Showing posts with label heist movies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label heist movies. Show all posts

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Neo-Noir Heist Gangster Watch: No Sudden Move (2021)




Watched:  07/08/2021
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Soderbergh

I'm not going to bother with a plot summary for this one.  It's too twisty-turny, and anything I'd say would spoil the damn thing.  Plus, I want to watch it again almost immediately.

What is weird is that I've never not thoroughly enjoyed a movie by director Steven Soderbergh, but I also don't seek them out.  I've maybe seen 1/3rd or less of his output in film, and pretty much zero of his television (I did watch the first season of The Knick), but - I'll rewatch the movies when they're on and basically acknowledge I like his stuff.  

And this movie is no exception.  

Released directly to HBOmax in this year of 2021 as WB wades through the echoes of the HBOmax launch, COVID and whatever the AT&T execs thought were swell ideas before realizing "oh, damn, we don't know what we're doing and we keep setting the place on fire" with WB and dumping it... this one is easy to access if you've already got your HBOmax subscription - so go watch it.  No, seriously.

No Sudden Move (2021) stars a dozen people you know and like, and you'll grow to know and like a few more along the ways (this film was a reminder to go back and watch Uncut Gems to see Julia Fox in another project).  

Don Cheadle, Del Toro, David Harbour, Jon Hamm, Brenda Fraser, Kieran Culkin, Ray Liotta and Signal Watch fave Bill Duke.  And dozens and dozens more.  Standouts in an amazing cast include Amy Seimetz as Harbour's wife and young Noah Jupe as his teen son.  

What starts as a gangland picture becomes a heist picture, and all with a twinge of noirishness to it, more for some characters than others.  There's no small amount of commentary baked into the movie, so be ready for that - including the conflicts between ethnicities and races in 1950's Detroit - echoing through clearly to 2021.  It moves at a hell of a clip for a 2 hour film, and it's hard to know at the outset what's important and what's not - but assume it's all important.  Like most Soderbergh movies, it's satisfying because it uses all the parts of the animal in the stew.  

In an era where actors bemoan somehow having two Marvel movies per year means they can't get work or there's nothing else happening - it is a welcome change to see Soderbergh show up with his stock players and put on another show, even if it's not on the big screen.  

There's some technical choices made I have questions about, and I'm curious about, and we can discuss at some future date, but it was enough to make me wonder if I screwed up the settings on my TV.  

Anyhoo.  No Sudden Move is excellent.  I have no notes for the cast and crew.

And I have a question for anyone who wants to take the discussion offline.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Anderson Watch: Bottle Rocket (1996)




Watched:  06/30/2021
Format:  DVD (I own this DVD and totally forgot)
Viewing:  third
Decade:  1990's
Director:  Wes Anderson

Long before Wes Anderson became someone 32 year olds had strong opinions about on twitter, he released a small-budget picture through Columbia Pictures, which is likely a story unto itself.  I note big names like Polly Platt and James L. Brooks showed up in producer credits - and.. y'all, this is Anderson's first feature credit and his second credit at all on IMDB.  It's... weird.  

But the good news is that this small film is still remarkably watchable, and free of many of the gimmicks and Anderson-isms that would make those 32 year olds have strong opinions on twitter, while clearly and obviously being part of the Anderson oeuvre.  

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Hamilton Watch: Black Moon Rising (1986)




Watched:  04/23/2021
Format:  Amazon Prime
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  very, very 1980's
Director:  Harley Cokeliss

When you're a kid, you kinda like everything you see, and then - one day - you admit "that... maybe was sort of boring, or not what I wanted to watch".  The excitement of "movie" fades away, and you're admitting to yourself - even if the poster contained a cool car, a cool dude and a pretty lady, maybe that movie was not as good as the poster promised.  

I don't remember anything about Black Moon Rising (1986) from when I watched it on cable or VHS as a kid except that I didn't much care for it.  Well, I'd totally forgotten that the movie had any other known actors other than a pre-fame Tommy Lee Jones, but I was looking at it for a Friday night watch party and realized "oh, wow, this has Linda Hamilton!"  And I like me some Linda Hamilton.

Anyway - Linda Hamilton is probably one of two reasons to watch this movie.  She's doing her best in a movie that flatly doesn't deserve it.  She's wearing a crazy wig in the first scenes, so don't freak out when you see her in a doofy haircut.  The other reason is to see the kooky car they cast as The Black Moon.*

A deeply NOT street legal vehicle that looks designed to murder pedestrians and corner poorly, The Black Moon has turbo-boost, something we'd all seen on Knight Rider for years by the time this movie came out.  

