Category Archives: Crime film

MIFF reportback #3: Phoenix

phoenix-2Sometimes I wonder whether it’ll ever be safe to venture back into the cinema without having to watch yet another incredibly complex, supposedly sexually transgressive, domestic wannabe neo-noir that looks and feels like another variation on Gone Girl. Which is what I really liked about the 2014 German thriller, Phoenix, part of the 2015 Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF). It was none of those things.

There is no artifice or unnecessarily complexity in the plot of Phoenix. It is just a solid, engaging, almost pitch perfect historical thriller that also makes some interesting observations about the nature of memory and collective historical amnesia in the face of great tragedies like the Holocaust.

Nelly (Nina Hass) is a former singer and concentration camp survivor. The war has left her damaged, physically via a gunshot wound to her head, and psychologically due the trauma of what she has experienced. She is brought back to post-war West Berlin under the protection of her friend, Lene (Nina Kunzendorf). Lene organises for Nelly to have facial reconstruction surgery, after which the plan is for Nelly to put her financial affairs in order – she is heir to a substantial amount of money – and the two of them to travel to Palestine to help establish a homeland for the Jews.… Read more

MIFF report back #2: Sunrise

Sunrise

A key question for me from Partho Sen-Gupta’s second feature film, Sunrise, which played as part of the 2015 Melbourne International Film Festival, is how does one make a gripping crime film out of a pervasive social problem like child trafficking? If this was indeed Sen-Gupta’s intention, I’m not sure he has entirely succeeded. That said, there is a lot to recommend it.

The narrative spine of Sunrise is fairly straightforward. Joshi is middle aged Inspector working in a poorly resourced unit of the Mumbai police. His life has been in tatters ever since a person or persons unknown kidnapped his young daughter, Aruna, in front of her school years ago. The crime has destroyed his wife’s sanity and threatens to do the same to him. Compounding his trauma is the fact that the unit he works in deals with other parents who have had similar experiences. Joshi and his colleagues are largely unable to help these people, usually because their resources and methods are no match for those of the criminals responsible for the disappearances.

Joshi spends his nights obsessively searching for Aruna. He thinks he sees her everywhere. One night he stumbles out of the torrential monsoon rain into a nightclub called Paradise. Through the crowd Joshi spies Aruna amongst a group of young girls dancing on stage.… Read more

Stick with me son and I’ll make you a star: 5 great Bryan Brown roles

still-of-bryan-brown-in-fx-(1986)-large-pictureOn a whim several weeks ago I re-watched the 1986 movie, F/X. Although largely forgotten now, F/X was a big deal at the time, at least here in Australia. This was mainly because it starred a local actor, Bryan Brown. Brown was working in Hollywood for much of the latter part of the eighties and an Australian star getting top billing in a Hollywood film was not as common as is now. It must have done well in the US, too, because there was a sequel, imaginatively titled F/X 2, released in 1991 and also starring Brown.

The plot of F/X involved an Australian special effects technician, Roland ‘Rollie’ Tyler (Brown), who for some unspecified reason can’t return to home and is making a living working on various B-grade horror and crime flicks in New York. A cop attached to the witness protection program, Lipton (Cliff de Young), approaches Rollie to help out with a senior member of the New York mob, DeFranco (played by Jerry Orbach) who has turned informant. Lipton believes the best way to ensure the mob won’t come after DeFranco is to stage his assassination and he wants to pay Rollie a lot of money to help with the technical aspects of making sure it looks realistic, including acting as the assassin.… Read more

Ephemera from the 1971 film, Get Carter

Michael Caine and Geraldine Moffat

Michael Caine as Jack Carter and Geraldine Moffat who played Glenda

Following on my essay earlier this week in the Los Angeles Review of Books on Ted Lewis, his Jack Carter books and the film adaption of the first book, Get Carter (which you can check out here if you if you are interested), I thought readers might be interested in a selection of ephemera from the books and film.

The 1971 movie, directed by Mike Hodges, does not need any introduction here. While it is by no means the best british crime movie ever made, as some would claim, it is a good one and has been very influential, in terms of plot, characterisation and visual feel.

Enjoy.

Get Carter movie poster version 1

Get Carter

Get carter poster 1973

Get Carter poster 2

Get Carter poster 1999

Michael Caine and Ian Hendry behind the scenes

Behind the scenes shot featuring Michael Caine and Ian Hendry

Michael-Caine, Petra-Markham-Rosmarie-Dunham-Dorothy-White1

Michael Caine with the female cast of Get Carter (courtesy of the official Ian Hendry website)

Ian Hendry with Michael Caine and producer Michael Klinger, Newcastle upon Tyne (courtesy of the official Ian Hendry website)

Get Carter US lobby card 1972

1972 US lobby card featuring Caine and Alun Armstrong

Get Carter, 1971 lobby card, featuring Britt Ekland

Jack's Return Home, Michael Joseph, 1970

Jack’s Return Home, Michael Joseph, 1970

Carter, Pan Books, 1970

Carter, Pan Books, 1971

Giallo caine

An Italian giallo version of Ted Lewis’s novel, Get Carter

Get Carter s

Album Cover to Get Carter score by Roy Budd

Caine and Moffat

Caine and Moffat redux

Carter Village

For those who are interested, there are a lot more terrific behind the scenes images from Get Carter here on the official Ian Hendry website.… Read more

Get Carter, again

Ted 71 on set of GC

British author Ted Lewis on the set of the 1971 film, Get Carter

It is impossible to discuss British author Ted Lewis’s 1970 novel, Jacks Return Home, without mentioning its better-known 1971 film adaptation,Get Carter. Rarely has such an influential crime novel dwelt so deeply in the shadow of its cinematic adaptation. In the wake of the movie’s success, the book was quickly retitled Get Carter (which is how I’ll refer to it) and the main character forever associated with British actor Michael Caine, then at the height of his preternaturally long acting career, in a snappy suit and tie, grimly looking over the barrel of a shotgun.

Not that anything else Lewis wrote was particularly successful. As British crime writer Ray Banks observed in a piece on the site The Rap Sheet: “As far as forgotten books go, you could make a claim for pretty much anything Ted Lewis wrote.” But what Lewis lacked in sales, his books, particularly Get Carter, made up for in the glowing praise of crime writers, nearly all of it posthumous.

Get Carter and its subsequent prequels, Jack Carters Law (1974) and Jack Carter and the Mafia Pigeon (1977), have recently been rereleased by Syndicate Books, which marks the first time they have been available in North America for 40 years.… Read more