In the city at night, Joe stakes out a house where a little girl named Nina’s been taken. He waylays an errand boy on the street outside, throwing him in the back of his rental car to interrogate him about the house’s security. Joe introduces himself: “I’m Mr. Rogers.”
SPOILERS for Annihilation to follow
“Usually if people are talking about what something means in a movie, it means you’ve got a movie people want to see. It’s like the obelisk in 2001. People went around for year sitting in McDonald’s and Bel Air cocktail parties saying, ‘What the hell does that obelisk mean?’” - William Friedkin
“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” - Carl Jung, Psychology and Alchemy
Sirens, searchlights, gunfire. An inmate emerging from a hole in the ground encounters a U.S. Marshal with a shotgun. A friend with a car waits for the inmate, but the marshal is in the way, and so the inmate—smeared with muck—takes the marshal in the trunk with him. The marshal is Karen Sisco (Jennifer Lopez), and the inmate staining her favorite Chanel suit is George Clooney’s Jack Foley.
Jean-Pierre Melville said, “a film is first and foremost a dream.” Chad Stahelski’s and David Leitch’s John Wick is a dream of grief and retribution, of a hyperreal world hidden from our view, of a character both mythic and human. John Wick is, at its most fundamental, a fable about dealing with grief.
A match is struck. Jim Halsey lights his cigarette in the driver’s seat of a red Cadillac. The road is dark, somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Jim starts to nod off—that is, until he pulls over and opens his door for a hitchhiker seemingly stranded in the rain. “My mother told me never to do this,” Jim laughs. The nightmare is just beginning. From this first scene Robert Harmon’s The Hitcher ushers into a dream-like, liminal world, unmoored from reality, from time and place.
A blank face peering out the window of a disintegrating house. A jar of revolting green candies. A children’s book that reads like a nursery rhyme, and an incantation. A mysterious puppet kept hidden away in a leather duffel bag. This is Possum, Matthew Holness’s first feature-length film, which began as a short story featured in the anthology The New Uncanny.
“Sometimes all I want to do is head west on 20 in a car I can’t afford with a plan I don’t have. Just me, my music, and the road.”
In Christopher McQuarrie’s Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation, the fifth entry in the M:I series, the entire intelligence community seems to have turned against Ethan Hunt and the Impossible Mission Force.
One scene, one take. No dialogue, no chase, no hero car or driver in sight. Yet Claude Lelouch’s hypnotic, electrifying C’était un Rendez-vous is one of the best car films of all time. For years, its creation was shrouded in mystery. No one knew how it had been made, what kind of car the film featured, or who was behind the wheel. Its backstory was embellished, even fabricated, and it took on mythic proportions. Since its 1976 debut, Rendez-vous has rightfully become a legend.
Marvin Gaye once sang, “There’s only three things that’s for sure: taxes, death, and trouble.” Jack Reacher never goes looking for it, trouble has a way of finding him. He’s well-versed in the art of fighting, and in probability: five people may have challenged him, but it isn’t really five against one, it’s three against one. First, he’ll take down the big guy. Then, two more will give it a shot, but their hearts won’t be in it. The last two will run.
In the late ’80s, Shane Black pitched a movie to Joel Silver he called Die Hard, a buddy film about a seasoned old detective and his young sidekick. A year or two later, Silver swiped the title for a new Bruce Willis film. But Black’s screenplay became another Bruce Willis vehicle, Tony Scott’s The Last Boy Scout, the story of miserable, washed-up private eye Joe Hallenbeck (Willis) who joins up with ex-football star Jimmy Dix (Damon Wayans) to solve the murder of Jimmy’s girlfriend...
Gears shift, gloved hands grasp steering wheels, side-view mirrors frame the faces of drivers. Pit crews rush around them, and an enthralled crowd looks on. Engines rev, a stopwatch ticks, a heart beats. You can almost smell the smoke from the roaring tailpipes and burning tires. Finally, an establishing shot: the starting line, and the race begins.
The smog-choked Los Angeles horizon, edged with skyscrapers and palm trees and power lines. A counterfeit-money-making sequence sexier than a sex scene. A foot chase through LAX on a moving walkway. A glorious fever dream of a car chase through Long Beach.
Although William Friedkin chose not to film Los Angeles’s typical landmarks, To Live and Die in L.A. feels like the most L.A. movie ever made.