Really, aside from Linda Hamilton's briefly glimpsed self, it feels a bit like a network TV movie.  

What's most alarming is that the titular car of the film is barely in the movie - you see more of Jackie Chan's supercar in Cannonball Run II.  And, as I mentioned, the movie doesn't do much with the car being "super".  In the same era as Blue Thunder, Air Wolf, Knight Rider, Street Hawk, etc...  putting a car out there as the central conceit better have *some* hook.  But, really, this movie is about the car getting boosted by Robert Vaughn's apparently wildly profitable car theft ring - a business so profitable I think they're suggesting he's building two skyscrapers in LA on the profits.  

Jones plays a thief in the employ of the US government who has stolen some data from Lee Ving of punk band Fear and, stumbling across the team bringing The Black Moon to LA to show it to investors, hides the data in the car...

You know what?  This movie isn't really worth a synopsis.  I can't recommend it.  It's slow as a heist movie, Jones isn't even great.  I read he was boozing a bit during this time, and that may be it.  Hamilton is fine, but she can't save this wreck.  

But, yeah:  Robert Vaughn, Linda Hamilton, Tommy Lee Jones, Bubba Smith, Lee Ving, Richard Jaeckel, William Sanderson, Keenan Wynn, a baby Nick Cassavetes...  it's kind of wild seeing all the folks go by.  The movie has a writing credit by John Carpenter, and advertised itself as "from the mind of", but it's telling that imdb trivia states he'd never seen it.

Oh well.  We can all still like Linda Hamilton.



*the wacky looking car is actually a fake version of the 1980 Wingho Concordia II, a real and unique car.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Watch Party Watch: Danger Diabolik (1968)




Watched 04/09/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1960's
Director:  Bava

I mean, man, you had to be there

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Noir Watch: Odds Against Tomorrow (1959)




Watched:  02/28/2021
Format:  Noir Alley on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's
Director:  Robert Wise

A year or two ago, twitter-friendly comics artist and classic movie buff Patch Zircher suggested the film Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) my direction.  This last weekend, the film aired on TCM's Noir Alley, so I was able to get the Eddie Muller discussion to frame the production and story.

The talent in the movie is undeniable - Signal Watch faves Robert Ryan and Gloria Grahame star, along with Ed Begley Sr. and Shelley Winters, and Harry Belafonte, who I think Jamie was eager to see (me too, maybe for different reasons).  But the talent behind the camera is also entirely notable.  Expert filmmaker Robert Wise was listed as both Director and Producer, Abraham Polonsky was secretly the writer (but blacklisted at the time, did it under cover), Joseph C. Brun as cinematographer, and the great Dede Allen in an early job as editor.  

Monday, November 16, 2020

Watch Party Watch: The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 (1974)




Watched:  11/13/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  third
Decade:  1970's (and sooooo 1970's)
Director:  Joseph Sargent

I saw this one the first time at the Paramount with absolutely zero context.  Back in the day, I'd just show up for whatever was showing during the Summer classics series, and it's how I first saw some of my "new favorite" films since college.  Third Man.  Sunset Boulevard.  and a host of others.  

And, yeah, I really like The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 (1974).  It's a tidy caper movie, sharing screen time between the heisters and the heisted, but with no set up - just the execution.  So, when four guys take a subway car hostage on a weekday afternoon in New York, it makes no sense to the guys running the subway - blue collar schlubs whose jobs it is to literally make the trains run on time - and it takes a minute they don't have to figure out what the hell is going on.  Let alone - how the baddies think they're going to get away with it (they're trapped in a tunnel, too).  

The gang is a classic heist gang.  The master mind.  The wild card.  The dutiful sergeant.  The guy who is there as the inside man.  But part of what makes the movie is that the guys on the other side of the mic aren't hostage negotiators - they're public employees suddenly in a very weird position, running communications from the heisters all the way to the Mayor.  And, of course, they're a bunch of 1970's New Yorkers.  

As the world I live in is project and operational management, I get a kick out of heist films.   The heist = a project - and the plan for the heist, accounting for everything that can occur and keeping your stakeholders managed sure feels familiar.    The opposite side is operations, which are interrupted by the interference of the heist.  And - man, as I am wont to say - people are terrible in a crisis.

