Category: Crime

“Payback” (2021) – The Poster and Trailer are Here

Ok, here we have the poster and trailer for Payback

The title Payback is a good one, but it has been used before and may not get the attention a new movie needs. 

The poster is generic at best.  The tagline, “He’s waited eight years to settle the score” doesn’t sound like whatever was done to him required/deserved immediate payback.  Since there’s nothing in the poster to indicate he’s been in prison, maybe it’s just that he’s lazy.

The trailer is where things pick up.  It’s not great but it did get me interested in seeing Payback.  Keep in mind, I love crime flicks, so your mileage may vary.

Mike Markovich, a young stockbroker at a Mob-controlled Wall Street firm, is betrayed and imprisoned for six years. When he is released, his deadly quest for vengeance begins.

Director: Joseph Mensch
Writers: Metin Aksoy and Joseph Mensch
Cast: Matt Levett, Anna Baryshnikov, Toby Leonard Moore
Distributor: Vertical Entertainment

“Adverse” – 2 Posters, 2 Trailers and 2 Different Vibes for the Same Film. Let’s Take a Look!

We have two posters and two trailers for Adverse.  Let’s take a look at each, because although they’re for the same movie, they give off a different vibe.

The first poster above has a pretty generic crime movie feel.  We have the heads of the stars photoshopped into the main figure.  The cast should be a selling point, but their names don’t really stand out due to the colors of the font and the poster’s background.

The poster above works much better.  Although you lose the headshots of Mickey Rourke and Penelope Ann Miller, the names of the cast (and their awards/nominations) show up much better and are more impressive.  The main shot of the guy with a crow bar is a medium shot with the city in the background, making him look less heroic and more like an “everyman”.  The photoshopped face of the young girl (his daughter) let’s us know what he is fighting for.  FInally, the film festival logos adds a bit of prestige to the movie.  This is my favorite of the two posters.

Let’s look at each trailer.

Trailer 1 above and 2 below

Okay.  Have you watched both?  If so, which did you prefer?

I liked the first one much better than the second.  The first had a good crime movie vibe.  The music was menacing and the pace of the trailer made it feel like the movie would move.  This is a film I want to see.

The second trailer’s vibe was more of a Lifetime movie.  I didn’t care for the music used or the way the trailer set up the film.  It left me feeling like it would be a movie I might watch if there was nothing else on.

Amazing how the same film can be sold two different ways.  I wonder which trailer best represents the final film.  I do like the cast and hope the movie aligns with the first trailer.  We shall see.

TWO IN THE HEAD by Eric Beetner is Coming Soon!

Eric Beetner’s new book, Two in the Head, drops in less than a week.  Here’s the synopsis…

When Samantha awakes she is half buried in bricks and the smoke still swirls in the air. The car bomb didn’t killed her-small miracle. Her unfocused eyes see a figure coming nearer. A shape she recognizes somehow. As the person passes by the orange glow from the car fire’s light, she sees the face. Her face. But how?
The other Samantha stands over her and regards her twin. Something is off about this new face. It is her, sure, but harder somehow. The new Sam turns and walks away, back toward the building she came out of before her car exploded. Back to see the two drug kingpins in the top floor offices. And somehow Samantha knows-back to take the deal she just turned down.

Samantha Whelan is a DEA agent, and not always a straight and narrow one. She’s been taking bribes and doing favors for Calder and Rizzo-twin brothers and big players in narco traffic in southern California-for years. She turned down a deal that night, a deal to make her millions, but it meant killing her fiancé, an assistant district attorney building a case against Calder and Rizzo. And it meant betraying her DEA brethren more deeply than she had so far. It was too much. So Calder and Rizzo tried to blow her up.

What happened then…she split. Samantha became Samantha and Sam. Two halves of the same person. The good side and the bad side. The two opposing forces living within her for so long were now free to fight it out to see who will win control.

So begins a nightmarish rocket ride for Samantha to save her life and the lives of everyone she holds dear before Sam, her bad half, can burn it to the ground.

