Archive for the ‘Crime/Detective’ Category

Never made it past episode 5 of Breaking Bad. So, it’s remarkable that I finished season one of the prequel series Better Call Saul. Highly recommended by friends and all kinds of ‘best tv series’ articles, this show focuses on Saul Goodman, a scam artist turned lawyer turned runaway.

The season starts with the main character working at a Cinnabon in a shopping mall, visibly scared when he spots someone who may have recognized him. Great start! Why is he scared? Why did he run away? Why is a lawyer working at a fastfood bakery?

You won’t get the answers in the first season. In fact, ten episodes into the story and there are even more unanswered questions. Like why the lawyer is known as Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad, but introduced as James McGill in Better Call Saul. 

The main focus of this first season is an introduction to the crazy world of this intriguing lawyer. We get to learn a bit about his past as a scam artist, his troubled relationship with his brother, his love for a colleague and his constant doubts about doing the right thing. This guy is funny, clever, has a heart of gold, is ambitious… But at the same time relatively clumsy, awkward, lonely and constantly flirting with failure. Luckily, this season also focuses on other characters. We get to learn a bit more about the girlfriend and the brother and Mike Ehrmantraut, a former police officer working as a security agent with a troubled past. He’s as much of a treat as the main lead!

As an introducing season it’s great. It’s slow paced. But that’s a good thing. Sure, the thought of having to wait five more seasons to understand why this person ends up working at a Cinnabon is frustrating. But the characters are intriguing and everything is filmed, written and edited well. You want to watch season 2. It’s binge-worthy. But maybe, the whole crime aspect of the show may ruin it, like it did for Breaking Bad. Do we really want to watch yet another show about drug dealers?

www.imdb.com/title/tt3032476/

This Flemish/Dutch crime series is available to watch on Netflix around the globe. Give it a chance. It’s good. Not sure if it’ll appeal to a larger international audience, but it’s well made, well acted and well directed.  The final episode is a bit of a disappointment (a cliffhanger hints at a second season), but in general this is great stuff.

Two cops (one Flemish, one Dutch) have to go undercover at a camping ground to acquaint a notorious drug dealer (in xtc). It’s a tough job, because. the drug dealer distrusts everyone and puts on a great act. He’s the fun loving joker to his superficial neighbors, but a ruthless killer to those who cross him. Never thought about it during the show, but Tony Soprana comes to mind right now. Which is not a good thing, because it doesn’t make the show unique.

What makes it unique is the setting and the many references to Flemish-Dutch culture. Which may get lost to an international crowd. The acting is top notch though. Tom Waes, who plays one of the undercover cops, is a popular tv presenter (with few acting credits to his name) and is surprisingly good. He is very convincing. His undercover partner is played by Anna Drijver, who does a great job in giving her character more than is scripted. The best acting is done by Frank Lammers, the intriguing drug lord, and Elise Schaap as his naive wife. Those are just the four main leads, but all the acting is great.

The story is a typical crime story. There are a few twists, but they are never really surprising. In the end it’s two undercover cops who need to befriend a drug lord and lure him into a drug deal that the police can bust.

But, not in New Jersey or Medellin. Just in the unappealing camping ground setting on the border between Flanders and the Netherlands. Cool trailer though.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt7263154

There are fewer tigers living in the wild than living in captivity. Intriguing stuff for an in-depth documentary series about those owners of big cats, who either operate private zoos or sanctuaries for mistreated animals. And the show starts off well by showing two of them: Joe Exotic, who runs a big cat zoo and Carole Baskin, who runs a sanctuary. They are not really represented as good or evil as both have a different love for the animals, but one thing is clear: they hate each other’s guts. And before you know it, you’re not watching an animal cruelty documentary, but a reality tv crime story with more twists than any far-fetched fiction series out there.

The editing and storytelling are really well done in this series. Each episode ends with a semi-surprising cliffhanger, which makes you want to watch another 45 minutes of this ongoing soap between different characters that have more in common than they want. They are all crooked, lying, marginalized nitwits with an obsession for big cats. And still, in their idiocy, they are intriguing and somehow charming as well.

It’s not a chronological story, which frustrates at the end, but works well for your entertainment as pieces of interviews are cut and edited in such a way that a new story unfolds every minute. It’s really well edited. You have to give them credit for that. And it’s also great that it’s not a good vs bad documentary.

Apart from the main characters there are so many different side characters in this show that you kind of want a spin off series or a sequel.

