Life Of Crime Is Anything But The Standard Crime Drama

Courtesy:  Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions/Hyde Park Entertainment/Image Nation/Starstream Entertainment/Abbolita Productions/The Gotham Group

Courtesy: Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions/Hyde Park Entertainment/Image Nation/Starstream Entertainment/Abbolita Productions/The Gotham Group

Lionsgate’s new drama Life Of Crime is an interesting movie.  The movie, which is based on author Elmore Leonard’s book The Switch is the polar opposite of all of the prequels, sequels, and remakes being churned out by Hollywood’s ‘Power Five” studios today.  It stands out completely from everything else on theaters and in the realm of home entertainment primarily because of its story.  The story centers on the kidnapping of a woman that is married to a rather unpleasant man by two ex-cons, one of which just got out of jail.  That aspect is discussed in the movie’s bonus features.  So it will be touched on later.  The story though, is rather interesting in that it doesn’t necessarily turn out the way that audiences might think.  In fact it actually turns the classic crime story a bit on its ear as audiences will see.  Another reason that the movie works as well as it does is the acting on the part of the cast.  The cast’s acting really serves to highlight the character development that takes place over the course of the movie’s near two-hour run time.  Last but not least of note in this recent release is the movie’s bonus material.  The behind-the-scenes featurette and the discussion on how the movie came to be adapted from Leonard’s book both shed their own light on the movie, making the whole viewing experience all the richer.  That isn’t to take away from the movie’s bonus commentary.  It serves its own purpose in the grand scheme of things, too.  The end result is a movie that while it definitely walks off the beaten path is well worth the watch if only once.

Life of Crime is a welcome respite from all of the prequels, sequels, and remakes currently being churned out by Hollywood’s “Power Five” studios.  The central reason for this is its script.  While adapted from author Elmore Leonard’s book The Switch, it stays true to the source material, as audiences will learn in watching the movie’s bonus material.  The story centers on the kidnapping of well-to-do wife Mickey Dawson (Jennifer Aniston).  Mickey is kidnapped by two ex-cons named Louis (John Hawkes—American Gangster, The Sessions, Lincoln) and Ordell (Yasiin Bey a.k.a. Mos Def—The Italian Job, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, 16 Blocks).  The pair originally sets out to kidnap her and extort $1 million from her husband Frank (Tim Robbins—The Shawshank Redemption, The Hudsucker Proxy, Mystic River).  There’s just one problem.  He is getting ready to file for divorce unbeknownst to both her and her captors.  As things progress, a friendship of sorts forms between Mickey and Louis.  On the other end, Ordell ends up with Frank’s mistress Melanie (Isla Fisher—Now You See Me, Rango, Wedding Crashers).  Considering all of this, one would think that the movie is a comedy.  But that isn’t the case.  Writer/Director Daniel Schecter took the story in a more dramatic direction, again staying true to the source material.  The only way that this is a bad thing is the story’s pacing.  It does tend to drag somewhat as the story progresses.  But it is still a story worth at least one watch despite this.

The story on which Life of Crime is centered is an important reason that audiences should give this movie at least one watch.  Again as Writer/Director Daniel Schecter notes in the movie’s bonus material, he wanted to stay true to the movie’s source material. That’s because, as he notes, he didn’t like all of the movies that changed the story in its adaptation from its source material.  The story itself would be nothing without a cast to carry out the story.  And the movie’s cast does quite the job of bringing the story to life.  Their interpretation of Schecter’s script makes up for the story’s issues with pacing.  Audiences will love the fact that Aniston’s Mickey is such a strong female lead.  This goes back to the fact that the story turns the typical crime drama genre on its ear.  Mickey isn’t afraid to stand up to her captors, which is what leads to her budding friendship with Louis.  Women especially will cheer as Mickey uses a lit cigarette to burn Richard (Mark Boone, Jr.) in his eye.  Her overall interactions with Louis and Ordell display so much character development throughout the story.  That mix of development and interaction will pull in audiences with ease and keep them engaged right to the end again despite the story’s pacing issue.  It’s one more way in which Life of Crime stands out from all of the other major blockbuster prequels, sequels, and remakes currently out there and that are on the way.  It still is not the last factor that makes the movie work, either.  The last factor that makes Life of Crime work as well as it does is the movie’s bonus material.

The last factor involved in Life of Crime’s home release is the bonus material included in the movie’s Blu-ray/Digital HD release.  The bonus behind-the-scenes featurette itself offers quite a bit of insight into the movie.  That insight includes the thoughts on the movie’s source material from both the cast and director.  Aniston also has the chance to discuss her character’s portrayal to some length in the behind-the-scenes featurette.  The companion featurette entitled “Envisioning The Big Picture: Shooting Crime” allows Schecter to discuss his reasoning for staying as close as possible to Leonard’s original book in adapting it and the surprise that Leonard actually liked Schecter’s script for his adaptation.  There is much more discussed in both features.  And audiences will find in taking in the rest of those discussions, they add even more interest to Life of Crime in whole.  The same can be said of the movie’s bonus commentary from Schecter and actor Will Forte (Saturday Night Live) who plays a slightly overbearing man trying to win over Mickey throughout the movie.  The end result of all of these discussions is a viewing experience that makes Life of Crime even more a story worth at least one watch.

