Friday, July 30, 2010


Brad Anderson, 2008 (8.3*)
This is a nice surprise, a thriller in the Hitchcockian tradition, as two innocent and naive Americans encounter a mysterious young couple traveling from China to Russia on the Transsiberian railway. Emily Mortimer shines as the wife, husband Woody Harrelson is a bit puzzling and out of normal character as a young, optimistic Christian volunteer worker. The couple they encounter gives the audience a creepy feeling from the beginning. Eduardo Noriega is a bit too friendly as Carlos, a seemingly free spirited Spaniard, while Kate Mara is a nervous, shifty-eyed American girl along for the adventure, but who seems a little suspicious.

Ben Kingsley is perfect as usual, this time he's a Russian detective investigating a drug theft and murder, which is the film's opening. Kingsley ends up on the train along with the other travelers, scary enough to give a chill to viewers as well.

This plot has some small twists and turns, keeping it from becoming too clichéd; some events are surprising enough as to be emotionally disturbing, both to the characters and the viewers. Though a small indie film that was generally overlooked, it did received 11 international award nominations and two awards, most nods going to the cinematography, editing, and Emily Mortimer and Woody Harralson's performances.

All in all, a pleasing and surprising thriller that reminds us of the good old days, when Hitchcock would plunge innocent travelers into situations beyond their experience and control (often using trains), and also involve the viewer in the nightmare along with the characters, .


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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