Jennifer Aniston taking on a serious role (finally!) on the set of upcoming drama “Cake”.

After seeing Aniston show some versality in underseen films  ”Friends with Money”, “The Good Girl” and “The Object of my Affection” I was hoping we’d get to see more of her serious work in the future. 

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Nicole Kidman on the Australian set of outback thriller “Strangerland”

Can not wait for this one!

Nicole Kidman on the Australian set of outback thriller “Strangerland”

Can not wait for this one!

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My Top Ten Psychological Thrillers

#10: What Lies Beneath (2000) Dir. Robert Zemeckis

Synopsis: The wife of a university research scientist believes that her lakeside Vermont home is haunted by a ghost - or that she’s losing her mind.

While What Lies Beneath is not a perfect film: it is however great fun! I have a soft spot for this film because Zemeckis has created a thriller based on his love of my favourite director: Hitchcock. You’ve got everything Hitchcock in here: the spying neighbour (Rear Window), the female lead is a cool good looking blonde (every Hitchcock film), a heart stopping bathroom scene (Psycho), the haunting female ghost (Vertigo), a husband who may possibly be a murderer (Suspicion), an object linked to a murder (Frenzy) and long/continuous camera shots (Rope) as well as an intense violin based score. While you may be yelling out “don’t go in there idiot!” this is style over substance and an easy popcorn thriller for a stormy night in.

Other honourable thriller mentions:

  • Flightplan (2005)
  • Single White Female (1992)
  • Sleeping with the Enemy (1991)
  • Pacific Heights (1991)
  • Insomnia (2002)
  • Fatal Attraction (1987)
  • Rosemarys Baby (1968)
  • The Birds (1963)
  • Copycat (1995)
  • Cape Fear (1991)
  • Beautiful (2009) 
  • The Orphanage (2007)
  • Sleep Tight (2011)
  • Julia’s Eyes (2010)

My Top Ten Psychological Thrillers:

#9: In The Cut (2003) Dir. Jane Campion

Synopsis: A New York writing professor, Frannie Avery (Ryan), has an erotic affair with a police detective (Ruffalo) investigating a murder in her neighborhood of a beautiful young woman.

A very under seen film: the reason I chose In the Cut is because it’s style and mood stand out so much which is really important with psychological thrillers. Also In the Cut blends really well into a serial killer film with a strong female lead which can be a rarity in this genre though Copycat (1995) did a great job too. This is a very unsettling film but it has always stayed with me, perhaps it’s because Jane Campion is a female director which adds something different to the way it has been made. Perhaps it’s the unsettling mood of sex and danger that run throughout this film that makes it stand out. A hard watch but an interesting choice for my list.

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My Top Ten Psychological Thrillers:

#8 Psycho (1960) Dir. Alfred Hitchcock.

Synopsis: A Phoenix secretary steals $40,000 from her employer’s client, goes on the run and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother.

Hitchcock. Janet Leigh. Anthony Perkins. Enough said. 

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My Top Ten Psychological Thrillers

#7: Panic Room (2002) Dir. David Fincher

Synopsis: A divorced woman and her diabetic daughter take refuge in their newly-purchased house’s safe room, when three men break-in, searching for a missing fortune.

It’s hard to think that Nicole Kidman filmed a third of Panic Room until she broke her knee on the set of Moulin Rouge to which Jodie Foster was brought in: sadly we’ll never get to see any of the footage. Foster however does a great job along with a director (Fincher) who shows you how a real thriller is made. See Flightplan (2005) and Silence of the Lambs (1991) also for other Jodie Foster thriller goodness…

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My Top Ten Psychological Thrillers:

#6: Black Swan (2010) Dir. Darren Aronofsky

Synopsis: A ballet dancer wins the lead in “Swan Lake” and is perfect for the role of the delicate White Swan - Princess Odette - but slowly loses her mind as she becomes more and more like Odile, the Black Swan.

Natalie Portman is suitably creepy as a young woman obsessed with perfection who is also suffering from a kind of dissociative personality disorder. Well made by Aronofsky with a great villain by Barbara Hershey, Black Swan is a nightmarish ride into what lies behind perfection.

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My Top Ten Psychological Thrillers

#5: The Sixth Sense Dir. M. Night Shyamalan

Synopsis: A boy who communicates with spirits that don’t know they’re dead seeks the help of a disheartened child psychologist.

Like The Others, The Sixth Sense manages to be creepy while still grounding itself with enough plot, characters and great moments. This whole film has this grim vibe running through it (like a feeling of unease) but it works so well and still manages to make you shed a tear - see the above scene. 

My Top Ten Psychological Thrillers:

#4: Identity (2003) Dir. James Mangold

Synopsis: Stranded at a desolate Nevada motel during a nasty rain-storm, ten strangers become acquainted with each other when they realize that they’re being killed off one by one.

A great retelling of Agatha Christies “And Then There Were None”. Whether you go with the twist or not: the rain, the motel, the characters and some genuinely heart stopping moments make for a great thriller.

