When the body of Violet Feverel, who had taken her horse for an evening ride, is discovered in Central Park, Inspector Oscar Piper of the New York police arrives at the crime scene and is joined by his friend, amateur detective and schoolteacher Hildegarde Withers. After Hildegarde locates Violet’s horse and bloodied saddle, Oscar concludes that she was murdered and begins to question suspects, including Latigo Wells, the manager of Violet’s stable. Confronted by Oscar’s suspicions, Wells reveals that Violet had quarreled with Eddie Fry, her sister Barbara Foley’s boyfriend, just before the murder. Hildegarde then finds out from High Pockets, a stable employee, that Violet also had quarreled with Wells just before her death. At Violet’s apartment, Oscar and Hildegarde discover Eddie and Barbara hastily packing and question them. The young couple, who had become engaged in spite of Violet’s objections, defend their innocence and cast suspicion on Don Gregg, Violet’s ex-husband, whom Violet had jailed for nonpayment of alimony. Continue reading
Synopsis: The intertwined lives of four couples living in and around Sydney, Australia, form the structure for this drama masquerading as a whodunit. Andrew Bovell freely adapted his play, Speaking in Tongues, opening up the action, as the geography and topography of Sydney and its suburbs become major characters as well. The film opens with a shot of what looks like a corpse entangled in a thick stand of branches — the title plant, which grows in profusion in Australia. Bovell and director Ray Lawrence take their time in explaining whose body that is and then slowly reveal, with no help from a number of red herrings, how it happened to be there. The principal players are Valerie Somers (Barbara Hershey), a psychiatrist with issues over her child, a murder victim; her husband, John Knox (Geoffrey Rush), an aloof professor whom she suspects of infidelity; Leon Zat (Anthony LaPaglia), a police detective cheating on his wife, Sonja (Kerry Armstrong), who is a patient of Valerie’s. Zat’s mistress, Jane O’May (Rachael Blake), is someone he met at a dancing class his wife dragged him to; she is estranged from her husband, Pete (Glenn L. Robbins). Continue reading
Often regarded as the modern-day Yasujiro Ozu for his poignant family dramas such as Still Walking (2008) and Like Father, Like Son (2013), Hirokazu Koreeda takes a rare stride into the thriller genre with this intricate legal procedural, in which a twice-convicted murderer faces execution for a third killing.
Soon after completing a 30-year jail sentence, Misumi (Koji Yakusho) confesses to killing his boss at the food factory from where he was recently fired. A death sentence seems unavoidable, but defence lawyer Shigemori (Masaharu Fukuyama) soon discovers inconsistencies in Misumi’s confession while digging into the case. The victim’s daughter, Sakie (Suzu Hirose), is also drawn into the mix. Continue reading
“8 Hours of Fear = 80 surprisingly entertaining minutes! This is the earliest Suzuki I’ve seen, before the man was even named “Seijun” (opening credits bill him by his birth name “Seitaro Suzuki”). A cast of diverse characters embark on a perilous bus journey (the railroad is out of commission, it seems) through known gangster territory. Think Stagecoach with yakuzas instead of attacking Apaches or Lifeboat with bumpy mountain roads in place of the high seas. Or, if you’re going to get all modern about it, maybe a slightly slower Speed (at 60mph). Continue reading
Why has total stranger Richard Todd shown up at the villa of wealthy Anne Baxter? Why does he claim to be her long-lost brother? Is Todd planning to finagle Baxter out of her inheritance? Is someone going to end up seriously dead? The answers to these questions can be found in Chase a Crooked Shadow, a confounding chiller with more than a few adroit plot twists. Before the film has run its course, we learn that the true villain is not necessarily whom it appears to be–nor is the heroine all that she seems. Continue reading
A college student starts to experience extreme seizures while studying at a university in Oslo, Norway. She soon learns that the violent episodes are a symptom of inexplicable, and often dangerous, supernatural abilities.
Alfred Hitchcock spent his entire career experimenting with, and perfecting, the storytelling structure of the thriller. He had a legitimate “prestige” film with his first American production, “Rebecca,” but even that more than qualifies to be considered in the same genre vein as “Vertigo,” “Psycho,” “North By Northwest” or “Strangers on a Train.” This particular attention to genre is likely why Hitchcock did not receive an Oscar until the Honorary one he got at the end of his life, but that snub has always been attributed more to the stuffiness of the Academy than any lack of worthiness on Hitch’s part. Continue reading