City of Angels

  • Directors: Brad Silberling
  • Producers: Charles Roven, Dawn Steel, Charles Newirth
  • Writers: Wim Wenders, Peter Handke, Richard Reitinger, Dana Stevens
  • Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Thriller
  • Actors: Nicolas Cage, Meg Ryan, Andre Braugher, Dennis Franz, Colm Feore, Kim Murphy, Deirdre O Connell

In Los Angeles, Seth (Nicolas Cage) is one of many Angels who watch over humans and protect them in unseen ways. The movie portrays angels in a somewhat traditional role without referencing a specific faith. Seth’s main responsibility is to appear to those who are close to death and guide them to the next life. As part of this task, Seth and one of his fellow angels, Cassiel (Andre Braugher), like to ask people what their favorite thing in life was. But despite their daily encounters with humans and their ways, they appear to have trouble understanding human beings and their ways.

While waiting to escort to the other world a man who will not survive heart surgery, Seth is impressed by the vigorous efforts of the surgeon, Maggie Rice (Meg Ryan) to save the ill-fated man’s life and her sincere anguish at her failure to do so. (The man is in fact standing with Seth watching Maggie try to save him.) Seth soon becomes preoccupied with Maggie and decides to become visible to her despite his obvious inability to give her many convincing details about himself, such as what he does for a living or even his last name. Despite this, they develop a friendship which soon turns to mutual attraction, although Maggie is already involved with one of her colleagues (Colm Feore) at the hospital.

The final scene recalls an earlier one with Nathaniel. It shows Seth at the beach where the angels meet every day at dawn and at sunset to listen to the celestial music and commune with eternity. With Cassiel and the rest of the angels watching, Seth expresses his joy in being human and the fact that he has come to terms with his new life by running into the water and playing in the waves. In a rare moment of emotion, Cassiel is seen laughing joyfully for his old friend.

Twister

  • Directors: Jan de Bont
  • Producers: Ian Bryce, Michael Crichton, Kathleen Kennedy
  • Writers: Michael Crichton, Anne Marie Martin
  • Genres: Action, Adventure, Drama, Thriller
  • Actors: Helen Hunt, Bill Paxton, Jami Gertz, Cary Elwes, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Alan Ruck, Zach Grenier

In June 1969, a young Jo watches her father get sucked into a tornado after trying to hold a storm cellar door shut to keep his family safe. Decades later, meteorologists at the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) are discussing a building storm system over Oklahoma which could produce a record outbreak of tornadoes. Meanwhile, retired storm chaser Bill Harding (Bill Paxton) and his fiancée Dr. Melissa Reeves (Jami Gertz) are heading out to meet Bill’s former storm-chasing team to get the final divorce papers from Bill’s ex-wife, Dr. Jo Harding (Helen Hunt), who, since the day her father died, has sworn to hunt down as many tornadoes as possible, not wanting the same fate to happen to someone else. Besides Jo, the team consists of the eccentric Dusty Davis (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Robert “Rabbit” Nurick (Alan Ruck) navigator, Laurence (Jeremy Davies) photographer, Joey (Joey Slotnick), Alan Sanders (Sean Whalen) Rabbit’s driver, Tim “Beltzer” Lewis (Todd Field), Haynes (Wendle Jospeher) who rides with Beltzer, and Jason “Preacher” Rowe (Scott Thomson).

Jo, who is still in love with Bill, tries to stall because she does not want the marriage to end. Jo then tells Bill she wanted him out on the field because his idea for a tornado-analyzing device has been built. Called Dorothy, they will put it in the path of a tornado to measure it from inside. Four of the so-called “Dorothy” weather machines have been built. Haynes tells them of storm activity, and they head out. Bill’s rival team shows up, led by Dr. Jonas Miller (Cary Elwes) with his assistant Eddie (Zach Grenier). According to Bill, Jonas is in the storm-chasing business “for the money, not the science.” While Jonas’s team is passing Bill’s team on the road, one of Jonas’s team members runs Bill off the road. They head to a tire shop to get Bill’s flat tire fixed, and Bill sees Jonas giving an interview to some local reporters. Bill finds out that Jonas has stolen his idea for the Dorothy weather machine. Bill accuses him of stealing his idea, but Jonas says it was an “unrealized idea.” Everyone gets drinks at a local diner next door to the garage while Bill stays outside. Inside the diner, Melissa confronts Jo about her trying to keep together her failed marriage to Bill. Outside, Bill notices the sky is turning green, the sign of an approaching violent storm.

