Archive for the ‘Thriller’ Category

As a massive fan of Jaws, Chief Brody has always been my hero! And so was Roy Scheider of course, who immortalized the part. At one point in my life as a young cinefile I wanted to see all the movies he was in. But most were difficult to digest. Apart from Blue Thunder and The French Connection. 

Marathon Man was another memorable one. It has one of the coolest non-Jaws Roy Scheider scenes, in which he fights and kills an attacker in a Paris hotel room after doing push-ups on the ledge of the bed. And the movie has other classic scenes like the one where Dustin Hofman gets tortured by an ex nazi dentist who drills a hole in his perfectly healthy teeth.

Re-watching this classic seventies suspense thriller as an adult was interesting. Sure, the above mentioned scenes are classics, but what was the movie about again? Ah! When word gets out that his brother is killed in a car accident, a former nazi criminal leaves his hiding place in Uruguay to reclaim items he has hidden in a safe in New York. For years, he could finance his hideout via a network of couriers, but he wants to be sure there is still stuff in the safe. This synopsis isn’t immediately clear as the story is told from the perspective of a student, whose brother is one of the couriers and ends up dead in his apartment. Now, the network assumes he knows more and haunts him.

The movie has quite a lot of odd action scenes that are instant classics, like the opening car chase between an old nazi and an old jew, ending in a deadly accident. It sounds like something from a bad sketch show, but it’s not. The seventies spirit is great. There’s something about that decade that resonates best in movies. The acting is over the top, especially the death scenes. And there are a lot. So that’s a bit of a disappointment. But it’s suspenseful and entertaining.

But come to think of it. Apart from Jaws, Jaws II, The French Connection, Marathon Man, The Sorcerer and All That Jazz most Roy Scheider movies are not worth recommending. It feels sacrilegious to write this, but the man has starred in so many bad movies. Too bad Quentin Tarantino didn’t give him a second career boost in the nineties. He ended up making straight to video C-movies for the last two decades of his career. So sad!

Movies with Roy Scheider I want to re-watch again: Klute (**), The French Connection (****), The Seven-Ups (**1/2), The Sorcerer (**1/2)  

Movies with Roy Scheider that I do not need to rewatch at all: Assignment Munich, Sheila Levine Is Dead And Living In New York (*1/2), Last Embrace (**), All That Jazz (**), Still Of The Night (**), Blue Thunder (**), Tiger Town (**), 2010: The Year We Made Contact, 52 Pick Up, Cohen And Tate, Listen To Me, Night Game, The Fourth War, The Russia House (**), Naked Lunch, Romeo Is Bleeding, Executive Target

Movies with Roy Scheider I’ve never seen and would like to watch one day: The Outside Man, Jacobo Timerman, The Myth Of Fingerprints, RKO 281 

Movies with Roy Scheider I can’t be bothered with: all the rest.

www.imdb.com/title/tt0074860

Trauma – *

Posted: April 30, 2020 in 2018, Thriller, UK

Interesting set-up. A kid enters the emergency room of a hospital being stabbed. A surgeon is paged to operate, on his evening off. The father of the kid enters the operation room and sees the doctor hesitating, to finally give up and declare the kid dead. Next is a vendetta from the dad towards the surgeon for failing to save his son and the struggle with guilt by the surgeon.

It works well for two episodes and becomes creepy and thrilling when the dad really starts to stalk the surgeon’s family.

But then the third and final episode is just bullocks. The dad really goes berserk and the surgeon loses it. It just does not make sense at all and the longer it lasts, the worse it gets. Surgeons lie all the time. What a great way to put the NHS in a good spotlight. And really, one disoriented talkative lunatic threatens three people with a knife and they are all just standing there looking at him? Honestly? There were like 20 moments where they could have kicked the knife out of his hands. Don’t worry about spoiler alerts. This isn’t worth watching.

www.imdb.com/title/tt6834020

A young lawyer, working for the public prosecutor’s officer, has been living in guilt for many years. As a child, she was the snitch that made her older brother go to jail for drug trafficking. Unwillingly of course. But her father always made her believe she did the right thing.

