On TV: ‘The Jinx’

'The Jinx': Kathleen and Robert Durst (HBO Films)

‘The Jinx': Kathleen and Robert Durst (HBO Films)

Tonight, HBO is premiering the first episode in its six-part true-crime documentary The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst. It’s a stranger-than-fiction tale from director Andrew Jarecki (Capturing the Friedmans) who first tried to tackle the curious case of Durst with 2010’s fictional film All Good Things, where Ryan Gosling played Durst, heir to a massive Manhattan real-estate fortune, who was accused of killing his first wife Kathleen, who disappeared in 1982.

thejinx-posterMy review of the first two episodes is at PopMatters:

There’s no straight line through Robert Durst’s story. Instead, there is a curlicue leading from a privileged Manhattan childhood to Dynasty-style power struggles, a lengthy stretch of cross-dressing, and potential connections to three murders. The baffling particulars of Durst’s case and his resolute odd-man-out nature come with the added coating of unreality provided by a life of extreme wealth. It’s a captivating story, and a difficult one to tackle without succumbing to its and his Sphinxian spell. Fittingly, the first two episodes of Andrew Jarecki’s six-part documentary, The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, don’t reveal whether or not it will succumb…

Here’s the trailer:

New in Theaters: ‘Only God Forgives’

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Ryan Gosling, staring his way through ‘Only God Forgives’

OnlyGodForgives-poster1Two years ago, Nicolas Winding Refn blew some people away with Drive, his mannered homage to 1980s’ crime films. Starring Ryan Gosling as a stoic getaway car driver, it didn’t have much of a story, but the cool and moody style was something to behold. Refn and Gosling’s blood-soaked, Bangkok-set followup, Only God Forgives, takes the impulses of that earlier film and pursues them to the nth degree; it may as well be a silent for the lack of dialogue.

Only God Forgives opens tomorrow in limited release. My full review is at Film Racket:

Ryan Gosling doesn’t say much in his second collaboration with Drive filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn. He’s busy looking into the middle distance like a wounded child and occasionally erupting into violence. “Wanna fight?” is about the extent of his verbal skills. For all his cut-from-granite movements and dead-eyed staring, he may as well be Jean-Claude Van Damme. Of course, if played by the Muscles from Brussels, Gosling’s character might have gotten out of a few of the scrapes that leave him looking like a pit bull’s chew toy by the end of this slow-motion surrealist horrorshow dressed up like an arthouse crime story…

You can see the trailer here:

New in Theaters: ‘Gangster Squad’

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The new year’s slate of movies is starting off with a bang…actually lots of bangs. The star-packed Gangster Squad (Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Emma Stone, and so on) was originally a fall 2012 release before getting bumped to mid-January. Its high-wattage cast and liberal gunplay would probably make sure that it would do decent business no matter what time of year it came roaring onto screens:

An internal Los Angeles Police Department report once counted the number of gangland killings in the city between 1900 and 1951: They came up with 57. Roughly that many people are rubbed out in less than two hours during Ruben Fleischer’s showboating, bullet-pocked, fist-to-the-face period gangster film. Former homicide detective Will Beall’s lunkish screenplay for Gangster Squad is nominally based on Paul Lieberman’s Los Angeles Times articles about the LAPD unit that spent the late-1940s and ’50s targeting East Coast mobsters with strictly off-the-books tactics. Taking them up to Mulholland Drive and putting a gun to their ear was a standard stratagem. But the film that Zombieland director Fleischer brings to the screen is more interested in gaping flesh wounds: This gangster squad puts bullets in nearly everything that moves…

Gangster Squad opens wide on Friday.

My full review is at Film Journal International.

You can watch the trailer here: