Category: Crime

“Frank Miller: American Genius” – The Poster & Trailer are Here!

This is a must-see for me.  I am a HUGE Frank Miller fan.

FRANK MILLER: AMERICAN GENIUS documents the unique journey of an unparalleled American artist. The film explores the half-century career of the legendary comic book artist and writer. Made for his fans following a near death experience, the documentary delves into Miller’s radical and defining influence on art, storytelling and culture. Following his small town beginnings in Vermont, to New York City, Hollywood, and beyond; this intimate documentary delves into his failures, successes, self-destruction and re-discovery.

June 6th – Sneak preview at New York’s, the Angelika. With guest moderator Neil Gaiman. @neilhimself

https://angelikafilmcenter.com/nyc/mo…

June 10th – Premiere at Cinemark Theaters. Moderated by Rosario Dawson. @rosariodawson

https://www.cinemark.com/movies/frank…

www.frankmillermovie.com

“Roadblock” (1951) starring Charles McGraw & Joan Dixon / Z-View

Roadblock (1951)

Director: Harold Daniels

Screenplay: George Bricker, Steve Fisher story by Richard H. Landau, Daniel Mainwaring

Stars: Charles McGraw, Joan Dixon, Lowell Gilmore, Louis Jean Heydt, Peter Brocco and Milburn Stone.

Tagline: A DAME IN MINK…A STOLEN MILLION and a red-hot payoff in bullets!

The Plot…

Joe Peters (McGraw) is a straight-arrow insurance investigator.  He’s honest, smart and one of the best in the business.  When there’s a tough case, they call Joe Peters.  On a flight home, Joe meets Diane (Dixon).  When bad weather forces an unexpected overnight stay at a hotel, they wind up in the same room.  Joe’s attracted to Diane, but she makes it clear she wants the finer things in life.  Things Joe could never afford on his salary.

As an insurance investigator Joe gets information that passed to the wrong people would result in scores that could set a man for life.  Against his better judgment Joe decides on a one-and-done scheme.  If successful he will be a rich man and get Diane.  But if not it could mean his death.

The best laid plans…

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Roadblock is one of the first movies to film in the Los Angeles River.  Other famous films using this location include Them!, Point Blank, Grease, Terminator 2 and To Live and Die in L.A.. 

Roadblock (1951) rates 3 of 5 stars.

“Follow Me Quietly” (1949) / Z-View

Follow Me Quietly (1949)

Director: Richard Fleischer

Screenplay: Lillie Hayward story by Anthony Mann, Francis Rosenwald

Stars: William Lundigan, Dorothy Patrick, Jeff Corey, Nestor Paiva, Paul Guilfoyle, Frank Ferguson, Douglas Spencer, Paul Bryar and Fred Aldrich.

Tagline: Police baffled by the FACELESS KILLER!

The Plot…

Police Lieutenant Harry Grant (Lundigan) is frustrated.  A serial killer known as The Judge has struck again.  At the crime scene a note from the killer taunting the police was found. How many more people have to die before The Judge is brought to justice?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Lawrence Tierney was scheduled to star, but off-screen antics (arrests for public intoxication and fighting) led to a change.

Follow Me Quietly (1949) rates 2 of 5 stars.

A SÉANCE FOR WICKED KING DEATH by Coy Hall / Z-View

A SÉANCE FOR WICKED KING DEATH by Coy Hall

Publisher: Shotgun Honey Books (November 10, 2023)

First sentence…

The Marley Caldwell Palace of Motion Pictures was a lot of name for a second-run theater on the edge of East 14th and Sycamore Street.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

The year is 1956.  And it’s not a good one for Royce Pembrook.  He’s an ex-con.  He works at a rundown theater that shows features making their last lap.  He lives in a one room apartment and it ain’t on the good side of town.

But just a few years back Pembrook was on top of the world.

He was a conman.  And a great one.  Pembrook did his best work running séances.  Pembrook’s charm, quick wit and ability to think on his feet made him a favorite of rich, grieving widows.  Life was good.

Until it wasn’t.

