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Crime

Only Thing That Tries To Break Through This Darkness Is The Sometimes Bright Neon Lights

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When you dishonor your boss
and you want to show remorse,
you give your finger.
It’s called otoshimae.
I see you’ve got all your fingers.

Even though I don’t have any affinity with Japanese culture as such and mostly ignore Asian films, I couldn’t resist giving “The Outsider”  a chance. Not only because of the fact that Jared Leto is playing in it (a colorful actor who reminds me of Johnny Depp and because of his role as The Joker in “Suicide Squad” can join the club of quirky Hollywood actors), but also because of the central theme of the Yakuza families. I wondered if this could be another successful Netflix original.

I don’t know much about Japanese culture. Only the term Yakuza is known to me. You can see it as the Japanese version of the Italian Mafia. The only difference with their Italian counterparts is that the Yakuza members are an epitome of inner calmness and adopt an intimidating attitude by using ice-cold, angry looks and a threatening, non-loud tone during their conversations. Quite different from the Italian mafia members, who usually want to make an impression by shouting and intense gesticulating while making their point, after which a rival gets a concrete pedestal and they dump him in some Italian river. So I prepared myself for a Japanese-colored “Godfather“-like movie.

 

The Outsider

 

Extremely slow pacing.

The first thing you could criticize is the pace of the film. “The Outsider”  is extremely slow at times, indeed. But doesn’t that suite the entire Japan concept? After all, members of the Yakuza families themselves use a certain pace in their conversations by using impressive silences between sentences. On the one hand to show respect. On the other hand maybe also to increase the impact of used words. Have you ever seen a Geisha passing by? They aren’t exactly a paragon of speed. And to be honest, if this movie had lasted an extra hour, I wouldn’t have minded that either. And that’s because of the other positivities you can find in “The Outsider” .

 

The Outsider

 

A white Yakuza member. Possible or not?

First of all, I thought the acting of the entire cast was marvelous on all fronts. The mix of authentic Japanese who speak their own language for most of the film instead of constantly using broken, bad-sounding English and the acting of Jared Leto was simply stunning. How Nick Lowell ended up in an Osaka prison, remained a mystery to me. He’s the only English-speaking prisoner and is surrounded by mainly Yakuza gang members. Rescuing the Yakuza Kiyoshi (Tadanobu Asano) from a perilous, life-threatening situation gives him a ticket to freedom. And that’s when he chooses to gradually integrate into the Yakuza family. Not an easy task since the members of this Yakuza family aren’t really hospitable and are rather resentful towards white strangers (a Gaijin). However, I wonder if, in reality, a Westerner would get a chance to be included in such a Yakuza-family. I doubt it.

 

The Outsider

 

Sublime cinematography.

The used cinematography in ‘The Outsider’ was also generally sublime. Maybe a little too dark at certain moments, such as the prison scenes, for example. But in general, the setting in this post-war Japan is really impressive. A mysterious metropolis with dark, narrow alleys, clubs where Sumo wrestlers compete and smoky night clubs. The only thing that tries to break through this darkness is the sometimes bright neon lights.
Expect some violent scenes too. You can’t do without it in a gangster movie, I guess. There are quite a few victims. Lots of gunshots and knives carving around. Even a self-mutilation scene where a few fingers are sacrificed isn’t missing.

 

The Outsider

 

The acting of Jared Leto was superb.

My limited knowledge of Asian film material and Japanese customs made sure everything came across as fairly authentic to me. Others, who immersed themselves in this matter, may have noticed imperfections. And perhaps the content has all been done before. I even read somewhere that there was a lot of fuss about casting Jared Leto. And the term “whitewashing” came up. Didn’t we have the same discussion about Matt Damon’s contribution to “The Great Wall“? By the way, I thought Jared Leto was suitable for this role as the silent (probably because he doesn’t speak the language), cold-blooded and emotionless Nick. He reminded me a bit of Keanu Reeves in “47 Ronin“. Only the speed with which he was accepted in the Shiromatsu Yakuza clan, seemed greatly exaggerated. And the emotional relationship between Nick and Miyu (Shioli Kutsuna) felt like a mandatory item.

 

The Outsider

 

But just as I scoured the internet for information about “The Zodiac Killer” after watching the movie “Zodiac“, I couldn’t resist consulting Wikipedia about the Yakuza phenomenon. That means this film also left an impression. If slow crime movies about the Mafia interest you, and this in a Japanese environment, then I can definitely recommend this movie to you.

You can watch The Outsider on Netflix now!

My rating 7/10
Links: IMDB

 

Comic Book Movies

Joaquin Phoenix Stares Into Your Soul As The Joker Via “il venerdì di repubblica” Cover

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“Cinematic achievement on a high level.”

