One of the biggest moments of a psychological thriller is the reveal at the end. Many movies operate differently if the audience is already aware of the “twist”. Below is an image I found that reveals the endings of some of the most popular psychological thriller. I thought this was a super cool infographic!
Slowly pans closer until you can see a dark figure lying on the ground.
Begin diagetic sounds of birds as the figure begins to get off the ground. There is a bike next to him as he sits up.
The camera circles around a young boy, showing from his point of view, him looking at the landscape.
The boy (Donnie Darko) gets up and looks again at the landscape.
A bright light flashes across the landscape of mountains. The title flashes across the screen.
Music begins as you see Donnie riding his bike through the woods, and down a road.
He rides past a Halloween sign, and then enters a suburb.
The road turns to pavement. You see cars, and a suburban family gardening and greeting each other jovially.
He rides up to a house and drops his bike.
Pan to a young woman jumping on a trampoline in a garden.
Her mother reads in a deck chair.
Music cuts out.
Donnie opens the refrigerator, and the whiteboard on the front reads “where is Donnie?”
The film I chose for this blog is, The Game, Directed by: David Fincher (Director of Fight Club & Se7en). Before watching the film, I read three reviews from, Roger Ebert, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. Ebert giving it 3 1/2 stars.
Based on the reviews I read, I’m wasn’t sure how much I was going to like this film. Though the critics had nothing but good things to say, the premise didn’t come across as particularly thrilling, and I wasn’t not sure how invested I will be in the character’s plight. I went ahead and watched this film because the reviews said that it is in Fincher’s style, and I love most of his films.
Wow! After watching the film, I definitely think critics can certainly do more harm that good, especially if the think they are really doing good. While I most likely would not have watched this film based solely on the reviews, I’m glad I went ahead and watched it anyway. It was a slow start, but once the characters were established, and the plot got rolling, it was thrilling from there on out. The ending was something that I would have new expected, though the title sort of gives it away. Michael Douglas and Sean Penn are astounding throughout the entire movie, and they help drive this very fast-paced plot line. I think the film’s sheer originality, great acting, and Fincher style scene based plot movie, helped drive the film home. Moral of the story: I don’t think you should always take a critic’s word for it, especially if they are coming from a very difference perspective. The things that the reviews found interesting and compelling, were very different from what I found interesting and compelling.
Blog Post #8
I read reviews on rottentomatoes.com before watching Alfred Hitchcock’s Stranger’s on a Train (1951) with my cinematic poetry class. I could not find a bad review about the movie. I particularly included “bad review” in the search and nothing. Reviewers proclaimed that it was another Hitchcockian hit with Farley Granger and Robert Walker playing a combatant yet dynamic duo. It was mentioned that the plot is very typical, but Hitchcock and his actors did a tremendous job creating motifs of the duality of light and dark in the film. After watching the film, I realized that no one expressed how hilarious the film actually is. The acting felt more like a screenplay than a movie, very staccato-like and highly pronounced. I also laughed at the phoniness in the final fighting scene (Bruno’s face mainly), but I do understand that Hitchcock has a sense of humor and possibly intended for it to seem overly dramatized. Hitchcock really hit home when he summoned the elder gentlemen without dentures to stop the carousel, and when the officer turns down the request of stopping the carousel. I may not be the one for old movies, but overall, I got a kick out of this movie and would recommend others watch it as well.
Blog Assignment #7
Leonardo DiCaprio was phenomenal in the Martin Scorsese film, Shutter Island (2010). Scorsese has included DiCaprio in each of his films since the early 2000’s. Each one of their films earns progressively better ratings. Critics have claimed that DiCaprio’s on-screen emotions lacked trueness, but I completely disagree after watching the Psychological thriller, Shutter Island. Alongside DiCaprio are many other talented actors such as Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, and Max Von Sydow who should be taken into consideration when discussing Leonardo’s performance. Great actors feed off of each other on-set and Leonardo gives much of the credit to these other actors in his interviews. I believe having Leonardo DiCaprio and these other established actors was necessary for producing a movie based on a well-known book such as Shutter Island.
Donnie Darko (Directed by Richard Kelly) – Expectations from Reviews
Before watching Donnie Darko (a film that I have never watched before on account of everyone I know having already watched it) I read three reviews. The first was by Peter Bradshaw for The Guardian (http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2002/oct/25/artsfeatures2) written in October 2002. From this review I gathered that the film would be in the tradition of other ‘adolescent angst in leafy suburbia’ movies. He praised the film’s originality but also commented that it was also somewhat flawed, as it was not entirely coherent. The second review I read was by Elvis Mitchell for The New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9C07E1DB1331F935A15753C1A9679C8B63) written in October 2001. He commented that it echoed John Hughes’ works (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club…), but was darker…and not quite as good. He summarised that is a film that aims high but falls slightly short of the mark. Anthony Quinn writing years later than the film’s original release in February 2009 (http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/reviews/first-impressions-donnie-darko-2002-1607703.html) for The Independent similarly states that it is an ‘oddball’ movie that is recognisable as the work of a first time filmmaker. After reading these reviews my expectations were lower that they were after having heard about the film from friends. I was anticipating a slightly disappointing and confusing film.