Praise for TWO IN THE HEAD:

“Two In the Head is a straight shot between the eyes. A gangbusters plot, punch-drunk pace, and gut-punch action propel this black hearted thriller from Eric Beetner.” -J. Todd Scott, author of The Far Empty and Lost River

Regular readers know that Eric Beetner is one of my must-read authors.  If Beetner isn’t for you,  you probably haven’t tried one of his tales.  Perhaps Two in the Head would be a good place to start.

The Girl Who Didn’t “Flinch” Trailer is Here!

Flinch looks good.  Of course I’m a sucker for crime films so your mileage may vary.  And how about Cathy Moriarty and Steven Bauer being in it?  I didn’t know Moriarty was still making movies.  Glad to see her and Bauer and hope Flinch is worthy.  

From director Cameron Van Hoy, starring Daniel Zovatto, Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Cathy Moriarty, Tom Segura, Buddy Duress, Steven Bauer, and David Proval. The girl who didn’t “FLINCH.”

RELEASE DATE: January 21, 2021
DIRECTOR: Cameron Van Hoy
CAST: Daniel Zovatto, Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Cathy Moriarty, Tom Segura, Buddy Duress, Steven Bauer, David Proval.
PRODUCERS: Cameron Eldred, Rod Hamilton, Justin Smith, Armen Aghaeian, Cameron Van Hoy
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Kai Saul
EDITOR: Justin Williams, Sam Bauer
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Matthew Ellis Siltala
ORIGINAL SCORE: Miami Nights 1984

Joe Doyle (Daniel Zovatto) is a young hitman following in his father’s footsteps. Quiet and reserved, he is observant and careful, making him very good at what he does. While studying his new target, city council member Ed Terzian (Tom Segura), Doyle develops a distant crush on the councilman’s assistant, Mia (Tilda Cobham-Hervey).
After she walks in on her boss’s assassination, Mia is caught by Doyle who must decide whether to let her go or to dispose of her for good. As Doyle aims the gun at her head, Mia doesn’t flinch, bringing him to a crossroads. Unsure of what to do, Doyle brings Mia to his home where he lives with his overbearing mother Gloria (Academy Award Nominee Cathy Moriarty), and holds her hostage until he can gain some clarity.
Doyle’s boss, Lee (David Proval) and his son, James (Buddy Duress), start questioning Doyle about the missing girl, and slowly he comes to find that Mia might not be entirely who he thinks she is. This brings Doyle to make the ultimate decision: does he kill the girl who didn’t flinch?

“Longstreet”, “The Immortal” & Other Classic TV Investigators

Keith Roysdon at CrimeReads.com posted A SHORT HISTORY OF CLASSIC TV’S MOST UNUSUAL INVESTIGATORS.  If you’re of a certain age, I’m sure you’ll remember some of these shows. Here are the shows (and my thoughts on each) that he covers…

  • Longstreet:  I was a fan of this show, mainly because of Bruce Lee.  Although Longstreet ran for just one year, the idea of a blind investigator was (and still would be) unique.  Sadly Bruce Lee didn’t appear in each episode, 

  • Coronet Blue:  I never remember even hearing of Coronet Blue.  The concept sounds like a cool one – a Russian sleeper agent is planted in the US, but wants to defect.  The agent’s true identity is a mystery and Russian agents are after him.  

  • The Immortal:  Of all the shows on this list, The Immortal was my favorite.  I was a regular viewer and disappointed when the series ended (after just 16 episodes).  I was the perfect age for a race car driver who is on the run from a billionaire and his many hired thugs because the driver has unique blood with properties that heal and prevent aging. (Wolverine, anyone?)  I haven’t seen any episodes in decades and wonder if it would still hold up.  It was must-see tv back in the day.

  • Nowhere Man:  This is the other show on the list that I never saw.  Nowhere Man sounds like a Twilight Zone plot but from the description Roysdon provides it was not as well executed.

