Entries tagged with “thrillers”.

They do not make films like this one any longer. Usually this sentence when found in the review of a movie is supposed to be appreciative. Not in the case of ‘s Obsession. The film is made in 1976,the year Hitchcock was making his last movie, and owes a lot to the style of story building and telling, and to the cinematographic tricks of the master. One thing is however missing – the element of novelty and permanent search that was characteristic to Hitchcock, which made each of his movie different from the previous. Obsession is a film a la Hitchcock without the surprises. Even worse, without the humor.


source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0074991

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0074991


The idea is interesting and ‘Obsession‘ may have been one of the first to use it. A rich man’s wife and girl are kidnapped and a fat ransom is demanded. The man (acted by ) decides to call the police, and the story turns into a tragedy when the car with the kidnappers, the wife and the girl explodes in the events following the police action. The hero is overwhelmed by remorse and guilt for his decision to turn to the police rather than just pay the ransom. 16 years later, in the same place where he first met his wife, he meets a young woman with a striking resemblance. He falls for her, and ends by asking her into marriage. Actually, here are some of the good moments of the film. Is he really in love or is the guilt driving his actions? Is he attracted by the young girl  or by the memory of the deceased wife (double role for )? Can the past be really fixed that easy?


(video source Arrow Video)


All is almost fine with the questions, the problem is with the answers and the way these are given. The way the conflict is solved is predictable in the big lines. There are some surprises at the very ending, they do not change to much of the essence of the story, and make the final scenes very hard to sustain in facts and in the psychology of the characters. In order to present the facts in the past, director uses a technique inside the flash-backs which I did not like too much, probably because it was not built well visually (cannot tell more, would be too much of a spoiler). Techniques from Hitchcock’s films are reused intensively, especially the musical score, but they seem already out of fashion already for the mid-70s. So is the style of acting, especially of the lead character acted by . On the other hand watching is a real pleasure, it is her that maestro Hitchcock would have loved to include in the cast of one of his movies.

Obsession‘ fails in my opinion and to my taste first of all because it tries to explain too much. I think that explaining less and trusting the cinema viewers to fill in the missing details would have been better.

I was looking for the ‘inspired from a true story’ label in the credits or the information surrounding Dark Places but what I found instead was that it’s based on a book by Gillian Flynn, who also inspired Gone Girl which I hear is a better film which I did not see yet. It has yet all the ingredients of the true crime genre, starting with the setting in the non-photogenic rural Kansas, the dire social environment, the unsolved crime obsession of part of the American public. Somehow the result also seems to hold some of the difficulties directors in the genre encounter when they cannot really create life on screen from real life stories. The director is the French whose career alternates French and (North-American) English spoken movies – this is his first film that brings on screen not only a story by a famous crime writer but also the fabulous , who is also one of the co-producers.


source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2402101/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2402101/


The hero of the film is Libby Day (Theron) who has lived all her mature life from the donations and book rights around the horrible crime in which her mother and two sisters were murdered 25 years ago. Her testimony has put in jail for life her brother, Ben (), a teen at that time, and a vague adept of a Satanic cult in the mid-West of the 80s. The story in the film is triggered by the fact that a ‘true crime’ club members believe that Ben is innocent and with three weeks left before the file is destroyed try to save him. Out of money Libbyengages reluctantly in a search for truth which will put to try her memory and all her life.


(video source Movieclips Trailers)


Director Gilles Pacquet-Brenner directs the story as an alternation of the investigation on-going in the present and flashbacks that retrace the events from the perspective of Libby but also of other characters in the story. He is quite good in story telling but I had the feeling that if he dared more he could have achieved much better results. There is a tension between the brother and sister that never crosses the screen. If Ben is innocent, Libby had destroyed his life, and the interaction would be different than the quiet brotherly relation we watch.  Charlize Theron gives another of her fine quality performances but is simply too sexy for the role. Some of her partners seem mis-cast – Stoll as Ben for example is much too ‘academic’ for a troubled teenager who entered jail at 16 and spent the rest of his life behind bars. The director probably intended to put the emphasize on the social commentaries about the low-class rural environment, about the Satanic cults of the 80s and the fascination of America for true crime and missed or did not know how to create the psychological dimensions of his characters. The film ends by looking too much of a ‘true crime’ instead of a ‘psychological thriller’.




