Posts Tagged ‘thriller’

Director: Michael Mann

Cast: Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Marion Cotillard, and Billy Crudup

“We’re havin’ too good a time today, we ain’t thinking about tomorrow”. This line and the film that follows, places John Dillinger firmly within context and gives you a better idea of who this man was, what he was up against and why he became an icon during the Great Depression.

Set in 1933 against the backdrop of the Great Depression Public Enemies follows the legendary crook John Dillinger (Depp), a man who stole millions from banks and eluded capture in the process. This film largely chronicles the attempts to bring Dillinger to justice by a newly formed FBI whilst also throws light on the gangster’s romance with Billie Frechette (Cotillard). J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI (Crudup) quickly mobilizes to address the Dillinger’s mayhem at large in the country’s heartland. He appoints morally sound Melvin Purvis (Bale) to run his Chicago office. Purvis and his crew inexorably put the screws on, just as the city’s organized crime syndicate becomes annoyed by the FBI scrutiny aroused by Dillinger and other reckless gangsters.

Director Michael Mann (Heat, Miami Vice) does not waste any time warming up as he throws you right into the action from the very beginning of the film. The depiction of 1930’s America is near perfect in this film. The shaky camera work might make some audiences dizzy but works perfectly for the story as it puts you right in the middle of the chase sequences and shootout scenes. The best example of this is the shootout scene at the house where Dillinger is holed up.

Depp controls the screen pretty much throughout the film and delivers a cold and intense performance. He portrays Dillinger’s two key characteristics; charm and menace with panache. Look out for the scene where Dillinger enters the police station fearlessly and goes into the ‘Dillinger Investigations’ department going unnoticed by cops. Bale on the other hand is too stiff throughout the movie barring the climax, which makes his performance average. But both of them put together as adversaries works great for the film.

One problem that Public Enemies suffers from is the lack of character depth in many of the characters. At times, it seems as if you are expected to know and understand the characters before watching the film because it is a real life story. But apart from these minor glitches, Public Enemies makes a great watch packed with some good performances and action sequences.

Director: David Fincher

David Fincher, in my opinion is a movie-making genius. He hasn’t made, what one would call, a LOT of movies, but each and every one he has made has stood out. I’ve seen all his full-length features to date. From Se7en to Fight Club. Now, I know many people will disagree with what I’m saying, but, in my opinion, Zodiac is his best.

In the late 1960’s through till the late 1970’s a notorious serial killer who called himself The Zodiac haunted the San Francisco Bay Area. It is not known exactly how many murders he committed. For the purpose of publicity, he used to mail letters and zodiac codes to famous newspapers in the city giving them information which only he could know, taunting the Police to carry out a mass investigation. Till date, the case remains one of the greatest unsolved crimes of San Francisco. The movie is based on actual case files, and adapted from Robert Graysmith’s Zodiac account books.
I saw Zodiac, in the dark confines of my room. It is a two hour thirty-seven minute movie. It felt no more than ninety minutes. I hold the background music as, perhaps, the most important factor in getting the viewers into the basic feel of the movie. Zodiac has got a blend of 60’s Jazz, Pop and Rock music. Even the closing credits have got music enough to make you remain seated and hear it out. It has a gripping background score. The film starts, and ends, with the same song. The song: Hurdy Gurdy Man. It is stylized, almost scary, along with a nod-your-head vibe to it.

The movie has an ensemble cast. With the likes of Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, and Brian Cox, the acting is stellar. Ruffalo’s portrayal of Inspector David Toschi is the pick of the lot. Gyllenhaal, playing the role of Robert Graysmith, a cartoonist for the San Francisco Chronicle whose obsession with The Zodiac leads to the most striking amount of evidence in the case, carries on the express that he started with Brokeback Mountain. I have never seen Chloe Sevigny’s other avatar, but her coldness shines in every scene we see her. The whole 1960’s/70’s setting merely adds to the excellent screenplay. The film has a black imagery. The only clear amount of brightness we get is in the first five minutes, coming from a flashlight.

The dialogue is gripping. The delivery is perfect. The screenplay is sublime. Everything is just right. The cinematography, the setting, the direction, just fits right in. There was not a moment during its length that I looked at my watch or thought that it was long. It is edge of the seat stuff. The movie is perfect. I didn’t know much about the Zodiac killings till I saw this movie. It interested me enough to spend a day reading whatever I could find on the net. When a movie gets you to do that, it says something. For all that its worth, I cannot find a single reason why this movie was overlooked at the Oscars. If this isn’t Oscar material, I’m not sure what is.

By the time the movie ended, Zodiac left me stranded with a million random thoughts jumping in my head. It’s a thriller of amazing proportions. It just gets you. Whether it is Downey Jr.’s stylized portrayal of an engaged reporter, shifting to a drunkard who doesn’t really give a damn, or the very voice of the Zodiac over the phone. The opening sequence, 5 minutes long, only sets you up for a treat of a movie.

