Archive for the ‘Thriller’ Category

Rebel

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

tn_rebelex3stallone“Thanks for the poncho.”

We associate Sylvester Stallone with the ’80s, right? Sure, it was ’76 when he blew up with ROCKY and the ’90s by the time he did CLIFFHANGER. But it was the ’80s when he became Rambo, and RAMBO FIRST BLOOD PART II was the height of his worldwide icon status, it seems to me. The one that inspired a thousand ripoff VHS covers and parodies and was quoted by President Reagan. To people who aren’t into his type of action movies he’s a symbol of Reagan era war-mongering and media violence. To us he’s on the Mount Rushmore of the most prolific and larger-than-life era of the genre we love most.

For all these reasons it’s weird to see him playing a lefty student radical, as he does in REBEL (filmed as NO WAY OUT). Released in 1970, this was his second real movie role, the first being the softcore movie THE PARTY AT KITTY AND STUD’S. This time he plays Jerry Savage, an anti-war activist who’s grown tired of useless campus protests and wants to do something that will make a difference. To that end he’s gotten involved with a Weather Underground type group that’s planning a bombing to protest a popular kitchenware company that’s making a side business of manufacturing tiger cages, “animal cages to hold people” that they prove are not only being used cruelly in ‘Nam, but are also being set aside for future use at home. (read the rest of this shit…)

Enemy

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

tn_enemyENEMY is a weird, spooky thriller that director Denis Villaneuve and star Jake Gyllenhaal did right before PRISONERS. The arthouse freakout before the expensive studio drama that Lee Daniels got fired from. PRISONERS made me pay attention to the former and gain new respect for the latter, so here I am watching ENEMY.

Gyllenhaal plays a depressed college history professor who rents a movie one day and notices that the part of Bellhop #3 is played by a guy who looks exactly like him. Creepy. He does some detective work and tracks down the actor, who also has his same voice and an identical scar. He’s not sure what the fuck is going on, and he’s fascinated, but he’s weird about it. He calls and confuses the guy’s poor wife. (read the rest of this shit…)

Blue Ruin

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

tn_blueruinI don’t know what this has to do with BLUE JASMINE, but it’s pretty good as a standalone.

I saw alot of film festival acclaim for BLUE RUIN as a movie about how bad and ugly revenge actually is. I gotta tell you I was skeptical, because I didn’t want to hear some joyless lecture about the wrongness of something most of us never experience, especially as punishment for our inherent enjoyment of classic action movie formula. DEATH SENTENCE and others prove you can make that point and still have fun.

Luckily my assumptions were unfounded. As the writer Harry once told Flavor Flav, “Don’t believe the hype.” BLUE RUIN isn’t trying to teach us a lesson, it’s actually a fairly traditional and enjoyable thriller about a murder and ensuing mess, spiraling out of control like that time the Cat in the Hat came over and ate cake in the bath tub. It’s just that it comes from young independent filmatists so it feels more like it’s happening to some dude you know than the usual slick Hollywood players. It’s quiet, naturalistic, and you have to piece together the backstory from what’s happening, you don’t get alot of obvious exposition. The avenger is a pretty non-descript nerd named Dwight (Macon Blair). Big, sunken eyes, a little doughy, bad haircut, no cool motorcycle jacket or shades or nothin. Just a normal guy. Could work at Best Buy or something.
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Non-Stop

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

tn_nonstopSo far I think I like the idea of Liam Neeson action vehicles more than the actual execution of them. Both TAKENs were fun, but with post-actiony scuffles and not as tight of storytelling as I prefer in a formula revenge movie. UNKNOWN from what I remember was kinda fun, but what was it about again? He was playing an amnesiac I believe? Yeah, that’s about how I feel about that one.

By far my favorite of this cycle is THE GREY, but that’s because it was all about manly drama. Most of the actual action (anything involving wolves) was as indecipherable as they come. So I came to his new airplane suspense thriller (from UNKNOWN director Jaume Collet-Serra) pretty jaded, but I enjoyed it more than expected.

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Grand Piano

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

tn_grandpianoGRAND PIANO is a tight little thriller, the kind of thing I would have to call snappy, crackling, popping or perhaps krispy if I had the vocabulary. It’s a cool premise, well-executed, and then it gets the fuck out in around 80 minutes not including credits. And get this: it’s THE PIANO on speed! Picture that. Great idea, right?

