crime

Mr. Holmes

July 25, 2015

One of the most enduring characters in popular literature, Sherlock Holmes has been played by several generations of actors. Basil Rathbone (1892-1976) remains the archetypal Holmes, setting a lean and angular standard perpetuated by most of his successors. Robert Downey Jr. is the exception, although his two Holmes movies could never be expected to please … More


The Mafia Kills Only in Summer

July 4, 2015

To make a romantic comedy about the depredations of the Mafia in Sicily sounds like a recipe for cinematic oblivion. Could this be anything other than a grave error of taste and judgement? It might even prove dangerous if today’s crop of crime bosses took offence. Pierfrancesco Diliberto, better known as Pif, has attempted this … More


Marshland

June 6, 2015

Anyone desperately seeking filmic distraction would be better advised to track down Alberto Rodríguez’s Marshland, a gripping mystery-thriller set in a desolate part of southern Spain at the end of the Franco era. The problem is that this movie will only score a limited release while Aloha screens in every multiplex. A pair of ill-matched … More


Inherent Vice

March 14, 2015

Anyone who complains that the plot of Inherent Vice is confusing has obviously never read a novel by Thomas Pynchon. Confusion, or rather paranoia, is the standard condition of most of Pynchon’s characters, and perhaps readers, – which may explain why Paul Thomas Anderson’s film is the first attempt to bring this elusive author’s work … More


A Most Violent Year

February 28, 2015

Oscar Isaac does his best to channel Al Pacino in A Most Violent Year, while director, J.C.Chandor acts as the medium by which the late Sidney Lumet gets to direct another film. These flashes of déjà vu don’t spoil a slow burning thriller that smoulders but never quite blazes. Despite the title, A Most Violent … More


Nightcrawler

November 29, 2014

Lou Bloom is a true believer in the American Dream – self-motivated, ambitious, unfailingly polite and well-spoken. By his own assessment Lou is a fast learner, a self-improver, a small businessman prepared to take risks to achieve his long-term goals. “Good things come to those who work their asses off,” he chirps. He is also … More


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