Sunday, April 10, 2005

A Taste of Heist

The most popular post so far on this relatively new blog has been Of Sunsets and Diamonds.... While the post was primarily about the Pierce Brosnan-Salma Hayek heist movie After the Sunset, it grew into an enlightening discussion of heist movies in general, with both known and unknown(for me) movies being talked about.

The heist movie genre is definitely one of my favorites. The good ones boast of elaborate, complicated plots that require serious viewing, several plot twists, atleast a few memorable lines of dialog and ofcourse, one(or more) well-planned, tension-filled heists. Like any other genre, this one too has had its share of masterpieces and not-so-memorable flicks. For readers who share my liking of this genre, here is a consolidated list of movies from the previous post (like all interesting discussions, the post then veered off into Hitchcock movies but those movies, barring the one which falls into this genre, have been left out)

Films I have seen (ofcourse, with my personal ratings:-)
The Usual Suspects - ****
Reservoir Dogs - ****
Heist - *** 1/2
The Spanish Prisoner - *** 1/2
Ocean's Eleven - ***
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels - ***
To Catch a Thief - ***
The Thomas Crowne Affair - ***
Snatch - ** 1/2
The Italian Job - ** 1/2
Guru - ** 1/2
After the Sunset - **
The Score - * 1/2

Films I have not seen (in the order I plan to see them)
Rififi
The Killing
House of Games
The Sting
Asphalt Jungle
Topkapi
Dog Day Afternoon
Out of Sight (last mainly because I don't like either of the leads in this one!)

PS: Since Mamet is so closely associated with this genre, this question is not out of place here. Has anyone seen his Spartan with Val Kilmer? Any comments?

11 Comments:

At 11:26 PM, Anonymous Asokan said...

I've seen SPARTAN and let me warn you: if you don't "get" Mamet then you will be disappointed. I liked the movie, but it's not satisfying by conventional standards, since the story and the characters are reduced to the barest minimum, while the usual Mamet-dialogue and the terrific emotionless performances are amped up to such a degree that you really have to like Mamet to enjoy it. I'd recommend it, but mostly to Mamet fans!

 
At 6:57 AM, Anonymous Vijays said...

From the heist genre to the political thriller genre! :-)Looks like we are going to have another interesting discussion ahead...
I second Asokan. If you like Mamet, then there is no reason why you will not like Spartan
BTW, Balaji, what are your favorite political thrillers?

 
At 7:38 AM, Blogger Balaji said...

Not sure if the political thriller genre is as clearly defined in my mind. Would 'Day of the Jackal' be one? I also like 'Hunt for Red October' and 'No Way Out'. I guess, as in the other post, its only when movie names are listed that I start remembering them!

 
At 9:39 AM, Anonymous AJ said...

I noticed that Snatch & Lock, Stock and Two smoking barrels were named.. but the most recent British movie in this genre was not mentioned - Layer Cake; directed by Matthew Vaugn who produced the first two movies. Excellent acting all around, including ofcourse Daniel Craig. (who rumour has it is being considered for the next James Bond). Overall a fun movie, not to be missed!

 
At 11:41 AM, Anonymous ram said...

balaji, what was so disappointing about "The Score" I liked everything in the movie except Big Brando!

 
At 12:40 PM, Anonymous Asokan said...

THE SCORE didn't deliver cause it's story was not thrilling, the directing was pedestrian and even the acting by those three greats (Brando, DeNiro and Norton) was adequate at best.

 
At 1:30 PM, Anonymous vic said...

dude get over it, ‘the score’ sucked

anyways, bj, one heist film you didn’t mention was ‘sexy beast’.. not a great film, but interesting nonetheless.. and kingsley and mcshane were awesome!!

but on the topic of political thrillers…

I agree w/ you abt ‘day of the jackal’ - excellent film

but the greatest of all time is without question ‘manchurian candidate’ - the original masterpiece of course (not the ridiculous and unnecessary denzel remake) - and harvey and lansbury were spectacular!

other greats…

‘parallax view’
‘blow out’
‘clear and present danger’
‘sum of all fears’

there are also some other greats I am probably forgetting…

victor

 
At 2:55 PM, Anonymous Vijays said...

Vic - The Manchurian candidate is definitely the mother of all political thrillers. But, you missed out on the daddy of 'em all.It's called JFK - One of my all -time favorite films!

Other superb political thrillers worth a dekko:
Fail-safe (Sidney Lumet)
All the President's men (Alan Pakula)
Z by Costa Gravas (An absolute masterpiece!)
The year of living dangerously (Peter Weir)
13 days (Roger Donaldson)
The Contender(Rod Lurie)
Enemy of the State (Tony Scott)
The quiet American (Philip Noyce)

 
At 6:47 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

aj, haven't heard of 'layer cake' at all. probably hasnt been released in the US. will keep my eyes peeled as I like most British movies.

ram, 'the score' was overall very dull and predictable. the heist was ordinary and there were no twists to speak of. mind you, my expectations were already high cos of Niro and Norton.

vic, saw 'sexy beast' quite recently. yours was a good description - "not great but definitely interesting"

As I suspected, my viewing history on political thrillers is rather limited. Among the ones listed so far, I've seen 'Manchurian Candidate' (the new one), 'clear and present danger', 'sum of all fears', '13 days', 'the contender' and 'enemy of the state'. I definitely wouldn't award 4 or even 3 1/2 stars to any of these. A good one that I remembered - 'In the line of fire'

 
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