Thursday, August 3, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks - Crime Family

Written as part of the weekly blogathon hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves. Come join our lovely little TMP family by picking three movies that fit the week's theme and telling everyone a bit about them!

So, I know there's one crime family that rules them all, but.... I haven't seen those movies. I KNOW I KNOW BAD DANIEL! But, I mean... there ARE other cinematic crime families, right?


Let's find out!

Animal Kingdom (David Michôd, 2010) J's mother just died from a drug overdose. So he calls the only family he has left, his aunt Janine. In staying with her and her brood of boys, he comes to learn there was a reason for his mother's estrangement from them: They're criminals, and Janine is the Don. Jacki Weaver got a WELL-deserved Oscar nomination for her sublimely pitched performance, but the entire cast (which includes Sullivan Stapleton, Ben Mendelsohn, Joel Edgerton, and Guy Pearce) is fantastic. Director Michôd takes the tension up past the breaking point nearly the whole way through, making for one intense, thrilling movie. Recently adapted into a TV show with Ellen Barkin as Janine.

Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg, 2007) Anna, a British-Russian nurse delivers a baby from a 14 year-old girl who then dies, leaving behind only a diary written in Russian. Through translating the diary, Anna comes to learn that the young woman was part of a sex-trafficking ring organized by a Russian mafia family. Unfortunately for her, said Russian mafia family knows that she knows, and is now threatening her life in the form of Nikolai (smokin' hot and Oscar-nominated Viggo Mortensen), the family's "cleaner" and pseudo-babysitter for the don's unstable son. Cronenberg takes to the mafia genre shockingly well, orchestrating some terrifically tense stand-offs between characters and winding a slightly sprawling story tight around his finger.

Goodfellas (Martin Scorsese, 1990) Based on the real-life story of Henry Hill, Martin Scorsese's magnum opus tracks Hill's life from his youth under the wing of local mafia don Paulie Cicero to his cocaine-fueled descent to the witness protection program three decades later. There's not a single false note in the whole thing, not one bad beat or wonky line reading. Every single scene sings. It's a classic - and one of my All-Time Favorites - for good reason.


  1. I haven't seen any of these, but they are all on my watch list. I will get to these someday. Hopefully.

  2. I also chose Animal Kingdom and Eastern Promises. The latter is one of my all time favorite movies.

  3. Hmm...with Eastern Promises I guess I'd say I appreciated the acting and the story kept me involved but I can't say that I liked it overly much and have never returned to the well.

    Same goes for Animal Kingdom. Those people were compelling in their awfulness but not anyone I longed to return to.

    I'm not the biggest Scorsese fan. If I connect with the film, The Aviator-Shutter Island-After Hours, I usually love them but by and large I find the constant swearing wearying and it takes me out of his films. That is where I am with Goodfellas. However I know that's not the general consensus.

    I reached back for mine but my first was such a seminal game changer when it premiered I really expected to see it pop up more today, but so far it hasn't.

    Bonnie & Clyde (1967)-Seminal, trend-setting drama of the criminal pair who terrorized the heartland during the depression with Clyde’s brother and his wife. Stylish and ultra-violent this made Warren Beatty a major player in Hollywood, a star of Faye Dunaway, moved Gene Hackman considerably up the ladder as Buck Barrow and won Estelle Parsons a Best Supporting Actress Oscar as Buck’s screeching wife Blanche.

    White Heat (1949)-James Cagney stars as Cody Jarrett a psychotic gangster with a mother fixation in one of the best crime noirs of the 40’s. An utterly ruthless man who thinks nothing of gunning down an unarmed man he is prone to violent headaches, an incipient signal of total madness, that can only be soothed by sitting on Ma Jarrett’s (a chilling Margaret Wycherly) knee as she strokes his head. Sent to prison after being caught during their last job Cody is a targeted man both by the undercover agent (Edmund O’Brien) who has been planted to befriend him and one of his henchmen (Steven Cochran) and Cody’s grasping wife Verna (Virginia Mayo) who want to take over the gang. Breaking out he sets out to reassert his dominance during the robbery of a chemical plant payroll but things spiral out of control leading to a fiery climax. Classic Cagney.

    Ma Barker’s Killer Brood (1960)-Exploitation version of the Barker clan headed by the ruthlessly murderous Ma (Lurene Tuttle). Revisionist in the extreme showing the gang working with John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd and Baby Face Nelson though there’s no proof that they knew any of them in reality. Still it’s a trim little crime caper with Lurene Tuttle, who usually played sweet best friends and sensible mothers, having a grand old time tearing into the merciless and deranged mastermind. She rules her boys with an iron fist mocking any sign of weakness and not sparing the corporeal punishment to all if she thinks it necessary.

  4. Animal Kingdom and Eastern Promises are proving very popular today and I haven't seen either. I need to fix that. I have seen GoodFellas and I love that one to death.

  5. Animal Kingdom is the biggie this week. I bet everyone thought it would be The Godfather series so everyone purposely stayed away from it. I have not seen this film and don't feel enamoured to see it. Eastern Promises is dark and sad but excellent and I love this film. Viggo is great in it and Stahl is brilliant and so evil. I am not a fan of Goodfellas. I like how Joel described it. I like the music but it's just too much and it leaves me cold,

  6. I also picked Animal Kingdom. It's such a brilliant film! Good call on Goodfellas.

  7. Love Animal Kingdom - hmm...I think Janine is the grandma.