In the past couple of weeks I've caught a few genre films via NetFlix that are worth serious attention.
I first heard of ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE years ago and I was intrigued enough to want to see it, but the film soon slipped my mind when it never appeared in theaters or on video. It became a case of 'out of sight, out of mind' until Bill on the Outside the Cinema podcast mentioned it some time last year. He praised the movie and noted that it was available on British DVD. I was curious now and looked into importing the Region 2 DVD but couldn't justify the price for a film I had never seen. I knew from reading reports that the reason the film had such a terrible time with distribution was that the production company went bankrupt so I wondered if it might not eventually show up over here in some legal form and just last year it finally did.
The second movie I'll draw your attention to is the latest adaptation of one of Donald E. Westlake's crime novels (written under the pen name Richard Stark) about the clever criminal Parker. I was a bit resistant to this film at first because it stars the very British Jason Statham as Parker and, having read several of the novels, that does not match the character on the page. But after hearing quite a few people including Stephan King claim it to be very good I had to push play and see for myself. Glad I did!
PARKER (2013) is an adaptation of one of the novels in the series that I have not yet read (Flashfire) and that was a plus for my expectations I think. I wasn't aware of the plot complications and therefore was not waiting for certain highlights to appear but I think that even if I was constantly comparing this film to the book I would have been pleased. This movie easily joins the short list of excellent Parker films and in my opinion is one of the three best along with POINT BLANK (1967) and THE OUTFIT (1973).
The story follows Parker as he sets up and expertly executes a robbery at a State Fair only to be double crossed by his partners and left for dead. After pulling himself out of a hospital bed one step ahead of the police he begins a dogged pursuit of his betrayers. This trail leads to
Florida where he uses
real estate agent Jenifer Lopez to find the location of their hideout. This is
a surefooted, smart and well paced crime tale that is never boring or less than
engaging. It was a small leap to accept that this Parker is a Brit and Statham
even has fun slapping on a thick Texan accent as part of a disguise later in the story. Lopez is
quite good in a role that reminded me of her excellent performance in OUT OF
SIGHT (1998) - what happened to her? She should have been making movies like
this for fifteen years!
I won't ruin the film by going too far but I love the supporting cast and old Hollywood hand Taylor Hackford shows that he can still pull together an effective movie year after career high point. If you like taut, exciting crime movies this one is for you.