crime discs dis­sected


A look at the lat­est movie re­leases, in­clud­ing Hell Or High Wa­ter and Dog Eat Dog.

Acted, di­rected and scored to the hilt, David Macken­zie’s ne­ow­est­ern heist drama, HELL OR HIGH WA­TER, bulges with mus­cle and pedi­gree. Macken­zie main­tains the clout of his British prison movie, Starred Up, as he trans­fers to Texas for the tale of bankrob­bing broth­ers and the cops tail­ing them.

Chris Pine, Ben Foster and Jeff Bridges – chan­nelling Rooster Cog­burn – make deeply in­vested work of Si­cario writer Tay­lor Sheri­dan’s morally meaty script, which bris­tles with achingly cur­rent themes of poverty, property is­sues and cor­rupt bank­ing prac­tices. As doom looms, Nick Cave and War­ren El­lis prove just the right men to sound­track the way to the grimly tense cli­max.

The amoral plea­sures mount in DOG EAT DOG (out 2 Jan­uary), where a cus­tom­ar­ily un-muz­zled Ni­co­las Cage banks an atyp­i­cally de­cent role. Di­rected by Taxi Driver writer Paul Schrader, from Ed­ward Bunker’s novel, the chaotic Cleve­land ca­per fol­lows three ex-cons ( Willem Dafoe, Christo­pher Matthew Cook and Cage) on a dirty job to steal a gang­ster’s baby. Don’t an­tic­i­pate much ed­i­fi­ca­tion from the ir­re­deemable trio, but do ex­pect rau­cous en­ter­tain­ment and some se­ri­ously gamey act­ing. Vin­tage Dafoe ham is served in TO LIVE

AND DIE IN LA, re-re­leased in triple­for­mat (4K, BD, DVD). Wil­liam Fried­kin’s 1985 thriller casts Dafoe as a gym-pumped, art-lov­ing coun­ter­feiter pur­sued by Man­hunter’s Wil­liam Petersen. The ’80s stylings are just a hair away from a mul­let, but the script’s salty, the ac­tion punchy, the shocks jolt­ing and the car chase is a bel­ter which Fried­kin drives against the traf­fic.

Fur­ther mav­er­ick plea­sures beckon in the Blu-ray re-re­lease of Brian De Palma’s con­tro­ver­sys­tok­ing BODY DOU­BLE of 1984. Tak­ing his Hitch­cock fetish to an ex­treme, De Palma apes Rear Win­dow and Ver­tigo for this tale of an un­em­ployed ac­tor who watches his of­ten-naked neigh­bour mur­dered – mind the drill – be­fore turn­ing his at­ten­tions to Me­lanie Grif­fith’s porn star. De Palma piles up the tor­rid twists with se­ri­ous art-trash chutz­pah.

An­other man un­afraid of flaunt­ing his in­flu­ences is John Carpenter. In a blaz­ing act of ex­ploita­tion as cine-buff cel­e­bra­tion, Carpenter shifted the set-up of Rio Bravo to gangstrife LA in his 1976, no-bud­get siege movie,

AS­SAULT ON PRECINCT 13, which is reis­sued as a 40th an­niver­sary Blu-ray. Match­ing homage with crafts­man­ship, Carpenter com­posed gor­geous widescreen im­ages, made the so­cial sub­texts siz­zle and set the whole thing to his own bench­mark score of glo­ri­ously clipped synths.

Doctor Who tal­ent in a twisty thriller? No, it’s not Broad­church, but it is a Welsh fea­ture from one of the Who di­rec­tors. Eu­ros Lyn over­sees THE LI­BRARY SUI­CIDES, adapted from Fflur Dafydd’s novel. Doctor Who’s Catrin Ste­wart dou­bles up as twin sis­ters and li­brar­i­ans, Ana and Nan, who are plot­ting re­venge on the bi­og­ra­pher who they sus­pect of mur­der­ing their mother, an au­thor.

In re­gards to re-re­leases, the choppy his­tory of El­more Leonard adap­ta­tions came up trumps with di­rec­tor John Franken­heimer’s 52 PICKUP, a brac­ingly cyn­i­cal 1986 thriller star­ring Roy Schei­der as a hus­band whose mis­tress is mur­dered by ex­tor­tion­ists. As Schei­der’s busi­ness­man plays the crooks off against each other and ev­ery­one gets in over their heads, the cast take to Leonard’s lac­er­at­ing di­a­logue like sharks scent­ing

blood. Clarence Wil­liams III and Ann-mar­gret stand out. Miss­ing the pre-beard, crime-ruled im­age of London’s East End? Then try THE GUV’NOR, Paul van Carter’s docu-study of bareknuckle boxer Lenny Mclean from his son Jamie’s POV. Cast in Guy Ritchie’s Lock Stock And Two Smok­ing Bar­rels, Lenny was one scary geezer but Van Carter draws a com­plex picture of a cake-lov­ing brawler with hid­den scars.

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