It’s very bizarre. It’s very American. Some say this is great tv during corona time. But it also makes you think that maybe, humankind deserves this crisis we are in.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt11823076/

Confusing at first, but continuously intriguing as the series goes on, this third season of True Detective is a great watch.

Two kids get missing and detectives Hays and West have to figure out what happened when one of the children is found dead. During three different periods in time…  Once in 1980 when the crime happens. Another time in 1990 when a new element re-opens the case. And finally in 2015 when a true crime tv reporter wants to focus on the case by interviewing detective Hays, now in his seventies.

It’s slow and some of the dialogues sound wooden, but overall this is fascinating television. For starters, finally this is a crime story without a major plot twist at the end. It’s cool to actually feel rewarded for thinking along with the detectives. By episode 3 or so you kind of already know what happened and even though some details are missing, it’s great to see that what you are thinking is actually correct. This is great! Because that’s the most annoying thing about detective series: the ridiculous plot twists at the end. The end just makes sense. Which may be boring. But it’s great.

Secondly, the seventy year old detective Hays suffering from Alzheimers is another excellent addition to the story. The disease adds confusion to both the detective and the viewer, but also helps to concentrate on what is a real memory and what is not.

And ultimately, this is also a great depiction of relationships between people who seem to have a strong, yet unconventional bond. The partnership between the two detectives is captivating and the relationship between detective Hays and his wife is even more gripping. The professional and personal tensions between the characters are more exciting than the actual crime.

Maybe that’s the reason why this crime series is so great. The crime itself isn’t the main focus. And that’s what makes it different. And thus, good. However, this only works when the writing is clever and moreover when the acting is phenomenal. And that’s the case. Mahershala Ali is so incredibly good. He should have won awards for this part !!!!! That man is acting gold. Stephen Dorff is also impressive and should also be praised. Carmen Ejogo gives so much mystery to her character that it cannot just be directed. And Michael Graziadel only has two or three scenes, but the one in the bar is method acting perfection.

Yep.

Very much impressed.

ww.imdb.com/title/tt2356777

The northern French city of Roubaix has a great art museum in a former Art Deco swimming pool and there’s a shopping outlet on former textile factory grounds. But apart from that, it’s a hellhole. To use Trump vocabulary.

So, it’s a surprise that a movie gets released set in this unappreciated part of France.

Not watching the trailer, not reading the synopsis and just going for the positive movie title will leave you horrified.

This is not a delightful movie. It’s dark. And depressing. And makes you never want to go to Roubaix at all. The city’s tourism office will not have approved.

No.

The great Roschdy Zem is a police officer in this marginalized town and leads a team that has to go out at night dealing with marginalized town acts of crime and despair. The first half of the movie just shows a series of things that can go wrong at night. Cars being set on fire, girls being raped, thefts, burglaries and arson. The second half of the movie focuses on two women being accused of having murdered their old age neighbor.

It’s a weird movie and the second half would have worked better as a stage play. The dialogues are well written and the acting is okay, but as a movie it totally falls flat.

Roschdy Zem cannot save his movie. But he is impressive. As always.

www.imdb.com/title/tt8359840

Hustlers – *

Posted: January 21, 2020 in 2019, Crime/Detective, Drama, USA, X

The directing of this juicy crime story is great. The way it all is filmed, set up and edited is promising for future projects… The soundtrack is well chosen and some of the acting is great.

Sounds positive, right?

The story however is boring. It may be based on true events, but it is utterly unappealing.

Some female strippers have come up with a scheme to strip their potential clients of all their money without having to do something degrading. They flirt and then they drug them and charge their credit card. But before it gets to that, the viewers needs to get introduced to the hard world of strippers, where women are victims and are only there to make money and where men are, well, chauvenist pigs.

Yawn. 

And why on earth do Lizzo and Cardi B have irrelevant cameo’s in this movie? 

And still, some nicely shot scenes and a different approach to storytelling makes it bearable. 

www.imdb.com/title/tt5503686

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You: Season 2 – **

Posted: January 16, 2020 in 2019, Crime/Detective, TV series, USA, XX

Damn.

This sequel is a drag. The first season was so good. Yet this time around the story doesn’t excite. Joe moves to LA, meets a new woman he falls in love with and starts to stalk. But that’s not the core of the story anymore.

