Title Rotator

Friday, March 20, 2009

What's Going On Here?

"A good mystery flick (or more precisely a good what-the-fuck-is-going-on? movie) is supposed to work on a dog-race principle. The audience is the dog pack and the stuff you're trying to figure out is the artificial rabbit. The rabbit is always supposed to be just ahead of the dogs, but never so far ahead so that they lose hope and start to give up."

From Jeff Wells via Hollywood Elsewhere. (He's talking about Tony Gilroy's Duplicity which I'd like to get out there and see sometime in the near future)

I echoed a similar sentiment in my review of Potter's Field.

What are some other mysteries out there that followed this principle?

North by Northwest pretty much plays by the rules before laying everything out for the viewer.

Chinatown cheats too much to qualify but is still an excellent based on performances and veracity.

Memento is all about the trick and the trap -- the mechanics of the thing and intentionally keeping all the details from the viewer.

Red Dragon wasn't a particularly good movie but it made the viewers in the back row feel smart and with the current so on that level it worked.

How about some others?


  1. The Prestige, obviously. Also The Sting, Psycho, The Game, and Diabolique.

  2. I just finally watched the Sting for the first time recently (it took long enough) but what struck me is how a movie can be retroactively harmed by what comes after. I was only able to see the twists and turns (which may have been fresh 30 odd years ago) because of all the subsequent con movies which used some of the points.

  3. I'm dubious at "The Prestige" solely because the Nolans don't quite play fair with the mechanics of Jackman's "magic." It's, of course, alluded to earlier in the story with the top hats but the ultimate extrapolation was a little hard to swallow on the first viewing.

    Thanks for the responses!