La Haine

24 hours in the lives of three young men in the French suburbs the day after a violent riot.

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As its title is spoken, La Haine reaches a turning point. Hubert warns Vinz: “La haine attire la haine.” Hatred breeds hatred. Moments later, Saïd and Hubert (Vinz is notably absent) are at the mercy of police officers abusing their power. And for letting the first act convince me otherwise, the rest of La Haine chastises me for believing things could ever be so black and white. Continue reading “La Haine”

Strangers on a Train

A psychotic socialite confronts a pro tennis star with a theory on how two complete strangers can get away with murder – a theory that he plans to implement.

There comes a point in a most thriller films, and the best name for it is “The Point of No Return”, when a character could very easily escape their circumstances – they are presented with an opportunity to explain or provide a warning – but they never seem to take it. Continue reading “Strangers on a Train”

Cool Hand Luke

A man refuses to conform to life in a rural prison.

My first interaction with Cool Hand Luke was actually about ten years ago, watching an episode of MTV’s Jackass that recreated the famous “50 eggs” sequence. Probably for everyone’s own good, I couldn’t find it on YouTube – it’s not an accurate recreation. Unlike the cast of Jackass, Luke manages to consume 50 hard-boiled eggs without throwing up. This is but one of the incredible feats he achieves, and each one entertained me more than the last. Continue reading “Cool Hand Luke”

The Big Sleep

Private detective Philip Marlowe is hired by a rich family. Before the complex case is over, he’s seen murder, blackmail, and what might be love.

One of IMDb’s FAQs for The Big Sleep reads: “I’m hopelessly confused. Who killed whom and why?” I’ve no problem with films through which I have to be alert, but I certainly was hopelessly confused from the beginning – and I felt as though The Big Sleep didn’t want to give me a second chance to get on board. “Don’t get what’s going on? Tough shit – we ain’t waiting for you.” Continue reading “The Big Sleep”

The Silence of the Lambs

A young F.B.I. cadet must confide in an incarcerated and manipulative killer to receive his help on catching another serial killer who skins his victims.

The Silence of the Lambs grabbed me by the balls at about the twenty minute mark – from our introduction to Hannibal Lecter, to ninety minutes later as he climactically and satisfyingly proclaims he is “having an old friend for dinner”, The Silence of the Lambs quickly ascended through my list of favourite thrillers. Not necessarily smashing the genre’s status quo, but intense, disturbing, and most importantly, thrilling, it’s two hours that simultaneously reel past, and creep by. Continue reading “The Silence of the Lambs”

A Wednesday

A retiring police officer reminisces about the most astounding day of his career, a case that was never filed but continues to haunt him in his memories – the case of a man and a Wednesday.

At #235 in the Top 250 is The Road. This is not the adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel starring Viggo Mortensen. Mistakes, nonetheless, do happen, which is why, as the credits of A Wednesday rolled, my first thought was, “Shit. I bought the wrong film.” Nope. As confirmed by IMDb, A Wednesday is one of the best films of all time. Why? I have no fucking idea. Continue reading “A Wednesday”

Prisoners

When Keller Dover’s daughter and her friend go missing, he takes matters into his own hands as the police pursue multiple leads and the pressure mounts. But just how far will a desperate father go to protect his family?

Despite that synopsis, Prisoners barely has time to establish its whodunnit foundation before screenwriter Aaron Guzikowski pulls the old bait-and-switch. Any hope of finding the girls is dismissed by one character incredibly early on: “No-one took them. Nothing happened. They’re just gone.” And I breathed a sigh of relief, because Prisoners then became quite unlike its crime/mystery peers. Continue reading “Prisoners”

Dog Day Afternoon

A man robs a bank to pay for his lover’s operation; it turns into a hostage situation and a media circus.

You’re not supposed to identify with a bank robber. Even if he’s a struggling, doing-it-for-the-right-reasons, incompetent, piece of shit nice guy. He’s robbing a bank. He’s got hostages. But Lumet and screenwriter Frank Pierson need to create empathy for their lead, and they need to swim against the current that is heist movie tropes. In the ridiculous, moving, and wildly entertaining Dog Day Afternoon, they do just that. Continue reading “Dog Day Afternoon”

Memories of Murder

South Korea in 1986 under the military dictatorship: Two rural cops and a special detective from the capital investigate a series of brutal rape-murders.

I find it hard to judge Asian films, because so few are made for a Western audience. And yet, despite an ending that could be described as underwhelming to a viewer this side of the world, I found Memories of Murder intensely stylish and enjoyable. Continue reading “Memories of Murder”

Papillon

A man befriends a fellow criminal as the two of them begin serving their sentence on a dreadful prison island, which inspires the man to plot his escape.

Papillon did something that’s very difficult – it made me root for its lead character right from the very start. Unfortunately, it was only because I so desperately wanted him to successfully escape so the movie could be over. Continue reading “Papillon”