Saturday, March 20, 2010

That Thrilled Me Psychologically!

I've been on a psychological thriller kick lately.  The late-80s/early-90s were packed full of them.  It's a shame that I spent those glorious years watching Disney cartoons instead of these fucked up spinechillers.

Dead Calm: A Navy man and his wife cope with the loss of their child by escaping the city for a month out at sea.  About three weeks in, they come across a sinking ship and the last remaining survivor crew member.  Sam Neill and Nicole Kidman play the happy couple.  Billy Zane plays the hardbodied psychopath.  When Neill's character get stranded on Zane's sinking ship, what's left is a pretty awesome cat-and-mouse game between Smokin' Hot Kidman and Pretty Good Lookin' If You're Into Psychopaths With Nice Smiles Zane.  

Recommendation: Watch it, even if boat movies usually act like NyQuil for you.

Rising Sun: Snipes and Connery investigate a sex crime that took place on the board room table of a powerful Japanese corporation.  Connery is an expert on Japanese customs and Snipes is a tough-talking cop with a knack for sidekicks.  It's clear the company has something to hide--something to do with government officials and intercontinental business deals.  Rising Sun starts out like an episode of SVU and ends like a buddy cop film.  And where there's nothing like hearing Sean Connery speak Japanese through the thickest Scottish brogue, Rising Sun isn't very thrilling.

Recommendation: Tia Carrere fans will be happy to find out that she has a small role in Rising Sun but everyone else will be underwhelmed.     

Striking Distance - An NYPD cop rats on his partner who later commits suicide.  You know what happens when someone rats on their partner who later commits suicide?  They get demoted to boat cop.  Boat cops are like mall cops of the water.  Bruce Willis once made a public apology for this movie. Maybe this just got better with time or maybe my tolerance for bad thrillers is higher than I thought. I liked Striking Distance.  The supporting cast is fantastic.  Sarah Jessica Parker, John Mahoney, Dennis Farina, and Tom Sizemore. looks better than it reads.

Recommendation: If you're in the mood for a fun, twist-filled flick, you'll like Striking Distance...unless you trust Bruce Willis more than me. 

Consenting Adults - An upper-middle class couple meets their new neighbors: an eccentric financial consultant and his blonde bombshell wife.  The couples grow close quickly and continue to do so until Spacey's character (the eccentric) makes an indecent proposal: wife swap!  "You sneak into my bed in the middle of the right.  I'll sneak into your bed in middle of the night.  Our wives will totally be into it once it's happening."  I don't want to spoil how this tawdry affair pans out but you won't be disappointed.
Recommendation: The terrible cover art was enough to keep me away from this movie for years.  Thanks to Netflix Instant Watch (which is how I watched all of these movies) I finally broke down and checked this out.  It's a steamy little affair and it's worth watching if only to see The Kevins (how they missed this marketing opportunity, I'll never know) act off one another.  

Birthday Girl - Nicole Kidman plays a Russian mail-order bride.  The lucky bloke who orders her learns a valuable "too good to be true" lesson when her Russian friends show up and make themselves comfortable.  This might sound like a silly 80s rom-com but silly, 80s, romantic, and comedic Birthday Girl is not.  Out of the entire group, this is the one I'd recommend without hesitation.  Kidman delivers an underrated performance while the entire supporting cast is spot-on.  Vincent Cassel (La Haine) plays a hotheaded Ruskie and reaffirms my claims that he's one of the world's most underrated actors.

Recommendation: It's a taut psychological thriller with a little bit of S&M thrown in the mix. Think Hitchcock meets Secretary.  In a good way.


Joseph B. said...

Couple suggestions:

Polanski's "Bitter Moon" is well worth the psychological thriller title.

Also, Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is pretty damn brilliant.

Fletch said...

I heartily disagree with your assessment of Rising Sun - I've always thought it a solid techno-thriller with a great cast. If it's on TV, I seem to always get sucked in.

I'd also recommend checking out some of these other thrillers, even if they aren't all great:

Interal Affairs
Final Analysis

TJMAC510 said...

Yeah that was a great list for sure but I think the Kiss the Girls/Along Came a Spider series and Double Jeopardy would be good as well