There’s that old adage that crime doesn’t pay, but we all know that sometimes it kind of does, at least materialistically. But karmically — now there’s a whole other beast that gets wrestled to the ground in this collection of CineFiles, focusing on a handful of the latest indie crime flicks just released on home video, some from around the world and some, in particular, from Texas.
First up, we have the grim and bleak look at underground world of Mumbai in the mesmerizing That Girl in Yellow Boots. Kalki Koeechlin delivers an astounding performance as Ruth, a girl from a broken family who's lost in a big city while making a paltry living in an illegal massage parlor. She's barely living off the hope that someday she’ll find a man who’ll take care of her and give her a better life. This all goes to pot, however, when she becomes intertwined with a scummy drug-dealer who just drags her down even deeper into a world from which she has absolutely no prayer of escape. This isn’t the Bollywood that most of us are used to — it’s a brutal, intense look at a world that very few Westerners have ever truly been exposed to on film.
Speaking of broken families and broken dreams, the kick-to-the gut that is Hellion brings the action home to Texas, with Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul as a wholly neglectful drunk dad, desperately trying to raise two boys who are well on their way to the penitentiary. As the boys sink deeper and deeper into petty crime and other miscreant mischief, DHS splits them up and then it really hits the fan. Hellion wants to offer glimmers of hope now and then, but about halfway through the viewer just knows that this can’t end well. With a strong acting job by Paul, it’s definitely worth a viewing, even if it might hit way too close to home for some people.
Sticking with Texas for a hot minute, the crime thriller Cold in July does the best it can, but far too many obvious turns that want to be seen as unexpected twists really dampen the proceedings. Michael C. Hall (of Dexter fame) is trying to protect his house when he shoots a burglar dead. This makes him a typical Texas Second Amendment hero, but it also brings the prowler’s dad to town, looking for revenge. Pasts are uprooted, communities are threatened, and it’s as Lone Star noir as all get-out, but that doesn’t stop it from being a mish-mash of everything from A History of Violence to Homefront, with maybe just a little bit more sweaty Southern grit than we’re accustomed to. It might be worth a Redbox outing, but that’s about it.
Finally, let’s go to the Netherlands with the triumphant MMA gangster pic Wolf. This ain’t the Netherlands with the tulips and windmills — this is the black-and-white underbelly, and man, is it brutal. Just out of prison, kickboxer Majid wants to go on the straight and narrow and starts training at a gym that just might help put him back on the path of a champion. However, escaping from his bleak neighborhood is a little too much to ask, and he finds himself at odds with the criminals from his past who want him back in the life. As he tries to stop these worlds from blurring together, it’s a seriously white-knuckled journey all the way to end because you want at least a little redemption for the guy, regardless of anything he’s done. This Wolf bites. And hard.
Crime might not pay all of the time, but I’m sure we can all agree that most of the time, it sure does entertain.