Tag Archives: Film

Monthly Movie Magic- July

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We’re halfway through August (give or take a few days) but I’d like to flash back to July to talk about some of the films I’ve watched between then and now. So although the title of this post is somewhat of a misnomer, I hope you’ll find it in your heart to forgive me anyway.

The Mediocre Watches- Game Over Man, Mute, and The Package (Netflix):

One of these films is not like the rest. If you guessed the dark and fascinating concept of Mute the you’re absolutely right. Whereas the other two films focus on dark comedy and genitalia in pretty even measures, Mute is a bleak story without much consolation. In many ways it reminded me of one particular episode of the excellent adaptation of Altered Carbon, however it was not quite as realized from a story standpoint as it could or should’ve been. The Package had a few smirk worthy one-liners but outside of that it was terrible and not worth the time. Game Over Man (forget the punctuation, forget the plot) was a comedic Die Hard wannabe with interesting moments and a splattering of gore.

Final Grades: Mute 6/10, Game Over Man 4/10, The Package 2/10

The Cults of Personality- Eyes Wide Shut, Red Dragon, and Constantine (Netflix):

I’ll take whatever flak will come my way for stating that the filmmakers milked Hannibal for all he was worth in turning three films and a prequel film into worthy Sir Anthony Hopkins performances in the nineties and early thousands. Red Dragon is neither the best nor worst film in that series however it is worthy of the cult attraction in terms of character building and eventually setting up plot lines of the far superior television show era Will Graham as well (sorry Ed Norton). Eyes Wide Shut, as with most anything To Cruise touches is gritty gold and very, very intriguing and mind bending at times. Constantine is the odd one out here but certainly not as terrible as it could’ve been despite Keanu Reeves doing his best Shatner interpretation with each choked out syllable.

Final Grades: Eyes Wide Shut 8/10, Red Dragon 7/10, Constantine 6/10

Worthy Newcomers- Set It Up, Father of the Year, Message from the King (Netflix):

The three films in this particular segment vary wildly in tone and quality however the most important thing to note is that they do what they promise very well and deliver on that tone. Whereas two are comedies through and through and have their fair share of cringe worthy and hilarious moments, the third is also a gritty performance pre-Black Panther by Chadwick Boseman and an excellent low-budget revenge flick. Set It Up is cliched and yet a wild ride all the same and one I enjoyed and was fond of by the end. Father of the Year is a typical David Spade romp and brings back memories of better movies and moments as well. Message from the King is an entertaining fight and has several well-choreographed moments to a dark score.

Final Grades: Set It Up 8/10, Message from the King 7/10, Father of the Year 6/10

Movie Theater Mayhem- Uncle Drew and Mission Impossible Fallout (Theater):

These two films were phenomenal for a number of good reasons. Uncle Drew is one sketch after another that has a great cast as well as great moral by the end of the lighthearted romp. Mission Impossible Fallout is the best movie in a grand series and one that ensures it has a bright future to come despite some characters not appearing and others ending their series spanning tenure. Kyrie Irving proved he has handles as well as plenty of ‘young blood’ jokes for us youngsters on and off the court. Tom Cruise proved his resilience and seemingly inhuman ability to heal and release an excellent product yet again.

Final Grade: Mission Impossible Fallout 9/10, Uncle Drew 8/10

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Three Interesting Takes from Comic Con


Although I’m not entirely sure to what degree we will ever again see the unique talents of the great Sir Anthony Hopkins within the realm of the surreal and bloody terrific West World HBO reboot-ish show that he helped to establish, I must say I am excited to see telltale trailers of a second season. That wasn’t the only pleasant surprise to come out of Comic Con thus far as there were plenty of other panels and trailers that piqued my interest to observe. I’ve since narrowed my perspective to three- Jigsaw, West World Season Two, and The Shape of Water.