Director Todd Phillips has gone on the record stating, his film is going to piss off hardcore comic book fans. The upcoming ‘Joker’ movie will not follow any comic book plot lines or continuity for the villain, and will in fact be its very own stand alone film. With that being said, the movie is already garnering praise from select audiences. Cameron Bailey, co-head and artistic director of the Toronto International Film Festival, went on record with Toronto Sun, hailing the film as “Cinematic achievement on a high level.” Bailey continued on, saying:

“First of all it’s terrific. So it should play on our largest stage. But it’s a really original take on comic book movies and on the Joker character in particular. It’s not based on an existing story, it has one of the greatest actors in modern cinema, Joaquin Phoenix, in the lead, and Robert De Niro is in it as well, one of the best actors that has ever lived.”

Bailey, also went on to say, the film is “Very cinematic,” for a low budget feature.

“Has an interesting tone and approach to it. It’s set in the late ’70s, early ’80s and it feels like it was made then. It’s gritty in its look, it has references to Martin Scorsese’s filmmaking and it feels like a cinematic achievement on a high level. Although it’s working with very populist material, it has great ambition. That’s why it’s a Gala.”

Check out the newest ‘Joker’ magazine cover via il venerdì di repubblica.

‘Joker’ hits theaters October 4, 2019

 

 

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Action

Avengement – A Raw Extremely Violent Revenge Film

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So…prison turned you into a stone-cold killer, did it?
Nah, prison didn’t.
You and my brother did.

I’ve just seen the Philippine revenge film “Maria” in which a beautiful woman beats up everyone she encounters. And before I know it, the next one presents itself already. This time it’s a flick from the UK and from a completely different level. Not only the story itself is acceptable. Also, the endless series of fight scenes will bring fans of action movies into ecstasy. Scott Adkins is a man with brutal force who crushes his opponents without mercy with his hammer blows. So expect a large amount of splattering blood, shattered bones, cracked skulls and wisdom teeth flying around. In other words, “Avengement” is a very brutal movie.

At first, I expected something similar like “We still kill the old way” or “Legend“. An English crime/action film full of violence but with that English politeness still present in the background. Well, that doesn’t apply to “Avengement”. Every kind of courtesy is being crushed into the ground here. You can compare it with “Brawl in cell block 99“, but on English soil. This film is a relief when you compare it to all the digitally created violence Hollywood produces lately. In this film, the physical prevails a bit more. When looking at Disney and Hollywood violence, you’d give a “wow” cry. With “Avengement” it’s rather an “ouch” cry. The physical violence is so realistic, you sometimes can feel the pain yourself. And not only Adkins’ opponents moan noisily. He too suffers and regularly has to take hits.

 

 

Avengement

 

Extreme brutal and cruel.

Not only does Adkins needs to show how extreme anger runs through Cain’s veins. That’s about 90% of the total playing time. You’ll also see how normal and fair Cain is at the start of the movie. A decent man who begs his brother to help him with the idea to start a gym. The transformation, however, is frightening when he’s in jail for a while. A punishment he got when a job he had to do for his brother went terribly wrong. It’s there that the fairly well-behaved Cain is slowly turning into a cruel hot-head. The constant attempts of fellow prisoners to kill him one way or the other ensures that he trains and practices every day. These confrontations are already very brutal and cruel. It’s also here that he gets metallic teeth. When he finally ends up in a private pub, Cain is a scarred man. Both internally and externally. The only thing that interests Cain is revenge.

 

Avengement

 

Who the hell is Scott Adkins?

To be honest, I didn’t know who Scott Adkins was in the first place. Completely unknown to me. Well, mega-fans of action movies will probably turn their nose up at me. And I admit that I don’t understand how it’s possible that I didn’t know this tough Englishman yet. For all I care, he can safely join “The Expendables” next time. He certainly won’t look out of place next to Statham and Van Damme. He certainly isn’t a person you want to bump into at night. That’s for sure. Not only does Adkins show in this film that he masters the necessary fighting techniques, but for once I didn’t have the impression that the I-wait-patiently-for-my-turn-to-be-beaten-up principle was applied here. A method that’s usually used in such action films. You’ll see someone waiting patiently on the side who, as soon as a colleague sticks to the wall, quickly takes his place. Something that nerves me immensely every time it’s used.

 

Avengement

 

Just watch it.

Avengement” certainly isn’t a first-class film and won’t win loads of film prizes. Maybe using flashbacks isn’t something that will get you excited. Me neither. But if you just want to enjoy a raw, extremely violent revenge film, then this is really suitable for you. I certainly enjoyed it intensely. Just watch the trailer, and you’ll agree instantly.

My rating 7/10
Links: IMDB

 

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Crime

Robert De Niro And Joe Pesci Return In Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Irishman’ | Official Trailer – HD

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Genre:

Drama/Crime

Release Date:

2019 (Netflix)

Director:

Martin Scorsese

Cast:

Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Anna Paquin, Jesse Plemons, Aleksa Palladino

Plot Summary:

Frank Sheeran maintains ties with the Bufalino crime family and claims to have killed fellow Teamster Jimmy Hoffa.

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