When she’s working on a case in which her incarcerated brother is involved, she gets drawn into his world. First out of curiosity, later out of necessity. An act of beneficence gets her in trouble. She forges a document to make sure her brother gets a better treatment in jail. But this illegal misstep is the start of one rollercoaster ride of misery and drama. Her entire career is ruined. Unless she helps a detective by infiltrating into the brotherhood gang that her brother is leading…

Though flawed, this is a very enthralling series. It’s a mix of a prison drama and a detective story with a main lead that plays a double part. It’s set in Brazil, so the drama is very dramatic. But it’s also very violent and grim. It deals about police brutality and corruption and a lot of murderous crime. People get beaten, tortured, killed by the dozens. It brings you the exact opposite of the cheerful and colorful image that Brazil has in many ignorant foreigner’s eyes. This is one dark tale. Even Cidade de Deus has characters laughing and dancing at one point. This one has zero joyful smiles.

But it’s worth the watch. Noreen Costa is phenomenal as the main lead. She not only needs to convince the detective that he can trust her. She also needs to convince the brotherhood that they need her. And more important: she needs to convince the audience watching at home that she can pull this off. Hermila Guedes is equally excellent as the wife of the imprisoned brother. In a very macho setting, these two actresses and their characters keep the show from being a total waste of time. Girl power!

The male leads are only slightly less impressive. Danilo Grangheia as the detective is great. So is Seu Jorge as the brother and leader of the prison gang. We just don’t get to know their characters that well. It’s all very superficial and the show fails to create empathy or sympathy for them. Where you believe the women immediately and you understand their actions from start to finish, it’s much harder to understand what these male characters are all about.

The story may be full of inaccuracies and illogical situations, but the storytelling is well done. Each episode ends with a good cliffhanger that make you want to continue watching. And the ideas are quite clever and flow in a constant entertaining pace. The last episode is a bit too much though. It’s inconsistent and feels rushed. It also isn’t conclusive. There’s no end. Not even an open end. A lot of questions remain.

So watch this by the millions so netflix will make the second season. Because we need to know what’s going to happen next !!!

www.imdb.com/title/tt8905964

Disappointing.

In November 2008, Mumbai experienced a series of terrorist attacks, amongst which one at the famous Taj hotel. This Australian production tells that story.

Somehow it just doesn’t work. If this were fictitious it would be a lousy action thriller. But it’s based on true events, so it’s even worse. It’s really bizarre, because it feels like an action thriller. The kind with Sylvester Stallone or JC Van Damme. Not the kind with Bruce Willis.

There’s a lot of shooting and – spoiler alert – almost everyone dies. So, knowing this, it’s kind of sad to realize that you don’t have time to care about any of these victims. Either the victims are nameless extras. Or they are stereotypical characters like the nasty Russian or the ignorant American. The director decided to create more empathy for the terrorists than for the people stuck in the hotel! How bizarre is that? There’s this one scene where one of the terrorists calls home, hurt because he is shot in the leg and crying. He asks his dad if the leaders of his organization have already donated the money. So, wait a minute, you want us, audience, to feel like money was the reason for the kid to do these horrific killings and we should feel his regret and doubt because he is crying? Ehm. No.

This movie didn’t do well at the box office and wasn’t released in India (yet). Let’s keep it that way.

www.imdb.com/title/tt5461944

This is quite the surprising indie-action thriller !

Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughan are detectives who get suspended after one of them was filmed using an unorthodox technique during a drug bust. They are in financial need – at least Mel Gibson’s character is – and decide to steal money from a criminal. Little do they know that they will get caught up in a horrifying heist.

It’s a very entertaining movie. The acting is solid. Mel Gibson gets rave reviews for this part and with reason. Vince Vaughn and Tory Kittles are excellent too. But the directing is excellent. It’s a slow movie and the scenes are long, but that’s sooo important right now. There’s a whole new generation who will find this incredibly boring, because of its pace and superfluous scenes, but it’s quite nice to see a new movie that shows scenes and not one second fragments. That one scene in the car during the stakeout where Vince Vaughan enjoys eating a sandwich and Mel Gibson then says, after 4 minutes or so, that ‘a single ant could have eaten it faster’… Well that scene is typical for the movie.

