My weekly movie reviews. You can also read these on letterboxd.

This week focuses on three films about criminals.


Another Day in Paradise (1998)

Rating: 4 out 5 Stars

On my list since it came out in the 90s, I finally got around to watching ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE the other night. It seems so long ago that Larry Clark was the conversation du jour. I remember when KIDS was talked about in every film circle I was a part of but I haven’t heard it mentioned in years. Perhaps a better and longer lasting film is this road/crime film he made a few years later.

Clark adapts the source material into a raw but surprisingly restrained Bonnie & Clyde saga. Blasting open with an initial ten minutes of sex and violence, PARADISE soon settles down into a more subtle film about people and relationships, anchored by great performances all around. Of course, James Woods is the highlight in the intense role he was born to play but this also may be the last great performance from Melanie Griffith? She’s sexy as usual, smart, and remains the heart of the picture. She also surprises in the film’s bloodiest action sequence.

This is another one of those films that doesn’t reflect the reported production troubles it went through. Everyone feels in sync but it sounds as if their creative journey was a troubled one. Regardless, this is a solid crime drama that should be appreciated in any discussion of Clark’s work (and perhaps his career is ripe for an overall re-evaluation).

Watched on Tubi


At Close Range (1986)

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

This is one of the most visually stunning crime films of the 80s. Sometimes its cinematography might overwhelm the narrative, like the too perfectly moonlit pond killing or the montage of garden hose and bullet wounds. It’s a simple, powerful story and however much I love the cinematic boldness of the visuals, I think Foley and company should have pulled back a little and let the performances do the work.

Both of the leads are terrific. Sean Penn is still in his glory days here before he started taking himself too seriously. Walken is at his best too before he fell in love with eccentricity. Just watching these two performers at the top of their game is worth a viewing, not to mention the gallery of great supporting players from Mary Stuart Masterson to an underused David Strathairn.

It’s a strong crime picture, hurt only by that overindulgence of cinematography and a climax that is a little far-fetched.

Watched on Tubi


Thief of Hearts (1984)

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

It may be the only flop for Simpson/Bruckheimer but I liked it. Of course, I’m a big fan of synth-scores, steamy sexy scenes, and the overall 80s aesthetic which I admire without a sense of irony. However, Thief of Hearts is much more than a nostalgic dip into the style of the time.

This is actually a thoughtful thriller, a movie about relationships that doesn’t explore its characters in a cliche way. The housewife, played by Barbara Williams, is a complex woman, longing for the passionate love Steven Bauer is ready to give her but there’s much more to her and the situation. Compared to similar erotic thrillers of the era, Thief of Hearts has a mature take on the marriage/infidelity subject. Maybe that, and not the director who the producers blamed, is the real reason it was not a success.

From whatever reason, I’ve wanted to see this movie for years, ever since I spotted the cover in an old video catalog. And I’m happy to report that it did not disappoint.

Watched on