  • Barnaby Jones:  I watched Barnaby Jones when I was visiting my grandparents… and remember it being okay.

  • Cannon:  Was another favorite of my grandparents.  Cannon was also okay.  Nothing special but not bad.

  • Ironside:  I remember seeing the pilot while on vacation with, you guessed it, my grandparents.  

Roysdon’s list is a good one and he provides info on each show in a concise manner. His piece is worth a read. Other shows I wish he would have covered include…

  • The Magician:  Bill Bixby as a rich, playboy magician who solved crime.  I used to watch this show regularly and really enjoyed it.  

  • Banacek:  George Peppard stared as an investigator who solved impossible crimes.  I really enjoyed this one.

  • A Man Called Sloane: Robert Conrad was an American secret agent.  I never saw an episode, but have heard good things about it and would like a chance to check it out someday.


“Walker” Teaser – “The Cowboy Way”

Here’s a teaser for Walker, the reboot of the Chuck Norris series.  I never watched Norris’ show, but for some reason plan to check out the new version.  I’m not expecting anything great, but hope that it is good.

Jared Padalecki is Cordell Walker, a widower and father of two with his own moral code, who returns home to Austin after being undercover for two years, only to discover there’s harder work to be done at home.

Craig’s Best of 2020: Novels, Movies and Blog Posts

End of the Year lists are fun and so I decided to compile a few of my own. I hope you enjoy them.

Movies

In 2020, I watched 453 movies. Most were streamed. I usually see a little over 200 movies per year so retirement and the pandemic helped increase my viewing. My favorite films released in 2020 included:

  • Arkansas: An under-rated, quirky crime drama.
  • Dracula: Technically a 3 part mini-series, but the first two episodes were near perfect and the third didn’t ruin the experience (but did fall off quite a bit).
  • Extraction: A surprisingly well done action film that had heart.
  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom: My favorite film of the year – the screenplay, acting and direction were top shelf. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom deserves a boatload of Oscars.Who’d have thought that two of my favorite films would star the Hemsworth brothers?

Books

In 2020, I read 34 books. I usually read about 20 – 24 per year so retirement and the pandemic also worked to increase my novel consumption. My favorites from this year included:

My Most Popular Posts of the Year

I always find some surprises in the most popular posts from the year. Here are the top ten for 2020 and some thoughts for each…

10. David Fincher’s “Mank” – The Poster and Trailer are Here! Fincher is always a fan favorite, and Mank’s poster and trailer were no exception.

09. Facts About Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”. The popularity of this post surprises me since it deals with a short story, but horror is always a favorite subject with many of our readers.

08. Peter Stults’ “28 Days Later” Starring Richard Burton. I love that this remains a top post. Stults’ alternative movie posters are a blast. He chooses great stars to recast in cool movies.

07. Jack Benny in “Casablanca”. This one makes me smile. I love that it made the top ten.

06. Sly Stallone Starring in “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” Video! Sly Stallone makes the list!

05. TOP 10 MOST ICONIC HORROR MOVIE VILLAINS! I told you horror posts are popular.

04. Dracula Through the Ages. I wasn’t kidding. Horror posts are popular.

03. Jackie Daytona Commercial for “Lucky Brews Bar and Grill”! The popularity of this post surprised me. Sure, it has the horror connection, but mixed in is a great amount of humor. Add to that it is for an under-rated horror/comedy (that I hope you are watching) and we get our third most popular post of the year!

02. Louis Meyers: Evidence He Was the Zodiac Killer. Any post about the Zodiac Killer always get a lot of views. This one has even racked up the most comments. 

01. Schwarzenegger in “King Lear” & Robin Williams in “Jack and the Beanstalk”. This posts gets more hits than any other post on the site. It’s not horror, it’s not about a real life killer or Sly Stallone, but it is our #1 post again this year.

