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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

 

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Crime

Netflix’s Bodies Review: Stephen Graham’s Mind-Twisting Series Related To Dark?

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Netflix's Bodies

If you are a fan of time travel, crime, and mind-bending suspense then Netflix’s Bodies is perfect to binge-watch this weekend. Directed by Haolu Wang and Marco Kreuzpaintner, Bodies is based on DC’s graphic novel by Si Spencer – who has been tributed in the first episode. The story follows four detectives in four different timelines and they discover a naked man’s body with one eye gouged out, surprisingly it’s the body of the same person in different timelines!

Shira Haas and Stephen Graham

Shira Haas and Stephen Graham in Netflix’s ‘Bodies’

The 8-episode series parallelly shows four detectives – DS Hasan (Amaka Okafor) in 2023, DS Whiteman (Jacob Fortune-Lloyd) in 1941, DI Hillinghead (Kyle Soller) in 1890, and DC Maplewood (Shira Haas) in 2053 twisted in the same case discovering facts that are beyond their understanding. DS Hasan from the year 2023 discovers that the case she has been working on has happened before, not once but twice decades ago. Much to her suspicion, the evidence aligns with her own case which leads her confused more than ever.

Stephen Graham is not limited to one timeline, his intense performance deepens the storyline, leaving viewers jumpy. Amaka Okafor, Shira Haas, Kyle Soller, and Jacob Fortune-Lloyd’s distinctive acting and effective dialogue delivery are appreciated but Fortune-Lloyd deserves a standing ovation for his shining performance. Graham and Soller’s costumes and makeup are on point in the show.

Jacob Fortune-Lloyd

Jacob Fortune-Lloyd as DS Whiteman in Bodies

With each episode comes mind-blowing twists that keep you on edge all the time. Each detective’s personal story and connection to people close to them adds more depth to their character and the choices they make. Even till the end of the last episode, the series holds your attention profoundly. Different timelines connected to one another may cause confusion at first but it only adds more fun to the story that leaves us in shock.

Now, if it reminds you of Netflix’s other popular German series Dark, directed by Baran bo Odar, then we can’t blame you. Bodies and Dark are not related to each other but they draw strong parallels to one another and it’s mainly due to different timelines, time travel, and hard-to-understand relations between the two characters. Although characters in Bodies are not connected to each other deep and twisted like in Dark but you need to keep a close eye to understand their connection. Dark, starring German actors Louis Hofmann and Lisa Vicari, is Netflix’s one of the most popular supernatural twists series and it is safe to assume that Bodies is no less than the 3-season German series.

Time portal in 'Dark' vs 'Bodies'

Time Portal in ‘Dark’ vs ‘Bodies’

Stephen Graham’s Bodies is a mind-bending, thriller series full of brilliant performances. Its captivating narrative and depth keep the viewers engaged and entertained.

Bodies is available to stream on Netflix.

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Crime

Killers Of The Flower Moon: Scorsese Expertly Crafts A True American Tragedy

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Martin Scorsese directing a Western crime drama starring Leonardo Dicaprio and Robert De Niro, a combination like that would immediately make this project the most highly anticipated movie of the year for most movie lovers. I have been looking forward to this project ever since it was announced to be happening in 2017, and 6 years later it is finally here.

 

Killers of the Flower Moon is based on the non-fiction book of the same name by David Grann and is adapted by Eric Roth. It also stars Lily Gladstone, Jesse Plemons, Brendan Fraser, and John Lithgow alongside De Niro and DiCaprio. Martin Scorsese has been delivering top-quality cinema for almost six decades now and although I didn’t love his last feature The Irishman, expectations were still high from this project, which also happens to be his first western.

Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio in “Killers of the Flower Moon,” coming soon to Apple TV+.

Killers of the Flower Moon is set in the 1920s in the oil-rich lands of the Osage in Fairfax, Oklahoma. Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio), a World War 1 veteran with no prospects arrives in town to live with his uncle Bill ‘King’ Hale (Robert De Niro), who claims to be a friend to the Osage people. Ernest falls in love with an Osage woman Mollie (Lily Gladstone), who sees through his greed, but a genuine romance eventually blossoms between the two.

 

The plot thickens when Mollie’s family starts dying under suspicious circumstances and they struggle to find justice through the local authorities. Gladstone’s performance is elegant and powerful and she shows her ability to act through her eyes for most of her screen time. She is subtle and often silent, but she makes sure to convey the exact emotions that her character is going through. Robert De Niro as Uncle Bill does what he does best. Scorsese always seems to manage to bring out the best of him. He is calculative, cunning and sharp and shines as the scheming businessman. DiCaprio also gives one of his career-best performances as the charming underling of King Hale.

 

Though the story is about the murderers, it keeps the romance between Mollie and Ernest at its center and for the first two acts, their relationship is the primary driving force of the narrative. The third act focuses more on the investigation and the consequences of the killings. The direction is masterful throughout and it follows similar themes from Scorsese’s previous works like greed, betrayal, and murder. The cinematography is also one of the finest of the year, with the sheer scale of the canvas a sight for sore eyes. The production design and costumes are also stellar.

Robert De Niro and Jesse Plemons in “Killers of the Flower Moon,” coming soon to Apple TV+.

A lot has been said about the runtime of the movie, which goes over the 200-minute mark, but it never feels too long. There are stretches that feel slow and could have been edited to make it crisper, but the run-time was not a major issue for me. I did feel that the screenplay did not provide enough perspective to the viewer, especially about some of the characters’ motivations. Some of the depth feels unexplored. Jesse Plemons was massively underused, while Brendan Fraser and John Lithgow feel wasted. I also felt that there was scope for blood and violence and the script also holds back on language.

 

Killers Of The Flower Moon is A True American Tragedy that further cements Martin Scorsese as one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. He shows off his craftsmanship and delivers a riveting Western epic that is self-reflective, thought-provoking and thoroughly captivating. AppleTV and Paramount have a masterpiece on their hands with knockout performances and masterful storytelling.

Killers of the Flower Moon releases in cinemas on October 20. 

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Crime

The Kingpin of Gotham Has Arrived | The Penguin – Teaser

The Penguin is an upcoming American television miniseries created by Lauren LeFranc for the streaming service Max. Based on the DC Comics character Penguin, it is a spin-off from the film The Batman that explores the Penguin’s rise to power in Gotham City’s criminal underworld.

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Genre:

Crime, Drama, Fantasy

Release Date:

2023

Director:

Max

Cast:

Collin Farrell, Clancy Brown, Cristin Milioti,

Plot Summary:

The Penguin is an upcoming American television miniseries created by Lauren LeFranc for the streaming service Max. Based on the DC Comics character Penguin, it is a spin-off from the film The Batman that explores the Penguin’s rise to power in Gotham City’s criminal underworld.

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