Whether it be for the story, the acting on the part of the cast or the movie’s companion bonus material, every one of these factors plays an integral role in the overall success and enjoyment of Life of Crime.  All three factors together make it an unsuspecting and rather interesting work worth at least one watch and a potential candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of this year’s best new independent movies.  Life of Crime is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct through Lionsgate’s online store at http://www.lionsgateshop.com/search_results.asp?Search=life%20of%20crime.  More information on this and other titles from Lionsgate is available online at:

Website: http://www.lionsgatefilms.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lionsgate

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NYPD Blue’s Sixth Season One Of The Series’ Best

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory released the sixth season of ABC’s crime drama NYPD Blue today.  NYPD Blue was one of the most polarizing series on television over the course of its run on ABC from beginning to end.  The series’ sixth season is no less powerful than the seasons that had come before.  That’s not only because of the drama surrounding the cases in each episode, either.  The writing has shown a different side of the characters this season, especially in one particular story arc.  And that growth in the series’ writing is just part of what makes Season Six enjoyable for the show’s fans. The acting on the part of the series’ cast ties directly in to the writing. The cast expertly interprets the scripts for each episode, adding even more depth to the series this time out. The acting and writing that bring Season Six together are of equal importance to its success. On another level, the show’s overall production values—its gritty look, its cinematography, and music—round out the whole package, making NYPD Blue: Season Six another win for fans of this landmark series and for Shout! Factory.

One of the major reasons that NYPD Blue managed to remain on the air for so long was its writing staff. While Dick Wolf’s Law & Order franchises relied largely on the headlines for storylines, the storylines that ran through NYPD Blue were far more hard hitting. They showed that it was possible to craft a solid story without just re-enacting the weekly news headlines. And that expert writing continued well into this season. The season-opening story arc is proof positive of this. Season Six opens with Simone (Jimmy Smitts) ending up in the hospital due to a heart problem. It is that heart problem that eventually leads to a very difficult decision for his wife and to a very deep reaction from Sipowicz along the way. It’s definitely one of the series’ most moving and powerful story arcs as it shows that Sipowicz is human after all. Add in the discussion on the right-to-life and audiences get what is simply put a very powerful story arc; one of the best that the series had seen to date. This is just one example of the talents of the series’ writers this season. There are equally deep stories included in this season such as racism within the police force, and even the announcement of a new life coming into the world among much more. Audiences, again, will find out all of this for themselves when they purchase Season Six. Every story written for Season Six is proof of why this series was able to continue as a fan favorite for six more seasons after this one.

The writing that went into making NYPD Blue: Season Six was some of the best for any drama on television at its time. Just as key to this season’s success was the acting on the part of the cast. Dennis Franz’s acting in the season-opening story ac is some of the most powerful that any of the cast members had presented to that point. Franz presented a far more vulnerable and human side to Sipowicz as Sipwicz tried to maintain his hard-nosed façade, albeit unsuccessfully. It was, in an odd way, heart wrenching to see Sipowicz break down. Yet it was moving to see that he had that side. It makes him an even deeper character. The reaction of all of Bobby’s fellow officers was just as moving. It showed that for everything that they had to deal with, even the strongest people have to mourn. Anyone left dry-eyed after seeing this simply isn’t human. Of course, there were also the reactions in the much happier announcement in the season of a new life coming into the world late in this season. After everything that the force had dealt with since the season’s opener, the acting here proved to be just as powerful and moving. Those moments all together made Season Six all the more worth watching by any of the series’ original fans.

The writing and acting that went into bringing NYPD Blue: Season Six to life exhibited exactly why the series was still so successful this far into its run. One would be remiss to ignore one more factor that made Season Six a success. That final factor would be the show’s production values. The collective production values—its cinematography, music, and its overall gritty look—set the series apart from Dick Wolf’s Law & Order franchises from early on. The rapid fire camera work, the original music and gritty look were the antithesis of Wolf’s series. Those series always had more of a spit-shined look. Their music and the use of cameras gave those series too perfect of a look. By comparison, the collective production values used even in the sixth season of NYPD Blue made watching the series like seeing the late Robert B. Parker’s novels on television, just without Jessie Stone as the lead. That is truly something special. It really feels like a hard-boiled detective novel put to the small screen. And together with the writing and acting, it makes NYPD Blue: Season Six a completely welcome addition to the library of any fan of this series.

NYPD Blue: Season Six is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered online now direct from Shout! Factory’s online store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/product/nypd-blue-season-six. More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory is available online now at http://www.shoutfactory.com and http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Shout! Factory Announces Release Date For NYPD Blue: Season Six

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory will release the sixth season of the hit crime drama NYPD Blue this Summer.

NYPD Blue Season Six will be released on June 24th, 2014. Season Six of the Emmy® and Peabody award-winning series will be released in a six-disc DVD set containing all twenty-two episodes from the series’ sixth season. The series’ sixth season sees the addition of actor Rick Schroder to the show’s cast. Schroder plays the part of detective Danny Sorenson. Sorenson is Sipowicz’s (Dennis Franz) new partner this season. But he isn’t fully trusted by everybody in the department. That is thanks to his questionable methods. His arrival is just one of a number of major events that arise in Season Six.

The arrival of a new detective on the force and the major events that flush out Season Six are just part of what makes it one of the show’s more talked about seasons. This season also sees a who’s who of guest stars throughout its episodes. Terrence Howard (Hustle & Flow, Iron Man, Crash), Daniel Benzali (General Hospital), Mos Def (The Italian Job, Dexter, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), Kevin Dillon (Entourage), and Emile Hirsch (Twice Born, Into The Wild, Milk) all make appearances.

NYPD Blue Season Six can be pre-ordered now via Shout! Factory’s online store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/product/nypd-blue-season-six. More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory is available online at http://www.shoutfactory.com and http://facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.