(Reema Kagti, 2012)
I don't think Aamir Khan cracks a smile once in this film. He's a stern, committed, no-nonsense cop investigating the suspicious accident - or suicide - or murder of famous actor Armaan Kapoor (Vivian Bhatena) who crashed his car into the sea while driving alone late at night in an area that wasn't near his home or movie set. And he's also struggling with his own demons, particularly the drowning death of his young son and the distancing it's causing with his wife (Rani Mukerjee). But when he meets a beautiful hooker (Kareena Kapoor) who seems to have some of the keys to what happened on the night of Kapoor's death, clues start to fall into place while danger increases. This is a decent mystery-crime film with some excitement to it that isn't too derailed by inappropriate music or excessive sentiment - though they are there and do slow it down somewhat - but I'm not sure that the similarity of one major plot point to a similar element in
really works in the end. Anyway overall enjoyable enough and I really liked Mukerjee, have to look for her in more stuff.
(Mary Lambert, 1987) (re-watch)
NOTE: this film isn't listed under "crime" on IMDb, though I think it used to be; there is in fact a significant crime around which the whole film's plot turns so I'm including it.
Only dim memories of this - I'm pretty sure I saw it not long after it came out on VHS, or perhaps after Sea of Love
made star Ellen Barkin a household name for a little while. I remember hating it at the time and my IMDb rating of it was 2 - and being a generous guy, I don't have a lot of ratings that low. But I didn't remember much besides Barkin, naked or in a red dress. And I didn't actually remember that the director was a woman, though when I saw her name I thought for some reason of David Lynch, with whom she doesn't seem to have any association. Strange how the mind works, because the film when you watch it does seem if not Lynchian than in the same sphere of noir-surrealism-dream that he has often inhabited - and the fact that Isabella Rossellini plays a major role here, the year after Blue Velvet
, also adds to the feeling. At any rate Barkin wakes up in a dirty, torn red dress at an air field in Spain - when she's supposed to be in southern California (or Nevada, Arizona - somewhere in the southwest, I don't remember and it's not important) preparing for a skydiving stunt with her husband Martin Sheen. She tries to recover her memories of the last couple of days and earlier memories flood in also as she reconstructs an affair with Gabriel Byrne (Barkin's husband) and comes to believe that she has committed a murder - there was blood all over that bright red dress. At the end we do find out that in fact she was involved in a crime but
the victim was herself, killed by Rossellini in a jealous rage, and we have been watching a ghost's memories the whole time. So this is the second film in a row I watched all-unknowing that mirrors the central plot element of The Sixth Sense. Weird huh?
This isn't deserving of that 2 rating but I understand why I felt that way - it's a mess, often verging toward narrative incoherence, and in this case - unlike in the case of Lynch or for that matter Norman Mailer with his Tough Guys Don't Dance
another erotic-noir with Rossellini from the same period - it's hard to tell whether it's intended, and it doesn't add up to making the film that compelling, though it's not entirely uninteresting either and it's nicely shot and boasts a pretty interesting cast. The payoff just seems lame here, unfortunately.
3. Hero and the Terror
(William Tannen, 1988)
Another masterpiece from the greatest film studio in the world
Slowly moving towards completing Chuck Norris' filmography - at least from his "peak" period, the 1970s-80s (am I really ever going to watch Top Dog
or Forest Warrior
? Don't answer that); I only have the Missing in Action
sequels and Breaker Breaker
left. Most - maybe all - Norris films fall into one of two categories: tolerable to decent films that had good scripts and competent directors, and garbage films that had neither. A corollary is that if Chuck or his brother Aaron had more obvious control over the film, the quality will certainly be less - Lone Wolf McQuade
being a slight exception. This alas is in the shit category along with 80% of Chuckie's filmography, though it has a better cast than usual - Chuck's partner (he's a cop of course, the "hero") is Steve James, the bad guy ("the terror") is Jack O'Halloran of Superman
fame (and not RIchard Kiel who he looks an awful lot like in some scenes) and Ron O'Neal is the mayor and Billy Drago is on hand as a rather weird psychiatrist. And it's not such a bad story as cops-n-bad-guys stories go - the terror, a nutcase who kills just for fun, has escaped prison and seeming death and is probably holed up somewhere, and our hero has to get him; the possibilities for fun within a huge old Art Deco movie theater are there, but they just aren't utilized in any interesting way and it all ends up dull and predictable without even much in the way of good fight sequences.
4. Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
(Cathy Yan, 2020) (cinema)
So this was deemed a "flop" almost instantly, having underperformed expectations - but looking on BOM I see that the $85 million production has almost hit $200 million worldwide - and I'd say this film could benefit from some of the new films being yanked for Covid-19 fears - theaters will have to keep some older releases still going. So quick are the soothsayers to scream hit or flop these days, and I certainly have to wonder if some of it is the overt feminist attitude on display throughout this film. "Hah this is failing just like Elizabeth Warren's campaign, nobody wants to see a man-hater". I just get that vibe from a lot of the discourse today.
Anyway... IMO this doesn't deserve the scorn, and it certainly doesn't deserve to flop any more than a lot of other crap out there, some of which makes billions. But it's not all that good either and unless you are charmed by the characters/actresses - Margot Robbie as the eponymous Harley, a psychiatrist-turned-wackaloon-petty-criminal, Rosie Perez (nice to see her in a major film after what seems decades) as a put-upon non-nonsense cop, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as the vengeance-fueled Huntress, Jurnee Smollett-Bell as singer/martial artist Black Canary and Ella Jay Basco as the precocious kid that seems necessary to round out this group of misfits for some reason - you won't give a shit. Fortunately I was charmed to some extent - I think Smollett-Bell is the real standout here and I for one would probably see a Black Canary film - and while the Deadpool
-style regular breaking of the fourth wall has gotten old (I mean I think it was old in Deadpool
) and Robbie isn't as funny as Ryan Reynolds, the action is almost all pleasingly grounded in semi-reality and I guess the neon-grittiness of Gotham worked pretty well too. The plot - all these women looking separately, until they have to team up, for this big diamond that the psychopathic crime lord (Ewan McGregor having fun) also wants - is extremely disposable. The one unforgivable sin the film makes is to showcase a slowed-down-to-dirge cover of Pat Benatar's signature song "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" - that's almost enough for me to deduct a ratings point right there. Anyway, overall, meh to watchable.