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Watch out for the opening sequence. It rocked me to my core. Highly recommended to anyone who loves watching movies. Thumbs up!

Director: Quentin Tarantino

I watched Reservoir Dogs again two days ago and to this day, it is still one of the most stylish & amazing films of all time for me. This film has it all. It has immense style, it has cleverly planned violence and it has a wonderful script.

Background isn’t given on most of the characters, and that’s the point. The anonymity of the characters (hence the code names) is important to the movie’s plot. These people are mostly all strangers to each other. We know as much as they know, for the most part. Part of Tarantino’s genius is his ability to give you only what you need, and nothing extra.

The dialogue is extremely well written, it contains lots of humor, especially sarcasm that is very hard to achieve. The opening scene and the debate about the aliases are priceless. The acting is flawless. Buscemi, Madsen, Roth and Keitel are all equally outstanding. Tierny and Penn team up perfectly. The smaller parts played by Tarantino, Jackson and Bunker are all very colorful.

The direction may not be anything special, but even though there are a few incoherences, it’s rather solid. The (in) famous ear-cutting scene has some smart direction as the camera moves away from the mutilation and shows us a door with “WATCH YOUR HEAD” written over it. Many interesting themes are brought up throughout the film. Loyalty and reliability seem to be the main one, Mr. Blonde stuck up for Joe, Mr. Orange tells Mr. White the truth, all the robbers go to the meeting place despite the fiasco.

Although this film contains a diverse range of techniques, I would have to say that the most original aspects of the film were: The camera angles and the music. Despite the plot being superb, every word out of the character’s mouths interesting and unusual, the casting brilliant, and the acting gripping and totally realistic, it is the camera angles and the music which really give Reservoir Dogs its atmosphere, which in this movie is everything.

The shots in this film add much to the suspense and are at times uniquely directed. Many times throughout the movie the shot is so far away that it is impossible to ascertain which character is actually speaking and therefore it almost seems that the characters play a secondary role to their dark and miserable surroundings.

Although the camerawork effectively creates the mood, it is the music, which truly plays the most vital role in Reservoir Dogs. Everyone is stylish in Tarantino’s world and this is reflected through the use of music. The recurring theme of the radio show `K-Billy’s Super Sounds of the Seventies Weekend’ plays an extremely important role in the music element of this movie. Nearly all the music present in the film is actually heard from radios in cars or bars and is always K-Billy’s Super Sounds of the Seventies Weekend. The gangsters talk about their identification with the Radio show, and have a kind of shared memory with each other through the songs.

As for all Tarantino movies, the soundtrack is excellent. In Reservoir Dogs it has something more than in Tarantino’s other films as the heist takes place at the same time as a special retro 70’s music radio show. Tunes from the 70’s are scattered all over the story as characters turn the radio on and off. I think that that was a very good idea and a nice little touch. All the more because the songs are often used to illustrate what’s happening on the screen. As Mr. Blonde tortures Nash, ‘Stuck in the Middle with you’ highlights the two cops’ situation who are stuck in the warehouse with a few panicked criminals. The last song ‘Coconut’ brings us back to reality, if you listen to the lyrics, it’s just a silly song about a guy who wants to get rid of his bellyache. This is very ironic, as one of the characters has just spent the last 90 minutes with a bullet in his gut. Tarantino is basically saying that this was just a film, not real life.

Although Pulp Fiction is probably the better of the two, Reservoir Dogs is my favorite Tarantino film. I’m not too sure why, I think the experimental side tips it for me. Having the whole story happen in the warehouse with just a few flashbacks to tell us everything was clever and hard to pull off, but here it’s done with panache.

Coming back to Tarantino who also wrote the script, he has cleanly and charismatically shown the precision of gangster dialogue. This movie is an in your face version of psychopathic violence, killing and bad language. But please! Don’t take it in the literal sense…these are just backdrops. Focus more on the long takes, like Michael Madsen (Mr. Blonde) going out of a warehouse to grab a can of petrol from the car and then going back and splashing it on a cop. The careful viewer will notice lapses in direction, such as the orangeness / redness of hours old blood, instead of the reddish brown that it becomes. Occasionally, the scenes seem a little loose, but all the ingredients of a good film are there. The acting is not bad at all, and one shall not be disappointed there.

But I have to give special notice to the chilling Michael Madsen. For those who have only seen him in “Free Willy” or “Thelma and Louise”, be prepared to be terrified and blown away. Madsen is better than perfect as the showstopper Mr. Blonde. His look, his acting, everything about his performance is flawless and I have to admit, that Madsen’s Mr. Blonde was my favorite character in the piece. He has unforgettable lines “Are you Gonna Bark all day, Little Doggy, or are you Gonna Bite?” And he has the best and most chilling scene in the movie, the “Ear Torture Sequence”. Wait until you see him dance to “Stuck in the Middle with You.” you will be revolted and want to turn away, but you won’t be able to. Cool and terrifying, Madsen’s performance, at least in my opinion, is the best in the film. Because even though he’s terrifying, the audience has to admit that he’s cool.