However, let it also be known that Netflix made a great showing for themselves- featuring everything from a fairytale meets gritty cop drama action flick to additional series and shows. There were some cliche yet refreshingly interesting ideas on hand in terms of horror- I’m going to be talking about effectively Saw 9 or 10 or whatever Jigsaw is canonically just because it looks utterly ridiculous and entertaining if grisly and horrible as well. Michael Fassbender seemingly met his end in grisly fashion in The Snowman- featuring a unique and interesting and surely full of twists serial killing story.

Bryan Singer is bringing his talents to The Gifted- a show set in the world of the X-Men yet pertaining to newly discovered mutants in the shadows of the public eye, and I’m more excited about this than the new seasons of Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash, Arrow, or even perhaps Supergirl. I will say that the Superman/Girl prequel-ish show Krypton seems interesting enough as well. The 100 and Vikings have long been a source of entertainment and solace for me so those two shows definitely look to be shaking series tradition up and are likely going to break our hearts all over again.And as far as I can tell, Ready Player One looks like it will be given justifiable treatment by Spielberg and crew, so that’s only a good thing.

But let’s talk about my three main topic sources here now that I’ve covered the plethora of other great trailers and shows that were catered around.

The only reason that Jigsaw really stood out to me was that it seems to be bringing back a lot of classic Saw accoutrements but also adding an influx of not only action apparently but new machinations and twists and turns to the already thoroughly convoluted series. Saw has certainly had its moments- from its indie ish low budget beginnings to the colossal 3D flop of an ‘ending’ of sorts. However Jigsaw has piqued my interest because it brings up new questions about old tricks and also seems to at least as far as in the trailer shows, prove an old dog still has some unseen tricks to show off.

Is Jigsaw really alive and kicking? Is this all the devious devilish work of some protege or copycat killer? Is all of this just some sick and twisted playground already set up in the past and ready to be carried out by unseen henchmen? Will we actually get a steady stream of plot to go with the sure to be there gore and difficult decisions and dumb choices? All of these questions and more may or may not be answered in the movie itself but one thing is certain: hide your kids and hide your saw  blades or else both are liable to be either abducted or sunk into the head of some poor schmuck.

My second topic of interest is none other than the second series or season of HBO’s popular West World. Season One offered many twists and turns and we quite literally aren’t out of the woods (er, park) yet. Dolores seems to be adapting to the role of villain laid out before her by one-time instigator and writer Robert Ford, we still have the beloved Bernard to sort of follow behind and see what happens as he picks up the pieces of undoubtedly a greater scheme at work, and we have yet to really see Teddy or Elsie come back on screen but hopefully we won’t have to wait long. Many of us were left with burning questions after the end of the previous season and I think some are due to be answered as well as new ones added to the mix. I don’t want to know everything, just the most integral details in regard to key plot aspects.

And then of course there’s the Man in Black who is undoubtedly one of the most intriguing and ambiguous characters in the show for many obvious reasons if you’ve watched the first season. I can’t wait to see how things continue to play out for him now that he’s realized his dream of a perfectly aware robotic/AI filled park and that everyone is on an essentially level playing field. It’s a dog eat dog world and survival of the fittest is the only course of action that’s viable anymore. I’m intrigued by the prospect of both new characters as well as continued revelations for previously existing ones or even a continued exploration of depth and adaptation to new roles as well. Now that most technicians are likely dead or less likely to want to create more advanced AI or repair existing ones, our beloved characters are nearer and dearer to our hearts as the dangers become more apparent.

Last but surely not least, Guillermo del Toro as is often the case pretty much boggled my mind and piqued my interest all in one fell swoop. I’ve always enjoyed del Toro’s work in the past and he provides either perfectly paced action and excitement with interesting settings or characters, or he provides truly enveloping and emotional plots with slightly chilling aspects and unique qualities. Sometimes he tosses all of that into the blender and gives us a bit of everything if we’re talking about Crimson Peak in particular (RIP Tom Hiddleston’s face). The Shape of Water in typical del Toro fashion seems to have a star studded cast as well as an intriguing plot revolving around a mute woman who only feels appreciated and whole when conversing with what I can only best describe as a mer-man.