Haynes receives readings from Dorothy’s sensors that indicate the tornado will shift its track again. Bill and Jo, now without radios, are at first unaware, and start running towards a nearby farm as the F5 heads right at them. They first take cover in a barn, but it is filled with sharp metal tools. They run out the other side to find the tornado bearing down. It destroys the barn, and they dodge debris as they run to take cover in a small outbuilding. They find metal pipes inside this shelter, and tie themselves to the pipes with leather belts. The tornado destroys the structure, and they are pulled upside while anchored to the pipes. They manage to see the inside of the F5 tornado as it passes over them. It is filled with lighting and a smaller tornado in the core. Seconds later, the entire storm dissipates, and the family from the farm comes out of their underground storm shelter. Bill and Jo debate who will run the lab and who will analyze the new data while the rest of the team arrives.

To Catch a Thief

  • Directors: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Producers: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Writers: John Michael Hayes, David F Dodge
  • Genres: Crime, Mystery, Romance, Thriller
  • Actors: Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, Jessie Royce Landis, John Williams, Charles Vanel, Brigitte Auber

John Robie (Cary Grant) is a notorious but retired jewel thief or “cat burglar,” nicknamed “The Cat,” who now tends to his vineyards in the French Riviera. A series of robberies that closely resemble his in style leads the police to believe that the Cat is up to his old tricks again. They come to arrest him, and he adeptly gives them the slip.

He immediately seeks refuge with his old gang from his days in the French Resistance, a group of ex-cons whose patriotic work led to grants of parole that depend on them keeping their noses clean. Bertani, Foussard, and the others are all under a cloud while the Cat is at large, and they blame Robie. Still, when the police arrive at Bertani’s restaurant, Foussard’s daughter Danielle (Brigitte Auber) spirits her old flame to safety.

Robie enlists the aid of an insurance man of Bertani’s acquaintance, H. H. Hughson (John Williams), in order to prove his innocence. Robie’s plan is to catch the new cat burglar in the act. To do this, he obtains a list of the most expensive jewels on the Riviera from the reluctant Hughson. The first names on the list are Jessie Stevens (Jessie Royce Landis) and her daughter Francie (Grace Kelly). Robie strikes up acquaintance with them — something met with delight by Jessie, a pretense of modesty with Francie, and claws-baring jealousy from Danielle.

Robie speeds back to his vineyard and Francie races after to convince him that he does need her in his life. He agrees, but seems less than thrilled about including her mother.

Spellbound

  • Directors: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Producers: David O Selznick
  • Writers: Story, Hilary Saint George Saunders, John Palmer, Screenplay, Angus MacPhail, Ben Hecht
  • Genres: Mystery, Romance, Thriller
  • Actors: Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck, Michael Chekhov, Leo G Carroll, Rhonda Fleming

But in Ourselves…

The film opens with Shakespeare’s proverb, and words on the screen announcing that its purpose is to highlight the virtues of psychoanalysis in banishing mental illness and restoring reason.

Dr. Constance Peterson (Ingrid Bergman) is a psychoanalyst at Green Manors, a mental hospital in Vermont, and is perceived by the other (male) doctors as detached and emotionless. The director of the hospital, Dr. Murchison (Leo G. Carroll), is being forced into retirement, shortly after returning from an absence due to nervous exhaustion. His replacement is the much younger Dr. Anthony Edwardes (Gregory Peck).

Dr. Peterson notices that there is something strange about Dr. Edwardes. He has a peculiar phobia about seeing sets of parallel lines against a white background, first displayed in an inappropriate reaction to seeing a diagram drawn with the tines of a fork on a tablecloth.

Dr. Peterson soon realizes, by comparing handwriting, that this man is an impostor and not the real Dr. Edwardes. He confides to her that he killed Dr. Edwardes and took his place. He suffers from massive amnesia and does not know who he is. Dr. Peterson believes that he is innocent and suffering from a guilt complex.

‘Dr. Edwardes’ disappears during the night, having left a note for Dr. Peterson that he is going to New York City.

