Guest Post: Five Favorite Movies with a Twist Ending

With the recent release of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a prequel to Planet of the Apes, it got me thinking of films with twist/surprise/shocking ending. Since the original 1968’s ‘Apes’ movie was the godfather of twist ending, I figure I should list my favorite films that has a surprise ending. Don’t worry, there won’t be any mentions of M. Night’s films, I think that’s too obvious to name one of his films here. Although I still think Unbreakable’s ending was pretty cool and shocking (well it was shocking to me when I first saw it anyway).

— Spoiler alert! —
If you haven’t seen some or any of the films listed below, I’d recommend you don’t read any further. Unless you don’t intend to see any of these films (or don’t mind the spoiler), then by all means read on.

So here are the films with ending I didn’t see it coming:

1. Planet of the Apes (1968)
Why not start with the godfather of shocking ending right? The original Planet of the Apes ending’s wasn’t as true to the novel but it’s way better than the Tim Burton’s 2001 remake. Throughout the film, Charlton Heston’s character believed he was on a different planet that‘s ruled by apes, well the last shot of the film showed the floating head of the Statue of Liberty on the beach and he realized he’s already home. Classic!

2. No Way Out
This underrated and little-seen suspense thriller from 1987 was truly nail-biting and had a nice twist ending. Kevin Costner starred as a Navy Officer who was working under a powerful Secretary of Defense, played by Gene Hackman. Costner’s character had an affair with Hackman’s mistress, played by Sean Young. About 30 minutes into the film, Hackman’s character accidentally killed his mistress. So in order to cover up the murder, Hackman’s right hand man, played brilliantly by Will Patton, cooked up a story of how she was having an affair with a Russian spy named Yuri and Yuri was the one who killed her. They’ve decided to bring in Costner’s character to lead the investigation, the two of them doesn’t know that Costner was having an affair with Young‘s character. So upon finding out Young’s character was killed, not only did Costner have to find this so-called spy Yuri, he must also try to keep his boss from knowing that he was the one who’s been sleeping with his mistress!

Before I give away the twist ending, I really hope those who’ve never seen this film to check this out. It’s really a great suspense thriller and all the performances were quite great, especially Costner, Hackman and Patton.

So after everything happened in the film, we found out at the end that Costner’s character was actually a Russian spy named Yuri and his mission was to have an affair with his boss’ mistress. I know it might not make much sense for those who’ve never seen the film, but you’ll know what I mean when you see it.

3. Sleepaway Camp
This film came out in the early 80s, the time when slasher horror flicks were everywhere. What sets this one apart was the shocking ending. I mean seriously the first time I saw it, the ending freaked me out. The story is about a young shy girl who was sent to a camp and suddenly people in the camp were being killed one by one. Well, we find out the killer was actually the shy girl and she is actually a he. Trust me, when you see the film, you’ll understand why it freaked me out. Do check it out if you’ve never seen it.

4. Memento
Chris Nolan’s second film was probably one of the best films of 2000s in my opinion. I won’t go into the plot since I believe most people have seen this film already. I do want to know though, if you’re a fan of this film, what do you think of the ending? Personally I think it was great, here’s a guy who believed that he has this “disease” and will do whatever it takes to make people believe that he has this short term memory. Truly a classic suspense thriller that will have people talking for years to come.

5. Don’t Look Now
This 1973 thriller was probably one of the best of the genre I’ve ever seen. Again if you’ve never seen it, please check it out before reading my spoiler. The film is about a couple who are living in Venice, Italy and grieving the death of their daughter. The husband, played by Donald Sutherland, starts seeing a series of disturbing and fragmented premonitions which coincides with a series of murders in the city. He also sees a little figure who wears the same red-hooded cloak that his daughter wore when she died of drowning. He decides to follow this person who’s wearing the red cloak, a decision he’d surely regret.

When Sutherland’s character finally caught up with the little hooded figure, he turns out to be the little person who was responsible for the murders in the city. And of course Sutherland was killed by this little murderer. I know it doesn’t sound as shocking when you read about it now, but when you see the entire thing, you’ll know why I put this film on this list.

Well those are some of my favorite twist ending films. Name yours in the comments below.

Everybody’s Chattin’: Five blog links for your reading pleasure

Happy Friday, all! Man, I can’t believe this is the last weekend before Turkey Day. My company gives away free frozen turkey every year, and the voucher is already available for pickup.

