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Suddenly

Suddenly (1954)
Starring Sterling Hayden and Frank Sinatra, Suddenly is set in a small town (also called Suddenly) out west. Sheriff Tod Shaw (Hayden) gets word that the president of the United States is coming into town on the train. John Baron (Sinatra) and his cohorts are planning to assassinate the president. They take over a widow’s house. It’s very tense. I strongly recommend Suddenly – it keeps you on your toes throughout the whole movie.

An interesting side note: Suddenly came out about eight years before The Manchurian Candidate where Frank Sinatra is trying to prevent an assassination.

Cassandra’s Dream

Cassandra’s Dream (2007) PG-13
Cassandra’s Dream is similar to Hitchcock films, with a lot of twists and turns. It’s about two brothers (Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell) who are trying to get ahead but become too greedy. The consequences they have to pay are surprising. It’s a Woody Allen film, but it’s unlike any of his other films.

Check out the New York Times review.
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The Contender

The Contender (2000) R
I regularly recommend The Contender as one of the best political movies I’ve ever seen. Joan Allen stars as Laine Hanson, a woman the U.S. President (Jeff Bridges) wants as his Vice President after the untimely death in office of the current VP. Others involved include William Peterson playing a respected governor that others want to fill that position, and Gary Oldman as a powerful Congressman who uncovers some information that may torpedo Hanson’s chances. This intelligent and suspenseful drama has first rate performances from a strong cast. Full disclosure: this movie has a liberal point of view about privacy and standing up for your beliefs.

The Night of the Hunter

The Night of the Hunter (1955)
Starring Robert Mitchum and Shelley Winters, The Night of the Hunter is the only film ever directed by Charles Laughton. The mood of the film is unusual; Laughton features unique photography and haunting music. Harry Powell (Mitchum) is a preacher with the habit of murdering his wives. When Harry’s cellmate tells him about money he hid, Harry goes after the man’s family. Lillian Gish gives a great performance as a mother figure who helps out the children.

This fascinating movie didn’t get much play when it came out in the 1950s – and it still isn’t widely known. Roger Ebert’s explanation? Its “lack of the proper trappings.” I very strongly endorse The Night of the Hunter – not a lot of people know about it, but those who do are really impressed by it.

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007) R
The cast -- Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney and Marisa Tomei -- rise to the occasion in this recent film by director Sidney Lumet. Like an ancient tragedy, it is a melodrama told in out-of-sequence episodes (with captions so you know where you are) of the botched robbery of a mom-and-pop jewelry store. Lumet's tale seems rooted in the new middle-class money hunger and its deeply emotional consequences.

See what The New York Times said about the movie.

This Gun for Hire

This Gun for Hire (1942)
This classic film propelled Alan Ladd’s popularity off the map. He’s a hired killer without a conscience who’s set up and goes after the man who did it, taking cop Robert Preston’s fiancé Veronica Lake (who has her own agenda) with him. Exciting and watchable despite the main character’s despicable actions. The filmmakers seemed to have set out to make viewers feel some sympathy for him, which in this case makes for an intriguingly done film.

Graham Greene wrote the original novel.
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The Thin Man Goes Home

The Thin Man Goes Home (1944)
In the 1930s and 40s, William Powell and Myrna Loy made a series of six mysteries in which they starred as Private Eye Nick Charles and his wife Nora. In The Thin Man Goes Home, fifth in the series, Nick and Nora and their dog Asta take a train loaded with wartime travelers to Nick’s hometown. Once there, Nora is determined to show Nick’s father that Nick’s a success, even if she has to make up a crime for him to solve. Lots of site gags and slapstick, including Nora trying to put up a folding deck chair (an exercise I find equally perplexing) and Nora starting a riot in the local pool hall. The movie is full, too, of great 1940s suits and dresses.

The Trouble with Harry

The Trouble with Harry (1955)
When young mother Shirley MacLaine's troublesome husband Harry shows up in the small New England town where she is living, trouble isn't the word for it. Harry was a bad husband and an even worse corpse. When he is found dead (of natural causes, it turns out), everyone thinks that he (or she) somehow accidentally murdered him—and tries to dispose of the body. The absolutely gorgeous autumn scenery is nearly another character.

Directed--with much humor--by Alfred Hitchcock and also starring John Forsythe and Jerry Mathers (of Leave it to Beaver). See it at the library on October 3 at 7:00.

The Bourne Ultimatum


The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) PG-13
In the third installment of the series (The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy), Matt Damon returns as the man on the run from the CIA. The surprises never stop during the 116-minute movie, as Bourne struggles to stay alive while discovering information about his past. But wait! It looks like the adventure will continue in a fourth movie featuring Matt Damon as Jason Bourne...something to look for in 2010.

Also check out the Robert Ludlum books that were the basis for the movies.

The Illusionist

The Illusionist (2006) PG
A poor young man falls in love with a beautiful titled girl in the turn of the 20th century in Vienna. He is a cabinet maker, like his father, but he is also obsessed with learning magic. Eduard wants to travel to China to learn magic secrets and Sophie wants to go with him, but the fates intervene and her parents separate them. Fifteen years pass and they meet again and realize they still love each other but her fiancé Leopold, in a rage, kills her. Eduard, wracked with grief, prepares a new magic show and plans to avenge Sophie’s death. Edward Norton, as the illusionist, has the entrancing looks that make you believe in anything he does. This is a superb movie that will keep the viewer entranced to the very surprising end.

Ransom

Ransom (1996) R
A millionaire ignores the FBI’s advice after his son is kidnapped. Instead of cooperating with the kidnappers and paying the ransom, Tom Mullen fights back.

Watch this explosive thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat till the very end. Starring Mel Gibson, Rene Russo, and Gary Sinise.

Malice

Malice (1993) R

If you like a good mystery with a lot of twists and turns, this is one for you! Bill Pullman, Alec Baldwin, and Nicole Kidman are a great cast. Very enjoyable!

Watch the trailer at IMDB.com.

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5ive Days to Midnight

5ive Days to Midnight (2004)

A sharp mystery! A physicist receives a file about his murder in the future. He has five days to solve his own murder before it becomes reality. Fast paced and very suspenseful, fans of The X-Files will enjoy this miniseries.

Catch Me If You Can

Catch Me If You Can (2002) PG-13
In 1963, 16-year-old Frank Abagnale, Jr. is devastated when his parents split up. He runs away – and embarks on a journey that has him masquerading as an airline pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer.

Carl Hanratty is a career FBI agent specializing in check fraud. He dedicates – and jeopardizes – his career to catch Abagnale, who successfully acquired millions of dollars before he turned twenty. The two play a cat and mouse game for several years.

You may think it’s hard to empathize with someone who’s cheated others out of more than four million dollars, but then you haven’t met Frank Abagnale, Jr. Inspired by a true story – see what happened in Abagnale’s own words in his 1980 biography of the same name.

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken, Martin Sheen, and Amy Adams.

The Interpreter

The Interpreter (2005) PG-13

Directed by Sydney Pollack and starring Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn, this movie of political intrigue is set at the U.N. and is a thriller. The acting is superb and this “whodunit” has many twists and turns.

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