Nothing is really the core of the story. There’s a bit of everything going on. Sure, that’s a good change from the first season where the love/stalk story was too present. But then again, that was also its coolness. Maybe it’s the setting. Los Angeles isn’t New York. And its inhabitants just aren’t quite like the ones of the Big Apple. Most of the new characters in this show are tiresome stereotypes of Angelenos. And that’s the biggest flaw.

Not a season to binge watch.

 

Knives Out – **(*)

Posted: December 22, 2019 in 2019, Crime/Detective, USA, XX1/2

This is quite an entertaining, well-scripted, well-edited whodunnit with some great acting performances and a few interesting plot twists. The character depiction is very superficial though, which is disappointing, And the suspense never really kicks in.

A rich publisher is found dead in his study. It looks like suicide, at least that is what the police have concluded. But a private detective is hired to exclude foul play. He wants to hear the version of events by everyone who was present the night before the death/murder.

The set up is great, but somehow it doesn’t make sense that a few characters, who were present, are not heard by the police/detective at all.

But, still, it’s really good. Not really predictable, but the end doesn’t come as a surprise either.

www.imdb.com/title/tt8946378

The Irishman – *

Posted: December 8, 2019 in 2019, biopic, Gangster Movie, USA, X

Wow. Glad to not have bought a cinema ticket for this 3,5 hour Scorsese mob tale.

No, it’s not the best movie of the century. Maybe if this is your very first mobster movie you might be impressed. Not if you have seen dozens. It is not really terrible. It’s just too long. And nothing in the direction feels like it’s been done by a master genius. Martin Scorsese disappoints. And so does Robert De Niro. And what’s with the ‘special effects’ making the actors look younger? It’s silly. So are many discussion and many scenes that add nothing to the story.

The acting is not good (apart from Joe Pesci maybe, even though he doesn’t actually do much) and the story isn’t really exciting. None of the characters are sympathetic. And there’s no suspense. The main character works his way up to being some kind of bodyguard for the most notorious union leader of the US, who mysteriously disappears. One google search reveals what happened. Especially if you read about what book this movie is based on.

Maybe. Tonight just wasn’t the right time to watch a mob movie with aging actors.

www.imdb.com/title/tt1302006

 

A young lawyer, working for the public prosecutor’s officer, has been living in guilt for many years. As a child, she was the snitch that made her older brother go to jail for drug trafficking. Unwillingly of course. But her father always made her believe she did the right thing.

When she’s working on a case in which her incarcerated brother is involved, she gets drawn into his world. First out of curiosity, later out of necessity. An act of beneficence gets her in trouble. She forges a document to make sure her brother gets a better treatment in jail. But this illegal misstep is the start of one rollercoaster ride of misery and drama. Her entire career is ruined. Unless she helps a detective by infiltrating into the brotherhood gang that her brother is leading…

Though flawed, this is a very enthralling series. It’s a mix of a prison drama and a detective story with a main lead that plays a double part. It’s set in Brazil, so the drama is very dramatic. But it’s also very violent and grim. It deals about police brutality and corruption and a lot of murderous crime. People get beaten, tortured, killed by the dozens. It brings you the exact opposite of the cheerful and colorful image that Brazil has in many ignorant foreigner’s eyes. This is one dark tale. Even Cidade de Deus has characters laughing and dancing at one point. This one has zero joyful smiles.

But it’s worth the watch. Noreen Costa is phenomenal as the main lead. She not only needs to convince the detective that he can trust her. She also needs to convince the brotherhood that they need her. And more important: she needs to convince the audience watching at home that she can pull this off. Hermila Guedes is equally excellent as the wife of the imprisoned brother. In a very macho setting, these two actresses and their characters keep the show from being a total waste of time. Girl power!

The male leads are only slightly less impressive. Danilo Grangheia as the detective is great. So is Seu Jorge as the brother and leader of the prison gang. We just don’t get to know their characters that well. It’s all very superficial and the show fails to create empathy or sympathy for them. Where you believe the women immediately and you understand their actions from start to finish, it’s much harder to understand what these male characters are all about.

The story may be full of inaccuracies and illogical situations, but the storytelling is well done. Each episode ends with a good cliffhanger that make you want to continue watching. And the ideas are quite clever and flow in a constant entertaining pace. The last episode is a bit too much though. It’s inconsistent and feels rushed. It also isn’t conclusive. There’s no end. Not even an open end. A lot of questions remain.

So watch this by the millions so netflix will make the second season. Because we need to know what’s going to happen next !!!

www.imdb.com/title/tt8905964