The music in the opening scene of this French movie should give a strong hint to the viewer about what to expect. It’s a soul song which combines oddly with the first shots of an apparently idyllic gathering in the French countryside. What follows is however all but idyllic. It’s a complex thriller drama about a murder that happened eight years before, a love story and a disappearance that refuses to heal. One of the most intelligent and most sensitive stories in the genre that I have seen lately.


source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0362225/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0362225/


It may come as a surprise that the film is French, but inspired by a novel and a story written by Harlan Coben. The fine author of mystery novels and thrillers had amazingly few encounters with the movies, this being as far as I know his only novel brought to the big screens. The approach taken by director places the story in France (of course) but none of the characters belongs to any specific localization. Beyond the love story and beyond the sophisticated detective story that is smartly and consistently built, there is a quality of the making that keeps the interest (both intellectual and emotional) awake for the duration of the more than two hours that the film lasts (another Hollywood influence?).


(video source peanutspowa)


Much of the quality can be attributed to the excellent team of actors, and first among equally good – one of these actors who make you feel their emotions without any apparent effort, just by being himself. The hand of the director is light, he just does professionally his job enjoying the fine team of actors and the intelligent script he has at hands and making us enjoy the story as well. Now I just hope that the studios in Hollywood will not reclaim back this film for an American remake.


Spionajul si soarta si dilemele oamenilor angrenati in acesta activitate este subiect pentru literatura britanica de mai bine de un secol, inca din perioada in care imperiul unde soarele nu apune niciodata inca mai exista si se lupta pentru supravietuire cu mijloace mai mult sau mai putin conventionale. Cand spun literatura nu diferentiez intre literatura de divertisment si cea considerata ‘serioasa’ din varii motive, unul dintre ele fiind ca dupa opinia mea literatura buna isi poate gasi mijloacele de exprimare in orice gen. Generatia mai veche l-a cunoscut si admirat pe Graham Greene ale carui carti ca ‘Omul nostru din Havana’ si ‘Americanul linistit’ faceau parte din lecturie mele preferate in adolescenta, cu amestecul lor de fascinatie pentru exotic si pentru lumea de umbre si penumbere a razboaielor secrete si cu personajele lor traind dilemele morale ale oamenilor care sunt pusi in situatia de a-si confrunta propria constiinta chiar si atunci cand faptele lor sunt puse in slujba natiunii sau a ceea ce ar trebui sa fie binele comun.


sursa http://www.johnlecarre.com/books/our-kind-of-traitor


Urmasul cel mai cunoscut al lui Greene in literatura britanica de astazi este John Le Carre. Nascut in 1931 (numele sau adevarat este David John Moore Cornwell) a parcurs in tinerete o cariera de functionar in serviciile Maiestatii Sale, precum Ian Fleming, creatorul lui James Bond si un alt scriitor considerat printre precursorii sai in genul cartilor de spionaj. Primul sau roman publicat in 1961 ‘Call for the Dead’ il introducea pe George Smiley, personajul care avea sa devina eroul multora dintre cartile scrise in perioada razboiului rece, agent al serciului britanic MI6 numit si ‘Circul’. Incepand de la al treilea roman al sau ‘The Spy Who Came In from the Cold’ suntem plasati in lumea spionajului si a confruntarii intre Vest si Est. Caderea Cortinei de Fier i-a cerut lui Le Carre o repozitionare a intrigilor romanelor sale in lumea complexa si aparent mai putin polarizata (de fapt multi-polarizata) ivita dupa caderea blocului sovietic. Precum serviciile de informatii engleze care si-au gasit adversari noi si Le Carre si-a gasit in ultimele doua decenii eroii in cercurile teroristilor musulmani, traficantilor de arme si de stupefiante, sau noilor mafii si a magnatilor rasariti printre ruinele fostului imperiu rosu. Lumea lui Le Carre nu este insa niciodata descrisa in termeni de alb-negru, critica sa se indreapta deseori in directia clasei politice si a birocratiei din propria sa tara, iar eroii sai pozitivi sunt confruntati cu dileme morale greu de rezolvat intr-o lume in care idealismul este mai intotdeauna o carte perdanta.

