Tag Archives: True Crime

True Story

Yes or No_ (30)

More based on a true story action in the form of this murder mystery starring a man I want to cuddle and a man I want to slap the shit out of.

Let’s see if you can tell which is which from my words.

“I just called…”

True Story (2015)

When disgraced New York Times reporter Michael Finkel meets accused killer Christian Longo – who has taken on Finkel’s identity – his investigation morphs into a game of cat-and-mouse.

Starring: James Franco • Jonah Hill • Felicity Jones

Michael Finkel (my boo Jonah Hill) is a promising NY Times journalist with ten cover stories to his name. He’s riding high and expecting a Politzer nom when he’s called into his boss’ office to discuss his last story – an expose on modern slavery.

Unfortunately, rather than picking up a prize, he’s soon clearing his desk when it becomes obvious he may have embellished quite a lot of the story. Claiming he must have got mixed up, his bosses believe he’s used a composite character as the focus of the article. Breaking the rules of Journalism 101, you naughty boy.

Returned from NYC back to his wife (Felicity Jones) and home in Montana, Finkel is finding it predictably difficult to find work, given the accusations leveled at him. But things pick up when he receives a call from the editor of The Oregonian, asking for a quote on the Christian Longo story. Longo (eternal douche pony James Franco) stands accused of murdering his wife and three children – and is in clink awaiting trial.

Franco was not a fan of Christa Bass’ NY Times article, “Ten Things I Hate About James Franco”.

Well, Finkel apparently doesn’t keep up with news these days as he has no idea about the case. When he asks the caller why he should have a view on the story, he is told that when arrested, Longo was pretending to be Michael Finkel. Of the New York Times.

Oooooh!

What follows is a bizarre friendship blossoming between the two men, who figure they have more in common that they could ever have imagined. And Finkel’s career looks set to take an upturn when he decides to make Longo’s story into a book – one that the pair will write together.

The main question throughout True Story is – did Longo do it though?

Well, I won’t reveal the ending but I will say that the relationship between the men is complex and it puts a strain on Finkel’s marriage to Jill. Jill obviously can’t get her head around the need to understand the inner workings of a(n alleged) killer’s mind.

“No way is Franco coming over for tea…”

Finkel wants to believe in his new friend but Longo isn’t always frank and there are some curve balls thrown on the way to uncovering the ultimate truth…

Well. This is kind of dull really, though the story itself if quite explosive. What a shame. Jonah can’t be blamed for this one as he puts in a solid turn as disgraced journo Finkel who looks super cute in his glasses.

I am biased towards Franco, I can’t deny it but he really phones in this performance. I get as a character he’s quite closed off to the truth but he just looks smug the whole way through. I guess in some ways this does work for the character, who shows little remorse or feeling throughout, but a little bit of nuance would have been nice.

The women in this film are just side pieces – supporters and victims – and that’s quite annoying. The result, without proper padding of the relationships of the men, is rather flat.

There are flashbacks to happier times for Longo and his wife MJ (Maria Dizzia), with devoted father montages threaded throughout but these are just aftershocks and don’t fully paint a picture or a motive. Therefore you never really give a damn about either of the men but Longo even less.

It’s not bad, it just doesn’t have the oomph I would have liked.

⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What does my girl Jill think of True Story? Would she lie to it or write a book about its innocence? Find out here.

King of Thieves

King of Thieves (2018)

With a cast like this, you can always rest assured that you’ll get a good quality movie. Caine and pals very seldom let us down and the old boys’ network is alive and well, thankfully.

This movie is fun, sad in places, dramatic in others – and it’s also kind of heart-warming to remember it’s based on a true crime. Seems Octogenarians shouldn’t be underestimated after all.

The quality of this set up could just as easily go against it though because it’s not quite as memorable as it should be. I haven’t thought about it since the credits rolled and I can’t put my finger on why I didn’t gel with it the way my husband did.

It’s very male-orientated and maybe that’s why I find it slightly mediocre – or perhaps it just isn’t my cup of tea. You can’t win ’em all.

My Rating

3/5.

Amanda Knox (Film) Review 

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I’m free-styling this mother because frankly I haven’t the time to wrap it up like a Christmas present and leave it under the tree like I normally would (e.g. review it properly).