One detail I like about the film is that no one is working in synch on the MTA or government side.  From the mayor dithering and worrying about votes to the internal disagreement in the subway tracking office where Matthau is trying to keep things in hand.  I assure you, there's almost always someone in a crisis who is more bent out of shape that they can't do their usual job than aware of the actual unfolding situation than makes rational sense.

The movie was released in '74, so the occupants of the jobs likely have been sitting in that office since the late 1950's.  There's a casual racism and sexism pervading the scene and characters, and the film does comment on it - albeit not in the way we're used to in 2020.  Brace yourself for some stereotypes (especially among the hostages) and among the main cast.  It's a movie about an imperfect world that has to suddenly deal with the unknown.  

It's a tight film - the run time almost occurs in about half of real-time.  We don't worry too much about the home lives of the characters, and we don't even really know the motivations or what led up to the heist.  But what we do get is a wild mix of talent in the film which makes it work.  Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, Jerry Stiller, Martin Balsam, Hector Elizondo, Doris Roberts, Julius Harris, Kenneth McMillan, and a bunch of other faces you'll recognize (I finally identified Robert Weil as also appearing in Hudsucker Proxy after it's bugged me every time I've watched this movie previously).   

Anyway, worth your time some time.


Friday, November 13, 2020

Friday Watch Party: The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3


Day:  Friday - 11/13/2020
Time:  8:30 Central


An outstanding cast!  New York in the 1970's!  Subways!

Personally, I think this is a heck of a movie, so we're not throwing something goofy at you.  


Monday, August 3, 2020

PODCAST: 113 - "A Fish Called Wanda" (1988) w/ SimonUK, Jamie and yours truly


Watched:  08/23/2020
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Charles CrichtonJohn Cleese

For more ways to listen

Jamie, SimonUK and yours truly revisit the 1988 favorite about a barrister, an animal lover, a moron, and Jamie Lee Curtis - all caught up in the fallout from a heist. Simon and Jamie can quote it, Ryan quite likes it, and we do our best not to talk about what makes something funny. And Ryan insists on further discussing JLC.




Music:
A Fish Called Wanda Suite - John Du Prez


Playlist:


Thursday, April 30, 2020

PODCAST: "The Killing" (1956) and "Asphalt Jungle" (1950) - Noir Watch! w/ JAL and Ryan



Watched:  04/03/2020 (Killing)/ 04/06/2020 (Asphalt)
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1950's
Directors:  Stanley Kubrick/ John Huston

More ways to listen

JAL and Ryan watch two noir classics. Both heists. Both starring Sterling Hayden. One directed by a young Stanley Kubrick, the other by John Huston. We dive into what makes them work, some terrific performances and which director was in his prime and which was sorting things out. It's a journey into movies that set the stage for every heist movie to come after.





Music:
Noir Watch Theme - The Unsuspected Main Theme - Franz Waxman
The Killing, Main and End Theme - Gerald Fried
The Asphalt Jungle Theme - Miklos Rosza


Noir Watch Playlist:


Sunday, March 1, 2020

Heist Watch: The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)



Watched:  02/29/2020
Format:  HBO
Viewing:  Second or third
Decade:  1990's

Back in the 90's, in an era where not every movie needed to kick-start a franchise or go for Oscar gold, sometimes you'd just have an entertaining movie.

It's been years since I last saw The Thomas Crown Affair remake from 1999, then 31 years after the release of the original - which I didn't see until the last ten years, but I recalled liking the 1999 edition, even if I did not feel like I needed to have it in my DVD collection.  Stars Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo are charismatic and effortless in their parts, the story isn't a mind-bender, but engaging, and the supporting cast - while distinctly 90's-ish in stance and dialog, works well around our leads.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Heist Watch: Cash On Demand (1962)



Watched:  01/08/2020
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1960's

I'd heard Hammer produced some thrillers and whatnot, but I'd not really seen any - my exposure to the studio's output had been mostly limited to their horror films.

Shown as a Christmas treat by Noir Alley's Eddie Muller - who fessed up that it's more noir adjacent than noir - this small-scale production is a terrific sort-of real-time story of a robbery at a bank branch in a small town well outside of London.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Noir Watch: Kansas CIty Confidential (1952)


Watched:  11/27/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's

Somehow I'd never seen Kansas City Confidential (1952), but if I'd known it starred John Payne, Coleen Gray, Lee Van Cleef and Jack Elam, I would have tried a lot harder to see it sooner.

