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Dirty Pretty Things (2002)
A shocking, disturbing, effective thriller
"Dirty Pretty Things" is a very sad, disturbing study of the plight of illegal immigrants living in London. Okwe, a Nigerian doctor who works as a cab driver/hotel clerk and his roommate Senay, a Turkish hotel chambermaid, find themselves running for their lives while falling in love with each other. The film is wonderfully directed by Stephen Frears, the screenplay is excellent, the cinematography compelling, and the acting superb. Chiwetel Ejiofar and Audrey Tatou turn in equally outstanding performances. Their chemistry is so amazing that sometimes it's hard to remember that they are acting. Sergi Lopez gives a truly evil performance as Sneaky, a man who blackmails Okwe and Senay so they can have passports. The story involves poverty, sexual favors, and black market organ donation, and it is truly terrifying all the things Okwe and Senay have to go through in order to gain freedom. I don't know if there really is a seedy London underground life for immigrants, but the film made me believe that it could happen. The ending was happy, something I was not expecting, but I would have preferred to see Okwe and Senay end up together. The only thing disappointing about the movie is that it was not as suspenseful as I hoped it would be. The 90 minute movie left me wanting more. Overall, it is a powerful drama that leaves you thinking about the movie long after it is over.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
"The Silence of the Lambs" is ostensibly about a young FBI agent pursuing a serial killer who skins his victims, but it is the subplot that really stands out. Jodie Foster is impressively convincing as Agent Clarice Starling, and Anthony Hopkins' Academy Award was well-deserved. Anthony Hopkins does not PLAY Hannibal Lector, he IS Hannibal Lector. The first time we see him, the camera slowly moves past the jail cells of other criminals and when Clarice arrives at Hannibal's cell, he is standing there smiling, as if he was waiting for her. It is not his one-liners that make him memorable ("I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti" and "Tell me, Clarice, have the lambs stopped screaming") but rather it is the way his eyes stare at Clarice. He is both gripping and scary at the same time. And when we see him wearing a straight jacket, muzzled like an animal, he is truly terrifying. The only regrettable thing about this movie is that Hannibal Lector did not get more screen time (he appears in less than 1/3 of the movie). The winner of five Academy Awards, "The Silence of the Lambs" is a brilliant psychological thriller that will stand the test of time to become a true classic.
One Hour Photo (2002)
After seeing this film I think a lot of people decided to buy digital cameras. That is the lasting impression you will have when you see this film. It definitely makes you question the person who develops your photos. That being said, Robin Williams' foray into a dramatic role is outstanding. His portrayal of 'Sy the Photo Guy' is disturbing yet enthralling. Connie Nielson's performance as Nina Yorkin seemed forced at times, as did Jake Yorkin, the son. And Michael Vartan's role as Will Yorkin seemed pointless, like he was just an extra. The film has an excellent score, wonderful cinematography, and is well-directed. You can't help but feel sorry for Sy because he is lonely, and Robin Williams is great in his role. This movie is best viewed by a mature audience (strong thematic elements and nudity). There are some disturbing scenes in the movie (nightmare sequence with blood gushing from Sy's eyes and the bedroom scene where Sy takes degrading photos of Will and his lover Maya) but overall it all works and makes for a terrifying ride through an obsessive man's mind.
Inside Daisy Clover (1965)
the good with the bad
After discovering that Natalie Wood was 27 when she made this film, it was somewhat difficult to believe she was only 15. But ignoring her age and concentrating on her acting helped. At times she is campy, but other times she is absolutely stunning. The movie has beautiful scenery and a good story line, but it is quite random in some spots. Though it leaves a lot to be desired as far as credibility is concerned, the acting is outstanding. Natalie does as best as can be expected as an adult playing a teenager. I keep picturing her as Susan in "Miracle on 34th Street." A very young Robert Redford is a treat. He plays handsome homosexual actor Wade Lewis and you cannot help but fall in love with him just as Natalie's character Daisy Clover does. Roddy MacDowell's role gets quite annoying after awhile but it is still funny. And Christopher Plummer is absolutely incredible as movie producer Raymond Swan. He is simultaneously creepy and fascinating. I could not take my eyes off of him for a moment. There are four good scenes in the movie. 1.) Daisy and Wade meeting for the first time in the white bedroom with the waterfall. 2.) Melora's drunken outrage over Wade's abandoning Daisy. 3.) Raymond's poolside lecture to Daisy. 4.) Raymond's love/hate lecture when he visits Daisy at her beach house. This movie is worth watching for its ability to keep your attention even though it is slow and overdramatic. The ending keeps you guessing as to what happens to Daisy afterwards.