BY ARIANA POTICHNYJ
WHAT it’s about: Five years before Bryan Singer skipped off into the sunset with the X-Men franchise, he directed and produced a film about five criminals that join forces to commit some big-time robberies. The Usual Suspects asks the question: “if these guys are the ‘usual’ suspects, then who the Hell is running this show?”
WHO’s in it: Kevin Spacey, Gabriel Byrne, Stephen Baldwin.
WHEN it came out: 1995
HOW come you haven’t heard of (or just seen) it: While this movie snagged two Academy Awards, the reason I had not seen it until recently was simply because I was born five years before its release. It was also a big year for movies in general, with releases like Braveheart, Pocahontas, Goldeneye, Se7en, and Toy Story, all jam-packed into the same twelve month frame.
WHY you need to watch it-immediately!:
- Let’s start with those Academy Awards I mentioned. Now, far be it for me to wholeheartedly agree with every choice the Academy makes, however, handing Christopher McQuarrie Best Screenplay was, without a shadow of a doubt, the right choice. This film is told in flashbacks, which is not an easy form of storytelling. And if you’ve had the pleasure of reading scripts with flashbacks in them, you know just how much text and direction it takes from the writer to portray even the smallest scene.
- Kevin Spacey, who picked up the Best Supporting Actor award, narrates the film, which adds another level of complexity–can you really trust this guy? Are you going to trust a guy who is that well-known to the police as a criminal? With the devices used in this story–that is the unreliable narration, the many twists and turns, the levels of lies upon lies–this plot is far from predictable.
- I cannot possibly stress enough the level of expertise in shooting this film. From a purely nerdy film buff point of view, the way the camera is used in this film really does influence how movies afterwards were shot. Newton Thomas Sigel really does just know how to make the camera an extension of the human eye; it’s really quite amazing.
- Finally, if you’re anything like me, you pride yourself on knowing a thing or two about references to popular culture in other media (ie. you are a nerd. Embrace it). The Usual Suspects is parodied, referenced, and quoted all throughout popular culture. Don’t believe me? You ever heard the name Keyser Söze before? Mhmm. That’s what I thought. Get to watchin’.
Ariana goes to Dalhousie University, where she’s doing a History and English combined honours. Her favourite things are America, Mexican food, being the worst Ukrainian ever, and Stanley Kubrick.