If that wasn’t interesting enough on its own, throw into the mix blatant disregard for life, the exploits of what seems to be a 1940s or 1950s scientific establishment complete with borderline barbaric ideas and practices, and the dramatic entanglement of this woman, this creature, and everyone in between them. It’s seemingly a love story as much as it is a lowkey chilling tale about modern medicine, appreciating people for all of their unique flaws and/or capabilities, and also a gripping dramatic tale. In essence, I’m uniquely interested in the potential for a story here and although I already see where there could be plenty of pitfalls or pandering and catering to particular audiences, I’m somewhat okay with all of that because Guillermo already owns half of my heart and mind as is.

And those are just some of my thoughts stemming in particular from the interesting trailers that have been showcased around Comic Con. If you’re currently attending Comic Con- SDCC or anywhere else you might currently be or already have been, feel free to comment with your own takes or your own most interesting and intriguing new films, games, or other entertainment. Cheers.

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How SEGA Should Approach Alien: Isolation II


The Alien video game series, much like the titular movie series, has experienced its fair share of ups and downs over the years. There have been innovative flops such as Alien vs Predator, there have been outright horror stories such as Colonial Marines, and there have been sleeper successes such as Creative Assembly’s Alien: Isolation.

Not too many months ago I watched the highly anticipated Alien: Covenant and was much more pleased with it than I had been with Prometheus in terms of pushing the series and its speculative origins to the brink and successfully exploring new ideas as well as old. That got me thinking about the potential for another installment in the video game series, particularly one that catered more to the type of gameplay and audience that Isolation did rather than anything AVP or Colonial Marines may have attempted to do.

Details wise, it’s pretty much impossible for us to see another game from Creative Assembly themselves as the majority of talented designers who worked on Isolation have since left and gone on to other projects. Those that do remain recently wrapped up their work on Halo Wars 2 and are supposedly in the talks to continue their work on an as of yet pretty much unknown IP or project. However, that doesn’t mean SEGA couldn’t or even shouldn’t (or wouldn’t) tap into the same or similar sort of creative mindset that led them to select the bright minds at Creative Assembly as their leads for Alien: Isolation. There are a number of talented studios out there and far be it from me to say who should get the chance to put their own spin on such a popular series.

Ironically, I think perhaps the best route to go besides implementing a fairly fresh story like Alien: Isolation, albeit one that fits categorically into the original universe and into Ripley (by extension, her daughter) and others’ story, would be to detail the events between Prometheus and Covenant. This is where things are going to get a little bit hairy so if you’ve yet to play Isolation or don’t want the majority of the Alien/Prometheus series ruined for you on accident as I happily and nonsensically drop details, leave now or forever hold your peace.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed how canonically the story of Isolation fit just as well into the original universe as Covenant and Prometheus are starting to fit into the entirety of the series, I don’t want to see what is essentially Alien: Isolation II. I want to see something that is similar but not the same. As fun as it would be, I don’t want a sequel- I want another Alien title that takes the best elements of Isolation but boasts a new story and slightly different enemies and encounters as well as some brand new ideas. What better way to do that and semi-ironically make a movie tie-in game of sorts than to detail certain events from David’s previous experiments and the untimely death of Elizabeth Shaw after the events of Prometheus but prior to Covenant?

Allow me to clarify a little bit further. In order to be successful I think the game would have to include more of the aesthetic and elements of Covenant than Prometheus for sure, but that it should also maintain what worked in Isolation and not be a shooter or anything other than pure survival horror at its finest moments. The storytelling and pacing could be much similar to Isolation but perhaps set in the derelict ruins seen in Covenant or in the downed ship that David crashed. I would love to see a small team of engineers or something perhaps crash land on the exoplanet and slowly fall prey to David’s mischievous and diabolical experiments along the way. Michael Fassbender could even lend his voice and likeness to the character should it actually be feasible to include in-game.

