Tag Archives: Eastern Promises

TV & Movie Crime Log: Peaky, Blacklist, Gone

Peaky BlindersBritish serialised crime dramas are always welcome at my gaff, as long as they leave all knives and guns at the door and take off their size twelves. Peaky Blinders is back for a second series. The title refers, of course, to an early 20th century gang who hid razor-blades in their hats for nefarious purposes – but could just as well refer to the razor sharp cheekbones of Cillian ‘Crane’ Murphy.

That’s by the by, you’re not here to talk about cheekbones, you’re here to discover what the blurb has to say for itself:

Birmingham crime boss Thomas Shelby  heads into perilous territory. As the 1920s begin to roar, business is booming for the Peaky Blinders gang. Shelby starts to expand his legal and illegal operations. He has his sights set firmly on wider horizons, and the race tracks of the South are calling out for new management.

Shelby’s meteoric rise brings him into contact with both the upper echelons of society and astonishing new adversaries from London’s criminal enterprises. All will test him to the core, though in very different ways.

Meanwhile, Shelby’s home turf of Birmingham is beset by new challenges as members of his family react to the upturn in their fortunes, and an enemy from his past returns to the city with plans for a revenge of biblical proportions.

Biblical proportions doesn’t sound good. Joining the cast is Tom Hardy. Quite a coup, considering Mr. Hardy is something of a movie heart-throb, these days. The advice he delivered in Inception – ‘dare to dream a little bigger, darling’ – is sage advice to any writer and was considered, briefly, as the title of this blog. The cast also includes Helen McCrory – we like her – and Noah ‘The Rach 3’ – Taylor.

Peaky Blinders was, is, written by Steven Knight, who wrote Locke, Eastern Promises and Dirty Pretty Things and, lest we forget, created Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.

The BlacklistIf, everywhere you go, James Spader’s big milky gaze is following you from a billboard, it means The Blacklist is back on Sky Living this Friday at 9pm, for a second season. However, if you also get a curious sense that Spader’s talking to you about courgettes, then – no disrespect intended – it means you’re probably not well.

If you’re a fan of the first series – and there are plenty – you know the drill. Raymond ‘Red’ Reddington hands himself into the FBI and tells them he can deliver them the world’s most-wanted criminals – his only stipulation is that he’ll only talk with a rookie agent. I haven’t watched much of it, to be honest, but even I could glean that the agent’s husband is a rotter.

And, so then, let us please be upstanding for David Fincher’s adaptation of Gone Girl, which comes to a cinema screen near you on Friday. Gillian Flynn’s novel was quite the thing to be reading a couple of years ago, reaching that mythical zeitgeisty place that authors dream about – and, happily, managed to be also beautifully written. Mr. Fincher seems an ideal fit for her cynical and mesmerising story of a toxic marriage, and so far the reviews for the movie have been terrific.

incidentally, those of us who much admire Mz. Flynn’s two proceeding novels, Sharp Objects and Dark Places – I’m looking at you, madam, and you, sir – will be happy to know there are adaptations of those in the pipeline. Dark Places, like the adaptation of Gone Girl, has a screenplay written by the author herself, and Sharp Objects is set to be a TV series.

Be gone with you.

TV Crime Log: Bates, Blinders & Bradley

The telly schedules will be filling up with crime thriller series over the coming months – The Tunnel, The Blacklist and the return of Homeland, among them – as the networks unveil their autumn goodies. And there are a couple of new series tomorrow night that you must, or must not, watch, as you see fit.

Peaky Blinders is the BBC’s attempt at a period crime drama in the Boardwalk Empire vein. Set in Birmingham just after the First World War, it follows the Peaky Blinders gang – so named for their charming practice of sewing razor blades into their caps – as they make money from illegal betting, protection and the black market.

Here’s some blurb :

Birmingham, 1919. Thomas Shelby is a war veteran, and head of feared gang, the Peaky Blinders. When he comes into possession of a crate of guns from the local arms factory, Thomas sees an opportunity to increase the gang’s power and move up in the world. Meanwhile, tough Belfast copper Chief Inspector Campbell arrives in town, tasked with the recovery of the guns by none other than Winston Churchill. Will Thomas listen to the Peaky Blinders’ family matriarch, Aunt Polly, who instructs him to ditch the weapons rather than take on the police?

