Viewed – 18 August 2014  Blu-ray

In the nineties, I remember this being one of my favourite thrillers.  A gangster’s mol plots to steal $2 million from her mobster boyfriend after hooking up with the alluring ex-con in the apartment next door, who just so happens to be a lesbian.  This atmosphere-heavy and stylish movie was heralded at it’s time for it’s arty approach to a lesbian storyline and it’s cool twisty-turny narrative, helped immeasurably by great turns from it’s three main stars; Jennifer Tilly, Gina Gershon and Joe Pantoliano.


The 1996 debut movie from The Wackowskis, who went on to craft The Matrix movies amongst others, their obvious skill is aided by superb work from cinematographer Bill Pope who makes the camera as much of a character as the people in the story.  At it’s heart this is simply a sexy thriller (with a killer lesbian sex scene), two attractive, albeit stereotyped females (could Gershon’s character be any more clichéd?) and an unhinged mobster straight out of the mobster handbook.  That being said the script is full of clever structuring and interesting developments (the plotting of the stealing of the money is shown at the same time as it’s being executed).  Although dialogue that perhaps initially sounded cool, now years later comes off rather corny (“I have this image of you – inside of me – like a part of me” – groan).  Also Tilly’s Betty Boop voice grates quickly.  Thankfully then this is so rich in style and tension, much of that doesn’t matter as I enjoyed watching these girls get one over on the mob.  Towards the end, I’d have liked a final twist, as it seemed to conclude too ‘safely’ given the knowing awareness of the rest of the movie.  It’s been compared to the more serious works of The Coen Brothers such as Blood Simple, although I’d call it closer to the noir thrillers of John Dahl, as in The Last Seduction.  Still one of the cooler movies of the nineties.

The recently released Blu-ray from Arrow video is above average.  The movie itself is in good shape.  It’s subdued look, mostly consisting of greys and whites doesn’t dazzle in high def but there’s decent clarity during dark scenes and acceptable close up detail.  The music and dialogue on the other hand are both delivered affectively in a choice of DTS 5.1 or Dolby 2.0.  Extras-wise this is quite impressive, with several featurettes covering interviews with the cast as well as the crew.  Most valuable is an audio commentary, again from cast & crew, shedding plenty of light on the production.  Concluding this package is reversible sleeve artwork as well as a booklet and the movie on DVD as well.   Not too shabby!


(the movie)  3.5 /5

(the Blu-ray)  4 /5

Killer Joe

Viewed – 16 December 2012 DVD

The Exorcist I really must sit down and watch again.  Something was definitely lost when viewing it in a crowded cinema with more people laughing than I experience in a comedy.  Oh and was The French Connection really anything other than one pretty cool car chase?  I digress.  This is the latest offering from maverick director William Friedkin, a gritty, back-to-basics indie thriller starring Matthew McConaughey playing against type as a detective who moonlights as a contract killer.


Joe (McConaughey) is hired by the desperate kid (Emile Hirsch) of a white trash family, who owing money to a local mobster, conspires to have his estranged mother murdered in order to cash in her life insurance.  Yet Joe catches the eye of innocent Dotty, the kid’s slightly simple-minded sister, and proceeds to seduce her whilst at the same time manipulating the family for everything he can get.  This is the kind of movie director John Dahl used to make a living out of (The Last Seduction, Red Rock West etc) but has a shadow of perverse sleaze and brutal violence that makes it have more in common with the controversial The Killer Inside Me.

I certainly got a lot out of McConaughey’s portrayal of the cool but deadly Joe and the movie is clearly in love with him.  Shame supporting characters are bare bones clichés and the kind of people I was hoping Joe would kill off one by one.  Hirsch of course is still the actor you get if you can’t afford Leonardo DiCaprio (or any pretty boy name actor for that matter) and the normally enjoyable Gina Gershon (with possibly her most degrading first appearance in a movie ever) is equally pointless.  Friedkin’s direction attempts cool, stylish and clever (some of the editing is purposely vague and choppy) but the down and dirty tone (with some quite sick ideas – felating a chicken drum stick??) and nasty violence overwhelmed what could have been a decent character piece.  Oh, and the ending just pissed me off.

Verdict:  2 /5