Rather than the enclosed hallways and occasional open areas of the Sevastopol space station players could instead explore equal parts open fields and enclosed tombs and ruins of likewise free-form sort of levels and encounters. Many of the dynamics that made the first game thrilling could easily be re-implemented here as well and remain just as fluid and fresh. I would love to see the slightly varied looks of the alien creatures as they develop throughout the story and although it wouldn’t be exactly canonically accurate to have the classic look for the Xenomorph itself, the Neomorph and such variations of chestbursters and whatnot would be a sight to behold still.

There are numerous directions that SEGA could choose to go or not go in with the series but rather than some paltry attempt at another shooter or yet another AVP sequel, I’d much rather see survival horror in the vein of Isolation’s success. Whether or not the story is anything similar to the recently released Covenant or whether it features an entirely new time, story line, or characters matters little in the grand scheme of things. These are merely some of my farfetched ideas at this time.

If you have any of your own thoughts about what a theoretical next Alien title should or could or shouldn’t or couldn’t do, feel free to comment and I’ll happily discuss the series and my own thoughts with you. Cheers.

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Understanding Horror


Today’s blog post is about two separate yet semi-related things. The first is an independently developed horror title released in February of 2017 (via Steam) known as Husk (courtesy of Undead Scout). The second is the 2016-17 horror-thriller film release known as “A Cure for Wellness.” Although these two have very little in common save for sharing a semi-similar genre and horror trope (as well as a February release), it is what they bring to the forefront of the mind that interests me most in retrospect.

Neither of these projects should be considered as anything remarkable in terms of a commercial success. In fact, due to their mostly mixed reviews and the relatively poor sales and return on investment, it would be hard to call them much of a success at all. However, there’s a reason that I bring two otherwise semi-obscure projects to bear when confronted with thoughts of horror or intrigue and plausible insanity (of the thrilling sort). I could be discussing something infinitely more credible such as ‘Camera Obscura’ or other horrifying concepts, yet I find myself drawn again and again to both literature and film/game content that offers an experience rather than a prodigious service in earnest.

At first glance Husk is a cliche, a tribute to the nineties, perhaps even a blatant attempt to steal the thunder and luster of titles such as Silent Hill, Alan Wake, or Twin Peaks. For all of that, Husk does succeed atmospherically if only to fail in terms of generic gameplay and repetitive plot and progression. Husk is greatest when presenting the promising factors that could come into play but ultimately it fails to impress myself or apparently the others who have played it critically, instead only offering repetition and mundane survival horror elements where many others have trodden before.

Instead of being here to critique a piece of flawed art however I would like to instead recognize the aspects which we have yet to see done fairly well in gaming history. Violence and abuse and alcoholism and addictive personalities are rarely personified in gaming despite being attempted plenty in literature and on the screen. They aren’t the easiest of the core vices to handle and more often than not get a bad rap when they are portrayed at all. It’s rare to see such believable elements attempted or portrayed in thrillers or horror but rarer still to see psychological and intrinsically flawed character feats billed into games- although we are beginning to see more and more of this. Look no further than games such as Condemned or Silent Hill: Shattered Memories if you want to see flawed appeal done right.

This brings me to “A Cure for Wellness” and its reason for existing in the same context as Husk within the confines of this particular post.

The film is at its finest when it’s portraying the twisted narrative setup or the intrinsic flaws of a particular society such as the one that Verbinski ushers into the context of the film. It’s utterly believable that Gore Verbinski was on tap to helm a Bioshock film and the shocking elements of “A Cure for Wellness” lead me to believe that it would’ve had all the makings of the 2007 Irrational Games classic except in film form. Incest has been covered in both horror and film before- look no further than “The Hills Have Eyes” for something truly horrifying and cinematic in its appalling nature. Kudos to you if you can sit through both the originals and the next generation versions. If you want shocking revelations or horrid discoveries then plenty of films exist for that but few cover it so well as “Soylent Green” or perhaps the political intrigue of “Three Days of the Condor.”