This movie is extremely violent, gory and filled with expletives. Reservoir Dogs, like many Tarantino flicks, is not organized chronologically, and can sometimes confuse the viewers as to what is going on. You have to keep your eyes wide open at all times to put the pieces of the puzzle together. It is not only Tarantino’s best, but also one of the masterpieces of Hollywood. Watch this film once and you will enjoy it, watch this film more than once and you will see things you didn’t see before.

Director: Christopher Nolan

In 2005, Christopher Nolan relaunched Warner Brothers’ dormant Batman franchise with “Batman Begins”, an exceptionally well-made film that took a realistic, detailed approach to the origins of DC’s biggest hero (arguably the most popular hero in the world). Now, three years later, Nolan and his star Christian Bale return to the property, and they deliver what is perhaps the greatest superhero film ever made (and a great film, besides), one that will become the model all others will look up to.

Nolan and his screenwriters draw on several different comics sources to create their vision of Batman, the Joker, and Gotham. The most obvious among these are Alan Moore’s “The Killing Joke” (perhaps the seminal Batman vs. Joker story) and Jeph Loeb’s “Batman: The Long Halloween”, which involved Harvey Dent and the struggle between Batman and the mob. Moore’s Joker was conceived of as having no fixed origin, and Nolan follows through with this: the Joker has no origin, though he offers several different versions to different people.

The performances are as spectacular as many had expected and/or hoped. Bale returns in fine form as the titular character, and can’t be faulted too much. Aron Eckhart debuts as District Attorney Harvey Dent, and the storyline effectively revolves around him and his war on organised crime in Gotham. There are fine supporting performances from the returning Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine, as well as the newcomers Eric Roberts, Nestor Carbonell and Maggie Gyllenhaal (who thankfully takes over from Katie Holmes as Bruce Wayne’s childhood friend Rachel Dawes).

That brings us to The Joker. Just about everything you have heard about his portrayal is true. He is a complete psychopath, and is totally unrecognizable in the role. You may laugh at some of his shenanigans, but then will take them back when you see the horrifying things he says and does. He spits and slobbers through his lines with such quirk and filth you feel nasty watching him. There are evil, little sadistic moments that tinge and stain this film, dramatically stirring discord, melancholy, and angst inside of you until the credits roll. Yes, Ledger is that good. This brilliant performance is even better than I could have hoped, and is enough to see the movie alone. I thought I’d never say this but, make way Nicholson, Ledger has arrived!

The very loyal screenplay is written very well by Jonathan Nolan, who has done a masterful job. The characters are rich in character and the story has not a flaw in it. For a comic book film adaptation, this film is not at all fantasy-like. It is quite realistic in a way and this is what gives the film more credibility. Also, the fact that the script is realistic is unbelievable, as you expect a superhero film when you walk in the cinema, and walk out realizing you have just seen an epic crime saga. It deserves to be mentioned in the same sentence with “Goodfellas”, “Heat”, “The Untouchables” and even “The Godfather”. I kid you not, this film has the power.

Wally Pfister’s cinematography is simply stunning. Gotham has never looked so good, so big and deep. His wide shots purvey a dirty aura and contribute to the feel of the film. Without it, it may not have been the same. Another Oscar worthy portion, THE MUSIC! With Hans Zimmer AND James Newton Howard at the helm, how could it go wrong? The score sets the mood in every scene, giving an epic and thrilling tone. During action sequences it really ups the adrenaline. And on that topic of action, The Dark Knight succeeds in have the best fight sequences and car chases in a comic book adaptation yet. With no obvious or over-use of CGI, the explosions and accidents are the real deal. Thrilling, edge of your seat and violent, this is brutally awesome stuff.

But of course, none of this is possible without the genius that is the other Nolan, director Christopher. As per Memento, he knows how to direct a film. The dramatic scenes are engaging and the action sequences are crisp, thrilling, and will blow you out of your seat. Nolan’s direction is tense, whip-smart, kinetic and smart. All of the action sequences are realistic and CG is used only when necessary. The new vehicle and some gadgets look cool and stylish and do not take away the film’s credibility and realism. There are a lot of action sequences to boot, some of them combining themes from above. You will have to see them to believe them. The Nolan Brothers have done it again.

What else is there to say? The Dark Knight just flat out rocks hard. The fight scenes, the explosions, and the big car chase are nothing short of amazing. The performances by everyone involved are well above par and Ledger’s Joker is a comic book movie villain that will likely be remembered forever. Chris Nolan has crafted an epic superhero movie that just might be the best ever made.