Hey, I’m doing Blogtober, and although I hope and pray all my posts are of a consistently decent quality, ain’t nobody got time for bells and whistles on every one of them. You get me?

I had to put some thoughts down on this documentary though, which I feel will feature in a future All Out of Bubblegum episode, because I’ve been obsessed with the case ever since I first read about it and this one gives us interviews with the two accused (convicted, aquitted, aquitted, free) central ‘characters’. What’s better than that?

Amanda Knox (2016)

IMDB Synopsis: American exchange student Amanda Knox is convicted and eventually acquitted for the 2007 death of another student in Italy.

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“Just look directly into the camera, Aman… oh.”

By now there probably isn’t a man or dog who doesn’t know the story of Amanda Knox.

Accused of the 2007 killing of her then room-mate Meredith Kercher, Knox has always protested her innocence. As the story undulated and unfurled, Knox,or self-named ‘Foxy Knoxy’, found her every move scrutinised by the world.

In this Netflix Original feature-length documentary we not only hear from Knox herself and her boyfriend at the time of the murder (and fellow accused) Raffaele Sollecito but from Perugian prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, who’s forever convinced she dunnit. More on him in a bit.

We also spend time with pantomime villain Nick Pisa, former Daily Mail journalist and all round douche-bag. He helps us to understand the media hubbub surrounding the case from the inside and describes the ‘scoop’ in such excitable terms that if he were before you, you would be hard pressed not to want to shove a Biro into his eyeball.

He never once acknowledges Kercher as a human being, nor shows any sort of sympathy for her family. That he comes across as the central villain of the piece is no surprise. He’s not the only media type stirring up a storm with tales of hot romps and uncovering pictures of Knox acting like a loon, he’s merely the spokesperson for a certain type of reporting but he is a disgusting excuse for a human being.

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Who’s got two open palms and is a total dickhead?

As the case wraps up years down the line and there is talk of everyone getting carried away with this ‘trial by media’, he washes his hands of all responsibility. The gist of his argument for adding fuel to an already frenzied fire is this: when you need to hit a deadline before anyone else, who has time to fact check, eh? Cheeky isn’t it? You’ll despise every fiber of his being with any luck.

Back to Knox though, who proves that Pisa isn’t the only person who failed to show any empathy for the victim. I may have blinked and missed it but there’s no point I remember her saying she was sorry to have lost her friend, albeit for just a short time. Even a neighbour or someone you once stood next to at the bus stop would elicit something more than she delivers. Off camera perhaps the story was different but who the fuck acts like that?

I think what I wanted to take away from this documentary was a clearer idea of whether the pair are guilty or not. It’s not cemented my view by any means but I do feel as though this time spent with Knox gives me a better understanding of why she acted the way she did, just hours after a horrible murder in her own fucking home.

I can totally imagine her committing such a crime. Whether or not she happened to do this one, who even knows? My heart says you can’t trust her. Superficially it’s that cold hard stare and that’s probably not fair. 

But she didn’t act normally afterwards, her behaviour has never been okay and she lied throughout the case, whether she really was pressured by the po-po or not.

I really hate that she accused her boss, a black man who had no involvement whatsoever in her private life. How dare she allow him to be caught up in this? I hate that Meredith Kercher’s family may never get enough justice for their daughter’s death.

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What? Put his shoes away?

This isn’t my best work review wise because my thoughts on Knox are all over the place. But I feel like that is the order of the day here. The case blew up because it involved hot young women who may or may not have been sexually empowered, a central figure who acted up in the face of tragedy, some shady secondary characters and a media explosion.

Mignini was like a dog with a bone but his crime scene was a fucking mess and that ultimately is what let them all down. Of course the story ended with Raffaele and Amanda being fully acquitted after a second trial, and petty local criminal Rudy Guede being imprisoned for the crime.

The official line is that Knox is innocent. She probably is. But I kind of want to believe she is a psychopath in sheep’s clothing because that’s the most compelling story, right? Maybe I’m as bad at Pisa?

Notice I’ve hardly said a word about Sollecito? I don’t think there’s much to say. He just seems like a nerd who got lucky and then very unlucky. I felt kind of sorry for him.

I recommend the documentary and I’m sorry if I haven’t really sold it. It opens quite graphically and pulls no punches about what the crime scene looked like. It’s incredibly sad. I feel for the Kercher family. I feel for all the families actually.

