The Thursday List: The Renewal
"Alien 3" (1992)
Plagued by pre-production difficulties that would have killed most other franchises, "Alien 3" and its fledgling director David Fincher forged ahead and created a solid, however underrated, third film in the "Alien" saga. It's not super suspense and scares, and it's not gung ho shoot'em up action. "Alien 3" is a slow burn, a bleak, dark tragedy playing out in the coldness of space on a barren prison planet. The script, while not terribly innovative or wowwing, is good, and the acting is uniformly brilliant throughout. "Alien 3" also has its own trademark audiovisual style, as its predecessors did themselves, and it works. Compared to "Alien" and "Aliens" it falls rather short, but taken on its own, as it should be, "Alien 3" deserves a better rap than it gets. Recommended.
"Blood Simple" (1985)
This debut film of directors Joel and Ethan Coen is a masterpiece of neo-noir cinema. Suspicion, adultery, thievery, murder, double-crosses, and characters that are at the same time really stupid and really, really awful people. "Blood Simple" is dark, and it's mean, and it's unforgiving, and it's visceral, and it's truly brilliant to watch it unfold. The cast is truly exceptional, and the late M. Emmet Walsh's private eye Loren Visser is one of the most evil and treacherous villains ever to stain the silver screen, and he's almost kind of likeable, in a twisted kind of way. Treat yourself to this film. It's a classic. Highly recommended.
"The Negotiator" (1998)
The running theme today is "an excellent cast", and that's what this film has. "The Negotiator" is a police procedural plus a whodunnit in the style of "Die Hard" but with less overt humor and more intrigue and suspense. The script is tight. The pace is quick. The cast is in top form, especially Kevin Spacey and the late J.T. Walsh. It's a solid roller coaster ride, evenly spaced action and suspense, up until the end. Recommended.