A wacky Nicolas Cage feature as well as a number of thrillers make up what we’ve been watching this November. Cozy up as the weather gets colder, and leave it the movies to do all the activity.
Vampire’s Kiss (1988)
Nicolas Cage is truly unhinged in Vampire’s Kiss, starring as protagonist Peter Loew. Working as a literary agent, this vintage 1980s New York yuppie spends his days terrorizing his employees, his evenings terrorizing the women of New York, and his entire day falling apart mentally. Convinced that one sexual encounter with an unusual woman has turned him into a modern day vampire, his predation on employees and women turns quite literal as he now thinks he needs to consume blood. Cage, naturally, leans into every bit of this quality with one of his most unhinged performances ever. From the outset, he has this chaotic energy about him that Cage provides so effortlessly. He could be accused of overacting, but it fits with this robust personality that is fraying at the seams. This is a man who is always performing, trying to keep up appearances and keep some distance between the monster lurking within and everyone around him. Even as he believes himself to be a vampire, he still performs to keep up that appearance. Whether it is buying fake fangs or biting a woman at a club, nothing comes natural to him with Cage’s acting being less a case of overacting and more of leaning into the absurdity of this man. It is an insane performance, yes, but in Cage’s hands it feels right.
Vampire’s Kiss functions as both a piece of genre entertainment and a critique on the yuppies that defined 1980s corporate culture. The violent and demeaning tendencies to his subordinates, the womanizing and drug use at night, and the carefree lifestyle that sees Peter using and dumping just about everyone in his life, are all laid bare. Perhaps it is just psychological decay that has led to him believing himself a vampire, but this violent misogynist and quintessential drug-using yuppie businessman of the 1980s is a bloodsucker, leeching off the hard work and energy of everyone else in his world. Maybe not strictly a vampire film, but definitely one about modern-day vampires, Vampire’s Kiss was not the film I initially expected it to be, but the experience was a great one. – Kevin Jones
What Lies Beneath (2000)
It would be fair to call What Lies Beneath a rip-off of Alfred Hitchcock‘s works, especially Rear Window, Vertigo, and Psycho. Yet, as much as it is shamelessly blending its many Hitchcockian elements with classic horror tropes, What Lies Beneath still impresses. After all, director Robert Zemeckis is no slouch himself, bringing together these elements, the great cast, and the menacing mood to create a truly unnerving horror film. Michelle Pfeiffer stars as Claire, a mother who is now experiencing empty nest syndrome after her daughter leaves for college. However, she and her husband, Dr. Norman Spencer (Harrison Ford), are excited, as it will give them some alone time after all these years. It is not long until Claire sees something next door, uncovers a mystery, and begins experiencing ghostly encounters that Norman may know more about than he initially reveals.
Relying heavily on water and mirrors for his visual motifs, Zemeckis builds a classic 90s thriller atmosphere with the danger lurking within the house, mixing it with those supernatural elements and plenty of voyeurism. Zemeckis excels in building the doubt and the suspense. What is going on in this home? Is this all in her mind? The little clues build up from a door that will not close to seeing odd things in the nearby lake and, especially, odd happenings around the bathroom. Every little bump and sound in the distance could be something, all while the brutal reality that maybe Norman knows something about who or what is haunting this home lurks in the distance. A great performance from Pfeiffer is a key asset, while Zemeckis just knows how to entertain. What Lies Beneath tackles very adult issues and while its tropes can be familiar (and some scenes stretch any credibility), it remains a fun and engaging film that may have one turning on a few lights before heading to bed. – Kevin Jones
I find films that have on-purpose limitations quite intriguing, as they quite often end up being very creative, pushing those limits to the extreme. Locke is no different in that regard, focusing on the car ride of a man for the entirety of the film – though his issues do not leave him alone as he is still reachable through his phone.
Written and directed by Steven Knight, who is mostly famous for Peaky Blinders, Locke has an amazing cast that delivers on the unique premise. Granted, the only character on-screen is Tom Hardy‘s Ivan Locke, but voice actors of the film consist of successful names such as Olivia Colman, Tom Holland, Andrew Scott and Ruth Wilson. The combination of acting/voice acting and the premise makes Locke a unique experience that is hard to forget. – Alper Kavak
Robert Zemeckis has a very diverse set of films in his filmography, and not all of them were equally impressive maybe, but Allied is, in my honest opinion, definitely ‘up there’. Following a Canadian intelligence officer and a French resistance fighter’s relationship during the Second World War, the film definitely showcases everything Zemeckis has mastered up until 2016. Starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard, Allied puts on a show that is very polished from each and every perspective; from its acting to its cinematography, from its plot to its music and whatever else one might think of. Even if it might not be ‘the best film ever’, it is a film that is hard to regret spending time on. – Alper Kavak