email. Or maybe not. The movie industry seems glamorous to outsiders but … More


RoboCop

February 22, 2014

RoboCop redux generates seriously diminished expectations. How could one expect anything but a travesty of Paul Verhoeven’s original RoboCop of 1987? The big budget remake of Verhoeven’s Total Recall was possibly the most execrable Hollywood production of 2012, so one could only brace for the worst. It is with relief and surprise that I can … More


The Wolf of Wall Street

January 25, 2014

With most films if we can’t find any sympathy for the lead characters it’s a bad night at the cinema. The Wolf of Wall Street is the exception to the rule. A three-hour roller coaster ride that keeps us clinging to the handrail from start to finish, this orgiastic vision of greed and excess on … More