There’s also a scene in which a guy tries to swallow an important key to hide it from others. What happens next is predictable, but also done in a very detailed way. It’s pure gore, but clever and detailed and just totally fucked up. But hey, that’s what cinema should be.

Yup. Recommending this. Even though most viewers will find it pretentious.

www.imdb.com/title/tt6491178/ 

Three more episodes of this fascinating series of standalone near future dramatic thrillers. Not so thrilling or scary or thought provoking as before, but a good watch nevertheless.

Striking Vipers (***) isn’t half as scary as other episodes. In fact, the technological novelty kinda looks appealing. It’s a virtual reality game console that makes you become the character you chose. The idea could be frightening, but this time the makers turned it around and made it something more sexual and romantic. Quite intriguing. Well acted.

In Smithereens (**) a man kidnaps an employee of a major social network company in order to be able to speak to the founder of the company. He manages to do so and the end is a bit of a disappointment. It’s the kind of kidnapping show that makes you wonder why the person being kidnapped is not cooperating with the police to being rescued.

Miley Cyrus plays an unhappy pop star in Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too (**). Her manager controls every aspect of her life and just wants the business to boom. Just as a new A.I. lookalike robot is launched on the market, things get ugly. But thanks to one of the robots and the owners of it, the pop star is saved.

www.imdb.com/title/tt2085059/episodes

 

You – ***

Posted: January 6, 2019 in 2018, Romance, Thriller, USA, XXX

This is one cool, horrific, thrilling and romantic mindfuck ! A book store manager falls for an aspiring writer. They share their love for literature. But they also share a longing  for wanting something that they cannot get. Joe, the manager, is so obsessed with this woman and so certain that she is the one, that he will do whatever it takes to protect her. Including murder. Guinevere, the writer, is so insecure about her talents that she hides it by over-using the social media and hanging out with the wrong kind of friends.

This is one great series. Ten episodes of constant surprises. Ten episodes of watching two people be attracted to each other and not being sure whether you want them to be together or not. They are made for each other. They look like the real deal. But they are hiding so much from each other and from the audience! They are bound to fail. Joe is a bit like Dexter. He looks charming and his motivations for his cruelty are just (he’s in love), yet, he’s a delusional stalker! Guinevere is a bit like Amy Dunne from Gone Girl, gorgeous and innocent, but equally cruel in being dishonest. It’s easy to understand why Joe is obssessed with her. But it’s also easy to understand why he doubts whether she’s really worth all the trouble. And then there are all the intriguing side characters. It’s not just about these two love birds. It’s about everyone around them, including ex lovers, colleagues, friends, family and neighbors.

Yes, some things don’t make sense, but somehow it’s part of the show. This is a well written, well acted, well edited thriller with a great end. More of this!

www.imdb.com/title/tt7335184

Revenge – **(*)

Posted: September 4, 2018 in 2017, France, Horror, Revenge, XX1/2
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A rich businessman brings his mistress to a desolate hideaway in the desert. He’s there for an annual hunting trip with two of his associates, who arrive a bit too early and get to know the girl as well. There’s a pool party, a lot of alcohol and the next day, the girl gets violated by one of the buddies. Once the businessman finds out, he defends his friends and pushes her off a cliff, where she gets impaled on a pointy tree branch.

However, the girl isn’t dead and she’s out for revenge.

And this is the moment where the real movie experience starts. The girl survives a deadly fall, being impaled, being shot at several times etc… She manages to survive in the desert, fix her wounds, run around with a heavy machine gun, aim a riffle successfully, etc…  Every setback makes her stronger.

Nothing is logical in this movie. But that’s not the point. It’s a visually and auditive stunning neo-cult classic. There’s only four actors (well, five if you count the helicopter pilot) and there are only a few settings. It must have been a low-budget production, but the camerawork is excellent. The action is non stop and entertaining. The gore is abundant. And there’s nakedness! Not by the female protagonist, but by the rich businessman who spends the last 15 minutes of the movie running around in the nude.

That character is played by Kevin Janssens, a Flemish actor who’s a bit of a local celebrity, appearing in the gossip magazines for this affairs with other local celebrities. BUT, he’s actually a fine actor and he chooses his roles cleverly. He could have gone for the commercial mainstream parts, but he does a lot of these weird indie things. And he does it well.

