Author Topic: Stop Thief! The Robbing Bastard Marathon  (Read 5662 times)

Najemikon

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Stop Thief! The Robbing Bastard Marathon
« on: August 16, 2009, 12:52:31 PM »
The last couple of films I've watched and the next couple I plan to watch all have one thing in common. Light-fingered, cheeky tea leafs. So I thought I'd start an occasional marathon.

If any of you wish to throw in similar themed movies, feel free to join me. If you wish, steal the DVDs (temporarily of course) to make an event of it!  :dance:

The one concession is the film must be from the point of view of the blagger, not the pesky cops. So anything from Robin Hood to Ocean's 11 counts.

Have fun, and remember... you haven't seen me. Right?

p.s.: Anyone struggling to understand the slang in this post, be it Cockney or otherwise, I'm talking about the kleptomaniac tendencies of thievery.  :tease:

Najemikon

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Bonnie and Clyde ****
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2009, 01:26:03 PM »
Bonnie and Clyde ****
4 out of 5


Adrift in the Depression-era Southwest, Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty) and Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway) embark on a life of crime. They mean no harm. They crave adventure - and each other.

This is a perversely affectionate portrait of the notorious Barrow gang from the days when bank robbers were folk heroes. The two stars are brilliant in the lead roles, as are the supporting gang members, Gene Hackman as Buck (Clyde's brother) and Best Supporting Actress winner Estelle Parson's as Buck's wife Blanche.

The story is told like a fantasy in some ways and so over-simplifies the events, but is a means to an end. That the pair don't mean to hurt anyone is explicitly put across and while you may not agree, you can't help but sympathise. Their violent end is seen as tragic, not justice. The Depression was a strange time and you can understand why the public needed their heroes and why Bonnie and Clyde were a modern day Robin Hood story. Can you imagine a notorious robber, wanted for murder of police officers, sending poetry into the newspapers? Bonnie did just that and "Trails End" (aka, "The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde") is a fascinating piece that helps understand their point of view. The film certainly does and is rather affectionate toward its heroes who have broken free of the Depression in some ways.

While the inaccuracies and simplified plot might frustrate, the power and importance of this film cannot be underestimated. It was one of the most important films made both commercially and artistically. It's methods, so influenced by European cinema, shocked critics and studios, and was the final nail in the coffin of the moral code filmmakers previously adhered to. Just look at the strange way the two's relationship is shown; the love scenes are awkward and Beatty (the leading man, the playboy movie star) plays Clyde as impotent.

It was inevitable as the boundaries were being pushed from at least 1960 (just look at Hitchcock's development), but Arthur Penn didn't so much push as smash through. It's success frightened Hollywood, but pulled it out of trouble and made it relevant again. It's influence can be felt throughout the Seventies at least. No Bonnie and Clyde, no Godfather, for instance. Penn helped a new generation of film-makers like Coppola and Scorcese be heard.

A key to that is the depiction of violence and not just the awful climax. Even now it can't be dismissed, especially as the film can move so effortlessly between fairy-tale and farce, via bloody gun battles. Penn, like Peckinpah would, understood the nature of violence and we sorely miss that style today. I think it would be very difficult to make another Bonnie and Clyde.

Najemikon

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The Getaway ****
« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2009, 04:59:51 PM »
The Getaway ****
4 out of 5


Political manoeuvring gets Doc (Steve McQueen) out of prison even when a parole board said no. Now he has a bank to rob for benefactor Benyon (Ben Johnson) with the help of his wife (Ali MacGraw) and Rudy (Al Lettieri). The job goes wrong and now Doc and his wife are on the run from Benyon's enforcers and Rudi, looking for the $500,000.

Five years after Bonnie and Clyde re-wrote the rulebook and one year after the enigmatic Vanishing Point and Two-Lane Blacktop, we're well into America's New Wave cinema and Sam Peckinpah doesn't disappoint with a typical example of how to mix thriller and art-house. The first 10 minutes is like a European short film; Bonnie and Clyde ruffled a few feathers with abstract editing, against the Hollywood idea of invisible cuts, but Peckinpah goes one better to show Doc's frustration at prison. It's a powerful, almost wordless sequence and forever separates the director from modern pretenders.

Don't be put off by the prospect of contemplative arty stuff like that though. This is as tough a thriller as any and the King of Cool McQueen was never cooler, channelling Bogart to deliver one of his best characters as Doc. He is utterly fantastic. Just look at the scene where he calmly buys a shotgun to immediately use on the police car that's pulled up outside. Or his memorable one-liners ("How ya doin', Slim?" 8)) and the way he deals with MacGraw! I mean, she's not a great actress, but she does convince, so she hardly deserved getting slapped around!

There's another example of how Hollywood had changed, allowing women to be slapped. Peckinpah really out-does himself though with the injured Rudy, taking a vet and his wife hostage, they end up cuckolding "poor little Harold"! Al Lettieri is great as Rudy, always menacing even when he's playing games. He was supposed to star in Rabid Dogs for Bava two years later and that film does owe a lot to this in many ways. Interesting how that happens. That European cinema should influence a shift-change in America, a change that Europe itself picks up on.

