LFF Day 7: The Birth of a Nation, Dog Eat Dog, & I Am Not A Serial Killer

The Birth of a Nation

4 Stars (4 / 5)

Reclaiming the title of D.W. Griffith’s feverishly racist silent epic, this ardent biography of conciliatory preacher turned revolutionary firebrand Nat Turner — written, directed by, and starring Nate Parker — makes a case for bloody retribution as the necessary, even inevitable, response to institutionalized evil.…

Black Mass is the parable of Johnny Depp and the Good Acting Choice

3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

 

Everybody loves a good gangster film.

Whether you prefer the shadowy family drama of The Godfather or the stunning expose of Goodfellas, the criminal lifestyle lends itself to a myriad of different portrayals. In the case of Black Mass, it’s the codependent relationship between the Irish-American Mob in South Boston AKA Southie and the FBI.…

Ryūzō and His Seven Henchmen is a bit of a rabble

2.5 Stars (2.5 / 5)

 

For those among us who know him only for cult TV export Takeshi’s Castle, the news that Takeshi Kitano has just made an absurdist comedy might not be surprising.

For fans of both his double-act “Beat” persona and his work starring in/directing the resurrected Zatoichi franchise, Ryūzō and His Seven Henchmen promises cinematic mana.…

Legend is a monument to Tom Hardy’s acting talents

3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

 

Looking at the poster for Brian Helgeland’s latest film, Legend, you’d be forgiven you were suffering from (a slightly inexact) double vision.

The names are the same, but the men below them aren’t. Tom Hardy stars along Tom Hardy (himself) as Reginald and Ronald Kray, the notorious twins who held Sixties London in a grip of both fear and awe.…

Escobar: Paradise Lost thrives in the shadow of The Godfather

4 Stars (4 / 5)

 

A feared and beloved crime family patriarch relaxes on a compound surrounded by loved ones, there to celebrate a special occasion. There’s music, and one of the clan has brought along their significant other.

So far so The Godfather, though the setting of Esobar: Paradise Lost is more akin to the film’s 1974 sequel, the isolated townships, dirt roads, and tropical forests of Colombia.…

True Story is a pallid case study that seems likely to fade away before too long

2.5 Stars (2.5 / 5)

The truth is a funny thing. While facts may be unyielding — a child’s body submerged in a suitcase with a teddy bear; a flood of brackish water — our relationship to them is often more elastic.

Case in point: reporter Michael Finkel (Jonah Hill), dismissed from his job at the New York Times for fabrication, and Christian Longo (James Franco), a man accused of murdering his wife and children.…

Son Of A Gun is a movie under the influences

3 Stars (3 / 5)

 

Julius Avery’s Son Of A Gun may fall into the broad category of “crime thriller” but it’s not a neat fit: Julius Avery’s first feature evokes genre pieces as diverse as Starred Up, Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, and Drive.

Yakuza Apocalypse is a reheated V-Cinema shambles

1.5 Stars (1.5 / 5)

 

What’s worse than a simply bad film? A film that utterly squanders its potential.

Director Takashi Miike’s filmography is far ranging — from the sadistic Ichi the Killer to vivid family comedy Ninja Kids!!!. With close to 100 credits to his name, a supernatural gangster film seems right up Miike’s street.…

Wait for The Drop: Hardy and Gandolfini shine in this Boston crime drama (RIP, James Gandolfini)

4 Stars (4 / 5)

 

Crime dramas are a dime a dozen.

It’s a popular genre with plenty of easily recyclable tropes: the discount bins runneth over with Lock, Stock ripoffs and Danny Dyer Mockney crime capers. Then again, if you’re with Dennis Lehane, foremost authority on the seedy underbelly of Boston, and Michaël R.…