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Streaming: The Duke and other great heist movies

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When it involves the heist movie style, “based mostly on a real story” isn’t an apparent promoting level: knotty crime capers are usually higher the extra elaborately and imaginatively concocted they’re. The Duke (Amazon) is an exception. The final function directed by the late Roger Michell, it has a daft underdog story that would have been plucked straight from the mind of Richard Curtis, however simply occurs to be rooted in actual fact. Even the identify of its true-life protagonist sounds fanciful: Kempton Bunton, a working-class pensioner who, in protest towards the TV licence charge imposed by the British authorities, got down to steal Goya’s portray Portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the Nationwide Gallery.

The reasoning, like lots of the plot mechanics right here, is healthier seen than defined. Nevertheless it makes for a chipper, cheering romp, delightfully carried out by Jim Broadbent as Bunton and Helen Mirren as his weary spouse, and directed with unassuming, fleet-footed ease by Michell. All in all, it sits on the lightest, brightest finish of the heist film spectrum: there are not any unsavoury criminals or grisly outcomes right here, simply salt-of-the-earth sorts doing ill-advised deeds with good intentions.

Alec Guinness, Audrey Hepburn and William Fox in The Lavender Hill Mob (1951).
Alec Guinness, Audrey Hepburn and William Fox in The Lavender Hill Mob (1951). {Photograph}: Cinetext/Rank/Allstar

Sixty or 70 years in the past – certainly, across the time The Duke is ready – Michell’s movie might need been a gleefully far-fetched Ealing comedy, although it might, admittedly, not endure fairly as steadfastly as The Lavender Hill Mob (BritBox). Seven many years outdated and nonetheless maybe the spryest and most glowing of all bank-job movies, Charles Crichton’s daffily ingenious comedy mixes complicated narrative structure with an endearing sympathy for small Englishmen towards the huge capitalist system, whereas Alec Guinness’s wry, dry efficiency prevents issues from getting too cute. By 2008, that archetype had shifted to the scruffy onerous man embodied by Jason Statham, although The Bank Job (Amazon), written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, retraces a variety of The Lavender Hill Mob’s steps with extra tight-jawed appeal.

Sterling Hayden, right, in Kubrick’s The Killing.
Sterling Hayden, proper, in Kubrick’s The Killing. {Photograph}: Courtesy Everett Assortment

Over within the US, the heist movie has tended to be a smoother, sleeker operation – even when the criminals are goofing off, as in Steven Soderbergh’s glittering comedy Ocean’s Eleven (2001; Netflix), a uncommon remake that considerably improves on its Rat Pack-era unique. On the style’s most hardboiled you get Stanley Kubrick’s 1956 The Killing (Apple TV+), concerning the leanest, meanest, most jolting movie ever created from the hoary veteran-tries-one-last-job premise. At its most dishevelled, there’s Wes Anderson’s breakthrough movie Bottle Rocket (Microsoft), made effectively earlier than he perfected his cuckoo-clock aesthetic, drawing on mid-90s slacker vitality in addition to the then-ubiquitous affect of Tarantino’s droll massacre Reservoir Dogs (1991; BFI Participant).

Anderson and Tarantino each, after all, owed a debt to the French New Wave’s louche, cool reshaping of the heist movie, as exemplified by Jean-Luc Godard’s gracefully deconstructed anatomy of a theft Bande à part (1964; Chili). This in flip owed a debt to Jules Dassin’s frosty, elegantly diagrammatic Rififi (1955; Apple TV+), with its intricate, taciturn jewel-heist centrepiece, adopted by an exhilarating pileup of malicious human penalties and betrayals.

Jada Pinkett Smith, Kimberly Elise, Queen Latifah and Vivica A Fox in Set It Off.
Jada Pinkett Smith, Kimberly Elise, Queen Latifah and Vivica A Fox in F Gary Grey’s ‘bracing’ Set It Off (1996). {Photograph}: New Line Cinema/ Allstar

Lastly, if males are usually the driving heroes and villains (usually concurrently) of the heist movie, more moderen standouts of the style have proven that ladies can take them on with some elan. Sebastian Schipper’s jaw-dropping Victoria (2015; Curzon) – thrusting Laia Costa’s naive Berlin waitress right into a real-time financial institution job executed in a single dazzling shot – introduced feminine perspective to a chaotically male underworld. F Gary Grey’s Set It Off (Amazon) was a landmark in its depiction of black ladies within the prison sphere, its quartet of financial institution thieves boasting extra community-minded motives than most. Twenty six years after its launch, it feels as bracing and forward-thinking as ever, since rivalled solely by the politically knotty complexities and slam-bang motion set items of Steve McQueen’s powerful, Viola Davis-led Widows (2018; Amazon). Such movies all make Kempton Bunton’s modest, if equally social-minded heist look slightly quaint by comparability.

Additionally new on streaming and DVD

Select or Die
(Netflix)
After a number of well-regarded style shorts, the British group of director Toby Meakins and author Simon Allen graduate to options with this techno-horror story of a younger coder rebooting an 80s online game with distinctly cursed penalties. Steeped in moodily dim mild and early-millennial nostalgia, it feels a bit of like a stray Black Mirror instalment, but it surely’s a creepy, well-made calling card.

All of the Outdated Knives
(Amazon Prime)
Chris Pine and Thandiwe Newton are former lovers and CIA colleagues, reopening outdated wounds – private {and professional} – over the course of a tense, flashback-filled reunion dinner with pressing stakes. Tailored by American spy fiction author Olen Steinhauer from his personal novel, this isn’t reinventing any wheels, but it surely’s a shiny, engrossing little bit of le Carré lite, buoyed up by advantageous performances from its well-matched leads.

You Are Not My Mom
(Amazon)
Irish writer-director Kate Dolan debuts with an impressively eerie, emotionally charged horror movie hinging on troubled mother-daughter relationships, centred on a withdrawn teen (the outstanding Hazel Doupe) navigating her mum’s wild, presumably supernatural shifts in persona. It’s efficient as both an allegorical home drama or a straight-up chiller.

The Important Tavernier Boxset
(StudioCanal)
A yr on from his loss of life, the stately, genre-switching French auteur Bertrand Tavernier will get an acceptable tribute with this eight-film assortment on Blu-ray and DVD. It’s lacking a few of his nice works, however nonetheless spans good-looking historic drama (Let Pleasure Reign Supreme, The Princess of Montpensier), political documentary (La guerre sans nom) and, better of all, the mordant noir of his Jim Thompson adaptation Coup de Torchon, with Isabelle Huppert and Philippe Noiret.

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