A windy, twisty heist caper - this one is told from the outside as John Payne plays an ex-con who is accidentally/ sorta framed for a bank heist when masked robbers pull a job worth $1.2 million (that's about $11.6 million now), using a duplicate of his flower delivery van.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Noir/ Heist Watch: The Asphalt Jungle (1950)



Watched:  06/03/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  7th?  Unknown
Decade:  1950s

I know I throw a lot of soft recommendations around, saying "oh, you might like this" or "it's worth catching", but The Asphalt Jungle (1950) was one of those hit-me-like-lightning movies the first time I watched it, and, in a lot of ways, I've been chasing that same high ever since.  That viewing was way back in college from a rented tape on a 20" TV, and I've seen and owned various copies of the film ever since.  Frankly, when I just looked up the movie on this blog, I assumed I'd written it up 3 or 4 times, but, instead, I'm just finding mentions of it tucked into other posts.  So, it's been a while.

In some ways, in 2019 there's little new in The Asphalt Jungle - the film is one of those that reset the path for heist movies and created the template from which heist movies would flow from then til now.  But for a movie popping up just a few years after World War II, and because of the influence, it feels shockingly modern (especially for modern TV more than movies, which are largely toothless in comparison these days).  It's 3/5ths getting to and getting through the heist, and 2/5ths things going wrong and the fallout as our ensemble tries to sort out the mess they're in.

Friday, May 17, 2019

PODCAST: "The Italian Job" (1969) w/ SimonUK and Ryan



Watched:  05/07/2019
Format:  DVD
Viewing:  Third
Decade:  1960's


SimonUK finally gets around to talking about one of his favorite films, a heist film about a scrappy team pulling off the impossible with cheer and good spirits. Honestly, it's mostly just a love fest for a movie both Simon and Ryan enjoy immensely.




Music:

Get a Bloomin' Move On/Self Preservation Society - Don Black/Quincy Jones, The Italian Job OST

The mentioned poster for The Italian Job that seems to have nothing to do with the film:



SimonUK Cinema Series:

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Noir-ish Watch: High Sierra (1941)



Watched:  03/21/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  at least fourth
Decade:  1940's

I've surely written this movie up before, but it's a great heist flick.  Maybe not Ashpalt Jungle good, but one for the pantheon.  And, it was a breakout movie for Bogart, hot on the heels of Petrified Forest.  And, of course, it broke Ida Lupino, which is a boon to us all.


Monday, December 3, 2018

Noir Watch: The Killing (1956)


Watched:  12/02/2018
Viewing:  Unknown.  6th?
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Decade:  1950's

First of all, "The Killing" that occurs in this movie is not an assassination.  It could refer to about five or ten different things, and I suppose that's intentional.  I'd start with "they're gonna make a killing on this heist", but, of course, this is a 1950's-era heist movie, so you know it's not ending in sunshine and flowers.

The Killing (1956) sits on a curious edge when it comes to crime dramas/ noir.  Marking maverick, young filmmaker Stanley Kubrick's first foray into studio-backed cinema, the movie feels part and parcel of the noir movement with a structure and an ending not atypical for a dime-store crime novel, retaining those rough edges that some noir eschewed.  As much as I like The Asphalt Jungle and Rafifi - likely The Killing had more impact and reflects more of where the heist genre would go - especially in American cinema (at least marginally).

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Sunday, July 22, 2018

PODCAST! Bond Watch: Goldfinger (1964)



Watched:  07/21/2018
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Unknown - maybe 7th?
Decade:  1960's

It's a PODCAST!

(possibly NSFW) It's "Goldfinger", Ryan's favorite Bond movie. SimonUK is back to help Ryan sort out how much he can say Honor Blackman's character's name out loud whilst being recorded. Join us as we say a lot of nice things about this iconic/ seminal film in the Bond franchise, some of its oddities and how it is just super problematic in 2018.





Get your Signal Watch Podcast on the format of your choice!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Noir Watch: Crime Wave (1953)



Watched:  05/28/2018
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM - DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade 1950's

Sometimes casting can save the day for a fairly standard plot in a movie - it can be a real pleasure to see your favorite actors, character or otherwise, play out the parts in your boilerplate movie.  Other times that same old jazz standard gets a new look, a new interpretations and the execution is enough to make you stand up and applaud.