A heartbroken Dr. Peterson returns to her position at the hospital, where Dr. Murchison is once again the director. After reconsidering her notes from the dream, she realizes that the ‘wheel’ was a revolver and that the man hiding behind the chimney and dropping the wheel was Dr. Murchison hiding behind a tree, shooting Dr. Edwardes and dropping the gun. She confronts Murchison with this and he confesses, but says that he didn’t drop the gun; he still has it. He pulls it out of his desk and threatens to shoot her. She walks away, the gun still pointed at her, and explains that while the first murder carried extenuating circumstances of his own mental state, murdering her as well surely would result in the electric chair. He allows her to leave and turns the gun on himself. Dr. Peterson is then reunited with Ballantyne.

Predator

  • Directors: John McTiernan
  • Producers: Joel Silver, Lawrence Gordon, John Davis
  • Writers: Jim Thomas, John Thomas
  • Genres: Action, Adventure, Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
  • Actors: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Elpidia Carrillo, Bill Duke, Jesse Ventura, Kevin Peter Hall

The film opens with a mysterious spacecraft entering Earth’s atmosphere, then focuses on the coast of Guatemala, where a joint task force, led by Major Alan “Dutch” Schaeffer (Arnold Schwarzenegger), is assigned to rescue a presidential cabinet minister kidnapped by guerrilla forces in Val Verde. Dutch’s old military buddy and now CIA officer, George Dillon (Carl Weathers), steps in as a liaison. The team is then inserted by helicopter to their destination within the jungle.

As they progress, the team finds the wreckage of a downed helicopter and later the remains of several skinned bodies. They are identified to be an Army Special Forces team, whose presence in the country mystifies Dutch. They soon make their way to a heavily defended rebel encampment and take out its inhabitants in short order, except for a girl named Anna (Elpidia Carrillo) whom they take prisoner. Dutch is enraged to discover the rescue mission had been a setup to get his group to destroy the camp, after Dillon confesses that the men they found earlier disappeared in a failed rescue mission of two CIA agents.

As the team make their way to the extraction point, they are observed from afar by an unknown creature using thermal imaging. After two members of the team are mysteriously slain, the survivors become aware that something in the jungle is stalking them. Anna delivers insight into the creature, which has apparently become a local legend for hunting humans as trophies. Despite attempts to track down and trap the creature, the team is slowly killed off one by one, until only Dutch and Anna remain. Realizing the creature only kills those possessing weapons, a wounded Dutch sends Anna unarmed to the extraction point. Dutch narrowly escapes the creature – revealed to be a masked, bipedal alien – by accidentally covering himself in mud, which hides his body’s heat signature.

Dutch confronts the creature one last time, using more mud as camouflage and a number of improvised weapons and traps to kill it. The creature, hearing Dutch’s war-cry, arrives, but despite having its cloaking ability disabled in an attack, manages to capture him. Then, in a display of chivalry, the creature challenges Dutch to a final duel in hand-to-hand combat, unveiling its monstrous face and discarding its electronic weaponry before brutally beating him. Once cornered, Dutch manages to drop the counterweight from one of his traps, which falls and crushes the creature. As Dutch asks the mortally wounded alien what it is, the creature mimics his question (in garbled English) and then activates a time bomb on its wrist device while laughing maniacally. Dutch runs for cover as a massive explosion destroys the creature and nearby jungle. Anna and the rescue helicopter finally arrive to pick up Dutch and head back to base.

Midnight Express

  • Directors: Alan Parker
  • Producers: Alan Marshall, David Puttnam
  • Writers: Billy Hayes, William Hoffer, Oliver Stone
  • Genres: Biography, Crime, Drama, Thriller
  • Actors: Brad Davis, Randy Quaid, John Hurt, Paul L Smith, Irene Miracle

