I. Vertigo (1958)
Vertigo is probably the most “philosophical” of all Hitchcock films. Whatever angle you take (the detailed “stalking” scenes, the acting, the object symbolism, etc.), the beauty of Vertigo comes through, overwhelming the viewer. Set and shot on location in San Francisco, Vertigo is a story of obsession that focuses on Scottie Ferguson (James Stewart (Anatomy of Murder (1959)), a former detective suffering from acrophobia (an extreme fear of heights) who is tasked with following one woman by her husband – Madeleine (Kim Novak), because she might be a danger to herself. This film about mistaken identities, grief and seeking love at all costs is also a nuanced psychological thriller. I can’t say I enjoy the very slow pace of Vertigo, but it is an entrancing cinematic experience nevertheless and for a multitude of reasons deserves its number one spot.
II. Psycho (1960)
Psycho is my confident number two choice. This is a quintessential Hitchcock film with some unbelievable twists and deep psychology. Suspense is the word here. In this story, Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) steals quite a lot of money from her employer’s client and hits the road. However, she needs to rest somewhere on her way to her “financial freedom” and chooses the Bates’ Motel. You need to watch the film to know what happens there. In my review, I talked about how “Hitchcock plays expertly with its audience’s imagination and formed beliefs” in this film, that was also ground-breaking in many ways upon its release. Psycho is a the film that stood the test of time.
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“Brimstone” is a highly controversial film produced by the Dutch director Martin Koolhoven. The film’s non-linear plot follows Liz (Dakota Fanning), a young girl and then woman, who is plagued by the harassment and persecution of one – the Reverend (Guy Pearce). Unflinching in the way it portrays highly controversial topics and beautiful in its execution, this film will be deemed “shocking” and “distasteful” by some, while others will only see in the film extreme courage, originality and intelligence. Either way, this atmospheric film will have a big impact on the viewer, and the sensations it will provoke will not fade away any time soon. In that vein, although “Brimstone” was misunderstood and fiercely criticised in the US, the film has been the centre of praise in Europe, and rightly so.
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Eastern Promises (2007)
“Eastern Promises” is David Cronenerg’s 18th big film starring Viggo Mortensen, Vincent Cassel and Naomi Watts. The script is written by Steven Knight, better known for “Amazing Grace” (2006) and “Locke” (2013), and the movie starts with a young Eastern European girl dying during childbirth, leaving her baby girl and a diary behind, which is then taken into care/examination by a nurse called Anna (Watts) in a London hospital. Upon the diary’s examination, Anna discovers that it is very probable that the young girl has suffered badly at the hands of certain individuals, which takes her deep into the seat of a London-based Russian mafia and its operation.
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All Good Things (2010)
Some say that if you have not heard of a film before and that film has been around for awhile, it cannot possibly be good. Sometimes this is true, but there are exceptions. Directed by Andrew Jarecki and starring Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst, ‘All Good Things’ is a mystery crime drama which has been notoriously criticised fiercely by critics, and which currently holds a 32% rating on the Rotten Tomatoes website, but, probably, quite unjustly. The film begins as it is so ‘in fashion’ nowadays – the main character, David Marks (Ryan Gosling), the heir to a grand real estate business, tells his tale of woe. Beginning with his traumatic childhood and then the conflict with his father and ending with the loss of a girl (Kirsten Dunst) he so dearly loved, the audience is taken through an emotionally intense account of his life events. The main appeal of ‘All Good Things’ is that it is based on a real story, which, on the face of it, is really fascinating. The eerie disappearance of young and beautiful Kathleen Durst in 1982 shook local community, and her husband Robert Durst’s statements to the police were sometimes very contradictory.
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