My All-Time Most Popular Posts

I thought it might be fun to close out with a look at our all-time most popular posts. Did any or most of 2020’s greatest hits make the all-time list? Let’s see…

10. The Life and Times of Deputy U.S. Marshall Bass Reeves. I’m glad that this post remains popular. Our post about Marshall Bass Reeves (a true life hero) went up years before a comic series and movie about him were made. Don’t you love it when we’re ahead of the curve?

09. Gadot & The Rock Strike a Pose. Of course two of the most popular movie stars in the world together in a candid would make our most popular list.

08. TOP 10 MOST ICONIC HORROR MOVIE VILLAINS! Our #5 most popular post for 2020 is our all-time #8 most popular post… and of course it’s horror.

07. Real Clown Or Horror-Movie Clown? This is creepy. Normally I don’t have a problem with clowns, but some of those real clowns were downright scary.

06. Joel Osteen in Jacksonville This has been popular one since it first appeared.

05. Steve Reeves as Superman Of course Steve Reeves never got the chance to play the Man of Steel, but if he had, he would have made a good one.

04. New Billy the Kid Photo Discovered This posts hits on crime and history with the chance of a new discovery. That’s a great combination of topics and popular with a lot of folks.

03. Zodiac Killer Code Cracked? Again we have crime, history, a new discovery and I would even argue horror to make for a popular post.

02. Louis Meyers: Evidence He Was the Zodiac Killer This was not only our #2 all-time favorite, but also the #2 favorite for 2020. And it generated quite a few comments and e-mails.

01. Schwarzenegger in “King Lear” & Robin Williams in “Jack and the Beanstalk”.01. Schwarzenegger in “King Lear” & Robin Williams in “Jack and the Beanstalk”. The #1 post for 2020 is also our #1 all-time favorite. 

It’s always interesting to see which topics resonate with fans and continue to be popular longer after the initial post.  I wonder how many of our all-time favorites will make the list in 2021?  Time will tell… and so will I…. next year!  

“I, the Jury” – Drew Struzan and Armand Assante

The poster above for I, the Jury is my favorite Drew Struzan poster.  That shows how much I love that print since Struzan also did amazing posters for First Blood, the Indiana Jones films, the Back to the Future series, the Star Wars films… well, you get the idea.

I guess it’s fitting that Struzan’s I, the Jury poster isn’t as highly rated with fans, since the movie is also underrated.  I thought Armand Assante was excellent as Spillane’s Mike Hammer.  Barbara Carrera fit the bill as the sexy fem fatale. Laurene Landon was surprisingly good as Velda.  Geoffrey Lewis and Paul Sorvino are welcome additions to any film.  Perhaps I, the Jury under-performed because Mike Hammer was updated to current times rather than the 1947 period in which it was written.  Larry Cohen the screenwriter, was also set t0 direct, but was let go after just one week of filming.  Reportedly he fell behind a day of shooting and went over budget by $100,000.00 in that first week.  

Initially planned as a trilogy, Cohen was unable to get the other two films made.  Which is a shame.  At least we will always have one good film with Assante as Mike Hammer… and the very cool Drew Struzan  I, the Jury poster.

RIP: William Link

William Link, best known as co-creator of Columbo, passed away on Sunday, December 27th from congestive heart failure.  Mr. Link was 87.

William Link often partnered with Richard Levinson to write, create and produce everything from radio scripts to teleplays and feature films.  In addition to co-creating Columbo, Link along with Levinson and Peter S. Fischer created the popular and long-running television program Murder, She Wrote.  Link and Levinson also created Mannix in addition to other tv series.  Link and Levinson’s television movies included My Sweet Charlie, That Certain Summer, and (my favorite) The Execution of Private Slovak starring a young Martin Sheen. Their scripts for feature films included The Hindenburg; Rollercoaster; and Steve McQueen’s last film The Hunter.

Link and Levinson won numerous awards throughout their long partnership including two Emmys, two Golden Globes, four Edgar Allan Poe Awards and many others.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to William Link’s family, friends and fans.

