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Life of Crime

1 Sep

‘Life of Crime’: Leonard’s ‘Jackie Brown’ crew back at shenanigans, for lesser haul

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Elmore Leonard, the beloved master crime and western novelist, transcended seamlessly the divide between pulp and celluloid. His career is littered with great novels that became great movies (“Get Shorty,” “Jackie Brown” and “Out of Sight” to name a few), a smattering of original screenplays (“Joe Kidd”) and even took a few turns as producer. Cormac McCarthy might be his only peer.

082914i Meek Life of CrimeLeonard passed last year. Among his last labors were executive producing this adaptation of his similarly named novel.

The prolific writer’s cinematic gems have always been imbued with quirk and the kind of dark comedy that can be found only within the hardboiled world of crime. The characters are larger than life and full of foibles and flaws, and as a result always quite accessibly human. Leonard clearly loved his darlings, and so do we, which makes “Life of Crime” a treat or a total disaster to see Robert De Niro’s floundering ex-con Louis and Samuel Jackson’s lethal Ordell Robbie played by John Hawkes and Yasiin Bey, current name of Mos Def. Hawkes carries Louis forward, but Def is no sub in for Jackson. Part of that is he lacks Jackson’s thespian firepower, and part is that the script by relative newbie Daniel Schechter (who also directs)  makes Ordell less potent.  Continue reading