My Top Ten Psychological Thrillers

#3: Misery (1990) Dir. Rob Reiner

Synopsis: A famous novelist is “rescued” from a car crash by an obsessed fan.

Kathy Bates. That is all.

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My Top Ten Psychological Thrillers

#2: Dead Calm (1989) Dir. Philip Noyce

Synopsis: A mass-murderer kidnaps and seduces a young woman after leaving her husband to die on the vessel whose crew he’s just slaughtered.

So well made: Dead Calm is haunting with only 3 characters for the whole film (the fourth character is the isolated ocean), this is one of best films to come out of Australia. Oh and my top 2 thrillers both star Nicole Kidman - what can I say? She knows how to choose a good thriller.

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My Top 10 Psychological Thrillers:

#1: The Others (2001) Dir. Alejandro Amenábar

Synopsis: A woman who lives in a darkened old house with her two photosensitive children becomes convinced that her family home is haunted.

A perfectly chilling old fashioned ghost story with Kidman in one of her best roles. The plot is unique to the genre and The Others is surprisingly moving underneath the chills. This is as good as it gets. 

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Film Nerd Thoughts on: Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013) Dir. Abdellatif Kechiche
Synopsis: Adele’s life is changed when she meets Emma, a young woman with blue hair, who will allow her to discover desire, to assert herself as a woman and as an adult. In front of others, Adele grows, seeks herself, loses herself, finds herself.
My verdict: *takes a deep breathe*. How do you rate a film that was given the Palm D’or at Cannes last year? I can only speak from my experience of this film. It is a great queer film to start with: Adèle Exarchopoulos nails the social anxiety that comes with being queer so well: it also reminded me of Tom Cullen’s naturalistic performance in Andrew Haigh’s Weekend - another great queer film. In particular there is a brutal scene where Adele’s classmates are bullying her about seeing a girl and this moment will have you gritting your teeth at the nastiness that some teenagers can have towards each other. 
This was a very french film to me because it is only interested in reality: there is no music, the performances are incredibly naturalistic and it is quite a drawn out study of a young girl growing into a woman. The performances are brilliant of course: I imagine the jury at Cannes had a tough time choosing best performance by an actress last year with this work in the festival.
It is an overlong film and to be brutally honest, I don’t think I could watch it again soon. There is so much truth in Blue though if you can sit through the 3 hours and watch this girl subtly and slowly transition. Sometimes I can sit through these drawn out films about reality but sometimes I just can’t (Michael Haneke’s Amour was an example). I will say though: after 3 hours of observing this character, how much does Adele really change? Take a look at the final camera shot in this film and decide for yourself but maybe you will end up just like me and decide that this film is not about Adele, but more so about first love. 
I’ve always viewed queer cinema as being such an important genre because it gives straight people an opportunity to step into the queer experience and see what life is like as an “other” and also for queer people to see their stories on screen for once.
Overall, this a strong piece of cinema and a great character study that is very grounded in reality. I’m giving it four stars, even if I won’t rush to sit through it again. The french are clearly leading the way in queer cinema. plus s’il vous plaît…
My rating: ★★★★☆

Film Nerd Thoughts on: Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013) Dir. Abdellatif Kechiche

Synopsis: Adele’s life is changed when she meets Emma, a young woman with blue hair, who will allow her to discover desire, to assert herself as a woman and as an adult. In front of others, Adele grows, seeks herself, loses herself, finds herself.

My verdict: *takes a deep breathe*. How do you rate a film that was given the Palm D’or at Cannes last year? I can only speak from my experience of this film. It is a great queer film to start with: Adèle Exarchopoulos nails the social anxiety that comes with being queer so well: it also reminded me of Tom Cullen’s naturalistic performance in Andrew Haigh’s Weekend - another great queer film. In particular there is a brutal scene where Adele’s classmates are bullying her about seeing a girl and this moment will have you gritting your teeth at the nastiness that some teenagers can have towards each other. 

This was a very french film to me because it is only interested in reality: there is no music, the performances are incredibly naturalistic and it is quite a drawn out study of a young girl growing into a woman. The performances are brilliant of course: I imagine the jury at Cannes had a tough time choosing best performance by an actress last year with this work in the festival.

It is an overlong film and to be brutally honest, I don’t think I could watch it again soon. There is so much truth in Blue though if you can sit through the 3 hours and watch this girl subtly and slowly transition. Sometimes I can sit through these drawn out films about reality but sometimes I just can’t (Michael Haneke’s Amour was an example). I will say though: after 3 hours of observing this character, how much does Adele really change? Take a look at the final camera shot in this film and decide for yourself but maybe you will end up just like me and decide that this film is not about Adele, but more so about first love. 

I’ve always viewed queer cinema as being such an important genre because it gives straight people an opportunity to step into the queer experience and see what life is like as an “other” and also for queer people to see their stories on screen for once.

Overall, this a strong piece of cinema and a great character study that is very grounded in reality. I’m giving it four stars, even if I won’t rush to sit through it again. The french are clearly leading the way in queer cinema. plus s’il vous plaît

My rating: ★★★★☆

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A great trailer for what looks like an amazing Australian film.

Bring it on!

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