“The Little Things” Trailer Starring Denzel Washington, Rami Malek and Jared Leto is Here!

Wow!

Check out the trailer for The Little Things starring Denzel Washington, Rami Malek and Jared Leto.  Then watch it again and pay attention to the little things.  The Little Things looks to be a winner and I cannot wait to see it.

Watch the trailer for The Little Things, bringing Denzel Washington back to screen alongside fellow Academy Award® winners Rami Malek and Jared Leto. Coming to theaters and streaming exclusively on HBO Max on January 29. #TheLittleThingsMovie

Academy Award winners Denzel Washington (“Training Day,” “Glory”), Rami Malek (“Bohemian Rhapsody”) and Jared Leto (“Dallas Buyers Club”) star in the psychological thriller “The Little Things.” John Lee Hancock (“The Blind Side,” “Saving Mr. Banks,” “The Founder”) directed the film from his own original screenplay.

Kern County Deputy Sheriff Joe “Deke” Deacon (Washington) is sent to Los Angeles for what should have been a quick evidence-gathering assignment. Instead, he becomes embroiled in the search for a killer who is terrorizing the city. Leading the hunt, L.A. Sheriff Department Sergeant Jim Baxter (Malek), impressed with Deke’s cop instincts, unofficially engages his help. But as they track the killer, Baxter is unaware that the investigation is dredging up echoes of Deke’s past, uncovering disturbing secrets that could threaten more than his case.

The main cast also includes Natalie Morales (“Battle of the Sexes”), Terry Kinney (“Mile 22,” TV’s “Billions”), Chris Bauer (“Sully,” TV’s “The Deuce”), Joris Jarsky (TV’s “Bad Blood”), Isabel Arraiza (TV’s “Pearson”) and Michael Hyatt (“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”).

“The Little Things” is produced by Oscar- and Emmy-winning producer Mark Johnson (“Breaking Bad,” “Rain Man”) and Hancock, with Mike Drake and Kevin McCormick serving as executive producers.

Behind the scenes, Hancock reunited with several longtime collaborators, including Oscar-nominated director of photography John Schwartzman (“Seabiscuit,” “The Founder,” “Saving Mr. Banks”), Oscar-nominated production designer Michael Corenblith (“Apollo 13,” “The Founder,” “The Blind Side”) editor Robert Frazen (“The Founder”), and costume designer Daniel Orlandi (“The Founder,” “The Blind Side”). The music is by multiple Oscar-nominated composer Thomas Newman (“1917,” “Bridge of Spies,” “Saving Mr. Banks”).

Warner Bros. Pictures presents A Gran Via Production, “The Little Things” will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures. The film has slated for release on January 29, 2021 in theaters and on HBO Max and has been rated R for violent/disturbing images, language and full nudity.

“Brothers by Blood” Trailer is Here!

After seeing the trailer for Brothers by Blood, you can count me in.

A tale of family, friendships and betrayal in the violent world of the Philadelphia mob.

Directed by: Jérémie Guez
Starring: Matthias Schoenaerts, Joel Kinnaman, Maika Monroe, Paul Schneider and Ryan Phillipe

“No Man’s Land” Poster and Trailer are Here!

We have the poster and trailer for No Man’s Land.  I like the idea, but hope the finished product doesn’t turn into a film with a made-for-tv feel.

Director: Conor Allyn
Stars: Frank Grillo, Andie MacDowell, George Lopez, Jorge A. Jimenez & Esmeralda Pimentel

A modern Western inspired by the real-life “no man’s land” areas along the Texas-Mexico border. While out on a father-son border patrol, Jackson accidentally kills a Mexican immigrant boy. When his father tries taking the blame, Jackson flees south on horseback, becoming a gringo “illegal alien” in Mexico. Pursued from either side by Texas Rangers and Mexican federales, he journeys across Mexico to seek forgiveness from the dead boy’s father only to fall in love with the land he was taught to hate.