Eastern Promises

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I’ve already discussed David Cronenberg’s A history of violence, and in this one the director teams up again with Viggo Mortensen (with a superb Naomi Watts along for the ride) to produce yet another masterpiece. Still not for the squeamish (I’m looking at you, extraordinarily brutal Turkish bath scene), but well worth your time.

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The Lincoln Lawyer

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I will confess freely that I was not a huge fan of Matthew McConaughey until now. However, after seeing this movie, I can change my mind and agree that he not only has the looks, he also has the (acting) chops necessary to pull off this adaptation of Michael Connelly‘s novel. Let’s not forget some great supporting actors (special mention to Marisa Tomei) who definitely help fleshing out the characters of the book. I can’t wait for the sequel, or to see if somebody will dare to bring Harry Bosch to the screen after this.

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Inside Man

Poster for the movie "Inside Man"

I am a sucker for a good crime caper. The perfect murder, the perfect con, and now, the perfect heist. Maybe a strange choice for Spike Lee to direct, but a great little treat as a result. Do you like Denzel Washington? Jodie Foster? Clive Owen? Then sit back, enjoy, and watch (very carefully)…

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L.A. Confidential

Poster for the movie "L.A. Confidential"

Talking about Chinatown in my previous post reminded me about another Film Noir favourite of mine. From a novel by James Ellroy, one of the greatest crime writers, with a superb ensemble cast, L.A. confidential is a masterpiece and sets the bar very high for any adaptation to the screen of a supposedly difficult book… It can be done, and this is how you do it.

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No Country for Old Men

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Featuring the scariest haircut in the history of Hollywood and some otherwise less hair-related great performances by Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones and Woody Harrelson, this is a modern classic. Even if you think the Coen Brothers have already filmed that same movie a few too many times, this is their masterpiece. Scary and funny in turns, well worth watching if you haven’t seen it already.

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Glengarry Glen Ross

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Has anybody out there not seen this film already? Talk about a dream cast: Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alec Baldwin, Alan Arkin, Ed Harris, Kevin Spacey, Jonathan Pryce… Another screenplay by David Mamet (yes, I know, I’ve mentioned him before) full of whip-sharp memorable dialog, this is a must see. So put that coffee down! And go add this to your Netflix queue…

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Vivement Dimanche!

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François Truffaut’s last (and in my opinion best) movie, an hommage to his beloved Alfred Hitchcock. Fanny Ardant is in superb form and Jean-Louis Trintignant is the perfect grumpy unwilling counterpoint. A little gem of a funny film noir or comedy crime mistery, whatever you want to call it, this movie is well worth watching.

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Infernal Affairs

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As much as I like Martin Scorcese and The Departed, this was yet another case of a perfectly unnecessary remake. Unless you really can’t get past the fact that it has subtitles, you should watch the original. Fast paced and even more intense, with no big names on the screen to distract from the plot, it won’t let you go until the end. And in case you are lucky enough not to know what this is about, don’t read anything about it. It will be even better!

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Laura

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As I (slowly) work my way through the list of all my favourite movies, I realized that between all the 40s classics, I like Casablanca, I really enjoy The Maltese falcon, but Laura is the only one I really truly love. A perfect little gem of a film noir with Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews, don’t miss it if you have never watched it before.

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Gone Baby Gone

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From a fantastic book by Dennis Lehane, Ben Affleck directorial debut is an instant classic. Maybe it was the story set in his native Boston, maybe it is directing his younger brother Casey (doing an amazing job even if, after reading the books, he was really not who I had in mind to play Patrick Kenzie), but whatever the reason, he seems to be much more at ease on this side of the camera. I, for one, look forward to his next movie.

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Kill Bill

Poster for the movie "Kill Bill: Vol. 1"

I realized yesterday chatting with friends that I had forgotten to include this movie in my original list… Blasphemy! A fantastic “roaring rampage of revenge” in The Bride’s own words, it is, after careful consideration, my favourite film from Quentin Tarantino. I don’t care about the commercial reasons which resulted in splitting it in two parts, I would just watch them both in one sitting…

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Vertigo

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Is this Alfred Hitchcock’s best movie? Quite possibly. The perfect confluence of a great story, great cast (James Stewart is superb, but Kim Novak is simply mesmerizing), and a masterpiece of film-making. Witness the first use of the Dolly zoom to great effect, long before it was famously picked up by Steven Spielberg for Jaws.

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Fargo

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I tried to watch the latest Coen brothers movie, A serious man, but it was so boring that I ended up walking out, a very rare occurrence for me. Well, Fargo is the opposite of that. Funny, quirky and creepy, with star turns from Frances McDormand, William H. Macy and Steve Buscemi, those two Oscars were more than deserved.

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Man on Wire

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A touching and extraordinarily engaging story about the French lunatic who decided it would be fun to try and walk on a wire between the two towers of the World Trade Center. Told like a bank heist, with the preparation phase, the infiltration, the sneaking past security guards in the night while waiting for the perfect time, it feels much more than your usual documentary, and leaves you smiling like a kid at the audacity and passion of those people.

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Mystic River

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Sometimes, a great book from a great author (Dennis Lehane), a legendary director (Clint Eastwood), and three actors at the top of their game (Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon) are not enough to make a fantastic film. But not this time. Regardless of whether you know the story or not, this movie will grip you until the last scene.

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Tell No One

Poster for the movie "Tell No One"

From a very young French film director (he has a small part in the movie as well) who was given the rights to his favourite Harlan Coben novel on a visit to Hollywood, comes a gripping film policier and one of the best movies of 2006. I watched it again very recently, and it hadn’t lost any of its power. By the way, did you know that Kristin Scott Thomas spoke perfect french?

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