Monday, December 19, 2011

BANG BANG: Julian Tran and Cuyler Ballenger

BANG BANG is our week-long look back at 20!!, or "Twenty-bang-bang," or 2011, with contributions from all over aiming to cover all sorts of enthusiasms from film to music to words and beyond.

Julian Tran and Cuyler Ballenger Present: Crime

Netflix doubled our monthly fee this year. What a crime. Here are the best crime movies we saw on Netflix this year.

1. Carlos (Mini-Series), 2010, Olivier Assayas. Carlos is an interesting movie because the entire six hours is comprised of five repeating scenes: Cars driving up to a place; Johnny Walker Red being consumed; Shooting into a ceiling with an automatic weapon; Deboarding planes; The Cure. Because of, not despite, this simplicity, Carlos is irresistible, like (see picture). Don’t let the six hour running time dissuade you – Assayas burns through scenes with the naïve recklessness of a true Marxist. In a good way.

2. The Robber (Der Räuber), 2010, Benjamin Heissenberg. Further proof that rich people run. Madoff probably ran 5 miles, 5 days a week, before going into the office and robbing half the eastern seaboard. The Robber runs before and after his job. He also amasses a sizeable fortune, although his main asset is physical endurance. Unfortunately, even the best marathon runners tire and shit themselves, which is probably exactly what Madoff is doing these days.

3. Army of Shadows (L'armée des ombres), 1969, Jean-Pierre Melville. Not a crime movie exactly, unless you count Nazis as criminals, which basically nobody does anymore. Vive la Résistance.

4. Body Heat, 1981, Lawrence Kasdan. Body Heat is about a lawyer played by William Hurt who has an affair with the wife of a wealthy businessman. He is quickly ensnared in a plot to kill her husband. See, lawyers are people too. It’s the single largest act of betrayal perpetrated in Miami-Dade county pre-Lebron James. And the sex. Oh, the sex. It’s so inappropriately graphic, it’s like watching your parents do it. Great performances by Hurt, Kathleen Turner and Ted Danson, and Kasdan captures the fetid, damp rot of south Florida perfectly, which is fortunate, as I personally have no desire to visit.

5. Revanche, 2008, Götz Spielmann. We all know one of the dumbest crimes is trying to turn a Ho into a Housewife. Thankfully, Revanche knows this too. By killing off the female lead, the film is allowed to move onto more interesting relationships, like that of an aging father and his wayward son. Alex (played by Johannes Krisch) contemplates revenge numerous times: against his lover’s killer (gun), against his own father (Oedipal), and against many logs of firewood (axe) but manages to find a sort of redemption.

6. VOICEOVER: The Only Thing More Dangerous Than a Bartender Serving You Drinks is One That’s Feeding You LIES. The Friends of Eddie Coyle, a 1973 Film by Peter Yates.

[cut to: A MASKED MAN FIRING A SHOTGUN. The screen goes black.]

V.O. (CONT’D): With Friends Like This, Who Needs Enemies.

[title: NOW PLAYING.]


Julian Tran and Cuyler Ballenger are writers living in New York. But they're friends, just like California. Julian can be found here and Cuyler writes at

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