Review: ‘Small Town Crime’ Spotlights Criminally Underrated John Hawkes

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In another era, John Hawkes (The Sessions, Four Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri) would be a leading man who’d line them up at the local movie theater. But this isn’t the age of James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, or even Gene Hackman, and if one doesn’t have “movie star” looks that person plies his trade as a character actor .

But Hawkes is one example of how character actors often have more presence than the actual star of the project, and it’s great to see him front and center in Small Town Crime. Directed by brothers Ian and Eshom Nelms, the feature focuses on an ex-cop named Mike Kendall (Hawkes) who has turned his life into a living hell thanks to his alcoholism. Drinking like a fish on a daily basis, Mike often wakes up with no idea of his location, and his decision to go behind the wheel while drunk should irritate many a viewer.

Mike may have affection for his adopted sister (Octavia Spencer) and her husband (Anthony Anderson), who’s also his drinking buddy, but they can’t stop his downward spiral. Upon the discovery of a dying woman who’s abandoned on a deserted road, Mike immediately rushes her to the hospital but to no avail. Determined to find her killer in hopes of actually rejoining the force, Mike gradually becomes reengaged with life, proving that when halfway sober he’s actually a great detective. Daniel Sunjata and Michael Vartan play cops who don’t want Mike anywhere near the investigation, with Robert Forster and Clifton Collins Jr. helping Mike out as the victim’s father and an all too confrontational pimp. Caity Lotz (Legends of Tomorrow) also stars a prostitute who may be hiding a thing or two from Kendall.

Fans of such neo-noirs like Blood Simple, where the hard boiled crime is slightly tempered by comedic undertones, should gravitate towards Small Town Crime. Running a lean and mean 91 minutes, the effective thriller is powered by a charismatic and memorable performance by Hawkes. Credit goes to the directors for filling out their narrative with a talented ensemble, but unfortunately their ultimate purpose is to service the narrative’s top dog. That’s a minor quibble, as it’s great to see Hawkes anchor his own film for once, and the Nelms brothers prove they have no trouble delivering an engaging narrative.

Small Town Crime may not reach the big stakes level of some of its cinematic influences, but that’s just fine. If you didn’t already know Hawkes is a star, then Small Town Crime should lead you in the right direction.

The film hits select theaters and On Demand January 19.


Rating: 3.5 out of 5


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Posted by: Greg Srisavasdi

Director Del Toro Kept Octavia Spencer In Good ‘Shape’

Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer’s current movie has her teamed up with Oscar nominee Guillermo del Toro, who’s brought us such movies as Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth. The Shape of Water is a sci-fi fairy tale, telling the story of a woman (Sally Hawkins) working in a Cold War-era government laboratory whose life is changed when she and her co-worker (Spencer) come across a top-secret experiment. For Spencer, the role was both physically and emotionally draining, but she told us she was able to make it through the experience because of del Toro’s style on the set. (Click on the media bar below to hear Octavia Spencer)

The Shape of Water is now playing in theaters.

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Posted by: AC

Guillermo del Toro Explores Cold War Creature In ‘The Shape of Water’ Trailer

Art By James Jean

Art By James Jean

As much as I appreciated the ambition behind Pacific Rim and Crimson Peak, director Guillermo del Toro’s most resonant work came with Pan’s Labyrinth and his finest work The Devil’s Backbone. The Shape of Water doesn’t have the genre bending spectacle behind Pacific Rim or Crimson Peak, but the trailer suggests a more intimate form of storytelling and del Toro has already made the brilliant master stroke of casting under utilized Sally Hawkins as its lead.

Set in the Cold War era of 1963, Elisa (Hawkins) is a lonely woman who works in a high-security government that houses a highly classified experiment (frequent del Toro collaborator Doug Jones). When Elisa gradually bonds with this life specimen, her job, as well as this government secret is compromised. Michael Shannon and Octavia Spencer co-star in the highly anticipated flick. Check out the trailer and tell us what you think!

The Shape of Water opens nationwide December 8.

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Posted by: Greg Srisavasdi

Octavia Spencer Loves Visual Beauty And Storytelling Behind ‘The Shack’

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The faith based drama The Shack, headlined by Sam Worthington, did solid box office business this year with a $91 million worldwide take. The film, headlined by Sam Worthington and Octavia Spencer, hits Blu-ray and DVD tomorrow.

Based on the bestselling novel, The Shack centers on Mark (Sam Worthington), a family man whose faith in God is shaken after a devastating tragedy. After receiving a mysterious invitation from three strangers led by Papa (Spencer), Mark begins the gradual process of strengthening his spirit and resolve. The picture also stars Tim McGraw and Radha Mitchell (Silent Hill).

Spencer, who was also seen this year in Gifted, says that The Shack’s themes and first rate ensemble are not the only reasons to check out the film. Click on the media bar below to hear Spencer talk about the visual beauty behind The Shack:


Special features on the disc include five featurettes on the making of the movie, audio commentary from director Stuart Hazeldine, and a deleted scene.

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Posted by: Greg Srisavasdi

‘The Shack’ With Sam Worthington Hits Blu-Ray In May

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Sam Worthington fans may have to wait until 2020 to catch him in Avatar, but thankfully he’s picked his share of first rate projects in the interim. His latest film, the faith based drama The Shack, hits Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand May 30th via Lionsgate.

Based on the New York Times bestselling novel, The Shack centers on Mack, a family man whose faith is understandably shaken after a family tragedy. His life is transformed after he’s invited to an abandoned shack, where God reveals himself in the form of three strangers (Octavia Spencer, Avraham Aviv Alush, Sumire Matsubara). Tim McGraw and Radha Mitchell co-star in the faith based film.

Special features on the disc include audio commentary from director Stuart Hazeldine, a deleted scenes, five featurettes, and the music video “Heaven Knows” by Hillsong United.

Worthington, who starred last year opposite Andrew Garfield in Hacksaw Ridge, was attracted to the film’s universal themes and ability to resonate with audience members long after the credits roll. Click on the media bar below to hear Worthington explain why The Shack is “great filmmaking.”

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Posted by: Greg Srisavasdi