What I’m trying to imply here is simply that “A Cure for Wellness,” without ruining the enticing merit of its plot, offers plenty of shock value and gruesome appeal as well as all of the hitherto expected insanity of a Verbinski or perhaps a Bioshock-like project. Everything always comes back to either literature, film, or games with me. And perhaps sometimes it’s an eclectic mix of those. Neither Dane DeHaan nor Jason Isaacs characters are immune from their struggles with insanity and calamity and once the film has run its bloody course that ugly fact makes itself well known to audiences.

Pushing beyond the horror state of mind and into furthermore uncharacteristically bleak territory, the whole concept of happy endings and at the least optimistic endings in video gaming and film and literature has always bugged me. Shouldn’t we be realistic in our expectations and note that statistically it is improbable that so many endings just…well end? That so many aren’t left potentially unresolved or don’t end with characters much worse for their antics and wear? Perhaps the most poignant and fresh attempts at this will always be the classic Chinatown, Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road,” and the 1999 Schwarzenegger film ‘End of Days’ in my mind. Particularly when it comes to gritty, realistic and gruesome ends for key contributors to the plot.

I’ve been jumping all over the place with my jumbled thoughts here but let’s boil them down to a few simple points at the end.

I look forward to darker tales in the future such as The Last of Us Part Two- it must, after all, be something much angrier and darker and grittier than the first which all things considered ended as best as it could at the time. I hunger for such tales sometimes and that sick feeling inside isn’t sated by gruesome images such as those visceral attempts in psychological horror or thrillers such as Twin Peaks and A Cure for Wellness. I don’t enjoy what I often see or read but instead have some unique sense or taste for it at times, even to the point where I can appreciate the otherwise unnerving and undervalued merits of independent projects.

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The Future is Now


Blade Runner is a classic, not just in terms of filmography or overall cinematic narrative but quite literally from the source material itself. Pretty much everything that Philip K. Dick has penned has gone on to inspire greatness- look no further than Blade Runner and Man in the High Castle, inspired respectively by Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and The Man in the High Castle.

Therefore it only makes sense that eventually someone would want to cash in on the concept of such an ingenious universe and narrative created by the 1982 neo-noir film. Do not mistake Blade Runner 2049 for just another shameless plug and attempt at rejuvenating or remaking the most famous films of the twentieth century however, as it is being made for the actual purpose of furthering the plot and passing it onto the next generation. I think that’s an admirable concept at the least, regardless of how this film inevitably compares to the original.

Whereas the original saw Harrison Ford gunning down escaped replicants and hunting at the merest hint of an existential crisis of faith, it also featured a brilliant setting and amazing cinematography. Blade Runner 2049 doesn’t seem so different in that respect as it also features Harrison Ford in some capacity, probably has several twists and turns in store for its characters and the audience alike, and also looks to feature prominent and iconic cinematic moments. The trailers have been simple but beautiful and I love the color palette and world on display.

It’s interesting to note that the film also features such prominent personas as Harrison Ford (reprising his role from the original), Ryan Gosling (as the next Harrison Ford), Jared Leto (probably being all method and pissing his fellow compatriots off), Robin Wright (not playing Frank Underwood’s wife), and Lennie James (hopefully wielding a bo-staff here as well) among others.

Such a talented and renowned cast isn’t always the key to success or even a good film- Star Wars did well with relatively minor talent in the prime positions and the acting greats taking a backseat albeit giving ostensibly their best performances of all time in some cases. However, I think it is fair to say that given the talented roster we are more than likely in for some interesting performances from major and minor characters alike. Gosling himself has been portrayed in some interesting role of late (La La Land, The Nice Guys, The Place Beyond the Pines) and I’m eager to see him give his own take on a neo-Rick Deckard essentially.

