8:00 PM, 18th March, 2011
When we first see Frank (Depp) he’s sitting on a train to Venice half-reading a spy novel, halfwatching the scenery. He’s an ordinary American who has come to Europe for an ordinary holiday. We don’t need to be told he won’t get one.
Also on the train is Elise (Jolie), a coolly beautiful British woman who’s looking for an unwitting decoy to pass off as her husband (He real husband is some kind of thief – what kind, exactly, it takes us some time to work out). Frank fits the bill. The poor guy is dazzled senseless: within a couple of hours, he’s in the plushest suite in the finest hotel in Venice with Elise; a few hours after that, people are trying to kill him. But even once he’s served his purpose Elise cannot quite let him go.
This is not a film that charms you directly – it relies on Depp, Jolie and most of all Venice to charm you on its behalf. I’m not sure any of the twists make the slightest bit of sense, but I am sure that Jolie is mysterious, Depp is charming (playing a more or less normal guy for the first time in 17 years – welcome home!) and Venice is gorgeous in the sunlight. We don’t really need anything else.
9:58 PM, 18th March, 2011
Red Hill is a 2010 Australian thriller written and directed by Patrick Hughes, who has gone on to Hollywood based on the strength of this debut! We meet young police officer Shane Cooper (Kwanten of "True Blood" fame), as he arrives in the remote town of Red Hill with his pregnant wife (van der Boom) to start over. Upon his arrival at the police station to start his first shift, he learns that a convicted murderer (Lewis) has escaped from prison. Lewis has returned to the town seeking revenge against the law enforcement officers, led by Old Bill (Bisley), responsible for putting him away all those years ago.
In true low budget slasher style, one-by-one the officers are being slaughtered by night by a killer with a dark horse and a sawn-off shotgun. We witness the events through Cooper's eyes, a young, vulnerable copper more inclined to try to understand his criminal prey than to just shoot them, as he tries to catch the bad guy, discover the truth and just generally stay alive. A western chiller that does cause you to jump, Red Hill is an enjoyable ride!