I had a Harry Potter-related post for today but I couldn’t finish it in time, so save that for early next week. Anybody else excited for HP7? Well, you already know my answer… I hope I get to see it Saturday afternoon. I have deliberately been avoiding too much HP overload, no more clips or even trailer viewings in the past week, though I did peek at RottenTomatoes just to see what the critical reviews look like and it’s kind of on par with my expectation. I’m so excited for this as it’s going to be the first time I see a HP movie in the cinema, and having just discovered it this past Summer, it’s a good thing the other six movies are still somewhat fresh in my mind.

Anyway, instead of blabbing on about, why don’t I let you check out these fine blog posts from my blog friends around the world:

  • Well, though HP is probably on a lot of people’s minds, there are still people who have absolutely no clue about this kid wizard. Well, Dan has a comprehensive Harry Potter guide, pretty much everything you need to know about the franchise in one post, even jargon such as muggles, horcruxes, etc.
  • This week is definitely the week of trailers. ScarletSp1der has got a bunch of them in his Trailer Time Tuesday post so you can easily catch up on one you might’ve missed. I think the best one has got to be the sci-fi/western Cowboy & Aliens! Iron Man + John Wayne + 007 = strangely intriguing! 😀
  • If you need to catch up this week’s movie news, go no further than to my buddy Castor’s Weekly News Roundup. While you’re there, be sure to wish him a happy 1st blog anniversary!
  • In light of Darren Aronofsky working on the Wolverine sequel, Darren @ The Movie Blog ponders if indie directors are the best choices for superhero cinema.
  • Andrew at Encore Entertainment recently saw the Australian crime thriller Animal Kingdom starring Guy Pearce and had some nice things to say about it. Check out his review. I posted the gripping trailer back in May. It’s the one with the peculiar song choice of All Out of Love from Air Supply.

Well, before you go though, tell me what movie[s] will you be seeing this weekend?

Flix Poster of the Week: Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

The swirly yellow font treatment set against stark black caught my attention in the Apple trailer page, but the official poster set in nifty illustration is even more artsy. I love how the monsters’ hands guide draw your eyes down to the terrified-looking girl and down to that script fonts of the title. Very creative, but man is it ever creepy!

Sally Hurst (Bailee Madison), a lonely, withdrawn child, has just arrived in Rhode Island to live with her father Alex (Guy Pearce) and his new girlfriend Kim (Katie Holmes) at the 19th-century mansion they are restoring. While exploring the sprawling estate, the young girl discovers a hidden basement, undisturbed since the strange disappearance of the mansion’s builder a century ago. When Sally unwittingly lets loose a race of ancient, dark-dwelling creatures who conspire to drag her down into the mysterious house’s bottomless depths, she must convince Alex and Kim that it’s not a fantasy—before the evil lurking in the dark consumes them all.

One of the principal writers of the movie is Guillermo del Toro, the Mexican director who made the violent and also creepy fantasy thriller Pan’s Labyrinth. That’s one movie I won’t be able to ever see again, even if I admire its creativity and style. I don’t think I’ll be able to see this one given my distaste for horror flicks. Besides, my nerves had been stretched to its snapping point just watching the trailer!

Watch it for yourself below… if you dare.

Counting Down to Inception! Ranking Christopher Nolan’s Top 5 Movies

Woot woot! Three more days until my most-anticipated flick Inception finally arrives! I haven’t talked to any movie blogger so far who aren’t excited about this movie, and most of my friends are psyched about this as well. I for one am trying hard to keep my enthusiasm in check, by playing this ‘game’ coined by MadHatter from The Dark of the Matinee, of ‘Avoidception.’ Basically I refuse to read anything about the plot or watching any clips from the movie, I even avoid watching the latest trailer, which is usually something I do over and over again when it comes to movies I’m looking forward to, as to ensure a ‘fresh’ movie-going experience when I finally sit down at the theater and watch it unfold. For once I’m actually looking forward to a movie more for its director than of its stars!

I also avoid reading the reviews (which currently still stands at 96% Fresh at RottenTomatoes with 27 reviews by the time this post is published), though I did peek at this spoiler-free compilation of them @ Cinematical. WOW, with such lavish praises bestowed upon this enigmatic sci-fi thriller, no wonder this LA Times blog writer even pondered if this flick would suffer backlash from too-great expectations. I sure hope this one deserves all the enthusiastic buzz and be the Summer flick that lives up to the hype.

Well, in honor of the movie’s release, I thought I’d list my Top Five Favorite Nolan films. Granted the 40-year-old British auteur only has less than 10 feature films under his belt, but surely he’s made an indelible mark in the history of cinema.

