Whenever someone mentions the city of Bruges, I instantly say to myself "F**ken Bruges", a line synonymous with a city I've never even been to, all thanks to writer/director Martin McDonagh's ('Seven Psychopaths'
) unforgettable and brutal script for 'In Bruges'. After Ray (Colin Farrell, 'The Lobster'
) botches his first job as a hired assassin for crime boss Harry (Ralph Fiennes, 'Harry Potter'), he's taken to Bruges by his partner and seasoned pro Ken (Brendan Gleeson, 'Calvary'
) - to relax and recover from the aftermath of his mistake. Once Ken and Ray realise the real reason they were sent away, what unfolds is a dark and unwavering comedy about redemption and morals. The medieval European city as a backdrop acts as a perfect setting for the mission, with large cathedrals and religious symbolism weaved throughout. McDonagh's script really pulls you in close, and you find yourself falling for these damaged and principled characters, even if they are unyielding hit men. 'In Bruges' is one of the funniest films I've seen it a long time, but above all the comedy is a morbid and fascinating insight into redemption and consequence. Justice and moral balance follows the crime, and tragedy follows the justice. A violent, dark and hilarious crime film, this one is not to be missed.
CHRIS DOS SANTOS
'A SIMPLE FAVOUR'
You may have overlooked this film as the marketing was very much pushing a 'Gone Girl'
lite vibe, but 'A Simple Favour' is one of those perfectly campy films that works on every level. Stephanie (Anna Kendrick) is a popular mum vlogger who strikes up a friendship with Emily (Blake Lively) a mysterious upper-class woman. One day when Stephanie is picking up both their sons from school, Emily goes missing, leading Stephanie on an investigation into her disappearance - but she soon uncovers there's a lot we don't know about Emily. It's important to go into this film knowing it's not a typical thriller - it's a balls-to-the-wall dark comedy. The twists and turns the movie goes through are absolutely entertaining and delightful. While the film may not take itself as seriously as others in the crime genre, it definitely earns its place in the genre. It's edge-of-the-seat, delightful fun that you have to see to believe. Also seeing Kendrick and Lively out of their stereotypical casting brings me so much joy. 'A Simple Favour' gives you the thrills of the crime genre while being a fun ride... it's just "everything is not what it seems."READ OUR REVIEW
I realise these lists aren't a competition - but if they were, then I just won. If you're looking for a masterclass in crime stories, thrillers, screenwriting and just filmmaking in general, then come on over to David Fincher's 'Se7en'. Featuring extreme, graphic violence and subject matter this one is not for the faint of heart. For those of you who have already seen it, you know what I'm talking about. You also know that this masterpiece of a cinema is well worth a rewatch. For those of you looking for a little something that's as far away from puppies, rainbows, epic romances and a happy ending as possible - welcome. And congratulations, you're finally going to find out what's in the box.READ OUR REVIEW
'THE THIRD MAN'
'The Third Man' is about as perfect a film as you could find. Every element of its construction - Graham Greene's perfectly-plotted screenplay, the tension in Robert Krasker's cinematography, the careful and suffocating rhythm of Carol Reed's direction, the danger and wit in Anton Karas' zither score, its wildly entertaining performances - is pitched at exactly the right level at every turn. Set in post-war Vienna, it finds American pulp novelist Holly Martin (Joseph Cotten) piecing together the last days of his friend Harry Lime, and as he puts those pieces together, he discovers a story far more disturbing than he had imagined. Often named the greatest British film ever made, and featuring the most iconic character entrance in film history, 'The Third Man' is one of those films, I think, that is impossible not to love. It's a wicked little tale built around a series of philosophical conundrums, a good old-fashioned, wildly entertaining detective tale set in the detritus of an apocalypse that dances at the nexus point between the best and worst of human morality.
'Ocean's Eleven' came out at a time in my life where I was super-easily influenced, and I thought this film literally dripped with cool. Take all of the biggest Hollywood leading men of the day and throw them in a film that is equal parts funny, camp and exhilarating - and you've got yourself a great film... or two... or three...or seven? Either way, there is no denying the first film in the reboot of the 'Ocean's' franchise was a fun ride for all.
It's also pretty rare that you get a film like this where you're rooting for the thieves - but hey, when they all look this good, why not? The heist is such fun and the action is deftly handled, it's probably one of the best-paced of the series and leaves you wanting more and more and more. The stars chew up the scenery and are left wanting more (which is probably why there are now so many films). But for impressionable young me - who decided to wear red-tinted sunglasses at all times for about two weeks after seeing it - it was everything I could have wanted in a crime film. Buckle up for fun!
'ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA'
'Once Upon a Time in America', Sergio Leone's episodic tale of the lives of a gang of New York City Jewish hoods, is the greatest gangster film ever made. Spanning over 40 years and told mostly in flashbacks and flash-forwards, the movie centres on small-time criminal David "Noodles" Aaronson (Robert De Niro) and his lifelong partners in crime; Max (James Woods), Cockeye (William Forsythe) and Patsy (James Hayden) and their friends, including Deborah (Elizabeth McGovern, played as a teen by Jennifer Connelly). We follow the group as kids in the rough Jewish neighbourhood of New York's Lower East Side in the 1920s, into adulthood during the last years of Prohibition in the early 1930s, and then to the late 1960s where an elderly Noodles returns to New York after many years in hiding. The set design is immaculate - the time periods can truly be felt - and I've never seen non-linear storytelling executed so organically. When films play with linearity, it usually feels like a gimmick, but here it really works. I also think that this film features Ennio Morricone's best score. Unlike other gangster flicks, there is a brutal beauty and odd mysticism to 'Once Upon a Time in America' - it's the combination of Leone's operatic style from his westerns and the scale of the story which makes this a really special movie. Richard Linklater described it well: it's like Leone was making his last film, without even knowing that it was going to be his last.
CHARLIE DAVID PAGE
'KISS KISS, BANG BANG'
This may be the only neo-noir crime comedy in the history of cinema. Brilliantly snappy, stunningly lensed and perfectly twisty, this film shook me to my core when I first saw it in cinemas in 2005; I went in with zero expectations and little to no idea of what was to come, and I was floored by the result. Robert Downey Jr is Harry Lockhart, a petty criminal turned Hollywood up-and-comer turned trainee detective who inadvertently takes on his own case at the bequest of his highschool crush Harmony (Michelle Monaghan) while under the wing of LA private eye Gay Perry (Val Kilmer). Its spitfire dialogue, fourth-wall-breaking narration and captivating plot (courtesy of writer/director Shane Black) will lure you in, but you'll stay for the fantastic chemistry between the three leads, who have never been better. But what would I know? I'm a bear!
Admittedly, crime is not one of my favourite genres; if done in the right way - which they rarely are - I find myself with a new favourite film. It's very rare that a crime film burrows its way under my skin, leaving me horrified, entranced and desperate to relive the experience again, but that's exactly what happened with 'Prisoners'. Hugh Jackman ('Logan'
), Paul Dano ('Swiss Army Man', '12 Years A Slave'
) and Jake Gyllenhaal ('Spider-Man: Far From Home'
) give career-defining performances as each becomes entangled with the disappearance of a young girl, as the lengths her father (Jackman) will go to to find her are pushed to extremes. 'Prisoners' was also the first English film by director Denis Villeneuve, helping pave the way to cementing him as one of the most exciting and revered directors of the last decade.
'CATCH ME IF YOU CAN'
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