Thursday, December 15, 2011

If You're In the Mood for A Thriller....

I don't know what it is, but lately I appear to be in a mood for watching thrillers of a certain sort. Lots of fun, especially when the films are this unexpectedly good.

The first of the lot a few weeks ago was:

1) THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt. I wrote about it here. This was definitely a film that surprised me by its excellence. Matt Damon can do very little wrong as far as I'm concerned, so I probably shouldn't have been surprised.

The story of a guy thwarted in love by the jaunty fedora wearing handlers of fate (literally) is now on my official list of Best Films of All Time. I simply loved it..

2) SOURCE CODE starring Jake Gyllenhaal.

Another surprise. Someone had mentioned that this was a remarkably well done film and I suppose that lingered in my imagination somewhere. Anyway, got it in the little red envelope, watched it and enjoyed it very much.

This is the story of a computer program put together by a kind of crazed scientist working under the auspices of Homeland Security. The program can be used to latch onto the last few minutes of a dying person's brain waves and reconstruct a scenario in which that person can travel back in time for those few minutes and do whatever is required of him by folks back in the  lab. (Makes no sense, I know, but hey, it's a movie.)

In this particular storyline, it's up to Jake's character (in reality, a dead soldier killed in, I believe, Afghanistan) to stop a mad bomber from blowing up a train and the city of Chicago. The trick is, he hardly knows what is required of him since there's very little time to explain what he must do. He just keeps getting blown up over and over again until he gets it right.

Very satisfying ending, too.

3) SUPER 8 starring a cast of unknown kids and the father from Friday Night Lights, Kyle Chandler.

J.J. Abrams homage to early Steven Spielberg works for me. (Spielberg produced it.) Here we have a bunch of smart-alecky, geeky, but essentially good-hearted kids who are putting on a show - sort of. They have a Super 8 camera and are making a horror film starring themselves. Okay, that's the premise.

But then the film forgets all about it in an extravaganza of fireworks - another train blown up in truly spectacular fashion, then the spooky doings of a mysterious alien out to, destroy not only the kids' town but, possibly, the world.

Of course, we also have sinister forces under the command of the military, out to stop anyone from noticing what's going on even if the town is under siege and things are going madly bump in the night. Ah, the military - everyone's favorite bogeyman.

The only question I have is why didn't the alien kill the kid when he had a chance? What is it about this kid that makes for an ending full of wonder?

Also, what were those little puzzle like boxes? Also, why name the film SUPER 8 if the camera in the title doesn't do anything but be the device which has the kids show up at a certain place so they can witness a certain event?

If you've seen the film, you'll know what I mean. But again, maybe I wasn't paying enough attention. This one is due for a re-watch in the new year.

But having said all that, I still enjoyed the film. But possibly, you have to just be in a mood.

4) INCEPTION starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Well, I'm a big fan of Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I love the way he steals any film he's in. There's just something about that cheeky face of his, not to mention, his talent. I'm so glad to see he's establishing a big time career for himself - finally.

In this surprisingly good sci-fi thriller, Leonardo DiCaprio plays a man who - along with his cronies - gets paid big bucks to steal ideas from the human subconscious. For this to happen, the subject and those wanting to do the subtraction (DiCaprio and his band of merry dreamers) have to be hooked up to one another with tubes and things. They  also have to be asleep and dreaming.

Again, the plot makes little sense and after awhile, I admit I lost track of what was what, but I still couldn't stop watching.

A very entertaining, non-stop action film with very little bloodletting and lots of thought-provoking action. Even if the thoughts provoked are not exactly clarified.

Great special effects, great editing and engaging actors can often carry a film. The casting is wonderful, even Michael Caine shows up in a couple of scenes. The only misstep is Ellen Page. She is totally out of her element here and let's face it, she just doesn't have a very interesting face OR personality.

But other than that, a terrific thriller/diller.

I know, I know, the film posters look like they were all done by the same designer in the same studio shop. But that's the way of it these days. The only one I like is the Super 8 one and that's not even, far as I can tell, the primary poster.


  1. All great movies to sit around and watch!

  2. Kate: Absolutely! There are just some days when all you want is chills and spills. :)

  3. Patti: Me too. In fact, I surprised myself by how much I enjoyed these.

  4. We watched Super 8 en famille over the Thanksgiving holiday. I thought it was cute. We saw Inception in the theatre with friends but the sound was so loud it gave me a migraine (and I don't get migraines easily--I've had maybe three my entire life), so I spent a good chunk of the movie in the lobby, so I should probably give it a rent and see what I missed!

    Why are movies so darn loud?!

  5. Funny thing, Lauren. The sound on the dvd is extra loud as well. I had to turn it down a bit. Go figure. I'd say, though, that the film is definitely worth a second look.

    Migraines are NO joke. Ugh.

  6. I get three out of four, Yvette; Source Code, Inception, Super 8
    Possibly Inception was the best made, most original movie. Have to admit I did find it a bit too much `in your face` viewed on the silver screen. I enjoyed Source Code, after I got into it. So I would place Super 8 as my most enjoyed. Still to see The Adjustment Bereau - it will have to be on the small screen now.

  7. I might have been the one who recommended SOURCE CODE. I was very impressed with it. And set in Chicago! The Metra trains (our commuter line) are not as glamorous (or clean) as those in the movie though. I wanted to see it because it's directed by David Bowie's son, Duncan Jones, who did such a fantastic job with MOON starring Sam Rockwell. Glad you liked it!

  8. Thank you, John. Now that you mention it, it WAS you. See? I take your suggestions to heart. :)

  9. Dave: YOu will love THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU, I'm sure of it.

    Well, I'm pretty sure of it. :)

  10. I saw and enjoyed all of these movies except SUPER 8. I'll have to put this one on my Netflix list.

  11. ...and a huge bag of popcorn, Pat. :)

  12. I loved Inception! Christopher Nolan is one of my favourite directors. His Inception and The Prestige never fail to entertain me.

  13. Willow: I'll have to check out THE PRESTIGE, don't think I've ever heard of it.

    INCEPTION really did surprise me by how much I enjoyed it. I think I'm going to have to get myself a permanent copy. :)

  14. Inception was really good (slight understatement). I found the Adjustment Bureau entertaining. Did not see Super 8 or Source Code. But I heard good things about Source Code; Duncan Jones is quite an inventive filmmaker but if I recall, this was a Gyllenhaal project and they got Jones in to do the job.

  15. iluvcinema: However it worked, it worked. Much as I liked the film, I still say the plot made no sense. But that didn't seeem to stop me enjoying the movie.

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