‘Our Kind of Traitor’ aparuta in 2010 (eu am citit editia Penguin Books, 2011) are ca subiect incercarea unui bancher rus implicat in afaceri de spalare a banilor mafiei de a se refugia in Anglia in momentul in care simte ca steaua sa este pe cale sa apuna in randurile lumii crimei legate de cercurile guvernamentale ale Rusiei. Modalitatea sa de a contacta serviciile de spionaj britanice pentru a negocia conditiile tradarii este de a alege o pereche de turisti britanici aflati in vacanta in Antile (el, Perry Makepiece este conferentiar la Oxford, tip de intelectual cu vederi de stanga; ea, Gail Perkins este jurista in ascensiune la Londra) si de a-i convinge sa joace rolul de intermediari. Prima parte a romanului este in mare parte scrisa in stil de ‘flashback’ constituit din interogatoriile minutioase prin care urmasii lui George Smiley din secolul 21 incearca sa verifice autenticitatea povestii si sa decida calea cea mai buna de urmat. Una dintre observatiile din citatele de pe coperta a patra a cartii il aminteste pe Hitchcock si cred ca asemanarea este foarte justa, Perry si Gail parcurgand traseul multora dintre eroii maestrului filmelor de suspense, oameni obisnuiti care sunt expusi uneori treptat, alteori brusc intr-o lume a crimei, deceptiei, incertitudinii. La fel ca si acestia ei cauta sa-si foloseasca busola morala si regulile lumii in care erau obisnuiti sa traiasca pentru a se orienta si lua decizii cu repercusiuni de viata si de moarte pentru ei si pentru altii, la fel ca si eroii din filme ei vor descoperi ca legile lumii in care au fost proiectati nu sunt de cele mai multe ori aceleasi.


sursa http://www.johnlecarre.com/author


Prima parte a cartii construieste deci procesul de trecere al magnatului rus (pe nume Dima) si in acelasi timp introduce o sumedenie de personaje, multe interesante, dar parca totusi ceva mai multe decat era necesar – functionari publici englezi respectabili cu familii si aparente onorabile care sunt de fapt dublati de agenti de informatii luptandu-se nu numai cu pericolele externe ci si sau mai ales intre ei in intrigi bizantine interne, mafioneri, traficanti si politicieni corupti care le sunt aserviti si mai ales familia lui Dima, un fel de transplantare in Rusia ortodoxa si violenta a post-comunismului a familiilor mafiote din filmele din seria ‘Nasul’. Schimbarea de atmosfera si de ritm este vizibila, prima parte a cartii fiind meditativa si cerand o citire atenta pentru a sesiza nuantele psihologice si a descifra motivatiile personajelor si locul lor in actiune, partea a doua se citeste mult mai usor, fiind mai apropriata in ritm si in continut de romanele clasice de actiune.

John Le Carre va implini peste cateva saptamani 80 de ani, si tot in acest an completeaza si jumatate de secol de activitate scriitoriceasca. ‘Our Kind of Traitor’ demonstreaza ca romancierul imbatraneste frumos, continuand sa creeze personaje care capteaza interesul si emotiile cititorilor, plasate intr-o lume reala, o lume in schimbare in care prietenii si inamicii sunt mai putin usor de detectat dar la fel de greu de combatut, si care isi pun intrebari si traiesc dileme etice si politice care ii preocupa pe cititori si dupa ce au inchis ultima pagina. Multe dintre cartile sale sunt memorabile si ele construiesc o viziune aparte a razboiului din umbra care a insotit istoria ultimilor cincizeci de ani. Orice noua carte de aici inainte este un bonus, o lectura pe care o astept cu interes si cu placere.