On October 6, 1970, after a stay in Istanbul, a US citizen named Billy Hayes is arrested by Turkish police, on high alert due to fear of terrorist attacks, as he is about to fly out of the country with his girlfriend. After being found with several bricks of hashish taped to his body – about two kilograms in total – he is arrested. After a while, a shadowy American arrives. He translates for Billy. The police ask where Billy bought the hash. Billy tells them that he bought it from a cab driver and offers to help the police track him down in exchange for his release. He goes with the police to a local market and points the cab driver out but while the police go to arrest the cabbie, Billy makes a run for it. He gets cornered in a building and is recaptured by the mysterious American. Billy is sentenced to four years and two months’ imprisonment on the charge of drug possession. He is sent to SaÄŸmalcılar prison (closed in 2008) to serve out his sentence. In the remand centre, he meets and befriends other Western prisoners. In 1974, after a prosecution appeal (who originally wished to have Hayes found guilty of smuggling and not possession), his original sentence is overturned by the Turkish High Court in Ankara and he is ordered to serve a 30-year term for his crime. His stay becomes a living hell: terrifying and unbearable scenes of physical and mental torture follow one another, where bribery, violence and insanity rule the prison.

In 1975, Susan comes to see Billy and is devastated at what the guards have done to him. After being committed to the prison’s insane asylum, Billy again tries to escape, this time by attempting to bribe the head guard, who then takes him to the sanitarium, intending to rape him. Billy ends up killing the guard. He then puts on an officer’s uniform and manages his escape by walking out of the front door. From the epilogue, it is explained that on the night of October 4, 1975 he successfully crossed the border to Greece, and arrived home three weeks later.

Sleepers

  • Directors: Barry Levinson
  • Producers: Barry Levinson, Steve Golin
  • Writers: Screenplay, Barry Levinson, Novel, Lorenzo Carcaterra
  • Genres: Crime, Drama, Thriller
  • Actors: Kevin Bacon, Billy Crudup, Robert De Niro, Minnie Driver, Ron Eldard, Dustin Hoffman, Jason Patric, and Brad Pitt

Lorenzo “Shakes” Carcaterra, Thomas “Tommy” Marcano, Michael Sullivan, and John Reilly are four childhood friends (Joseph Perrino, Jonathan Tucker, Brad Renfro, and Geoffrey Wigdor respectively) who grow up in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City in the mid-1960s. During this time, the local priest, Father Bobby (Robert De Niro), plays a very important part in their lives and keeps an eye on them. However, early on they start running small errands for a local gangster, King Benny (Vittorio Gassman).

On a summer day in 1967, their lives take a sharp turn when they almost kill a man after pulling a prank on a hot dog vendor. As a punishment they are all four sentenced to serve time at the Wilkinson Home for Boys in upstate New York. There, the boys are systematically beaten, abused, and raped by guards Sean Nokes, Henry Addison, Adam Styler, and Ralph Ferguson (Kevin Bacon, Jeffrey Donovan, Lennie Loftin, and Terry Kinney respectively). These traumatic events change the boys and their friendship forever.

Fourteen years later, John and Tommy (Ron Eldard and Billy Crudup), now gangsters, come across Sean Nokes in a pub in Hell’s Kitchen. After making sure that Nokes knows who they are, they both shoot him. Mike (Brad Pitt), now an assistant District Attorney, arranges to be assigned to the case, secretly intending to lose it as a means of getting revenge. Moreover, he and Shakes (Jason Patric), begin to forge a plan to get their revenge on all the responsible guards. Together with many of their lifelong friends, especially Carol (Minnie Driver), a social worker, and King Benny, they manage to collect information on all the Wilkinson guards.

However, to clinch the case they need a key witness who can give John and Tommy an alibi. After a long talk with Father Bobby, including telling him about the awful events at Wilkinson, he agrees to lie on the stand about where John and Tommy were on the night of the shooting; the priest swears under oath that they were with him at Madison Square Garden at a Knicks basketball game. As a result, they are acquited.

Match Point

  • Directors: Woody Allen
  • Producers: Letty Aronson, Gareth Wiley, Lucy Darwin
  • Writers: Woody Allen
  • Genres: Crime, Drama, Romance, Sport, Thriller
  • Actors: Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Scarlett Johansson, Emily Mortimer, Matthew Goode, Brian Cox, Penelope Wilton, Ewen Bremner, James Nesbitt, Rupert Penry Jones

When former tennis pro Chris Wilton begins a relationship with shy heiress Chloe Hewett after befriending her brother Tom, he finds his social and financial status vastly improved. However, once he has an affair with Tom’s ex-lover, American actress Nola Rice, he realizes that his new, luxurious lifestyle may be threatened.