  1. Batman Begins (2005)
    The ultimate origins story and my favorite Batman film ever! Nolan’s got a reputation for cajoling exceptional performances out of his actors, but when you already have a thespian like Christian Bale as the lead, it’s pretty much a given. Surrounded by a slew of top notch actors such as Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, Tom Wilkinson and Cillian Murphy, etc., the movie also benefits from a fantastic script that rewards you with each repeated viewing. I’d even overlook the miscasting of Katie Holmes on this one, it’s THAT good!
  2. The Dark Knight (2008)
    It’s rare that a sequel lives up to the original, especially when one already sets the bar so high, but Nolan did just that! It’s nothing short of casting genius to have Heath Ledger play the Joker, though a lot of people were skeptical at first, the late Aussie actor’s iconic performance forever defined that character that it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing that role (neither did Nolan as he recently said he won’t bring back the Joker character for Batman 3). The complex story and the level of character development in this film makes me forget this is a superhero film! Gone are the circus-y and frivolous-ness of the previous Batman flicks, as both Nolan’s versions become the quintessential thinking person’s superhero movie. This is definitely a welcome trend for this genre!
  3. Insomnia (2002)
    Did you ever notice Nolan’s really skimpy when it comes to his movie titles? His one-word-titled movie starting with an ‘i’ is a small film with a budget of less than $50 million. Under less capable hands, the story of  two Los Angeles homicide detectives set to investigate a methodical teenage murder in Alaska might’ve end up to be a run-of-the mill thriller. But the smart, twist-ridden script and excellent performances from the cast made this into something memorable and thrilling to watch. Al Pacino as the increasingly unhinged LA detective and Hilary Swank as the young cop who adore him work well together, but it’s Robin Williams’ as the creepy nutcase who’s the scene-stealer. I think comedians actually make for the eeriest villains. Despite the title, Nolan certainly kept the audience wide awake with this one.
  4. The Prestige (2006)

    Bale & Jackman as friends-turned-arch rivals

    Out of the five Nolan’s movies, this is my least favorite. Now, don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t mean I dislike it, an OK movie from him is still better than average. The story is a riveting one: a tale of two magicians who become friends as well as rival, which intensified when one of them the ultimate magic trick. It’s got the recipe for a movie I’d love, especially given the cast that include Christian Bale (one of my faves) and the eye candy that is Hugh Jackman, as well as Nolan’s regular, Sir Michael Caine. Fans of David Bowie would also got a kick out of seeing him in a small but important role.

    I wasn’t blown away by it initially but upon re-watch, I had a whole new appreciation for it and felt that I could connect to the characters more, especially with Borden (Bale). The whole twist and turns are utterly perplexing (in a good way) and that ending is just WOW! Set against the backdrop of turn-of-the-century London, Nolan did a fine job in setting up a beautifully-shot period piece with gorgeous cinematography, costumes and wonderfully-rich atmosphere.

  5. Memento (2000)
    One of the most original story and most innovative narrative structure, it’s one that rewards with multiple viewings. Nominated for Best Editing and Best Original Screenplay, this is the first time mainstream audiences are introduced to Nolan’s genius work. A tale of a
    man who, suffering from short-term memory loss, uses notes and tattoos to hunt for the man he thinks killed his wife. Guy Pearce is astounding as Leonard, it’s a shame he was snubbed of any major acting nods! As #28 in IMDb’s Top 250 Movies(along with three other Nolan’s movies), this movie is etched in many people’s memories for years to come.

P.S. I will be revising this list now that I have seen Inception and watch The Dark Knight Rises. Stay tuned.

Ok, now your turn, everyone. How would you rank YOUR top five Nolan films?

Conspicuous Trailers of the Week: Animal Kingdom + Adjustment Bureau

I’m playing catch-up with the latest trailers after weeks of not posting a single one. So here are a couple that piqued my interest (oddly enough, both names starts with the first letter of the alphabet):

Animal Kingdom

Parents better not be confusing this with a Disney flick or any other animated feature with cute, cuddly animals. In fact, there’s nothing cuddly about this Jury Prize winner from Sundance. It’s a gripping gangster flick set in the underworld of Melbourne, Australia. It centers on a seventeen year-old J (Josh) as he navigates his survival amongst an explosive criminal family and the detective who thinks he can save him. The always terrific Guy Pearce plays the detective amongst a cast of mostly unknowns (to us in the US anyway).

