It’s time to spring forward, as the saying goes. What daylight savings actually saves is beyond me. Just another way of making me wake up earlier than sunrise. Twisting time has worked a whole lot better in crime cinema.
Crime heroes and villains got it rough. They’re usually up to the gills in trouble and their genre, unlike horror, doesn’t smile on its bad-asses soaking up too many bullets.
A fortunate – or unfortunate, if you’re a “the grave’s half empty” kind of person – few manage some superhuman comebacks. Whether by the power of a psychotic episode, sheer grit or timely medical attention, these crime film characters practically pull off an Easter miracle.
You’d think it would be easy to wrap up a crime TV series. Punish the bad guys, save the day and solve the mystery. The audience can turn off the set with their belief in an ordered universe confirmed. Easy as it may seem, plenty of crime shows flip out and faceplant when it’s time for their finale.
Some try to get too clever or artistic. Some fling the story outside the genre in a geeky attempt to surprise their viewers. Most just don’t know what the Hell they’re doing.
A perfect crime always has a bit of a prank to it. When you’re breaking the law, you’re duping society, after all. You play a joke on old Lady Justice. The punchline just happens to be a few steamer trunks of bearer bonds or a well-buried corpse.
But some crimes take the yukks to the next level. These law-shattering shenanigans score big on style points, surprise or sheer humor. And when it’s done for the sake of cinema, twisted pranks can leave their kink marks in our memory for years to come.
Here are 6 Twisted Pranks in Crime Film that never fail to split our sides or sicken our stomachs.
There are plenty of crime films that straddle some scary territory: Serial killer suspense stories, “realistic” horror and a couple gangster-style stories with eerie elements. But even though Hollywood gets accused of slathering on the ultraviolence with a spatula, that’s often just what we want to believe to protect our nerves.
Crime films often make me hungry. Often the restaurant scenes are among the best remembered in crime flicks. The coffee shops and Italian kitchens and juke joints where criminal characters go to grab a bite or do dirt serve to define them.
America has always been crazy about serial killers.
They’re our homegrown werewolves. They click with the fast-food car culture that roars in the country’s busy, busy heart. They fit neatly with our cult-of-celebrity-style national mythology.
These beasts that seem like men, mowing through victims like McDonald’s cheeseburgers, speeding for the televised takedown by John Q. Law – how can the USA not be wild for them?
Somewhere on the fringe of mainstream film, there’s a frenzied community of artists who illustrate an elemental aspect of crime. They don’t bother with the ticky-tack trivia of the procedural. They don’t focus on the grand fables of revenge and wrongs righted.
On the occasion of the Emmys’ passing, let’s take a step outside the spotlight. I want to lead you to the fringes for a moment.
You need to meet an artist who has yet to hold a gold statue aloft on a high-profile red carpet, but who is brilliant enough to be seen in the shadows all the same.
You need to meet Mae Catt.
Much like most of the civilized world, I knew what yesterday meant:
The premiere of Sons of Anarchy, Season 5. I was pretty jazzed. I would DVR that bad bastard and catch it when convenience struck. Or, if I was too lazy or forgetful to do that, I could snag it On Demand. I wasn’t sweating.
No other folk do blood feuds like Mason-Dixon Line Americans. Wedged between the Smoky Mountains and the Mississippi is enough pure meanness to power New York City from now until the Mayan Doomsday. They may pronounce themselves zealots for the religion of “turn the other cheek,” but hillbillies make Sicilian mobsters look laid back.
They call it American Horror Story. FX Network named it wrong. It’s not particularly American—California is only technically in America. Above all, it’s not really a “horror story” either. Horror generally requires characters you care about. But one thing’s sure about American Horror Story: It is loaded to the gills with nastiness, most of it criminal.
*For those who are still jonesing for something to fill the void in their life left by Lost.
Just to get past the nagging qualifiers, I’ve been hyping this show since the moment I heard the premise and saw the trailer for it (I won’t post it again here as I have been spamming the Complex for the past three months). I have a nasty habit of doing this. As a result, the sight of Chinese Democracy sitting on the shelves at Best Buy with a $1.99 price tag gives me stabbing pains in the abdominal area every time I go to pick up batteries.
Crime films give every genre a run for its money when it comes to getting hardcore. Murder, torture, kidnapping—they have it all and in many cases, they show it all. Even the lion’s share of the horror genre doesn’t hold a candle to scenes like Mr. Blonde getting down with a duct-taped cop and a straight razor.
Silent House holds a lot of dark splendor for such a lean feature.
This trim 88-minute thriller is rendered in a single shot. That artistic effort alone makes it worth the price of admission.
It braids in a lot of other captivating elements: Subtle unfolding of the plot. An eerie, understated atmosphere. Mounting tension that wrenches into the surreal for the final act.
Best of all, Silent House has the golden thread of Elizabeth Olsen’s talent to hold it together.
Date Rape Dave Brown is a sweetheart.
Don’t just take it from me. Rampart makes a strong case. Halfway through this Oren Moverman art-house film and you’ll be primed to buy Officer Dave Brown, Woody Harrelson, a World’s Best Dad mug. It’ll be something to admire while serving his life sentence in solitary.
Ever wanted a soup-to-nuts list of all the crime films coming out next year? Lord knows I’ve lost sleep over the lack of one. Well, you’re in luck. We’ve stepped up to the plate and produced this shamelessly long list of The 20 Most Anticipated Crime Films of 2012.
There are top-rated crime shows every season these days, with something illegal to appeal to anybody somewhere on the airwaves. Whether it’s the tone, the characters or the narrative, the diverse range of crime storytelling hits chords with all kinds of viewing markets.
It’s our contention that some of these chords must intertwine, and make sweet, sweet TV love with each other. Or, more likely, make an absolute disaster of a show that would be too ridiculous not to watch.
These are those 5 TV Crime Show Crossovers That Must Happen.
In crime TV, there’s another major push underway from NBC, Prime Suspect, that is bringing A-list talent to bear in an effort to seize some of those sweet, sweet CBS crime junky ratings. In Prime Suspect, Maria Bello, seen in such edgy theater releases as A History of Violence, plays a tough NYPD cop that just happens to be one of the ladies. But don’t be under the impression put forth by the ads growling that it’s “like nothing you’ve seen before.” It’s a full-fledged rip-off of a British TV show.