Watch it and let me know what you think, will you? I need to discuss it!

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Guilty of never driving herself anywhere

What I’m Listening To: Podcasts

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I am a very easily influenced person. This means that I am constantly being inspired by other people on books, films and things to listen to (as well as make-up, fashion, anything).

About a year or so ago I feel in love with Serial and it started me on my podcast journey, which has been nothing short of joyful tbh. Most of what I listen to has a true crime vibe because that’s what I dig and there’s nowt more queer than folk, etc but I also love film based content (such as the mighty Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review which I’ve definitely mentioned before).

Once I’d rinsed Serial, I was left adrift until I started to listen to the wise words of Twitter (my favourite space on the internet, yo). So many recommendations come from there and now I have a cornucopia of choice.

This is what I’ve been listening to recently:

TW: I highly recommend all these podcasts, however some contain triggering events and language that should be approached with caution.

Criminal

There are 42 episodes in this podcast so far and each one is a real gem. Even the ones which have slightly less dramatic subject matter are compelling. Each story is about a crime and these range from the absolutely fantastical to plain bizarre.

I’m working backwards (after finding it easier to listen on Soundcloud) and am currently on episode 23. My favourite stories so far have been Angie, The Stay and P.D.I.D (which made me furious). Special mention to the bonkers Animal Instincts and Dropping Like Flies – honestly, you’ll learn things you’re never even imagined here.

Criminal was co-created by Lauren Spohrer, Phoebe Judge and Eric Mennel, and launched in January 2014 – and I have to say I really like Phoebe’s approach to the weird and wonderful people she speaks to.

I recommend this series if you’re new to crime podcasts because the shorter episodes are very easy to digest but I warn you: they’re crazy addictive.

Sword and Scale

Sword and Scale is similar to Criminal in the sense that it covers true crime stories but the episodes are longer and seem much heavier for that. Maybe it’s just me.

I’m new to this one but have so far enjoyed (if that’s the word) some astonishing tales, including Episodes 63 & 64, which tell the horrifying story of Doctor Macneill, a handsome and charming man with a dark heart and Episodes 5 & 6 which outline a conspiracy so heinous your head might explode (I’m still thinking about it).

Special thanks to Bethany for talking about this podcast (also Criminal) and then mentioning the latter episodes. I Twitter-dropped and followed your recommendation.

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Serial (Season 2)

Serial Season 1 told us the story of Adnan Syed, a high school senior accused of (and imprisoned for) killing his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. It was fascinating and addictive and my first regular foray into this medium.

When I found out there was a second season I was stoked but it’s a separate and very different story this time around. This time we study Sargent Bowe Bergdahl, a US Army soldier who was captured and then held prisoner by the Taliban.

Now, as with the first season it has to be said that the story isn’t clear-cut and things as they say may not be what they seem. I’m only a few episodes in but am thoroughly enjoying it so far.

Who knows what my final opinion on Bergdahl will be, or whether we’ll ever know the truth about what really happened the day he was captured? It doesn’t really matter though, this is his story and it’s addictive.

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How Did This Get Made?

Bar our friendship, I think HDTGM is the greatest gift Meghan of That’s Lightletainment has ever given me. It’s brilliant and right up my street.

Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas (all actors themselves) love bad movies and talk about them passionately with special guests on the regs. I absolutely love June (from Burning Love mostly) but the trio together make horrible films, such as Glitter, The Wicker Man (remake) and Crank 2: High Voltage three times more hilarious and enjoyable.

My favourites so far have been: Rhinestone (a film starring Dolly and Sly Stallone, what more do you need?), Barb Wire and Catwoman. Very special mention to one of my all-time favourite bad movies, I Know Who Killed Me (honestly, ask me how much I love it). Oh god, and check out the episode on Deep Blue Sea which is epic.

The best thing about this podcast is that there are so many episodes I still have to watch. Honestly, there’s not enough time in the day for podcast listening.

Read more about Meghan’s podcast recommendations here.

So that’s what gets me through my working day. I’ve not been organised enough to get these on my iPod/phone yet but I know when I do I will look at walking/working out in a whole new light.

Are you a podcast listener? What do you recommend? Go! ❤