Se7en

  • Directors: David Fincher
  • Producers: Arnold Kopelson, Phyllis Carlyle
  • Writers: Andrew Kevin Walker
  • Genres: Crime, Mystery, Thriller
  • Actors: Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kevin Spacey, R Lee Ermey

In an unidentified city of near-constant rain and urban decay, the soon-to-be retiring Detective William R. Somerset (Freeman) is partnered with short-tempered Detective David Mills (Pitt) who recently transferred to the department. Somerset is eventually invited over to meet Mills’ wife, Tracy (Paltrow); when Somerset learns that she is pregnant but has not told her husband, he confides in her his fear that the city is no place to start a family, reiterating his own losses of his fiancée and unborn child years ago. Somerset advises her not to tell Mills just yet of their child.

Somerset and Mills investigate a series of crimes relating to the seven deadly sins, such as a man who was forced to feed himself to death to represent Gluttony. They find clues at the scene of the murders that connect to the other deaths, and believe they are chasing a serial killer. A set of fingerprints found at where the Greed murder occurred leads them to the apartment of a man, near death, who has been strapped to a bed for a year, representing Sloth. Though unable to learn anything from the delirious victim, the detectives agree that the serial murderer has been planning these killings for more than a year.

Doe directs the two detectives to a remote desert area far from the city, with Doe believing that his actions have helped to show the people what the world actually is and to punish the wicked, riling Mills further. After arriving at the location, a delivery van approaches; the scared driver tells the detectives he was paid to deliver a package precisely at this time and location, and is told to leave after handing it over. While Mills holds Doe at gunpoint, Somerset opens the package and recoils in horror at the sight of the contents. He races back, warning Mills not to listen to Doe, but Doe reveals to Mills that the box contains Tracy’s head. Mills, distraught, demands an explanation from Doe; Doe simply replies that he himself represents the sin of Envy, jealous of Mills’ wife, and then reveals her pregnancy to Mills. Somerset is unable to contain Mills as he unloads his gun into Doe, becoming the embodiment of Wrath and proving out Doe’s plan. After a catatonic Mills is taken away, Somerset is asked where he will be and responds, “around”, suggesting he will not go through with his retirement. The film ends with the sun setting over the desert, with Somerset quoting Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls:

The Warriors

  • Directors: Walter Hill
  • Producers: Lawrence Gordon
  • Writers: Sol Yurick, David Shaber, Walter Hill
  • Genres: Action, Adventure, Crime, Drama, Thriller
  • Actors: Michael Beck, James Remar, Deborah Van Valkenburgh, David Patrick Kelly

Cyrus, the leader of the most powerful gang in New York City, the Gramercy Riffs, calls a midnight summit for all the area gangs, with all asked to send nine unarmed representatives for the conclave in Van Cortlandt Park. The Warriors, from Coney Island, Brooklyn, are one such gang.

The eloquent and intelligent Cyrus (Roger Hill) tells the assembled crowd that a permanent citywide truce would allow the gangs to control the city, pointing out there are 60,000 of them and only 20,000 officers in the NYPD. Most of the gangs laud his idea, but members of The Rogues gang, who have smuggled a gun in, pass it to their leader, Luther (David Patrick Kelly), who then kills Cyrus. Panic ensues. Luther is seen in the act by one of the Warriors, Fox (Thomas G. Waites). Immediately after, the NYPD rushes in from all sides. During the chaos, Luther screams that the Warriors are responsible for killing Cyrus. While the Riffs beat the Warriors’ leader Cleon (Dorsey Wright), the other eight Warriors escape the melee and debate their next move, knowing they are deep in enemy territory.

Meanwhile, the other locally-based gangs regroup at their respective headquarters. Masai (Edward Sewer), second-in-command of the Riffs, takes charge as their new leader, and declares a bounty on the Warriors. This sets the entire city’s gang population out hunting for them, with a seemingly omniscient radio DJ (Lynne Thigpen) reporting on the events.

The DJ makes her final appearance and informs everyone that the early reports were wrong. She announces that she is sorry for the Warriors and that “The only thing we can do is play you a song.” She plays them Joe Walsh’s “In The City” as the Warriors walk down their hometown beach with Mercy.