Review: Triple 9

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When you live in a small town in the middle of nowhere, life is pretty great 99% of the time. The 1% it isn’t that great is when you want to see that small film on the big screen. In this case I drove 100 miles in one direction to see a film on opening weekend that I have been excited to see for months now. Sometimes the movie going general public surprises me. Here is a film that stars…well lets just say this film has so many great actors in it, it maybe easier to list who wasn’t in it. The film opens on the same weekend as the “blockbuster” Gods of Egypt, that happened to be this year’s first flop(who didn’t see that coming?). I really thought this crime noir might surprise the box office. Triple 9 finished 5th at the box office this weekend with $6.1 million and very little coverage and fanfare. With a budget of $28 million, this is far from a hit, but should still make a decent return on investment after its full theater run and DVD release.

So is this film worth going to the theater for or should you just wait for the DVD release to watch it at home some quite night?

This film has a great ensemble cast with a lot of noir fan favorites. Casey Affleck plays the clean cop that wants to make a difference. Woody Harrelson plays his Uncle who isn’t such a clean cop and has a lot of power in the police force. Chiwetel Ejiofor plays the head of the team of thieves who is not just doing this job for the money, but to save his son. Gal Gadot plays the mother of that son and her sister runs the Jewish Russian mob.  Kate Winslet plays the sister that is the head of the Jewish Russian mob. Anthony Mackie, Aaron Paul, Norman Reedus and Clifton Collins Jr. make up the heist team, some are cops, some ex-military. As a bonus,Teresa Palmer plays Affleck’s wife.

This makes a modern noir stew of people doing the wrong things for the right reasons, double crosses, crooked cops of various degrees, and just plain evil men and women using whoever they can to get what they want. All these characters could be the main character in their own neo-noir film and all are interesting and entertaining in their own ways. I liked all the actors in this film. The standouts in this film?  Woody Harrelson, though he does nothing new here, he is David Douglas Brown from Rampart with a little bit more control of his anger or Marty Hart from True Detective with less family issues, but still has plenty of problems to make him an interesting hardboiled detective. Kate Winslet plays something totally different than what I have seen her do in the past as the female mob boss with no heart. Both were great, just for different reasons.

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This film has some interesting cinematography with a very film noir feel. No, it isn’t in black and white, but you do get a feel of black and red, as you can see from the posters and I found that coloring throughout the film. John Hillcoat is one of those directors that consistently makes good films, but seems to stay under the radar. If you haven’t seen Lawless, do it! I look forward to seeing more from Hillcoat in the future.

So back to our original question, is this worth going to the theater to see? I enjoyed this film and found it an above average movie. This film doesn’t cover any real new ground, but twists up old themes into a story I found complex and well put together. The acting is top notch and though it isn’t an instant classic I would say noir fans will enjoy this film and it is worth going to a matinee to see it, even if that matinee is 100 miles away.

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Favorite Tidbit: Look for Michael Kenneth Williams in a small role like you have never seen him before. If you are not looking for him, you may miss him.

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Review: Kill Me Three Times

Australia has been making a lot of great neo noir films as of late. Does Kill Me Three Times continue the streak? Kill Me Three Times is directed by Kriv Stenders and written by James McFarland and has a cast from around the world.

This film uses film noir tropes, but doesn’t even attempt to put a new spin on them, for better or for worse. The story starts with our main star, Simon Pegg, down on the ground, looking like he is about to die and says so in classic voice over fashion. This of course reminded me of Sunset Boulevard. The camera rises into the sky to show a house on the beach and we go into a flashback. Pegg’s character is Charlie Wolfe, who is a fixer, private detective, assassin? The one original idea about Wolfe is that he is a professional killer who is a lousy marksman.

Since this film is told in flashbacks and out-of-order it is hard to talk about this film and not give out to many spoilers. It tells a story of a small group of characters who all do not like each other.

Our femme fatale for this film is Teresa Palmer playing Lucy Webb. She is married to a dentist and her brother owns a bar. She manipulates both of them into doing unspeakable things to get what she wants.

