Thursday, September 28, 2006

Lunch-break serendipity

Sorry for all these scrappy posts. Just switched on the TV and caught the last act of Jonathan Mostow's Breakdown by accident. It's some while since I last saw it, but I maintain that, scene for scene, it's the best Hitchcockian thriller of the last ten years. Anyone with me on that? Anyone not seen it? I wish Mostow had stayed down and dirty rather than graduating to the big league with U-571 and T3. Hear he's remaking Frankenheimer's Seconds next, which might be interesting...

7 comments:

Nick Davis said...

I liked Breakdown a lot when I saw it in the theater... though I also liked U-571 and T3. I think that dude has got the touch. I'm always excited when a director can do fresh work within such longstanding genre codes without fussily calling attention to the codes.

Meanwhile, if I ever make a trip into the desert, any desert, remind me not to take Kathleen Quinlan. It never works out.

tim r said...

I liked them too, just not as much. Breakdown is so tightly crafted and knows exactly when to dispense with the clich├ęs — as when JT Walsh is starting a whole "Wherever you run, wherever you hide..." type speech and Russell cuts it short by kicking him in the face. It's just tremendous.

I nearly said much the same thing about Kathy Q but didn't want to mention The Film That Shall Not Be Named so thought better of it... x

Kamikaze Camel said...

Yeah, Breakdown was supurb filmmaking. I haven't seen U-571 but I really liked T3 as well. Mostow has a knack. It's not completely overwhelming like Michael Bay or Roland Emmerich though, thankfully.

Remember when Kurt Russell was always just on the verge of becoming a huge fuckin' star and then he made Soldier and, well, it all went down the crapper.

And I'll say the other film. The Hills Have Eyes. I sorta liked it.

TF said...

I like the smallness of Breakdown: it is that rare film that does exactly what it promises to do, and well. JT Walsh makes a fine villain, chummy and sinister, and the paranoid missing-wife angle is oddly unsettling. Good stuff.

Gator said...

Spot on. I love this movie. I was obsessed by JT Walsh for a long time. Something about him that's so normal yet so rank; it's like he's looked honesty and decency squarely in the face and arrived, very sanely, at the conclusion that they're not for him (see also The Grifters, House of Games). For me the most chilling moment in Breakdown is when you see he's got a family. All that horror under such a thin crust of 'normality.'

tim r said...

The scenes with Walsh's family are outstanding. His wife, a disappointed-looking woman with her suspicions but no idea he's quite that bad; the son who's been trained to use a shotgun and gets plenty of practice on their living room games console. When Russell confronts them in the kitchen there are so many different levels of awareness, and possible tension, flying around, it makes for an electrifyingly unpredictable scene. The highlight of the whole movie, right?

TF said...

It's got to be either that, or, for sheer punch, the moment when we realise just how much stolen stuff Walsh has in his barn. The sudden jump in scale is really strong - how many people has he killed to get all that? It's one of those moments in a film when the horror suddenly becomes epic: I wouldn't be too surprised to see Cthulhu squatting in the corner. And the contrast with his family: very strong. Must see it again.