Certainly The Getaway revels in violence enough to be honourary Giallo. Revels may be the wrong word though, because this is another intelligent and accountable commentary on a violent society (see how the kids wander over to look at a recent corpse, similar to how children tease the scorpion in The Wild Bunch). Peckinpah's set-pieces are incredible, reminding one of Leone's spaghetti westerns, especially with the bizarre Morricone influenced score. And he was the best at slow-motion photography since Kurosawa. Certainly John Woo could take a few lessons.

Walter Hill's (The Driver) screenplay is tough, but a lot of fun, with terse to-the-point dialogue. Scenes like Doc retrieving the lost bag of money was indulgent, but I wouldn't miss it for anything ("when you work a lock, don't leave scratches"). Overall, a very watchable, powerful action-thriller, the like of which is sorely missed and probably makes Michael Bay cry. All the CGI flashy shit that passes for action movies these days can't recreate a partnership like McQueen, Hill and Peckinpah.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2009, 05:02:02 PM by Jon »

Offline Achim

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Re: The Getaway ****
« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2009, 07:04:57 PM »
Political manoeuvring gets Doc (Steve McQueen) out of prison even when a parole board said no. [...]
:hmmmm:

So that's wat you call that...

Najemikon

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Re: The Getaway ****
« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2009, 07:16:05 PM »
Political manoeuvring gets Doc (Steve McQueen) out of prison even when a parole board said no. [...]
:hmmmm:

So that's wat you call that...

Behave! I was talking about whatever Benyon did to convince them to release him, as well you know!  :yellowcard:

Offline Achim

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Re: Stop Thief! The Robbing Bastard Marathon
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2009, 07:10:53 AM »
So you would deem that to be a spoiler?

Najemikon

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Re: Stop Thief! The Robbing Bastard Marathon
« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2009, 11:50:25 AM »
No, not at all, as it's obvious. You got a yellow card for being cheeky!  :P

Najemikon

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Public Enemies ****
« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2009, 09:07:34 PM »
Public Enemies
4 out of 5




From visionary director Michael Mann comes the film inspired by one of the country's most captivating and infamous outlaws - John Dillinger. Johnny Depp stars as the charismatic and elusive bank robber, John Dillinger, marked by the GBI as America's "Public Enemy Number One." Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose) plays Billie Frechette, the only woman capable of capturing his heart. Hunted relentlessly by top FBI agent Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale), Dillinger engages in an escalating game of cat and mouse that culminates in an explosive legandary showdown.

There is a scene in Public Enemies which briefly epitomises everything that is brilliant and everything that is wrong with the film. It is a meeting between the recently captured John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) and Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale), the FBI agent tasked with bringing down this public enemy number 1. The fact it didn’t happen doesn’t matter. For the most part the story stays close to truth and this meeting was inconsequential to the plot, yet it embodies the spirit of the story and resonates throughout. It is a brilliant dramatic beat for the only moment two of the finest modern screen actors meet in this film. Bale in particular excels in those few moments, hinting at Purvis’ bleak future, long after the film will end.

It is an unusual scene for such a film and the narrative as a whole might not be what you expect and for that it should be applauded. But if it is original for that type of film, it isn’t otherwise. That scene is the coffee shop from Heat. There’s no two ways about it. It leads to thinking about the rest of the film and you might realise a lot of similarities, right through to the ending. Maybe this is a story that always fascinated director Michael Mann and he produced Heat as a modern telling of the Dillinger legend, but ironically he has undermined it by sticking to the same template and causing it to turn prosaic.

The film taken on its own terms is magnificent, though as with many true stories about such enigmatic characters, lacks a little focus. It’s an ambitious story that incorporates the birth of the FBI with Billy Crudup’s Hoover, the headlines from several other famous robbers such as Pretty Boy Floyd (Channing Tatum) and Baby Face Nelson (a fantastic Stephen Graham, but the Liverpudlian creeps through occasionally!) and their rock star images in the media. All such elements are sadly short-changed, thankfully compensated in the delicate performance by Marion Cotillard as Dillinger’s girl, Billie. She is a wonderful actress who gives the film a heart where Bale and Depp struggle despite their excellent work. There is a lovely moment in an epilogue with her and Stephen Lang’s agent that gives us a final poignant note that will last longer in the memory than everything else.

I might sneer at Michael Mann repeating elements of Heat, but that takes nothing away from his skill at weaving drama and action so effectively, as you’d expect from the man who gave us the first, brilliant Hannibal Lector in Manhunter. There are several action sequences, mainly bank robberies and/or getaways and the staging is always superb, with up close and fluid camera work, sometimes handheld. You’ll really feel the Tommy guns bite!

