The first in a periodic series of reviews of films celebrating milestones in 2015
Release Date: January 25, 1995
It is difficult to believe that The Usual Suspects is 20 already. Bryan Singer’s mid-1990s pulp about five criminals attempting a heist to save their lives seemed to be pointing the way toward a noir future when it was released. It seems like just yesterday we were talking about a twist ending that “we never saw coming.” Sure it wasn’t The Crying Game (1992) levels of twisted, but I think we were out of the practice of watching suspense tales unfold, so the question of “Who Is Keyser Soze?…If he even exists” was fresh for us without long film memories at the time.
Kevin Spacey won his first Oscar for his role in the film. Christopher McQuarrie also won an Oscar for original screenplay. Both screenwriter and director would pair up again several times in much bigger budget fare – most notably X-Men, Jack, the Giant Slayer, and Valkyrie. As far as independent movies go, it could be considered a success. Below are four questions to contemplate at 20:
To start with, let’s dispel the idea that Bruce LaBruce’s Gerontophilia is somehow the “Gay Harold and Maude.” Since there aren’t that many comedies, or dramas for that matter, about the subject of young men romantically linked to senior citizens, I can see why looking for a comparison to the best-known example on film would be natural, but these really aren’t the same film. I guess one can say that in both films a rather distant young man learns about life from an a senior citizen lover so they are loosely equivalent. But I think that the fact that we make such comparisons points to the fact that there aren’t many films out there on the topic. Just because the pairing of Lake (Pier-Gabriel Lajoie) and Mr. Peabody (Walter Borden) happens to be of two men doesn’t diminish or increase the unease we may feel about their relationship. LaBruce isn’t making a “gay” anything here. Instead he’s making a fairly straightforward film about a type of relationship that isn’t often put on film. Unlike Harold and Maude the young male isn’t learning to appreciate life, but trying to understand and act on his desires and learn how to deal with the trials of dating men in their 70s and 80s.
I will admit that I have not read the Hunger Games novels, which have been taking up space on my Kindle for awhile. Mockingjay Part I is the first film where I thought that I probably should have read them before committing to watch the series. I did enjoy the first movie in the series. I thought the second one, last year’s Catching Fire, was too repetitive of the first and didn’t add much to the overall story line to be interesting. I was glad to finally be finished with the cycle of games and trips to the decadent Capital City. I was worried that the third installment would come up with another way to get Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) back in the arena. I have moved on from that, even though Katniss appears to be a stuck in the film, rehashing issues that I thought were already resolved in her love life and her role as a hero.