There’s a new period cop show starting soon on American TV. Based on John Buntin’s LA Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America’s Most Seductive City, it’s based in Los Angeles after the Second World War, when gangsters such as ‘Bugsy’ Siegel and Mickey Cohen ruled the roost. William Parker (Neal McDonough), the LA Police Chief, has decided to rid the city of criminal gangs and sets up a new task force aimed at cleaning up LA.
The series has already attracted comparisons with Gangster Squad, although it remains to be seen how accurate a comparison this is. Nevertheless, gangsters have long since proved popular with filmmakers and here’s a small selection of some of the best gangster films.
Seven Psychopaths is one of those films that’s never quite what you expect to be right up until the final twist has been untwisted. It focuses around the plight of Marty Faranan (Colin Farrell), a writer struggling to finish his screenplay, tentatively entitled Seven Psychopaths. His best friend, Billy Bickle (Sam Rockwell) supplements his lacklustre acting career by kidnapping dogs and then returning them to their unwitting owners for the reward. He works with Hans Kieslowski (Christopher Walken), a highly religious man whose wife is suffering from cancer.
The theme cleverly intertwines writing the script with stories from the script as it reveals who the seven psychopaths from the title are. Billy is determined to help Marty with his script, despite Marty’s equal determination to do the work himself, and suggests that he uses the notorious ‘Jack of Diamonds’ killer as inspiration for one of his characters. However, art reflects life a little too closely when Billy makes the mistake of kidnapping a shih tzu belonging to Charlie Costello (Woody Harrelson), a gangster who loves his little dog.
An ambitious story, some critics felt that it had bitten off more than it could handle. Nevertheless, it’s an entertaining film with a strong cast who all play their parts to perfection. Mickey Rourke was initially lined up for the part of Charlie but left after falling out with director Martin McDonagh. It’s difficult to imagine that he could have handled the role with the same level of panache Harrelson delivers.