Small Crimes (2017)
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Critic Reviews for Small Crimes
Small Crimes works in part but is strangely murky in others. There's a lot of dead air.
If the film came across as jaded and cynical, it might well be hard to take. Instead, it seems weary and defeated, as if some people are simply born to fail.
The film ties together in such a perfect bow that it's tempting to forgive all of the knots it took to get there.
Small Crimes is almost entirely hinged upon Coster-Waldau's beaten-dog performance of this down and out sadsack.
Audience Reviews for Small Crimes
There's a couple of ways I wanted to start out this review. I'll start with the more obvious. Part of me wonders, now that Netflix is more aggressively pursuing more original programming (this covers stand-up specials, films and series), how much their deal with Adam Sandler is actually worth to them. At least in terms of eyeballs and money. I'm not saying that getting Sandler and his company on board to develop four movies from the ground up for Netflix was a bad idea. I mean it was bad in terms of the actual perception Netflix may have with those like me, who hate Sandler's films. It was a good idea on the basis of 'wow, Netflix is the future if someone as successful as Adam Sandler is making deals with them'. But what I wanna know is how many people actually signed up for Netflix, that hadn't subscribed at any point prior, just for Sandler's four films. I have no idea, numbers have been going up and up for Netflix, but I doubt that all of that is attributable to just Sandler. Netflix is just really popular right now and the business is gravitating to that model anyway. I'm not saying Sandler didn't help, but did he help as much as they hoped he would when they first signed the deal. Granted, a lot of Netflix's 'original' content (films and some series) is just content they scoured festivals for and bought the rights to. There's so much original content on Netflix, some of it great, some of it middle of the road and some of it bad, that I don't having Sandler on board is really helping them, like at all. Granted, sadly, good movies alone aren't gonna sell Netflix to, say, a regular family who have movie night every Friday. The second point I wanted to make is that there's this sort of indie 'renaissance' from a particular group of filmmakers. Their films share some similarities, at least aesthetically speaking. The filmmakers in question are: Jim Mickle, E.L Katz (director of this film), Macon Blair, Ti West, Jeremy Saulnier and Adam Wingard, Jon Watts. I'm sure there's others, but those are just the ones that come to mind right now. They all share some similarities in how they, usually, have ultra violent endings. That's not a complaint, but I've certainly noticed that. They tell their stories in a variety of different ways, however, so that's all that matters. Anyway, on to this movie. I'm quite surprised that, as we speak, this movie has 23% audience reception on this here site, at least according to the app on my phone. Now that doesn't mean that 23% of people thought this movie was good, that means that only 23% of people gave this a rating of over 3.5 stars. So it's very possible that, say, over 60% of people thought this was a good movie, but they just gave it three stars. The point of this all is that don't let that reception dissuade you from giving this a shot. I'm not saying it's a perfect movie or even that you (yes, you) would like this movie. But, for my money, I really quite enjoyed this. I will admit that it does take a little bit before it gets going. Naturally speaking, you're gonna set up the characters, their motivations, what the stakes are and everything else before you move forward. But I was hooked when the film really got going. Perhaps hooked implies that I liked this movie more than I did, but I was just into the story and the characters. There are problems with the scripting in that the movie doesn't do a super great job at easing you into this world these characters inhabit. They eventually get you to that point, for sure, but it's a rough start for sure. The film tells the story of Joe Denton, a crooked cop, who, after spending six years in jail, just wants a clean slate. He wants to living a clean life, being an alcoholic and a drug addict. He also wants to try to reconnect with his daughters. Things, however, don't go quite as planned as he is drawn back in to this world to finish certain jobs that he didn't finish before going in. It's a simple story that's been done before, for sure. What I like about the narrative is that Joe Denton, wherever he goes and regardless of who he surrounds himself with, brings chaos and mayhem wherever he goes. Again, it's not something that you haven't seen before, but I liked how the movie plays with this concept in that Joe Denton, even if he wants to or not, ends up causing destruction wherever he goes. He even causes harm to those who, in theory, should be closest to him, his mother and father. Again, he doesn't actually do it himself, it's more the people around him who just want to fuck him over for what he did or may not have done in the past. I don't really feel like going into much detail, but let's just say that things don't end up well. The script is strong and the casting is top-notch. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is excellent as Joe Denton. He does a great job at capturing the essence of a man who's really just at the end of his rope. Not to mention being between a rock and a hard place. He wants a clean slate, but he also does not want his past actions, that he wasn't prosecuted for, to catch up with him. I keep saying this, but there's nothing about Joe Denton, as a character, that's unique to him. There's been plenty of stories like this, but the writing and Nikolaj's performance make Joe a character worth investing in. Perhaps not as someone to root for, but someone that you can see struggling to stay on the right path, even though he's clearly pushing himself to walk the wrong path due to self-preservation. The supporting cast is great as well. Jacki Weaver and Robert Forster have always been great and they're no different here. Molly Parker plays the love interest, and nothing really more than that, but she's still very good in her role. Gary Cole always excels at the manipulative asshole role, so can't complain. And so on and so forth, the point is that the casting from top to bottom is really strong. In short, I thought this was a really good movie. Not perfect, but still very good. Its flaws might keep some from enjoying this, but I felt that the good in this movie greatly outnumbered the bad. Which is quite the opposite you could say for Joe Denton as a character. Anyway, if you have Netflix, I'd recommend this, though it won't be everyone's cup of tea.
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