Harrison Ford is the man behind the mystery of the original film and I wonder how its respective conspiracies will play into the larger picture in this particular narrative. Here’s hoping Ford doesn’t take a lightsaber to the gut in this one at least, regardless of his character’s evolving arc. You can’t keep killing your darlings, man…

I’m eager to see the callbacks to the original but also more so how the original’s format is evolved and worked with in this sequel. The newest trailer has been fairly promising and also hints at a remarkable amount of content for the movie to discuss and viewers to digest. Even the simplest bits of dialogue have potential ramifications and spoiler worthy meaning if you’ve seen the first film and notice the references. Both the teaser and first official trailer thus far have been far more teasing and hinting than most film trailers are ever in their entirety and I love that.

Some of the aspects that I’m most curious about are of course how they handle the existential crises both Deckard and K seem to be having, as well as how this will tie into the ultimately overarching plot concerning both Leto and Wright. There seems to be a great deal of content and equal measures action and time for resolved reverie, so I’m also anticipating a lot of revelations and unraveling of a widening conspiracy in Deus Ex fashion along the way. In some respects, this is more Deus Ex: Mankind Divided than even Deus Ex was. And that’s not a bad comparison to make if 2049 can deliver on the concepts firmly laid by the original and expand in the right direction.

When it’s all said and done, unlike films such as Rings, The Two Jakes, or Caddyshack 2, Blade Runner 2049 looks to actually be both meaningful and memorable and perhaps the best way to toast the legacy of a classic film. Rather than spitting on what has been established it seems as if the crew is embracing it and furthering that legacy in a respectable way. Ridley Scott does have a way with backing ambitious projects to say the least.

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I May be Excited…


May 2017 is a very unique and interesting time for most of us. Those attending universities are inevitably drawing nearer to the close of the academic year whilst the rest of us prepare for the hottest summer releases to eventually hit the market. Regardless of your preferences- be it literature, films, or games, there’s undeniably something here for all of us. In this particular blog I’ll just cover some of the films and games which have either piqued my interest already this month or remain to be judged as such when they release later on.

May 5th

This turned out to be quite an action-packed day on the film and gaming front and that comes in the form of Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Prey. I’m sure the majority of you know by now that both have largely lived up to their hype despite some discussion that GotG 2 doesn’t surpass its predecessor and that Arkane’s version of Prey is good but not quite great. Regardless of your thoughts on the matter, these two are definitely one of the high points of the month thus far and probably will still be up there come the end of May and beginning of June.

May 9th

On May 9th a relatively little-known game known as Strafe is set to be released and it’s been one of my anticipated titles for quite some time now. It’s essentially a retro-shooter set to the tune of old golden age titles such as Doom, with the exception that besides graphics it actually includes a lot of relatively new concepts as well. If you’re into that sort of thing and have a computer capable of running software that looks like it’s from the nineties, then hop on the bandwagon!

May 16th

Both Injustice 2 and The Surge release on this particular day and both titles are looking increasingly interesting for completely different reasons. The first Injustice was an excellent game and I cannot wait to see how the sequel compares. Respectively, Lords of the Fallen was a pretty good game and I cannot wait to see what Deck 13 does with the same essential Souls-like gameplay set to a futuristic robocalpyse tune. Honestly, I’m sure both will be at least pretty decent games and I cannot wait to see how it all works out in both cases.

May 19th

If it weren’t for the release of the highly anticipated and already pretty well-reviewed Alien: Covenant, I’d almost be tempted to insert the next edition of Fire Emblem in this slot as well. As is, Alien: Covenant looks to be quite a doozy and honestly it may be one of my most highly anticipated movies of the year, not just the month itself.

May 26th

I’m not quite sure what to make of this particular day because three completely different things are releasing and I’m not quite sure if any of them will live up to the hype, although I am positive that one of them will make a lot more money than it deserves to at this rate. Rime has been in development forever it seems like, so I’m really just excited to see it potentially coming out for once. Baywatch is an intriguing concept since it’s a remake with a fairly talented and unique cast (ft. The Rock everybody). And Pirates 5 will gross a ton of money despite really not adding much to a series that has only gone downhill since its third (well, first really) entry.

There are of course plenty of other goings on going on within the confines of the month of May, however these are some that personally seem to be most prominent on my radar in terms of films and gaming. If you’ve got anything else you’re looking forward to- that newest book in a beloved series or a long awaited album for example, then feel free to comment on what I’ve missed here.

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Small Crimes Review


Small Crimes recently released on Netflix at the end of April and is the next in the seemingly endless stream of independent or miniature films to be featured on the streaming service. Unlike some of the drivel that often comes with these second chance or low budget films being made and provided on the closed circuit, Small Crimes is actually a pretty competent story as well as darkly comedic satire on turning your life around after a series of unfortunate events.

Based upon the first book in a trilogy of novels written by Dave Zeltserman, Small Crimes sees its main protagonist- Joe Denton (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) released from prison following a short term stay for attempted murder and drug abuse. Each novel in the trilogy focuses on a more or less “bad” person who has recently been released from prison and the effects this has on their prospects as well as how well (or poorly) they manage to escape their past mistakes. In Joe’s case, things get pretty grim from the outset.

Something that sort of surprised me throughout the hour and a half film was how well it manages to handle some complicated ideas and simplify things down to human nature and emotional attachment. There are a lot of ideas juggled by the film but more or less it focuses on a handful and comes out better for it- no complicated plot twists here so much as there are ironic turns of events. Coster-Waldau is easily the highlight of the film as he brings the dirty cop and hitman vibe with equal measures narcissism and grit. Robert Forster, Gary Cole, and Molly Parker also play their respective roles quite well- Forster as Joe’s father, Cole as his former partner and another cop on the take, and Parker as a love interest and nurse.

The thing that Small Crimes does the best is get the job done, quite unlike Joe Denton in many ways. It isn’t immediately apparent that it carries almost a darkly comedic and satirical vibe although there are some instances where things take a dramatic turn for the worse in the most ironic way imaginable. It’s almost like there’s some sense of ex machina except every situation takes a turn for the worse rather than ever getting any better. It is very much a film about a man trying to redeem himself and despite everything being dragged back to his old ways and old world.

Although it has a relatively short run-time, one of the best things about Small Crimes is how well it wraps up and how cleanly it does so after a messy final act that quite literally butchers the majority of the main cast. What at first began as a film that hints at the violent nature of Joe’s world soon becomes a showcase of the reality of cause and effect as well as choice and consequence. What begins as a simple hit on a former mob boss who plans to spill the beans to the local district attorney quickly devolves into an all-out war that rages throughout the small town setting. Nobody is safe, not even Jaime Lannister.

On one hand, the film may not seem altogether too deep and it has been criticized for some of its simplicity and lack of complex motives or meaning. However, if you really look closely you will see there are so many intricate dynamics between the characters and Coster-Waldau predominately embodies this in his performance which really makes you feel as if he knows his fellow actors as intimately as his character does. There is a particularly ironic and tragic bit in the very end where Coster-Waldau gives so much weight to everything that has happened and the scene is veritably dripping with emotion despite him only giving a meaningful glance to his father and wiping a knife clean of prints.

Small Crimes isn’t a simple film by any means but a lot of what it does best is create simple complexities rather than needlessly confusing plot points and obscure references. It is concise and to the point which the story definitely benefits from and it has some interesting and colorful characters that range from extreme to deranged depending on the given situation. There aren’t many unnecessary revelations but the level to which pretty much all of its events tie-in and come together almost reminds me of Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction and the masterful way that it tied together seemingly unique stories.

Small Crimes is by no means perfect but in my mind it is one of the better offerings we’ve seen come straight to Netflix lately and if you’re a fan of darkly humorous and ironic films, there’s a strong possibility that you’ll enjoy this one as well. Think of it as somewhere between a gritty crime film and a typical Coen Brothers production- not quite one extreme or the other, but more a commentary on redemption than anything else.

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