Vertigo

Vertigo

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

1958

Vertigo, based on Boileau-Narcejac’s 1954 novel, D’entre les morts, is a psychological thriller about an acrophobic former police detective hired by an acquaintance as a private investigator. Vertigo is well-paced, well-shot, and well-acted, though some of the effects hold up better than others. The film, fittingly, leaves one mildly uncertain of what to make of anyone and less sure as one peers deeper.

Would see.

Oldboy

Oldboy

Directed by Park Chan-wook

2003

Oldboy, based on the Japanese manga of the same name, is a Korean-language mystery, thriller, and psychodrama. Oldboy repeatedly subverts expectations, both in plot developments and in tone. The fighting is choreographed with stunning detail and skill, though there is less violence than one would expect from a revenge film. Oldboy is the rare action film that sincerely aspires to say something, and it has bold and vivid emotional motivations and reactions rather than the usual perfunctory exercises and excuses. Unfortunately, however, the film’s psychological ambition has the intensity, but neither the nuance nor the virtuosity of its physical conflict.

Would see.

Inherent Vice

Inherent Vice

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

2014

Inherent Vice, based on the Thomas Pynchon novel of the same name, follows Larry “Doc” Sportello, a frequently stoned private investigator, as his cases lead him deeper into an ever-widening web of conspiracies. Inherent Vice’s dense plotting requires multiple viewings to fully understand and appreciate, but the dream logic of the film makes it difficult to precisely pin down an exact mapping of the action. Inherent Vice’s aesthetic and plotting perfectly capture the free-floating paranoia of Sportello and elegiacally mourn the death of the ideals of his 1970s California milieu.

Would see.

The Hateful Eight

The Hateful Eight

Directed by Quentin Tarantino

2015

The Hateful Eight, Quentin Tarantino’s eighth film, is a mystery Western that centers on a tense standoff between (mostly) strangers in a stagecoach stopover during in a blizzard in Wyoming some years after the Civil War. Released both in 70mm and digitally, The Hateful Eight is largely an homage to old cinema, and, like all of Tarantino’s films, is very cool. Continuing the trend from Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained, The Hateful Eight has more of a political message than Tarantino’s earlier purely stylistic films. Despite its near perfect direction, acting, and pacing, The Hateful Eight is held back by its preference for style over substance and its intense nihilism.

Would see.