Tag: crime

Trance, 2013

Trance by Danny Boyle is a remarkable film with few flaws, it contains a mind-bending series of twists that leave the viewer guessing throughout, guesses that are only answered in the final scene.  James McAvoy stars as Simon, an auctioneer in London, that is robbed by a gang lead by Franck (Vincent Cassel), secretly aided from inside the auction house by Simon. It later emerges that for reasons unknown to him Simon has removed the stolen painting and forgotten where it is hidden.

Franck’s gang decides to try hypnotherapy to aid Simon’s memory using a therapist named Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson) and from there the movie quickly picks up momentum. Boyle’s usual visual appeal is present, especially during the sequences taking place only in peoples’ minds. The effects are so effective they are nearly unnoticeable by the viewer, which is always a good sign.

Throughout her sessions with Simon, Elizabeth probes his mind and a series of memories best described as Inception-esque is uncovered with many levels that are, at first confusing, but simultaneously thrilling and enticing. The frequent sessions and resulting exploration of the memories cover many levels, leaving viewers guessing about the root the memories and thus, the truth of the matter about the painting and Simon himself.

McAvoy, Dawson, and Cassel are phenomenal in their roles and the supporting actors leave nothing to be desired. The movie only suffers when compared with Inception and from some subtle pacing problems in the middle – aside from that, it is a delightful, action-filled romp through the memories and minds of the characters, leading to a fantastic conclusion, – one which perfectly resolves the film by the time the credits roll. Trance can be recommended in the strongest possible terms for virtually any audience.

Flickan som lekte med elden, 2009

The Girl Who Played with Fire or The Girl Who Played with Fire, is the second in the Millenium series of movies and continues where its predecessor left off.  Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), the editor of Millenium magazine is contacted by a researcher and his fiancee who have been examining the links between the Swedish government and the trafficking of women.

Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) has spent a year traveling with the money she stole during the conclusion of The Girl with the Dragon Tattooand is now trying to settle into Swedish life and some degree of normalcy.  When the researcher and his fiancee are found murdered, Lisbeth is the suspect in the killings and must work with Blomkvist to clear her name and attempt to liberate herself from her complicated legal situation.

Terrible secrets about Salander’s past are brought to light in the process of discovering the real killers; the movie doesn’t so much end as it does leave the viewer anticipating the final installment.

Alfredson’s directorial work is just as outstanding  in this installment as it was in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo;  the result is a movie that nearly surpasses the exceptional quality of the first film.  The story is deeply engrossing for the viewer, and loyal to Stieg Larson’s renowned series, a phenomenon uncommon in a flurry of movies that take excessive liberties with the novels that inspire them.  The acting is again superb, and the details included come across as both expansive and effortless.

Following the success of the American adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, David Fincher is returning  to direct the next installment, which is currently in the works. This leaves viewers to wonder what changes he will actually make; given the nearly duplicated plot of the first American adaptation, it seems likely the upcoming remake will follow suit, merely changing Swedish actors for English-speaking versions. Perhaps there will also be minor tweaks in an effort to make the film more accessible to a wider audience, but in a series of already phenomenal films the need for such changes seems minimal. The film series is simply extraordinary and an excellent choice for anyone in search of a great story and an intricate, compelling plot: this film has both.

 

25th Hour, 2002

Spike Lee takes the novel writing talent of David Benioff and changes it into a screenplay to bring us this gut-wrenching story of regret, confusion, love, and loss and under Lee’s direction and his actors’ talents brings out a simultaneously heart-breaking and heart-warming story that is infused with a feeling of terrible, terrible regret in 25th Hour.

The Limey, 1999

The Limey is a 1999 Steven Soderbergh-directed, Lem Dobbs-written crime thriller in the neo-noir style, but with drastically different, carefully fragmented editing that gives the film a wonderfully novel feel and imparts the meaning of what is being said or done in a much different way than the Hollywood staple method of simply splicing things together into a chain. It is a story of revenge; Wilson (Terence Stamp) has recently been released from prison in Britain to find that his daughter has been killed in Los Angeles and he travels there to discover why and if there was foul-play as he suspects, to avenge her death.

Upon his arrival in Los Angeles he seeks out the man who sent him the newspaper clipping informing him of his daughter’s Jenny’s (Melissa George) death: Eduardo Roel (Luis Guzman). Roel is an ex-con himself who was a friend of Wilson’s daughter Jenny and provides him with assistance since Wilson finds Los Angeles a very strange and alien environment.

Together with Roel, Wilson meets Jenny’s acting teacher and best friend and together the three of delve into the underworld of Los Angeles in an attempt to discern how and why Jenny’s boyfriend Terry George (Peter Fonda) may have had her killed. Wilson is quickly established as a very dangerous character in an early scene where he leaps from a dead calm into a tortuously dominant hold on a thug to which he is asking questions and, after being savagely beaten by those employed by that thug, returns to gun calmly gun all of them down one-by-one, leaving only one to flee the scene of Wilson’s blood-spattered face screaming for the man to, “Tell him I’m coming!”

Together with fantastic performances by Stamp, Fonda and Guzman, particularly, director Soderbergh and writer Dobbs weave careful editing into the film by constantly fragmenting both the soundtrack and screen action into often out-of-sequence groupings. It is referred to as fragmenting by Soderbergh and it allows for the ability of a film to really show not only that a character is thinking, but what he is thinking; viewers are allowed to see the film from his point-of-view, inclusive of many of his thoughts, which leads to conversations’ audio often coming out of sequence with the action shots of the speaking, flashbacks with dialogue superimposed, and other techniques.

Both the director and writer, speaking after the release, reportedly wished they had fragmented the movie more so than they did. What they did, however, changes the movie from something other than just a simple, but great crime thriller into a new aspect of cinematography that has continued with Soderbergh into later films and increased in general usage greatly since The Limey‘s release.

The movie is fantastic and definitely something that captures both the spirit of an indie movie combines with that enough of a mainstream appeal that its poor box office showing is surprising. Perhaps, had it been released in this environment, with American audiences more accustomed to Cockney rhyming slang and a greater deal of cinematic complexity, and even Soderbergh’s style specifically, it would fare a great deal better. It is certainly something that will make for a great viewing by a viewer with even the slightest patience to allow a movie to play out in front of themselves. It is beautiful, surely, but not so richly complex that it is challenging to view. Just sit back and enjoy it and the startlingly effective performance by Terence Stamp!