8:00 PM, 10th May, 2013
The modern master of the ensemble, director Steven Soderbergh, returns with a nail-biting psychological thriller. It-girl Rooney Mara plays Emily Hawkins, a young lass that gets hooked on medication prescribed by her therapist (Law), as she gets anxious about her husband’s (Tatum) impending release from prison. Suffering what she assumes are complications from the medications, Emily is involved with a suspicious death, and the ensuing investigations turn up all manner of unseemly things about Emily’s relationship with her doctor and the big pharma company behind the ‘revolutionary’ medication she is on.
It is always hard to know what to expect from Steven Soderbergh, save for the expectation of top-notch performances from the great casts that he manages to assemble. This is a man who managed to fill theatres with a movie about male strippers without telling everybody it was really a touching romantic comedy and managed to kill just about every A-lister on the market in Contagion. Based on past efforts it will be best to see this one without reading too much beforehand and letting it take you on its own journey.
10:01 PM, 10th May, 2013
Widely regarded as of Alfred Hitchcock’s first masterpieces, and said to be one of his personal favourites, Shadow of a Doubt delivers a piercing view of peaceful small-town America where corruption lurks around every corner.
Inspired by the case of the real-life ‘Merry Widow Murderer’ Earle Leonard Nelson, who murdered a number of rich landladies in the 1930s, the story is one of the darker and more ominous Hitch has told. The plot, not particularly heavy-handed compared to some of his other ‘denser’ masterpieces, is driven by the same blood-curdling level of suspense that we expect from the Master.
Teresa Wright is wonderful as young Charlotte Newton, a sprightly teenager longing for something to liven up her ‘dull’ life, and Joseph Cotten is contrastingly unsettling as her uncle Charlie, who comes to stay. Cotten creates a masterful aura around his character, imposing a mysterious screen presence that keeps us well attuned to the nuances of his performance.
Never before had Hitchcock so elegantly mastered his visual style – all the slow facial zooms, exposing tilt shots and high-contrast lighting evoke a voyeuristic sense of penetrating the pretty facades of the quiet town, an approach that has influenced many films since, David Lynch’s Blue Velvet being one such example.
Shadow of a Doubt is a masterpiece that hasn’t lost any of its thrilling suspense in the seventy years since its release in 1943. Have this at the top of your list of films to see this semester.