Sullivan Stapleton plays Lucy’s husband Nathan. Nathan has a gambling problem and is in debt to a bookie for $250,000 and needs to pay it within a week.

Callan Mulvey plays Lucy’s brother and owner of the bar, Jack Taylor. Jack doesn’t trust his wife and feels she is cheating on him, he maybe right.

Alice Braga plays Jack’s wife who is abused by Jack and in constant fear for her safety. She is looking for a way out-of-town and her marriage.

Luke Hemsworth plays a good guy who owns the local gas station. He is kind of clueless to what is happening around him and it maybe to late before he figures it out.

Bryan Brown plays a local cop who is also a heavy for the bookie Nathan owes money to.

The film is told in three parts, all leads us to why Wolfe is on the ground near death. We have illegal gambling, insurance fraud, murder, theft and double crosses through out the film.

Well I’m sorry to say this is not a great neo noir film from Australia. It’s not a bad film just not on par with some of the other films coming out of Australia lately. It is a shame, because I really liked the cast, Pegg is always entertaining and the two female leads are good. The story was not horrible, but didn’t bring anything new to the party. It does have its entertaining moments but is just missing something to put it over the top. There are worse ways to spend a lazy afternoon if you are looking for something new in the genre to watch, just don’t expect anything special.

Review: Cut Bank

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Cut Bank is a country noir written by Roberto Patino.  Patino has also worked on Sons of Anarchy and Prime Suspect so he has some good experience with crime and drama.  Patino looks to be also working on bringing The Carrion Birds by Urban Waite to the screen.  This book is on my to-read list and I hope to review it later on this blog.

Matt Shakman is the director, it is his first feature, but he is an accomplished television director.  Because he has worked on so many different kinds of television, he brings a little of everything to the film.  We have some black comedy, western, thriller and noir elements through out.

Liam Hemsworth and Teresa Palmer play our young couple that are desperate to leave the small town of Cut Bank, MT.  Even though they may be our lead characters, they may be the most boring ones of the film.

Billy Bob Thornton plays Palmer’s father and Hemsworth’s boss.  He doesn’t see much screen time but his interactions with Malkovich are great.

John Malkovich worked as a fire fighter in Glacier Park and actually lived in Cut Bank for a short time when he was in college.  He really wanted to do this film based on his love for the little town of Cut Bank and stayed attached to the project for over 2 years to be in it.  Malkovich plays the local sheriff, that is a fish out of water with this being his first murder case.

Michael Stuhlbarg may be the smallest name on the cast, but plays one of the most interesting parts.  He is a recluse in Cut Bank.  I don’t know if his character is based on real life serial killer Ed Gain, but if it is not, there are many similarities.  Ed Gain is also the basis for Norman Bates in Psycho, Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs and has also had his likeness appear in many other movies and documentaries.

Bruce Dern plays the mailman that everybody recognizes by sight, but not to many people really know.

Oliver Platt plays the post office official sent up from Washington D.C. to give a reward for the evidence of the crime.

I can not find who played the big mute Native American, but he was a cool character and I loved his non-verbal dialog.

So the story starts out with our lead couple in an open field, daydreaming about their future.  As Palmer practices her speech for an upcoming beauty pageant and Hemsworth films it, he notices a hooded man walk up to the mail man and shot him 2 times in the chest and gets the whole thing on film.  They take the evidence into town and turn it over to the Sheriff. The plot thickens and twists and turns as we try to figure out who’s on who’s side and who knows what.  By the way, what is in that lunch box?  This is a good story in a unique setting, worth watching for anybody looking for something new to watch in the genre.

New Movie Coming Soon: Cut Bank

This looks like an amazing country noir from my home state of Montana.  We got Liam Hemsworth and Teresa Palmer as our leads but also everything noir favorites Billy Bob Thornton, Bruce Dern , John Malkovich and Oliver Platt.  It is written by Roberto Patino who has worked on Sons of Anarchy so we should have a far amount of grit and grim in this movie.  The trailer has me excited and can’t wait to see it, how about you?