A stint in prison cured Pembrook of his conman ways.  He busts his hump working at the theater doing all the jobs the owner doesn’t want.  And he’s just getting by.

Then one night Anna Vogel shows up.  Pembrook hasn’t seen her in years.  Anna worked with him on the circuit.  She was good, but when they teamed it was magic.  Anna’s on the run with a purse full of stolen cash.  She needs Pembrook’s help to escape the city and the killer after her.

Pembrook, against his best judgment, throws caution to the wind.  He quits his job and takes off with Anna.  Another city and they’re back to their old ways.  What Royce Pembrook doesn’t yet know is that Anna’s plan is working perfectly.

+++++

A SÉANCE FOR WICKED KING DEATH is my first book by Coy Hall.  I promise it won’t be my last.  I loved the unique story, the fast pace, interesting characters.  It had just the right mix of mystery, suspense, violence and humor.  I hope we get more Royce Pembrook stories, but until then I plan to check out Hall’s other novels.

A SÉANCE FOR WICKED KING DEATH gets my highest recommendation.

Rating:

“The Evil That Men Do” (1984) starring Charles Bronson / Z-View

The Evil That Men Do (1984)

Director: J. Lee Thompson

Screenplay: John M. Crowther, David Lee Henry based on THE EVIL THAT MEN DO by R. Lance Hill

Stars: Charles Bronson, Theresa Saldana, Joseph Maher, José Ferrer, René Enríquez, John Glover, Enrique Lucero, Roger Cudney, Joe Seneca, Conrad Hool and Raymond St. Jacques.

Tagline: Most criminals answer to the law. The world’s most savage executioner must answer to Bronson.

The Plot…

Holland (Bronson) is a retired hitman living a peaceful life on a remote beach.  When an old friend asks Holland to kill a sadistic torturer known as the Doctor, Holland initially refuses. After seeing video evidence of the number of people the Doctor has killed and maimed, Holland decides to come out of retirement for one more hit.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Jill Ireland (Bronson’s wife and co-star in many of his films) was originally slated to play the role that went to Theresa Saldana.  Ireland lobbied for Saldana to get the part.  Theresa Saldana had survived a brutal stabbing by a stalker and was looking to get back into feature films.

The Evil That Men Do is based on a book written by R. Lance Hill.  Hill also received credit as screenwriter on the film, but chose to use the penname David Lee Henry.

This is the 5th of 9th films that starred Charles Bronson and was directed by J. Lee Thompson. The films in order are: The White Buffalo (1977), St. Ives (1976), Cabo Blanco (1980), 10 to Midnight (1983), Murphy’s Law (1986), Death Wish 4: The Crackdown (1987), Messenger of Death (1988) and Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects (1989).

The Evil That Men Do (1984) rates 2 of 5 stars.

“Parish”: Season 1 (2024) starring Giancarlo Esposito / Z-View

Parish: Season 1 (2024)

Based on: The Driver by Danny Brocklehurst, Jim Poyser
Developed by: Danny Brocklehurst, Sunu Gonera

Director: Sunu Gonera (Eps. 1-2); Laura Belsey (Eps. 3-4); Ernest Dickerson (Ep. 5); Karen Gaviola  (Ep. 6)

Teleplay: Danny Brocklehurst & Sunu Gonera and Theo Travers (Ep. 1); Theo Travers and Eduardo Javier Canto & Ryan Maldonado  (Ep. 2); Ashley Cardiff and Theo Travers (Ep. 3); J. David Shanks & Matt Wheeler (Ep. 4); Eduardo Javier Canto & Ryan Maldonado & Sunu Gonera and Theo Travers (Ep. 5 – story by Eduardo Javier Canto & Ryan Maldonado and Cori Uchida & Adam Lash); Theo Travers & Hanna McIntosh (Ep. 6 – story by Eduardo Javier Canto & Ryan Maldonado)

Stars: Giancarlo Esposito, Zackary Momoh, Paula Malcomson, Skeet Ulrich, Ivan Mbakop, Bonnie Mbuli, Arica Himmel, T.C. Matherne, Currie Graham, Bradley Whitford, Nicholas Logan.

Tagline: The wrong way is the only way out.

