Twelve Monkeys

In a future world devastated by disease, a convict is sent back in time to gather information about the man-made virus that wiped out most of the human population on the planet.

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I love time travel films, but until I saw Twelve Monkeys, I had started to wonder if maybe I’d seen it done every way there is. There’s the childhood adventure of Back to the Future, the sci-fi confusion-fest of Donnie Darko, and the loopy cycle of time in Looper. But in Twelve Monkeys, there’s a bleak doom and gloom that I both love for being brand new to me, and hate for making me feel dirty inside. Continue reading “Twelve Monkeys”

Psycho

A Phoenix secretary embezzles $40,000 from her employer’s client, goes on the run, and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother.

For two consecutive Halloweens, I’ve watched a classic horror film that has become so ubiquitous in pop culture that its shocks, twists and scares surely shouldn’t surprise me. It came as no surprise when Jack Torrance went crazy and tried to kill his family. I knew from the opening titles that Norman Bates is dressing up as his mother and committing these murders. And yet Alfred Hitchcock and Anthony Perkins make me doubt myself with every passing minute. Continue reading “Psycho”

Oldboy

After being kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years, Oh Dae-Su is released, only to find that he must find his captor in five days.

A month ago, I started this film. It was a hungover Sunday evening. Normally I’m smarter than to expect comfort from an unfamiliar film. If you’ve seen Oldboy, you’ll understand why I got all claustrophobic and anxious and had to turn it off. Continue reading “Oldboy”

Die Hard

John McClane, officer of the NYPD, tries to save wife Holly Gennaro and several others, taken hostage by German terrorist Hans Gruber during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.

Die Hard has jumped the list. It’s one of my favourite films, certainly my favourite action film, and I was saving the joy of talking about it. There seems to be no more appropriate time. Continue reading “Die Hard”

The Lives of Others

In 1984 East Berlin, an agent of the secret police, conducting surveillance on a writer and his lover, finds himself becoming increasingly absorbed by their lives.

I feel like I’m always dropping the fact I was born in 1992, but here’s another opportunity: The Lives of Others made real something I considered very much in the past. In 1989, three years before I was born, the Berlin Wall fell. Like an ignorant moron, the way I contextualise that is: that’s the same year Back to the Future Part II came out. Continue reading “The Lives of Others”

Memento

A man creates a strange system to help him remember things; so he can hunt for the murderer of his wife without his short-term memory loss being an obstacle.

One of my favourite things about the way Nolan makes films is his often-jumpy, erratic editing that can take you from one place to another in an instant. I didn’t notice it until Inception, as it’s explained by DiCaprio’s character to Ellen Page as they have lunch together. “How do you think you got here?” It what makes the film troubling and mysterious long after it ends. I think Inception is the film Nolan will never top – the perfect vessel for his style, and certainly his masterpiece. But Memento, with a similarly stunted and severed narrative, serves as an excellent insight into the way Nolan continues to make films. Continue reading “Memento”

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”

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”

The Bourne Ultimatum

Jason Bourne dodges a ruthless CIA official and his agents from a new assassination program while searching for the origins of his life as a trained killer.

Jason Bourne is the American James Bond. Where England has its well-dressed, sophisticated, always-according-to-plan 007, America can rely on its rugged, improvisational, by-any-means-necessary Bourne to get the job done. And where they differ doesn’t stop at the personification of our two countries. You can also see our greatest fears in who we choose to demonise as our antagonist. Continue reading “The Bourne Ultimatum”

The Sixth Sense

A boy who communicates with spirits that don’t know they’re dead seeks the help of a disheartened child psychologist.

M. Night Shyamalan’s debut is an excellent one that I’ve seen a handful of times – the first, as a terrified eleven-year-old subsequently deprived of sleep. The Sixth Sense‘s most chilling moments have been seared into my memory – but today, they don’t stand up as particularly scary, and I find myself re-categorising the film in my own mental IMDb. Continue reading “The Sixth Sense”