The movie didn’t get a local release though. It didn’t get a wide release at all. But it’s available on iTunes and highly recommended. Unless you can’t stand bloodshed and want a logical story. Then this is not for you. But try it, you may be impressed by the cool cinematography.

www.imdb.com/title/tt6738136

Suburbicon – *

Posted: July 31, 2018 in 2017, Thriller, USA, X

A 99 cent rental on itunes directed by George Clooney (!), written by the Coen brothers (!), starring Matt Damon (!) and Julianne Moore (!) and Oscar Isaac (!) plus that kid that seems to be in every movie nowadays: Noah Jupe. What a team!

Unfortunately the movies falls flat. Already after 10 minutes or so. And it just never becomes exciting. Not even when the violence erupts in the second half.

It’s a classic written script. With original plot twists, when read at home in the couch. But pretty boring on the screen. It’s not that the directing is bad, nor the acting, nor the cinematography. No. There is just zero humor. Which is quite important if you make a dark comedy. Not one single scene makes you laugh. None. Oh, maybe the scene with Matt Damon on a kid’s bicycle.

And then there is the superfluous ‘socially critical’ side story that doesn’t make any sense at all. The events take place in a suburban white village where a black family comes to live, which creates panic amongst the locals. That’s how the movie starts. Interesting. Later in the movie you see people protest and put up fences around the family’s home and you see shop tenants clearly indicate that black customers are not welcome. But that’s about it really. It’s clear. People are panicking because of the arrival of different newcomers, but close their eyes for the trouble in their own society. It’s clear. It’s 100% clear. If that’s ‘socially critical’, it’s lame. It distracts from the real story.

The main drama takes place in the home of one of these new arrivals’ white neighbors. The family of Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon) is visited by two mean burglars who put all of the family members to sleep with chlorophyll. Two of these family members are played by Julianne Moore. She both plays the devoted wife of Gardner and the twin sister, who turns out to be the mistress of Gardner. When the wife dies of an overdose of chlorophyll, it’s clear that this visit of the burglars wasn’t random. This is also 100% clear from the beginning. As it’s witnessed by the young kid in the story.  There is absolutely no suspense either.

This is not a good movie, but if you want to watch it, watch it without looking at the trailer. Because it creates expectations of something thrilling, funny and good (and hardly mentions the racial conflict side story).

www.imdb.com/title/tt0491175/

 

Fleuve Noir (Black Tide) – *

Posted: July 28, 2018 in 2018, France, Thriller, X

In #metoo times, it’s quite interesting to see the main character of a police thriller (an alcoholic inspector) violate the mother of the disappeared child in the case he’s investigating. It’s a weird scene. It’s comical, especially in the aftermath – when they continue talking as if nothing happened. But it’s also shocking. It does have a purpose though. Somehow. The violation isn’t rape, because the woman allows it and even craves for it. Still, she initially says no. So keep your penis in your pants, motherfucker!

The scene does represent the movie though. Many scenes are both ridiculous and intriguing. It’s a tough sit-through. Vincent Cassel is over the top as a Columbus-like inspector in trench coat, looking like he sleeps under a bridge in Paris and talks like he constantly has a piece of a baguette in his mouth (drenched in alcohol). If you’re not a native French speaker, wait for the release with subtitles! Although they should read like ‘grmfflzmr trmflife feeszzee’. Romain Duris plays the literature teacher and upstairs neighbour of the missing boy. It’s so obvious that he’s the prime suspect that it’s not a surprise when it turns out he’s not. No spoiler alert necessary. In fact, the obsession by which the wannabe writer is co-investigating in the case is well acted.

In the end, it’s not really worth recommending. It’s like the director watched several non-classic police thrillers from the late seventies and thought: I can do the same! By 2048 this movie will be a challenge question in movie quizzes. Name the obscure thriller with Vincent Cassel en Romain Duris from 2018 that features two of the shortest sex scenes ever. (the first one is the 1 minute violation, the other is another ridiculous/shocking 1 minute in the forest. No spoiler there.)

www.imdb.com/title/tt6009104