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Thriller
 

The East

'East' meets best.


Thriller

Rod Lott
Across her three films as an actress/writer/producer (2011’s Another Earth, 2012’s Sound of My Voice and this summer's unjustly ignored The East), Brit Marling has explored the subjects of cults, symbols, duplicates, identity and family. Remarkably, despite these recurring themes and a tonal similarity, each experience seems anew.
 
Monday, October 14, 2013

Shiver

Belongs in the shi**er.


Thriller

Rod Lott
Shiver's box art sports a wonderfully dark-humored tagline: "She had a good head on her shoulders ... until she met him." It recalls — if not outright rips off — Re-Animator's infamous line of "Herbert West has a good head on his shoulders … and another one on his desk."

 
Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Corruption

Grand Moff Tarkin does Grand Guignol.


Thriller

Rod Lott
During my summer vacation, I read the new book Offbeat: British Cinema's Curiosities, Obscurities and Forgotten Gems. It's the kind of volume I have to keep paper and pen next to me while reading, because I come across a lot of titles I must see, however difficult and rare. 
 
Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Scenic Route

Take it!


Thriller

Rod Lott

Never say never, because here's something I've now said twice this year: Josh Duhamel is really good in this! He was the best thing in the much-maligned sketch comedy Movie 43, and now he dominates Scenic Route.

 
Friday, September 20, 2013

Lady in a Cage

Histrionics, bar none.


Thriller

Rod Lott
Unleashed to home video enthusiasts again — this time courtesy of Warner Archive — 1964's Lady in a Cage traps the elderly Cornelia (the legendary Olivia de Havilland, Gone with the Wind) in an elevator. The lift isn't in an office building or department store, but in her own home; the cane-leaning Cornelia's been using it to bypass stairs after breaking her hip.
 
Friday, September 20, 2013

Seconds

Might as well get thirds.


Thriller

Patrick Crain
Director John Frankenheimer camps in a unique place in the story of American film. Too young to be active during Hollywood’s last great period before it fell into stagnancy but too old to be considered part of the hot-shot New American Cinema movement, Frankenheimer instead navigated the Cold War cinema of the early sixties, crafting some of his best known work like The Manchurian Candidate and Birdman of Alcatraz. And for all of the accolades heaped upon those movies, for my money, 1966’s Seconds remains his crowning achievement.
 
Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Targets

A dead-on classic.


Thriller

Rod Lott

Inspired by the dirty doings of mass murderer Charles Whitman, 1968's once-controversial Targets is the first true film directed by Peter Bogdanovich and also — I think, despite Oscar love for his '70s work — his best. It's also one of Warner Archive's finest rescues from out-of-print oblivion yet.

 
Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Wish You Were Here

Why I'll never go to Cambodia


Thriller

Rod Lott
Bearing an ironic title, the Australian film Wish You Were Here tells the story of four people who vacation together to Cambodia (of all places), yet only three return home. Jeremy (Antony Starr, TV's Banshee) goes missing after an Ecstasy-fueled party; foul play is feared, although his passport and bank account remain untouched. 
 
Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Now You See Me

Now you do.


Thriller

Rod Lott
On second viewing, the sheer amount of artifice on which Now You See Me is built comes to the forefront. Yet knowing its secrets doesn't detract from its status as an enormously entertaining confection.
 
Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Hands of a Stranger

Semi-gripping thriller.


Thriller

Rod Lott
After ruining his golden phalanges in an auto accident, concert pianist Vernon Paris (James Noah, Black Sheep) gets replacement mitts "donated" by a guy fatally shot thrice on the studio backlot street. The renegade medical procedure is dangerous, experimental and performed by a surgeon (Paul Lukather, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter) who assures us, "I've transplanted other hands, yes."
 
Friday, August 23, 2013

Evidence

A thriller with fun to burn.


Thriller

Rod Lott
Evidence presents a novel twist on the found-footage film, addressing the question, "Hey, what happens to the footage after it's found? Why don't we ever get to see that, huh?" In showing us the answer via a framing device, the movie automatically becomes more interesting.
 
Friday, August 23, 2013

Magic Magic

It could use some, use some


Thriller

Rod Lott
Michael Cera … scary? It's one of the last adjectives I'd apply to Arrested Development's poster child of awkward pauses, yet in the odd thriller Magic Magic, the vibe he exudes is nothing if not uncomfortably creepy. Give him credit for not playing another Indie Mopey Hoodie Boy.
 
Thursday, August 15, 2013

Welcome to the Punch

Lands a weak ‘Punch.’


Thriller

Rod Lott
Overlook the confounding title of Welcome to the Punch; it's the least of the British film's troubles. And that's too bad, because its rip-roaring opening chase had its hooks in me tight.
 
Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Black Rock

This ‘Rock’ is semisolid.


Thriller

Rod Lott
Strangely, Katie Aselton of TV's extraordinarily funny The League is better at crafting thrillers than comedies. Her directorial debut, 2010's The Freebie, was insufferable mumblecore. Black Rock finds her taking a headlong leap into suspense, and while it's so-so, growth is growth.
 
Monday, July 22, 2013

Cohen and Tate

‘Tate’ misbehavin’.


Thriller

Rod Lott
Having witnessed a mobster's murder, 9-year-old Travis Knight (Harley Cross, The Fly II) becomes the target of two hit men in 1988’s mostly forgotten Cohen and Tate. Some consider it a cult classic, which I think is going a bit far. It’s only been available on DVD for two years (albeit through MGM’s DVD-R program), but now is on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory, so viewers can decide for themselves.
 
Friday, July 5, 2013
 
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