After watching the film I felt that the reviews were slightly unfair. Yes, the film was ambitious but it was also emotionally complex. The character of Donnie could have easily become a cliché but Jake Gyllenhaal is a compelling actor who was able to prevent him becoming irritating. Another standout performance was by Patrick Swayze as the sinister Jim Cunningham – self-help guru, bullshit merchant and paedophile. I found the film to be cinematographically interesting and evocative. The soundtrack also fitted the mood and tone of the movie (although I do find Gary Jules’ rendition of ‘Mad World’ slightly maudlin). The psychological thriller aspect of the film I can see is slightly flawed. The question of who Frank is was answered by the end, as was where the aeroplane engine came from. However, the relevance and story behind Grandma Death I felt was somewhat abandoned by Kelly. I realise that many psychological thrillers are left on a certain note of mystery but this part of the plot was just left hanging slightly limp. Having said that, the fact that I was left thinking and mulling over the film after I had watched it shows to me that it is a decent film. I enjoyed it, and although I do agree with the critics that it had its flaws, I nevertheless found it to be engaging and moving.
For this blog, I chose the film, Black Swan, Directed by Darren Aronofsky. This film stars, Natalie Portman.
Because Natalie Portman received so much hype and acclaim over this film, I was a tad apprehensive. I am not the biggest Portman fan myself, so I felt as though some of the reviews of the film seemed hyperbolic. But after watching the film, I feel very differently.
I was able to suspend disbelief almost instantly. The level of acting in this film is amazing. Portman does an outstanding job translating this character on the screen. I found myself confused and emotionally distressed quite early on in the film (in a good way), and this was carried with me throughout. Portman’s portrayal of a young dancer on the cusp of her big break was scarily honest, and emotionally jarring in a way that many actor never achieve in their careers.
I’m not sure if my low expectation informed my utter amazement with the film, but I was indeed, utterly amazed with Portman’s performance. Her celebrity certainly did not harm my viewing of the film at all.
Dwayne Scott 4-7-14
Momento: Step Outline (First Hour)
(Momento is possibly the toughest movie to create a step outside for. It is tough to determine what order the sequence of events are playing in.)
- Man killing another man and taking a picture of it (in reverse).
- Character Meets a man who gets in the car, his window is broken. They are heading to a rusted up building because he has a lead on it.
- The man he is with, teddy’s, picture comes out of main character’s pocket telling him to kill him. Kills man, in regular motion.
- Leonard, the main character, has a conversation with a guy at a credit window, telling him to look out for teddy and don’t hold his call for teddy. Until it zips back to room with him explaining how to take care of his short term memory loss.
- The name Sammy Jankin is marked into his skin, he places his received a package from Natalie.
- He discovers that Teddy is the man who raped and murdered his wife.
- It takes us back through the moments leading up to the murder (leonard kill teddy)
- Leonard on way to see Naatalie. Brings us back to how he gets the envelope on john G.
- Zips back to lunch with teddy, to looking for his key, to lunch with Natalie.
- Sammy Jankin was a case where a man lost his memory, Leonard studied this case called anterograde amnesia. Sammy seemed like he remembered Leonard.
- Back to Natalie’s bed. She said she is helping him because he helped her. Says he will not remember her next time he sees her. She says she thinks he will and kisses him. He walks out in the morning and teddy jumps on the hood of his car.
- On the phone (in present), Leonard talks about how one can learn to conditioning not by memory but by instinct.
- Shows when he enters Natalie’s house. Focuses on a picture of a man tied up and bleeding, Dod, who hit her… Natalie lost her husband to a “teddy”, says she’ll help him find john g.
- The Sammy study didn’t work. The condition was not physical but psychological.
- Leonard didn’t kill Dod, had him tied up and beaten. Teddy shows up and brings him to Natalie’s house.
- Leonard is sitting in an apartment and decides to take a shower. Dod walks in, a fight breaks out, Leonard ties Dod up takes his gun and calls teddy.
- Study proved you can’t torture a man into remembering.
- Dod pulls up to Leonard on the road and starts shooting at him.
For this blog, I chose the cult classic, Fight Club. I think this movie is a perfect intersection of Classicism and Formalism. Director, David Fincher uses traditional psychological thriller methods such as quick cuts from scene to scene, loud diagetic sound, but he also employs techniques that are very different from the classic structure. Fight Club, from very beginning is a psychological thriller in a way I’ve never seen one done before. There are subliminal messages throughout, even spliced images within scenes to make the viewer feel as though the are going crazy while watching. There are even moments of stark realism, especially during the fight scenes. Each fight is filmed as though you are watching a documentary of an underground fight club.
The director does a good job of spanning these three fields (realism, classicism, and formalism), and this causes the movie to excellently perform in the genre, though it is so nontraditionally filmed. Each choice takes the view on a psychological journey along with the main characters of the film. The lighting choices, the splicing of scenes, the realism during fights, and the absurdity of some scenes allow this movie to capture an audience in a way that would typically be distracting.
