Sunday, 01 April 2007 |
“The Usual Suspects” was the big surprise of 1995. A movie with a good
cast of (then) relatively small names, directed and written by
little-known talents, a title lifted from “Casablanca,” and a curious
ad showing what must be those usual suspects in a police lineup.
Conventional moviemaking wisdom holds that flashbacks are a bad
idea—but “The Usual Suspects” isn’t just mostly a flashback, it’s
flashbacks within flashbacks, and then at the end, something happens
which leads us to wonder if what we just saw “actually” happened, or if
the “true” story is something else altogether.
The surprise was one of recent movie history’s biggest jolts, up there
with “I see dead people” and she’s really a guy. Fortunately, like
those movies, the movie didn’t depend on its surprise, and extreme
though it was, the surprise didn’t undo the whole movie. “The Usual
Suspects” was a substantial hit and won two Oscars; Kevin ...
Friday, 01 September 2006 |
It’s unusual for a mass-release movie to be as unusual as “Memento.” In
one sense, it’s a well-made, modern-day film noir—but how the story is
told makes all the difference, and quickly developed the unusual
reputation the movie still has today. Just check the message board for
the film on the Internet Movie Database and you’ll find dozens of
messages discussing and arguing about the plot of the film.
The movie is told backward—AND forward. The scenes in color proceed in
reverse chronological order. That is, the first scene with Leonard (Guy
Pearce) is chronologically the oldest; all the scenes (except the title
shot) run from beginning to end—but then the next successive color
scene takes place before the one we just saw. It marches on this way,
leap-frogging over itself, to the “end” (beginning) of the movie.
Meanwhile, there are black and white scenes of Leonard puzzling out
whatever he can; ...
Tuesday, 01 August 2006 |
When “Basic Instinct” was released 14 years ago, it caused a sensation
and turned Sharon Stone into a star—or something resembling a star—at
once. It was far from her first movie, but when she insolently crossed
her silken legs, driving interrogator Wayne Knight into a kind of
frenzy, the world followed suit. As directed by Paul Verhoeven, “Basic
Instinct” was intense, ironic, and not to be taken too seriously.
As directed by Michael Caton-Jones, “Basic Instinct 2” is good-looking,
but plodding and weary. The script by Leora Barish and Henry
Bean—evidently written years earlier—is obvious and cluttered with
unlikable characters. We really don’t give a damn what happens to
anyone in the story, and that’s deadly for a suspense movie.
Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone), who writes as Catherine Woolfe, is
now in London. As she’s roaring through the streets at night being
masturbated by a dazed-looking soccer star, she reaches an orgasm as