Mann is also one of cinemas most important modern pioneers, using digital cameras since at least Collateral and he works hard to give his films a visual identity using the latest technology. Here he may have gone a step too far because while some moments are so gorgeous they might hurt your eyes, others, the grain is far too high; there is even one moment where the sharpness visibly changes, which is distracting. As the audio can be, which ranges in quality.

It’s a brave new world for some film-makers and I’m glad Mann continues to be one of the bravest, but he falls short of creating a milestone like the lyrical Bonnie and Clyde was. Public Enemies equally delights and confounds in ways you might not have expected. You can’t help but feel if he’d taken a more obvious route, he’d have an Oscar winning classic on his hands, but something far less interesting otherwise.

richierich

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Re: Public Enemies ****
« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2009, 10:03:03 PM »
Public Enemies
4 out of 5



 :o

no comment

 ;)

Offline goodguy

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Re: Public Enemies ****
« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2009, 10:14:54 PM »
Public Enemies
4 out of 5



 :o

no comment

 ;)

Haven't seen it, but Jon also gave four stars to Eagle Eye (which I have seen, unfortunately) - read into that whatever you want.  :P
Matthias

Offline Kathy

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Re: Stop Thief! The Robbing Bastard Marathon
« Reply #10 on: December 20, 2009, 10:30:01 PM »
Plus...Jon like Tarantino!  :tease:

(click to show/hide)

Najemikon

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Re: Stop Thief! The Robbing Bastard Marathon
« Reply #11 on: December 20, 2009, 10:31:54 PM »
 :hysterical:

It's all about the context, people! :whistle:

Plus...Jon like Tarantino!  :tease:

(click to show/hide)

That was uncalled for!  :yellowcard:   :laugh:



Offline goodguy

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Re: Stop Thief! The Robbing Bastard Marathon
« Reply #12 on: December 20, 2009, 11:50:18 PM »
It's all about the context, people! :whistle:

I know! That's why I provided it. :whistle: :whistle:
Matthias

Najemikon

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Re: Stop Thief! The Robbing Bastard Marathon
« Reply #13 on: December 21, 2009, 12:16:02 AM »
Right. I'm letting that one slide.  :-X


 :laugh:

Najemikon

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Out of Sight ****
« Reply #14 on: April 18, 2010, 11:24:23 PM »
Out of Sight
4 out of 5




Meet Jack Foley, the most successful bank robber in the country. On the day he busts out of jail, he finds himself stealing something far more precious than money... Karen Sisco's heart. She's smart. She's sexy, and unfortunately for Jack, she's a Federal Marshal. Now, they're willing to risk it all to find out if there's more between them than just the law.

OUT OF SIGHT, starring GEORGE CLOONEY as the smooth criminal who bends the law and is determined to make one last heist, and JENNIFER LOPEZ who chooses all the right moves... and all the wrong guys


Out of Sight is one of Steven Soderbergh’s best films, with a good mix of classy entertainment, great characters and visual fluff. There’s little action and it feels like an old Hollywood thriller (there are plenty of movie references worked into the knowing script). It pulls you in with the cool idea of the career criminal unable to resist the heist of a lifetime, but gives you something of substance.

It’s pointless saying this is Jennifer Lopez’s best role (I mean, where’s the alternative?), but she is great with a subtle performance and I can’t think who else could have portrayed Karen Sisco quite as well, especially considering it’s a tough character to sell. She captures both the tough no nonsense shoot-first attitude (especially brilliant when she gets trapped with a particularly threatening creep) and the softer, vulnerable side. The chemistry with Clooney (who possibly is in his best form here) is believable and really makes the film fizz, which is important because the plot contrivance to get them together could be considered sexist and clichéd if it failed at all, as both characters are absurd.

The supporting cast are great too, as you would expect from either an Elmore Leonard or Steven Soderbergh source. Dennis Farina is a lot of fun as Sisco’s Marshall father, Don Cheadle and Ving Rhames are as reliable as ever and then we have Michael Keaton as Ray Nicollette, reprising the role from the previous years Jackie Brown. I’m not sure I can think of another instance of an actor reprising a supporting role in an unrelated film! (Except I think there was an FBI agent who played himself in a couple of the Fox Film Noir series that were based on real events he was involved in originally).

The screenplay, based on the novel by Elmore Leonard, is full of great dialogue and well-rounded characters (see also, Jackie Brown) that cut through the gloss. While it could so easily have been successful with a more formulaic approach, it is given depth by confident shifts in the narrative. Rather than just showing off, these cuts give us different perspectives on the characters. For instance, the audaciously cool bank robbery by Foley near the start (“Is this your first time being robbed?”)  actually happens much later and your perception is altered when you know what preceded it. Considering the director made a name for himself with Sex Lies and Videotape, it’s good to see how intelligently the love scene is handled too, which in a rare instance is essential to the plot. It’s cleverly edited, intercut with the flirting, so we get a real sense of why Sisco and Foley are at it like rabbits, without actually seeing much of anything.

This is a good quality, well produced thriller that features the best of old and new Hollywood. It’s over ten years old and there has been little to match it since for grown-ups looking for decent entertainment.