Spring Breakers opens today in New York and LA. If you don’t know it by name, it’s that movie that features Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, and a couple of other attractive girls that are in their bikinis for, what the marketing campaign would have you believe is the entire movie. Look:
Still with me? If you’ve scrolled past the picture, this movie supposedly does have a plot in which these girls resort to robberies in order to fund their spring break trip. They then get arrested and wind up getting into some crazy shenanigans with James Franco. It’s written and directed by indie oddball Harmony Korine, and if you’ve ever seen Kids (or Gummo, or Trash Humpers, or…), you’ll know that when it comes to shenanigans, there’s probably not much you can’t expect from Korine.
Besides using it as an excuse to Google Image Search stills from the movie while calling it research, it inspired this 5 for Friday post of my favorite heist films. It’s a good thing, too, because my other idea was a post about clocks or something. This is much better.
5. Ocean’s Eleven
This Soderbergh directed, George Clooney/Brad Pitt/Matt Damon/Julia Roberts vehicle is the essence of cool. The jazzy soundtrack, the glitzy Las Vegas backdrop, the slick dialogue; it’s all an homage to the original Rat Pack film. Arguably, it’s one of the best remakes of the past 20 years and boasts an amazing cast. Every twist and turn is done with such flair that it just leaves you wanting more.
4. Reservoir Dogs
If Ocean’s Eleven is a movie where everything goes according to plan, Reservoir Dogs is its polar opposite. Of course, we never actually see the heist; what we do see is everything leading up to it and the shit storm that occurs immediately afterwards. First-time director Quentin Tarantino shows the promise that he would later fulfill for the next twenty years. Like any other Tarantino movie, the dialogue is stunning and the acting is impeccable. The cast each give great performances and this movie is the blend of humor, tension, and horror that we’ve come to expect from one of the best working directors in Hollywood.
3. Dog Day Afternoon
To me, there’s nothing quite like 1970’s filmmaking; especially the films shot in New York. It’s a special time and place that can’t be faked; it’s gritty, it’s unsafe, it’s real. Taxi Driver, The Panic in Needle Park, and Shaft all exemplify this counterculture filmmaking that occurred in New York at the time, as well as Dog Day Afternoon.
The movie pairs two legends at the height of their game: director Sidney Lumet and actor Al Pacino. To me, this is Pacino’s best performance. It may seem blasphemous to not say The Godfather, but his Sonny character here is completely off the rails. To be able to believably play a guy with nothing left to lose is an accomplishment, and Pacino is a bundle of nerves in the beginning and just plain exhausted by the end.
2. The Taking of Pelham One Two Three
I’m not talking about the slick, over-stylized version starring Denzel Washington. I’m talking about the gritty Walter Matthau flick that takes place in the pit of Hell known as 1970’s New York City. Four thugs that only go by colors (Hello, Mr. Tarantino) hijack a southbound subway car and keep it idle on the tracks until the city ponies up one million dollars. It doesn’t sound like much, but to a cash-strapped New York, you might as well ask for the moon. The crew that takes the car includes Robert Shaw in his second best performance, Hector Elizondo, Martin Balsam, and Wilson from Home Improvement fame. It’s a crafty heist job, and the hunt for the robbers is an exciting around New York’s subway system.
1. Die Hard
The perfect action movie is also the best heist movie. As Hans Gruber points out, he’s not an ordinary thief; he is an exceptional one, and the plan he puts into action could only be devised by an evil genius. It’s too bad there happens to be a fly in the ointment: one John McClane of the NYPD. Despite having the world’s best off-duty cop gumming up the works, Gruber nearly gets away with his brilliant plan of stealing all the bonds from Takagi Corp. and making it look like a terrorist hostage situation. But as they say: Yippee-ki-yay, Mr. Falcon!