Thursday, May 17, 2018

Thursday Movie Picks - Twisty Thrillers

Written as part of the weekly blogathon hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves. Join in the fun by picking three movies that fit the week's theme and writing a bit about them!

Who doesn't love a good twisty thriller? I tend to love movies that without warning completely pull the rug out from under you - IF said rug-pulling is done well. It's a lot harder than it looks, but these three movies pull it off.

Wild Things (John McNaughton, 1998) OH how I love this trashy, tawdry thriller. Matt Dillon plays a high school English teacher with the oldest students you have ever seen, including wealthy Denise Richards and poor Neve Campbell, in swampy Florida. Kevin Bacon and Daphne Rubin-Vega play cops sent in to investigate when he's accused of rape. Wild Things is a hell of a wild ride - the trailer doesn't even give away HALF of the double-triple-double crosses in this. Deliciously vulgar in every way, this is one of those movies that is so proud of its naughtiness that I get giddy whenever I watch it.

Arlington Road (Mark Pellington, 1999) Even more timely now than it was on release, Arlington Road is one of the great forgotten films of the '90s. Jeff Bridges stars as a widowed college professor who slowly starts suspecting his new neighbors Tim Robbins and Joan Cusack of being domestic terrorists. That's it. That's the whole set-up. But strap yourself in, because this paranoid domestic thriller takes you to some very queasy places. It will put you on the edge of your seat and make you mighty uncomfortable. It's masterful.

Red Eye (Wes Craven, 2005) GOD I love that trailer! Even if it kind of lies about what the movie actually is. Red Eye isn't really a horror film, it's a thriller, one of the leanest, meanest thrillers of the new millennium. The "woman in peril" subgenre is sadly looked down upon by many, but at their best, these films show us ordinary people fraying their nerves trying to deal with extraordinary circumstances, often trying desperately to get other people to believe that what is happening to them is REALLY HAPPENING. What exactly Cillian Murphy needs from Rachel McAdams, I won't say, but suffice it to say the two actors are perfectly matched, and the tight screenplay (Red Eye runs 85 minutes, and not a single one of them is wasted) gives them actual characters to sink their teeth into. McAdams in particular makes for a wonderful protagonist, making the kind of split-second decisions we all would like to believe we would be able to make in similar circumstances. Thank God 99.9% of us will never have to find out what we would do for real! In the meantime, we can just enjoy this movie.

9 comments:

  1. I think Red Eye is one of the best thrillers ever made because of it's run time. It gets to the point. I loved it. I haven't seen your first two picks, though sometimes I feel like I have seen Wild Things because I've seen so many clips over the years.

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    1. Yeah, the clips from Wild Things are widespread. Especially that steamy three-way!

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  2. I have seen Arlington Rd which is really creepy with killer twists..sorry for the pun. I haven’t seen the other 2 but I wanted to and they look good.

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    1. haha I LOVE a good pun! Wild Things and Red Eye are both great in very different ways. Wild Things is trashy, Red Eye is classy (or, classier).

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  3. Great choices! Wild Things really is trash but good trash. I didn't love Arlington Road but I thought it had some interesting things to say, I may have to rewatch it to get everything out of it. Red Eye was a delight to discover. As you said it didn't waste a second of its running time.

    So many to choose from! I just went with the first three that came to mind.

    North by Northwest (1959)-Poor Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) is having a hell of a bad day. The mild mannered (but impeccably dressed) ad exec has been mistaken for a government agent and kidnapped by international spies from whom he manages to escape leading to a chase across the country amid many complications. One of Alfred Hitchcock’s best thrillers with turns and twists aplenty performed by a top flight cast including besides Grant-Eva Marie Saint, James Mason and Martin Landau.

    The Tenant (1976)-Polish émigré (Roman Polanski who also directed) arrives in Paris and moves into an apartment in a rundown building whose previous resident attempted suicide by jumping out one of the windows. As his sanity begins to crack he is shunned by the other residents (including Isabelle Adjani, Melvyn Douglas and Shelley Winters) as he starts to assume personality traits of the previous tenant. Strange and unsettling.

    Phone Booth (2002)-Cocky married publicist Stu Shepard (Colin Farrell) has a girl, Pam (Katie Holmes) on the side. Not wanting his wife to discover his duplicity he calls Pam on one of the few remaining public telephones in New York City. Just as he completes his latest call the phone rings, Stu answers and The Caller tells him he has a gun pointed at him and if he attempts to leave or alert anyone he will be killed. As he tries to figure out an escape the situation twists and turns as it escalates in danger.

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    1. North by Northwest! One of my all-time favorites! Love that entire flawless cast, but especially Jessie Royce Landis as Cary Grant's mother, reuniting with Hitch and Grant after playing Grace Kelly's mother in To Catch a Thief. She has such a delightful way of tossing off a killer line.

      Phone Booth is quite good from what I remember, even despite the whole "WHY WOULD YOU EVEN PICK UP THE DAMN PHONE?!?" thing.

      I haven't seen The Tenant but I've heard great things.

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  4. I'll think better of Red Eye. Haven't seen it, just bits. Not spoiled for me either so we shall see. Wild Things is also one I have over looked but if its a thriller, I'll think again. Arlington Road sound my kinda film, it has Joan Cusack in it.

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  5. I saw Red Eye ages ago but I remember liking it.

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  6. I really need to see Wild Things one of these days, it's embarrassing I've never seen it :)

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