Oh, I’m sorry, no, I meant it’s SPEED on a piano! Elijah Wood (FLIPPER) plays a disgraced world’s-greatest-concert-pianist, reluctantly pushed by his movie star wife (Kerry Bishé, ARGO, RED STATE) into a high profile, high pressure performance in tribute to his eccentric, recently deceased mentor. He’s already ready to shit out all his insides on stage and then in the middle of the performance he finds threatening notes on his sheet music and a crazy sniper starts threatening him over a headset. (The credits tipped me off that it was [SPOILER?] John Cusack, but the voice is immediately recognizable anyway. Actually, I don’t know if I’ve seen him play an evil mastermind before, and he’s a natural. Usually you’re supposed to love him for his asshole qualities, in this one he’s just being more honest.) (read the rest of this shit…)

Angel

Monday, January 20th, 2014

tn_angelANGEL is a story about a young girl named Molly (Donna Wilkes from JAWS 2 and GROTESQUE) who lives near Hollywood Boulevard and buses out to the North Oaks Prep School. She gets straight A’s, she seems very innocent, and when a super nerd at school (who looks easily 35, but it’s okay because she’s 24 in real life) asks her on a date she turns him down by saying her mom says she’s too young to date. I thought she might be telling the truth, but after school she goes back to the boulevard, where everyone calls her Angel, she puts on makeup and starts walking the strip. Yep, our little angel is a teenage prostitute. It quickly becomes clear that she’s paying her own way through school, and that there’s a reason she’s not letting anyone into the room where she says her paralyzed mother is holed up.
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Captain Phillips

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

tn_captainphillipsCAPTAIN PHILLIPS is a tense and well made thriller based on a simple real life incident: a small band of Somali pirates board an American cargo ship to try to hold the crew for ransom, the crew tries to not be held for ransom. I remember when this happened. I mean, I’m sure this sort of thing happens all the time, but this was the famous one because of how things ended up. So that’s all I really knew about the story, so I was in suspense about how things ended up how they ended up.

Tom Hanks (HE KNOWS YOU’RE ALONE) plays the titlional captain, portrayed as an ordinary sorta schlubby working man married to Catherine Keener (in a part only slightly bigger than she had as the dead body in BAD GRANDPA). There’s a sense of inevitable doom as he takes his boat around the horn of Africa. We’re not the only ones who know he’s gonna get hijacked. He spends the first part of the movie suffering from an acute case of That Sinking Feeling until sure enough a suspiciously close skiff shows up on the radar. (read the rest of this shit…)

Oldboy (2013 remake)

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

tn_oldboyBefore I talk about the remake of OLDBOY it’s important that I say I liked the original but only saw it one time 8 years ago. Here’s what I wrote about it then.

In the remake directed by Spike Lee and written by Mark Protosevich (THE CELL, I AM LEGEND), Josh Brolin (THRASHIN’) plays a Nick Nolte character named Joe Doucett. He’s an alcoholic, sexually harassing deadbeat dad and advertising asshole who after a long night of drinking, puking and crying in 1993 meets a woman who takes him to a hotel and when he wakes up he realizes she’s not there and there are no windows or doorknobs. One of those hotel conundrums, you know. And this was before Yelp and shit like that so he couldn’t even give them a bad review. Turns out this is not a normal hotel in that you can’t leave. Someone, for some reason, has locked him in this weird prison. Every day they stick a plate of dumplings and a bottle of vodka through a hatch in the door, but they don’t tell him why he’s here.
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Obsessed

Monday, December 16th, 2013

tn_obsessedI guess Beyonce Knowles released a “surprise album” on iTunes on Friday. They didn’t announce it in advance or anything and word spread like word spreads on the internet and holy shit it became the number one selling digital file album of such and such. Everybody lost their shit and wrote headlines and everything. Amazing! Revolutionary! It may seem like a clever attention-getting gimmick for a star of her size to not bother with marketing, but here’s the truth: her husband Jay-Z knew through the Illuminati that I had just watched Beyonce’s Christmas-time thriller OBSESSED and was about to put up a review. So she knew she had to rush the album’s release in order to take advantage of that extra spotlight. Your welcome, Beyonce.

Like in DIE HARD, the shit goes down at an office Christmas party for some L.A. financial something-or-other firm. But instead of faux-terrorists taking over the building it’s a stalker executive assistant trying to take a married man. Lisa (Ali Larter from FINAL DESTINATION) is a temp who’s been breathing all over Derek Charles (Idris Elba, GHOST RIDER’S SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE), listening in on his phone calls, finding out too much about him, putting him in uncomfortable situations. The camera makes her seductive, zeroing in on her crossed legs when she sits near him, her glossed lips when she smiles at him. (read the rest of this shit…)

Whiskey Mountain

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

tn_whiskeymountainWHISKEY MOUNTAIN is an obscure movie I came across through my usual Slasher Search method of scanning for VHS boxes in the horror section. It’s from 1977 and I’m pretty sure it was made after the filmatists saw 1974′s THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE, but you could probly stick it in the DELIVERANCE redneck attack type of genre more than in horror.

This is the story of two couples who take their dirtbikes up into some mountains in search of treasure. Like in TEXAS CHAIN SAW they’re looking for family property they vaguely know about, and a local business proprietor warns them they don’t want to be nosing around on other people’s property. Also like in CHAIN SAW that local shows up later on as one of the attackers. (read the rest of this shit…)