At the same time Thomas incurs the wrath of his older brother, Arthur, when he stages ‘the powder trick’: a magic spell which will encourage the locals to bet on a horse. It’s the first step in fixing a race, but Thomas did it without the permission of Billy Kimber, the kingpin who runs the racetracks.

Thomas’s younger sister Ada, meanwhile, is secretly having a relationship with his former best friend and the man who saved his life in the trenches, Freddie Thorne. Freddie is a Marxist, encouraging workers to strike over their recent cuts in pay.

Like Thomas and the Peaky Blinders, Freddie and the Communists are on Chief Inspector Campbell’s list of suspects: organisations he intends to decapitate in his ruthless search for the missing guns.

608There’s Cillian Murphy, looking like he means business – we like him. I don’t know the name of the horse, but I can confirm that Sam Neill is in Peaky Blinders, and we absolutely love him around here.

If you’re still umming-and-aahing about whether to watch it, be aware that it was created by Steven Knight, who wrote Eastern Promises and Dirty Pretty Things. That title, though — I keep wanting to say Pesky Blinders, which makes it sound a bit Scooby-Doo.

Peaky Blinders is on Thursday night – that’s tomorrow for the terminally bewildered among you – at 9pm. It may require an hour of your attention should you intend to watch the whole thing.

Aimages-1nd who, you may ask, is going to fill that loveable-serial-killer shaped hole in your heart now that Dexter is finally going to be put out of his misery – one way or another – in a few, short weeks?

Why, it’s our old friend, Norman Bates, coming out of mothballs, and bringing  his deranged – but undeniably hot – mother with him.

Bates Motel has already been commissioned for another season in the States. I think a lot of people were very sceptical about the idea of retooling Hitchcock’s iconic Psycho, but actually, the reviews for Bates Motel have been very good.

It follows Norma and little Norman’s new life in a small town as they attempt to set up a new motel business and get to know the locals, very possibly by killing and burying them.

Bates Motel clashes – would you believe it! – with Peaky Blinders. It’s on the Universal Channel – there is such a thing, I assure you, check your EPG – at 9pm, tomorrow night. Yes, Thursday. So something, as they say, has to give.


Look, I’m terribly sorry about the photo of Bradley Walsh, but there is a good reason. You see, him off Law And Order: UK presents a new six-part series on Monday called – wait for it – Crime Thriller Club.

It’s a studio-based… hold on, I’m just going to cut-and-paste the blurb to save time:

Bradley Walsh presents this new six-part studio-based show celebrating the very best of crime fiction and television with high-profile guests, quizzes, bluffer’s guides and peeks behind the scenes of popular dramas.

Culminating in the glittering Crime Thriller Awards 2013 in October at the Grosvenor House Hotel, the series gets exclusive access to the stars and sets of some of Britain’s best known crime thriller programmes like Bletchley Circle, Silent Witness and Midsomer Murders.

Each week the programme gives viewers a bluffer’s guide with a short run-down of the key features of a popular crime drama – from Scott and Bailey to Foyle’s War.

A book of the week is featured, focusing on high-profile authors such as Linwood Barclay and up-and coming names like Diana Bretherick. Living legends of the crime writing genre are also profiled, including Martina Cole, Patricia Cornwell and Wilbur Smith.

Finally, the studio guest and viewers are encouraged to take part in a quiz on a popular crime programme – from Sherlock to Inspector Morse.

Face-palm! Can’t they just leave it to excellent and informative blogs to do this sort of thing? I can’t think of any off the top of my head but, I mean, there are a few out there, right?

So that’s it, then. You won’t need the likes of me any more. All you’ll have to do is set your recorder for ITV3 – that’ll be a first, I bet – on Monday night at 9pm.

*Storms off in a huff*

Crime Thriller Movie Log: Hummingbird, East, Stand-up

For the last few weeks your local cinema has no doubt been bloated with flatulent franchise product, but there are a few smaller-scale crime thriller movies opening at the end of the week that may provide a welcome respite.

Now, I’m a great admirer of Mr. Jason Statham and his bone-crunching close-combat techniques, but nobody in their right mind would go to the cinema to admire his range. However, Hummingbird looks a bit more interesting than usual. He plays a homeless and damaged Royal Marine who assumes another man’s identity.