I was startled, and puzzled, when the cheesy 80s Air Supply song comes on. Boy, I remember my brother playing All Out of Love over and over again in his car to my deafening ear. It’s so bizarre, but maybe that’s the point? CinemaBlend says “… its use in the film is perfect and spooky” and “… in one of the most awkward of places… it gets stuck in your head after watching the film” says GeekTyrant. Hmm, I’m even more intrigued now. Kinda reminds me of Somewhere over the Rainbow playing in contrast to the brutal gunfight scene in Face/Off, I always think of that scene every time that song comes on ever since.

A lot of the stuff I’ve read about this film seems to echo the blurb written in the Sundance site:
Wielding a formidable cinematic lexicon, writer/director David Michôd shows complete command of every frame as he shifts between simmering intensity and gut-wrenching drama. There isn’t a false note in the film as it follows through on the tantalizing promise displayed in his short films and unleashes a fierce new voice in Australian cinema.

The movie is released in the US August 13th.

Adjustment Bureau

An affair between a politician and a ballerina is affected by “mysterious forces” keeping the lovers apart.

Cast: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Terrence Stamp

Based on a Philip K. Dick‘s short story Adjustment Team, this movie is a directorial debut of screenwriter George Nolfi, whose work include Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly and Minority Report. It’s a familiar, tried-and-true story – heh, what isn’t in Hollywood these days – but at least it’s one I’m tend to be drawn into. It reminds me a bit of the Rufus Sewell movie Dark City and Christian Bale’s Equilibrium which deal with an authoritarian government/elite group run amok and the heroes must fight for their freedom.

As for the cast, Damon is quickly growing on me. I haven’t seen him as a romantic leading man very often though, but I think he can pull off the tough-guy-with-heart quite well. I’m a big fan of Emily Blunt and the chemistry looks pretty convincing between these two, which is crucial in the plot as Damon’s character risks everything to be with her. And the cold stare of General Zod (whom Mr. Stamp will always be to me) is pretty much synonymous with ‘sinister villain.’

The movie’s release has been pushed back to September 17 (from the Blockbuster calendar of July 30), which means it’ll open the same day as his best buddy Ben Affleck’s crime thriller The Town (which is one of FC’s most anticipated flicks of this year).


So folks, does either one of these flicks appeal to you?

Scene Spotlight: ‘The Grand Entrance’ – The Count of Monte Cristo

Hello, welcome to the first edition of Scene Spotlight. I was looking at this old post I did back when this blog first started, where I list 20 movie scenes I could watch over and over again, and I thought why not make it a regular post? I’m thinking a couple of times a month.

To start things off, I just picked a random movie that somehow had three actors I love who are grossly underused in Hollywood: Jim Caviezel, Guy Pierce and a very young Henry Cavill (who already looks poised to be Superman one day). Interesting that Caviezel was once considered for the Superman role in Superman Returns before Brandon Routh was cast.

The Count of Monte Cristo is a remake of the Alexander Dumas’ tale by the same name. Edmond Dantes (Caviezel), a sailor who is falsely accused of treason by his best friend Fernand Mondego (Guy Pearce), who wants Dantes’ girlfriend Mercedes for himself. Dantes is imprisoned on the island prison of Chateau d’If for 13 years, where he plots revenge against those who betrayed him. With the help of another prisoner, a priest (Richard Harris), he escapes the island and proceeds to transform himself into the wealthy Count of Monte Cristo as part of his plan to exact revenge.

One of my favorite scene is Dantes’ dramatic entrance as the new ‘Count’ flying down from a hot air balloon amidst a spectacular fireworks display on his estate. The tall, dark and handsome Caviezel looks striking and regal in his opulent robe as he strides down the path to greet his guest. It’s kind of sentimental, even corny, but it just works! 

Caviezel_CountMonteCristoThe grossly-underrated Caviezel makes for a convincing and sympathetic flawed hero, whilst Pierce plays the devious villain with aplomb. Their relationship from friend to foe is fascinating to watch. At times Pierce is a bit over the top but still fun to watch. It’s also got a great supporting cast: Richard Harris as the priest who lets Dantes in on the treasure, and Luis Guzmán as the count’s right hand man provides comic relief.

I wonder if Mel Gibson saw this movie before he cast Caviezel as Jesus in The Passion of the Christ. In the beginning of the clip above, he definitely has the right look to play the Savior! Though Cristo isn’t a “Christian” movie, yet it has the underlying theme is that ‘vengeance is Lord’s’: “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.” – Romans 12:19.

If you haven’t seen it, it’s definitely a poignant and entertaining period swashbuckling flick that warrant repeated viewings!

What do you think of this movie and/or this particular scene?