Thief (7/13/12)

Movie One Hundred Sixty Five

Thief is about an ex-con and expert jewel thief that decides to pull a few more heists in order to start a new life.

Frank (James Caan) is a professional safe-cracker that robs cash and/or diamonds and sells them. After his fence is killed, Frank and his partner in crime, Barry (Jim Belushi), are led to a Chicago outfit boss, Leo (Robert Prosky). Leo wants Frank to do a few jobs for him and Frank reluctantly agrees so he can start a new life with a waitress, Jessie (Tuesday Weld) he has been dating. After the big score, Frank wants out but Leo has other plans.

Many people know Michael Mann for his awesome work in Heat, but Thief does some elements of the heist movie just as well, if not better. Frank and Barry are characters easy to understand and relate to, even if we know that it will be hard for things to go right for them. Even if it’s a story we think we’ve seen before, as a whole it is an entertaining one.

I’m not sure if it’s my undying love for the film Drive, but I found many similarities between the films. The opening sequence of Drive has to be an homage to the beginning of Thief, there is no way it’s coincidental. Both Frank and Driver both are cool, calculating, and vengeful, though Frank is much more outspoken. Even the title font and soundtracks are similar. If anyone was disappointed by what Drive wasn’t, then Thief may be the film they are looking for.

There are portions of Thief were the plot seems to lose a bit of its footing and the pacing suffers but then things pick right back up. When Frank is trying to make a life with Jessie I found myself tuning out a bit and waiting for the next scene. I understand we need to know Frank’s motives for going against his instincts and teaming with the mafia, but their relationship still didn’t seem real to me even after all the time spent doting on them. Drive builds a better relationship in less time and with hardly any dialogue.

Thief has been a bit lost in time but it’s a great noir/heist film and outside the Godfather, some of James Caan’s better work. In spite of a few stumbling areas, Thief delivers on every expectation of the genre and perhaps even more.

I give it 4 Thief’s opening sequences out of 5.

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Drive (2/2/12 and 2/3/12 and 6/18/12 and 10/5/12)

Drive

Movie Nineteen and Twenty One and One Hundred Forty Four and Two Hundred Twenty Three

Drive is my favorite movie of 2011. Drive also has some of the most abhorrent cover art ever, I literally hate to even post it. After the movie’s release it seemed like people either loved it or hated it, and I think I can pinpoint why that is.

First off, the trailer gives the impression of an edge-of-your-seat nonstop car chase. That is not the case, though there are several amazingly tense chase sequences. Second off, there is actually very little dialog in the movie, and the star, Ryan Gosling, has only a few lines. The film is very moody and very powerful if you are willing to pay attention. This also brings me back to the cover because for some reason Sony Pictures decided to make the film look like a straight to DVD horror movie.

Not. Even. Close. There is a fair amount of graphic violence, though.

Drive is a movie that requires multiple viewings, in my opinion. Because there is little dialog there is much open to interpretation and much to be missed. This is partly why I watched Drive two nights in a row, the other reason is because I love Drive.

Despite all my love for the film, I am cautious to wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone. It’s not for everyone, and I don’t think it tries to be. It rewards its viewers with a moody atmosphere, terrific retro soundtrack, great characters, exciting chases, and fantastic performances (Albert Brooks as the villain is perfect casting). If you watch Drive and love it, welcome to the club. If you watch Drive knowing what to expect and still don’t like it, thanks for giving it a shot. If you watch it and don’t like it because of what it doesn’t do, then sorry you watched it.

I give it 5 stolen black Mustangs out of 5.

PS – This is what I wish the cover art had been

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