The Plot…

Gracián “Gray” Parish (Esposito) wants to be a good man.  This wasn’t always true.  Years ago, Gray was a criminal best known for his skills as a getaway driver.  But when Gray met Ros (Malcomson) he walked away from his gangster friends and never looked back.  They had a son and daughter.  Gray started a taxi/limo service.  Life was good.

Until it wasn’t.

Gray’s 16 year old son was recently gunned down in the street.  The killer never caught.

Then Gray’s best friend, fresh out of prison shows up needing a favor.  Despite his best intentions Gray is pulled in.  When things go sideways, Gray finds himself in the middle of a power struggle between the Tongais, a powerful gang into everything from drugs to human trafficking.  With cops closing in, and unable to trust anyone, Gray discovers his son’s killer may be close.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Well written, well directed and well acted.  Well, I hope we get a season two.

Parish: Season 1 (2024) rates 4 of 5 stars.

“The Specialist” (1994) starring Sylvester Stallone & Sharon Stone / Z-View

The Specialist (1994)

Director: Luis Llosa

Screenplay: Alexandra Seros based on THE SPECIALIST novels by John Shirley

Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Sharon Stone, James Woods, Rod Steiger, Eric Roberts, Mario Ernesto Sánchez, Emilio Estefan Jr. and Tony Munafo.

Tagline: The government taught him to kill. Now he’s using his skills to help a woman seek revenge against the Miami underworld.

The Plot…

May Munro (Stone) wants revenge.  When May was a young girl, hidden in a closet, she witnessed Thomas Leon (Roberts) brutally murder her mother and father.  Leon is the son of Joe Leon (Steiger), a notorious organized crime boss.  To get close enough to kill him will be impossible.  So may seduces Ray Quick (Stallone) to do it.  Quick is an ex-CIA demolition expert.  Although reluctant at first, Quick can’t resist May’s charms.  What Quick doesn’t know is that May is playing him… or is she?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Reportedly at one point David Fincher was set direct.  Stallone was on board with Fincher at the helm, but the studio balked due to the box office of Alien 3.

In 1993, The L.A. Times reported that The Specialist was the best unproduced thriller script in Hollywood according to a poll of agents, producers and studio executives.

Sharon Stone plays a character much younger than she was at the time of filming.  Stone was supposed to have witnessed Eric Roberts kill her parents when she was a child.  Roberts is just two years older than Stone.

Sly Stallone wrote the scene where Eric Roberts threatens him with a knife.  He wrote the scene since otherwise they had no scenes together.

The cat that Stallone adopts in the film also would go on to appear in Assassins, another Stallone movie.

It’s no secret that I’m a Stallone fan, so keep in mind your mileage may vary.

The Specialist (1994) rates 4 of 5 stars.

“Violent City” aka “The Family” (1970) starring Charles Bronson, Telly Savalas & Jill Ireland / Z-View

Violent City (1970)

Director: Sergio Sollima

Screenplay: Sauro Scavolini, Gianfranco Galligarich, Lina Wertmüller, Sergio Sollima, story by Dino Maiuri, Massimo De Rita

Stars: Charles Bronson, Telly Savalas, Jill Ireland and Michel Constantin.

Tagline: CHARLES BRONSON: A murderer whose love for a woman was VIOLENT. TELLY SAVALAS: A man who owns both the woman and the CITY.

The Plot…

Jeff Heston (Bronson) is a hitman who was ambushed and left for dead.  Heston believes he was set up by a former boss.  Now healed and ready for revenge… Heston discovers the person who set him up may have been his lover!

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Violent City received a second release in the U.S. but retitled as The Family in an effort to cash in on The Godfather‘s success.

Jon Voight and Sharon Tate were considered for the leads.  At the time Charles Bronson was a bigger star in Europe and just becoming a leading man in the United States.  Bronson agreed to star on the condition that his wife, Jill Ireland would co-star.

Violent City (1970) rates 2 of 5 stars.

