Tokyo Vice is a crime thriller series currently on HBO Max and based on the memoirs by Jake Adelstein. Set in 1999 Japan, it follows an American reporter working for a Japanese newspaper as he delves deep into Tokyo’s seedy underworld and the criminal kingdom of the yakuza.
Film noir is a tricky thing to define, and some still question whether it’s just a style relying on distinct lighting and shadow play or if it’s a genre unto its own. The term derived from French critic Nino Frank who, in 1946, saw many American crime movies like The Maltese Falcon (1941) and Double Indemnity (1944) for the first time, and dubbed them film noir – black films, both for their heavy use of shadows and dark subject matter.
Babylon Berlin returns for a third season, taking us back to the hectic and hedonistic days of 1929 Berlin. This season (or series as the Brits say; staffel fur die Deutschen) follows Detective Gereon Rath and his assistant/sidekick Charlotte Ritter as they investigate the strange murders on a movie set, committed by a mysterious and nightmarish Phantom. With them are enough side characters and subplots to give Deadwood a run for its money.
Tokyo Joe combines three of my favorite things: film noir, a historical setting, and political intrigue. It’s a criminally underrated movie and while it’s not Humphrey Bogart’s best, it still deserves to be rediscovered by audiences.