THRILLER SCHOOL

(NOIR IN A NUT­SHELL)

Empire (Australasia) - - THE ULTIMATE MOVIE PLAYLIST - (1971) (2006) (1975)

THE EX­OR­CIST (1973)

Let’s start with my favourite movie. Noir? Yup. From the com­pro­mised ex-boxer priest to the plod­ding, sar­donic de­tec­tive, the bud­ding evil gives pur­pose to their weary­ing lives of quiet des­per­a­tion. Also, it’s got ban­ter. As in wise­cracks. Yes, The Ex­or­cist.

DIRTY HARRY

Sim­ple premise, yet a tour de force of cin­e­matic set-pieces. You can pluck any of a half-dozen se­quences and teach them in film class. Worka­day he­roes, check. Great ban­ter, check.

NIGHT MOVES (1975)

If The Big Sleep was the quin­tes­sen­tial evo­ca­tion of Ray­mond Chan­dler, this ’70s thriller is surely birthed from his suc­ces­sor, Ross Mac­don­ald.

Sad, wrench­ing, poignant. A hero who knows not what he does

— or rather: WHY.

NO COUN­TRY FOR OLD MEN (2007)

Crime as lit­er­a­ture, pure and sim­ple. Vi­o­lence that is clumsy, er­ratic, shock­ing — even com­i­cal. Look and learn.

THE HAND­MAIDEN (2016)

As Hitch­cock­ian as it gets. A stun­ning, of­ten in­fu­ri­at­ing look at de­prav­ity, and the bril­liant women who con­quer it.

Some­one will doubt­less miss the point and call for its can­cel­la­tion.

THREE DAYS OF THE CON­DOR

A bleak Christ­mas adds colour to Syd­ney Pol­lack’s story of a fright­ened loner on the CIA’S kill list. Quirky, awk­ward, REAL. A good primer for thriller fans.

THE LIVES OF OTH­ERS

A story about the East Ger­man Stasi that prac­ti­cally drags you up onto the screen with the char­ac­ters. So en­gag­ing that when I screened it (blind) at my house, my guests of­fered rev­er­ent thanks. They’d been changed.

EASTERN PROM­ISES (2007)

Peo­ple like to point to David Cro­nen­berg’s A His­tory Of Vi­o­lence as his tri­umph, but I was much more im­pressed with this di­a­mond-crafted gem. The steam-bath se­quence is SWEET.

PHONE (2002)

On the sur­face, an eas­ily over­looked Korean ghost thriller…but so much more. It as­pires, by the end, to a level of sad­ness that isn’t just sur­pris­ing — it’s a pow­er­ful les­son for hor­ror film­mak­ers.

SWEET SMELL OF SUC­CESS (1957)

The Holy Grail. In Barry Levin­son’s Diner, that char­ac­ter who keeps pop­ping his head in? He’s quot­ing this movie. Clif­ford Odets and Ernest Lehman on screen­play — say no more.

DUMBO

The first movie we ever saw. It made us laugh, it made us cry, it taught us the power of the mov­ing image.

THE GREAT ES­CAPE

As movie-ob­sessed kids, we sub­sisted on a cin­e­matic diet al­most ex­clu­sively from the ’80s and ’90s — that is, un­til we saw The Great Es­cape. Be­fore long we were sift­ing through a trea­sure trove of clas­sics, but our his­tory les­son be­gan right here, in a World War II POW camp with Steve Mcqueen, the coolest movie star of all time.

THE GOONIES

We vividly re­mem­ber watch­ing

The Goonies for the first time on

VHS with our friends, slumped on bean­bags dur­ing a sum­mer af­ter­noon in the room over our garage. As soon as the cred­its rolled, we shared awed looks, hit rewind and watched it again. No film or show be­fore or since has so ac­cu­rately cap­tured what it feels like to be a kid.

BATMAN

Tim Bur­ton’s style was so unique that it was im­pos­si­ble to miss, even at a very young age. We be­gan to watch all of Bur­ton’s films, dis­cov­er­ing along the way what a di­rec­tor was, and how they shape ev­ery­thing on screen. This was the film that made us want to be di­rec­tors.

JAWS

Our go-to favourite film of all time from our favourite di­rec­tor of all time, Jaws has some­thing of ev­ery­thing — hor­ror, com­edy, drama, ac­tion, ad­ven­ture — and it glides so ef­fort­lessly be­tween tones and gen­res that you don’t even no­tice. The bench­mark.

SCREAM

The first hor­ror we ever saw, Scream was our gate­way to John Car­pen­ter, Wes Craven, Sam Raimi, Clive Barker, Stephen King and the other giants of hor­ror. Our big­gest hope for

Stranger Things is that, like Scream, it will lead its younger au­di­ence to dis­cover the clas­sics that in­spired it.

THE EVIL DEAD

We first heard about this NC-17 hor­ror film from our cooler, older cousin. Only prob­lem — we were only 12 at the time. So we lied, telling our mom that, al­though the film was tech­ni­cally un­rated, “Leonard Maltin said it would be PG-13” (he didn’t). Watch­ing it was a shock to the sys­tem from which we have never fully re­cov­ered. The de­fin­i­tive proof that you don’t need a big bud­get to make a big im­pact. (And to this day, we still pull from Sam Raimi’s in­ge­nious

bag of cam­era tricks.)

UN­BREAK­ABLE

We were un­abashed M. Night Shya­malan fa­nat­ics in high school, and Un­break­able was our favourite. A bril­liant de­con­struc­tion of su­per­hero mythol­ogy, it in­spired us to re­turn to a Spiel­berg style of sto­ry­telling, where the or­di­nary and ex­tra­or­di­nary meet — and where genre tropes are ex­plored with an in­ti­macy and earnest­ness usu­ally re­served for in­die dra­mas.

TOY STORY

As we learned to write screen­plays in col­lege, we would watch Toy Story on a loop, analysing its struc­ture, char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion, and all those per­fect plants and pay­offs.

It is a per­fect script, and proved more valu­able to us than any screen­writ­ing book.

TRUE DE­TEC­TIVE

With big stars, a big bud­get and Cary Fuku­naga’s cin­e­matic eye, True De­tec­tive felt like a big movie and made us re­con­sider ev­ery­thing we thought we knew about TV. Stranger Things sim­ply wouldn’t ex­ist with­out it.

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