Welcome back, everyone! Time for another dive into movie gold with five more of my movie recommendations. We have a very mixed bag this time with drama, thrillers, true crime and side-splitting comedy genius. Get yourself a brew and check out my latest movie picks.
Raising Cain (1992)
There have been so many movies that use the phenomenon of multiple personality syndrome as a kind of lazy conclusion. Some have even worked it quite well into a twist ending. But, in my eyes none have explored the intricacies of the disorder in the same way as Raising Cain. Starring John Lithgow, Raising Cain is the story of Carter Nix, a child psychologist who’s obsessive control over the upbringing of his daughter begins to concern is wife, Jenny. Jenny’s own adultery causes a lapse in her parenting and leads to events that cause her to suspect that her husband is hell bent on re-creating the evil mind control experiments of his father.
Twisting and turning like a bat-shit roller-coaster, Raising Cain sets a tone that makes it feel just as crazy as the characters being portrayed. You’re never quite sure if you’re supposed to take it seriously or dismiss it as absurd which you realise, only when the credits roll, is meant to mirror society’s view of people with strange mental illness such as multiple personalities.
The Brave One (2007)
Writing a vigilante story must be a tricky old game. You don’t want to make the protagonist so agreeable that it becomes unrealistic but you don’t want to make them out to be completely in the wrong. You have to nail it right in the middle of that grey area. The Brave One does just that. When Erica Bain (Jodie Foster) recovers from a savage street attack which leaves her fiance dead, she is left terrified of the outside world. Using questionably impaired judgement, Erica buys a gun to protect herself. It isn’t long before she uses it, leaving two subway muggers dead. Erica takes it upon herself to combat the street thugs responsible for her fiance’s death and anyone who looks like them.
Co-starring Terrence Howard as Detective Mercer, The Brave One is a rare thing. A very well balanced, well executed vigilante thriller. It is similar to Death Sentence but stripped of the cheesy Hollywood coating and boy-band looking gang members. It is tighter, more engaging and as such more enjoyable. A very satisfying thriller.
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
This one isn’t a recommendation, it’s an order. If you haven’t seen Dog Day Afternoon, see it, and soon. It easily sits in my top 5 favourite movies of all time and despite it being nearly 35 years old is as strong now as it has ever been. Based on a true story, Dog Day follows Sonny (Al Pacino) in his attempt to rob a city bank. When the robbery goes wrong, Sonny is trapped inside and what should have been a 5 minute job has turned into a media circus and a dangerous hostage situation. The police and FBI try to end the stand off by any means and we learn that not everything is as it seems with Sonny.
Along with The Godfather part II, Dog Day Afternoon is Al Pacino’s best work. He captures the “oh, shit. Now what?” panic of a robbery gone wrong perfectly and then as the character progresses you see his vulnerability surface even more in spite of his apparent cockiness. A brilliant story, superbly told, Dog Day Afternoon is a must have in anyone’s DVD collection.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)
What happened to Steve Martin eh? Cheaper by the Dozen, The Pink Panther… This isn’t the man who found his fame as a comedy superstar. In Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, however we see the Steve Martin that won the hearts of movie lovers in the 70’s and 80’s. The story follows two con men, one cheap and quick (Steve Martin) and one who puts in work to get one big pay off from rich divorced or widowed women (Michael Caine). When they meet they realise the town isn’t big enough for the both of them and a wager is struck; The first one to con $50,000 out of a rich young woman wins exclusive rights to the small, rich town.
A hilarious tale of one upmanship and underhanded tactics, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is among my favourite comedies of all time. The classic timing and delivery of Martin in his prime played off against the straight laced but scheming Michael Caine makes for a side-splitting result.
The semi-autobiographical film about the life and times of Australia’s favourite deranged criminal psychopath, Chopper tells the story of the most violent years of Mark “Chopper” Read’s life. Chopper, played by Eric Bana (Although you may need to look closely to realise) is in and out of prison between fighting, robbery and extortion and is pretty much completely nuts. The movie is based on the best-selling book “From the Inside” written by Read himself while serving time.
An intriguing and disturbing look at a fascinating but frightening man, Chopper is a great success as a true crime film. You can tell just how seriously Bana took this role from his performance. It’s true that he spent some time with Read out at his home to prepare for the role. Whatever you might think of the man, you’re sure to enjoy the movie.
You know what to do by now… so do it! See you all next time!