The movie was filmed mostly at night and features the real homeless. It’s the first film to be directed by Steen Knight, who wrote the screenplays for Eastern Promises and dirty Pretty Things.

Stand-Up guys is about three old guys — Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin — who pull off one last heist, and so on. It’s stunt-casting, of course, with Pacino and Walken riffing on well-trodden gangster screen-personas. It’s low-key and bittersweet and, according to  reviews, relies too heavily on the talent of its leads, but I could probably watch the three of them in anything.

Political thriller The East looks more nutritious. It stars Brit Marling as a private intelligence operative who infiltrates an anarchist collective suspected of attacking multinational companies. Marling wrote the screenplay with the director Zal Batmanglij after they spent a summer practicing freeganism, where you eat food which has been discarded.

Here’s the trailer…

That was him from True Blood, right?

Sinister Nation States need to buck their ideas up if they’re not going to be knocked off their perch by multinational corporations as cinema’s favourite Bad Guys. Joseph Finder’s rather good thriller Paranoia is being made into a movie starring One Of The Hemsworths. It’s not out yet, but here’s the trailer anyway. Weirdly, Gary Oldman’s geezer accent sounds way off.

Crime Thriller TV & Movie Log: Americans, Purge, Plan, Blood

I was hoping to get to Crimefest but, sadly, responsibilities have kept me away. Which is a shame, because it all looks tremendously exciting. If you’re there, I hope you’re making the most of the panels, conventions and workshops. I’ll see you there next year.

UnknownHowever, if you’re sitting around the house this weekend wondering how to fill your hours, you could do worse than to start watching The Americans, which is on ITV at 10pm, Saturday night.

It’s has a terrific conceit. Check out the blurb, comrade:

In 1981, Philip and Elizabeth Jennings (Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell) are undercover Soviet intelligence agents from the secretive Directorate S of the KGB sent to the U.S. 15 years ago to work deep cover in Washington, D.C.

Their assumed identities are a married couple who run a travel agency, and even their own children Paige (Holly Taylor) and Henry (Keidrich Sellati) do not know their secret. Before coming to the U.S., they were instructed not to share their personal lives with each other. The Jennings become stuck with Timochev, a Soviet defector they had abducted to send back to the Soviet Union.

Meanwhile, FBI Counter-Intelligence Agent Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich) has moved in across the street with his family. Philip and Elizabeth must figure out what to do with Timochev, who remains locked in the trunk of their car, while they contemplate whether or not Beeman’s arrival is a coincidence.

I’ve been looking forward to this coming to UK screens for a good while now. The reviews in the US have been tremendous — and the good news is, it’s been recommissioned for a second series.

The Americans was created by a former CIA man called Joe Weisberg, who, as a former agent, must run his scripts past the agency. It’s inspired by the so-called Illegals Program, when a network of deep-cover Russian agents were rounded up by the FBI in 2010. One pair of sleeper agents cohabited and even had children to maintain their cover in suburban New Jersey.

There are also some interesting crime thriller movie releases out this week that you may feel worthy of your patronage.

Blood is the kind of gritty thriller us Brits do rather well, and it’s got a top-notch cast. Paul Bettany proved he could do dark and conflicted in the movie version of Mellis and Scinto’s terrific play Gangster No. 1. In Blood he’s joined by Stephen Graham – Capone in Boardwalk Empire, of course – and Mark Strong, who’s appeared in any number of thrillers. Oh, and Brian Cox is in it, too. That’s a good cast by anybody’s standards.

Blood is the story of two policemen brothers who investigate a crime they themselves have committed.

In Everybody Has A Plan, Viggo Mortensen stars as a man, bored with his own life, who takes on his twin brother’s identity — and gets mixed up with his brother’s criminal friends. The film is  Argentinian – Mortensen spent his early childhood there and can speak fluent Argentinian Spanish. We like Mr Mortensen, don’t we, for his terrifically intense performances in Eastern Promises, The Road and A History of Violence. He’s also a musician, artist and photographer, and has  been known to immensely lovely hair.

One of those home-invasion movies, The Purge also has a really good idea at its core. In an America wracked by escalating crime, the government sanctions a night in which anybody can commit any crime. Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey pay a couple who  let a stranger into their house – as you naturally would on an evening when psychopaths and killers roam the streets.

Oh, dear — people in masks. They always give me the shivers.