Step Outline: The Talented Mr Ripley, Directed by Anthony Minghella
- TOM RIPLEY’S face against a black backdrop as his character narrates a voice over. The camera pans out to show him playing piano at a high-class garden party in New York. He meets DICKIE GREENLEAF’S FATHER who recognises his jacket as one from Princeton, where his son went. Returns the jacket to its real owner. He runs into a theatre. <All over opening credits. >
- He is a bathroom attendant at the theatre. Watches the concert being performed from the wings. Practices the piano alone on stage.
- Meets with DICKIE GREENLEAF’S FATHER who proposes that he persuade DICKIE to come home for a fee of $1000.
- JAZZ MUSIC PLAYS After learning of DICKIE’S love of Jazz music he memorises the songs and artists blindfolded. Packs his bags to leave and gets into a smart taxi. OPERA MUSIC as the ferry leaves port.
- The ship arrives in a bustling Italian port. The camera follows a blonde woman (MEREDITH) to whom he introduces himself as Dickie Greenleaf. They bid farewell.
- A blue bus journeys across an idyllic Mediterranean coastline. RIPLEY is awed. He arrives at a quaint harbour.
- RIPLEY practices his Italian whilst watching DICKIE and MARGE frolicking on the beach. Accidentally on purpose passes DICKIE and pretends that he recognises him from Princeton. DICKIE is unconvinced but MARGE invited him to lunch.
- RIPLEY spots DICKIE cavorting with an Italian girl.
- DICKIE returns to find that RIPLEY is at his house with MARGE. RIPLEY tells DICKIE that his talents are of impersonation and does a creepy impression of DICKIE’S FATHER. It is revealed that RIPLEY is being paid to take DICKIE home. They walk through the crowded streets.
- As RIPLEY is about to leave he purposefully drops Jazz records in front of DICKIE.
- DICKIE takes RIPLEY to a smoky Jazz bar. RIPLEY is awed and then he and DICKEI sing on stage together.
- RIPLEY agrees to stay on as “a double agent”. He hears DICKIE and MARGE discussing him and then does an impression of them to himself in the mirror. RIPLEY tells DICKIE he has a fiancé. DICKIE declares that he is never going back.
- DICKIE and MARGE take RIPLEY out onto a sailing boat to teach him how to sail. It is revealed that he can’t ski either – “such low-class”.
- MY FUNNY VALENTINE plays as MARGE and RIPLEY walk through the cobbled streets discussing their mutual love, DICKIE.
- RIPLEY and DICKIE ride a bike along the coast.
- RIPLEY and DICKIE perform together at the Jazz club.
- Back at the house, RIPLEY tells DICKIE how revealing handwriting is and then, later, when they play chess (DICKIE is in the bath) RIPLEY makes a pass at him.
- DICKIE suggests taking RIPLEY to Rome to buy a jacket. A café in Rome, FREDDIE arrives in a bright red car. They go to a record shop and FREDDIE and DICKIE ditch RIPLEY. RIPLEY morosely wanders around the tourist spots of Rome.
- DICKIE returns to find RIPLEY prancing around his room in his clothes to music. DICKIE is irritated. Downstairs, FREDDIE teases RIPLEY.
- RIPLEY, DICKIE, MARKE and FREDDIE go sailing. RIPLEY is sulking and MARGE comforts him, and tells him that the ski trip isn’t happening. FREDDIE catches RIPLEY watching DICKIE and RIPLEY have sex, FREDDIE asks, “How’s the peeping?”
- DICKIE’S Italian Girl watches the party coming to shore from a rock.
- There is a Catholic procession – singing and crowds. The Italian girl’s body rises to the surface shortly after the icon of the Virgin Mary does. There is panic and hysteria. DICKIE, MARGE and RIPLEY watch from the balcony. DICKIE lashes out and calls Italy “primitive.” Away from Marge, DICKIE reveals that the Italian girl was pregnant with his child and that he had refused to help her. RIPLEY says that it is their secret and they are brothers.
- The next day at the train station DICKIE announces that it is time that both of them moved on. Says that San Remo can be their last trip to together.
- On the train RIPLEY sniffs DICKIE. DICKIE wakes up and calls RIPLEY “spooky.”
- At a lively Jazz bar RIPLEY has to admit that he neither likes Jazz nor went to Princeton. DICKIE doesn’t seem to mind.
- They are alone together on a boat, scouting the shore for places for DICKIE to live. DICKIE tells RIPLEY he is relieved that he is going because he is a “leech” and “boring.” UNNERVING PIANO MUSIC plays as RIPLEY accuses DICKIE of being careless and selfish. As DICKIE goes to drive the boat back to shore RIPLEY hits him round the face with an oar. Blood comes pouring out of hisface but he is not dead. They wrestle. RIPLEY batters DICKIE to death with an oar.
Writing this step outline I was aware of the way that the director is able to slowly up the tension until the climax of the first third of the film occurs on the boat. We are made to follow Tom Ripley and we become unnervingly intimate with his sociopathic tendencies. The audience is well aware of Ripley’s true nature before the either Dickie or Marge are.