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10/10
Complex, horrifying, one the thrillers of the decade.
12 July 1999
Felicia's Journey was the closing film of this year's Galway Film Fleadh (Gaelic: Festival).Based on a story by Ireland's premiere short story writer William Trevor, Felicia's Journey is one of the most terrifying thrillers made this decade. So disturbed were some of the viewers that they refused to applaud the movie - "That was to freaky", said a local movie buff, "I didn't need to see that". The movie begins by fooling the audience. It starts as a bittersweet tale of a young Irish girl (Elaine Cassidy) who sleeps with a British Army soldier and is shunned by her family. She is exiled to Birmingham, England, where she meets Joe, a kindly old man (Bob Hoskins). So far, a pretty typical poignant Irish drama. Suddenly, some rapid editing and jolting images reveal that Joe ain't so sweet. In fact he's one of the most vicious, despicable psychopaths you'll ever seen on screen. The mood is extremely fearful for the remainder as Elaine Cassidy's perfect rendition of an innocent Irish Catholic girl screams out for help. Hoskins has played the best role of his life of a tortured, gentle, caring, sick, evil but very human man. His performance is only comparable to Peter Lorre in Fritz Lang's M. Excellent editing and and a complex, skillful score contribute to making this one of the movies of the year and a classic of the thriller genre. Don't see it unless you have the nerve.
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The Birds (1963)
10/10
A highly innovative horror
31 May 1999
Imagine Hitchcock trying to sell this idea to the film studios: the lives of a mundane country family are shattered when vicious rooks attack. Why? No particular reason. And what then? They fly away. and then? They come back again and attack. And then go and then . .. It seems like an impossible plot to pull off, but Hitchcock does it, slowly building up the tension which spasmodically swells and subsides. Younger viewers may get irritated with the slow stealth of the opening scenes and may want to thrash the T.V. when the film comes to its beautifully droll conclusion, but form once those birds start attacking, every viewer is riveted. It was fine Hitchcockian innovation that took this very slim, cock-a-mamy story and turned in to a tense thriller. But the greatest innovation is the film score - there isn't any. No director is more closely identified with the music of their films, but in Birds, Hitchcock created a horror that is uniquely quiet. The great man appreciated something that so few others do - the atmospheric potency of silence, and how, in different settings, silences can differ in character. Yet so many who watch the film seem to forget that the music isn't there. That's the film's greatest attribute.
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