“Training Day” (2001) directed by Antoine Fuqua, screenplay by David Ayer, starring Denzel Washington & Ethan Hawke / Z-View

Training Day (2001)

Director: Antoine Fuqua

Screenplay: David Ayer

Stars: Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Scott Glenn, Tom Berenger, Harris Yulin, Raymond J. Barry, Cliff Curtis, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Macy Gray, Eva Mendes, Nick Chinlund, Jaime Gomez, Raymond Cruz, Noel Gugliemi, Samantha Esteban, David Ayer, Peter Greene and Terry Crews.

Tagline: The only thing more dangerous than the line being crossed, is the cop who will cross it.

The Plot…

It’s L.A. police officer Jake Hoyt’s (Hawke) training day.  Hoyt has been teamed with the highly decorated narcotics Detective Alonzo Harris (Washington).  Hoyt badly wants the promotion.  He’s about to discover that Detective Harris is a cop who will cross any lines to make a bust.  Very quickly Harris makes it clear that is the expectation for Hoyt if he is to get promoted to the team.

Hoyt is hesitant at first, but is slowly seduced by Detective Harris’ reputation, charisma and results. As the shift continues, Hoyt learns something that puts his life at risk.  What do you do when your partner/mentor is worse than the gangbangers you’re after?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Both of Training Days leads were nominated for Academy Awards with one winning…

  • Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role – Denzel Washington (winner)
  • Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role nominee – Ethan Hawke

Ethan Hawke had more screen time than Denzel Washington, yet was nominated for an Academy Award in the Supporting Role category.

Training Day was originally set up to be directed by Davis Guggenheim, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Matt Damon.

Actors reportedly considered for Jake Hoyt included Tobey Maguire, Eminem, Paul Walker, Freddy Prinze Jr., Ryan Phillippe, Christian Bale, Mark Wahlberg and Scott Speedman.

Antoine Fuqua filmed in real gang locations. Real gang members from Rollin’ 60 Crips, PJ Watts Crips, and B. P. Stones (a Bloods set) appear on-screen.

The coffee shop where Washington and Hawke first meet has been used in several movies including Se7en, Gone in 60 Seconds, Ghost World, and Catch Me If You Can.

Lights Out (2024) rates 5 of 5 stars.

“Lights Out” (2024) starring Frank Grillo, Mekhi Phifer, Jaime King & Dermot Mulroney / Z-View

Lights Out (2024)

Director: Christian Sesma

Screenplay: Chad Law, Garry Charles, story by Brandon Burrows

Stars: Frank Grillo, Mekhi Phifer, Jaime King, Dermot Mulroney, Scott Adkins, Amaury Nolasco, Kevin Gage, Jessica Medina and Donald Cerrone .

Tagline: They started the wrong fight.

The Plot…

Michael ‘Duffy’ Duffield (Grillo) is a drifter.  He’s also ex-military who suffers from PTSD.  After observing Duffy take apart several guys in a bar fight, Max Bomer (Phifer) sees easy money in his future.  Bomer tells Duffy about an underground fight circuit where big money is wagered.  Hesitant at first, Duffy agrees.

Soon Duffy and Bomer on the wrong side of gangster, Sage Parker (Mulroney) and the leader of the criminal gang, Detective Ellen Ridway (King).  With criminals and crooked cops after them, what chance do Duffy and Bomer have?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Lights Out is fairly by-the-numbers action, but the cast of Frank Grillo, Mekhi Phifer, Jaime King and Dermot Mulroney add to it’s watchability.

Lights Out (2024) rates 3 of 5 stars.

“Boneyard” starring Brian Van Holt, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Nora Zehetner, Michael Sirow & Mel Gibson – The Trailer is Here!

When the skeletal remains of eleven women and girls are discovered in the New Mexico desert, an extensive investigation is launched. Inspired by true crime stories, this chilling crime-thriller follows Detective Ortega (Brian Van Holt), Police Chief Carter (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson), and Agent Petrovick (Mel Gibson) in a multi-agency effort to identify and apprehend the killer. As each of their agendas and methods clash, a tangled web of intrigue casts suspicion in all directions.

RELEASE DATE: July 2

CAST: Brian Van Holt, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Nora Zehetner, Michael Sirow, and Mel Gibson