44. The Usual Suspects

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Movie: The Usual Suspects

Release Date: August 16, 1995

Director: Bryan Singer

Starring: Stephen Baldwin, Gabriel Byrne, Chazz Palminteri, Kevin Pollak, Pete Postlethwaite, Kevin Spacey, Suzy Amis, Benicio Del Toro, Giancarlo Esposito.

Tag Lines: “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was to convince the world he didn’t exist.”

“Who is Keyser Soze?”

“Five Criminals . One Line Up . No Coincidence.”

“In a world where nothing is what it seems you’ve got to look beyond…The truth is always in the last place you look.”

Relevance: DISCLAIMER: Sometimes “alleged” (that word was used so I don’t get sued) pedophiles, rapists and sex offenders create excellent art. However, I do not in any way, shape or form approve of the past, present or future behavior of both Bryan Singer and Kevin Spacey. They are heinous individuals (allegedly). All of the compliments they will be getting below are written as if they are not heinous individuals. Trust me, it pains me, but a good movie is still a good movie.

In the summer of 1995 I got married (to a woman), moved to a new state and started a brand new job. It was a busy time in my life to say the least. With that said, I still remained in the loop when it came to all things pop culture, especially music and movies. In fact, my brand new job was as a manager with a retailer that sold, you guessed it, music and movies. I was also, thanks to my mother’s generosity, a subscriber to Entertainment Weekly. One of her holiday gifts to me every year was a subscription to the once great magazine. It was their “Summer Movie Preview” issue that first introduced me to ‘The Usual Suspects.’

‘The Usual Suspects’ was released in theaters in August of 1995 to critical praise and quickly became the movie everyone was talking about, yet not talking about. It had modest box office success that gained much more interest and revenue in home media thanks to its nominations during awards season that year. Working in a store that sold movies on VHS, it quickly became the movie everyone was waiting for to be released. I spoke with many customers that praised the movie but said very little about it. Their comments about the movie usually included, “I don’t want to give too much away.” After finally seeing the movie via rental, I am glad all of them kept their mouths shut.

I don’t exactly recall the first time that I saw ‘The Usual Suspects,’ but I am guessing it was early 1996. I know that it was definitely before March 25th of that year. That was the date of the Academy Awards that year in which ‘The Usual Suspects’ was nominated for two awards. I know I had seen the movie by that time because I was rooting for it to win both of the coveted statues, which it did. I watched the movie alone on one of my days off from work via VHS rental and was instantly riveted to the movie. It was fun, exciting and kept me intrigued the entire two hours it played. My love for traditional “whodunit” and thrillers kicked in big time and loved all of the plot twists and turns throughout. However, that final reveal was something I just didn’t see coming. As the credits rolled, I sat there open mouthed thinking about the movie. I immediately rewound the tape and started it all over again.

One of the beautiful things about ‘The Usual Suspects’ was that the more you watched it, the better it got. Once I knew the big twist, watching the movie again became like a “Where’s Waldo” search as I glimpsed for clues and hints about that surprise ending. I completely fell in love with and became obsessed with the movie. It was one that I talked about all the time (with people that had already seen it) and recommended it to absolutely everyone. It was one of those movies that made me fall in love the art of cinema all over again. To this day it remains one of my favorite screenplays of all time.

‘The Usual Suspects’ was the perfect neo-noir, mystery thriller that eventually become a part of my movie collection, first on VHS then on DVD. It was a movie that I never got tired of watching and always loved sharing (and watching it) with people who had not seen it before. It was a movie that after it was over, required a conversation. And I loved those conversations just as much as the film.

Today’s Thoughts: “Who is Keyser Soze? He is supposed to be Turkish. Some say his father was German. Nobody believed he was real. Nobody ever saw him or knew anybody that ever worked directly for him, but to hear Kobayashi tell it, anybody could have worked for Soze. You never knew. That was his power. The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. And like that, poof. He’s gone.”

I watched ‘The Usual Suspects’ bright and early today while still curled up under the covers of my warm bed. My husband had left for work and I just didn’t feel like dealing with the world just yet. So I escaped into another world. Before starting the movie, I did flip off the DVD cover, which made me feel a little better about loving this movie. (See DISCLAIMER above for the reason for the middle finger.)

‘The Usual Suspects’ is still a great movie to watch even if you know the ending and that some of the people who made it are scumbags. But I digress. It is still a well directed, well acted taut mystery action film that entertains on many levels. I just adore the screenplay. Written beautifully by Christopher McQuarrie, the movie is still able to keep my full attention and I can’t help but still search out for those clues into its big ending. Regardless of how many times I watch it, ‘The Usual Suspects’ continues to be a fun, entertaining ride.

‘The Usual Suspects’ is a fantastic movie and one that deserves to be in my top fifty films of all time. Despite the many movies he completed before this one, Kevin Spacey was pretty much introduced to me and the rest of the world with his performance as Keyser Soze. One would think I would want to erase that introduction, but then I wouldn’t have this glorious movie in my life. Trade off’s are a bitch.

Awards: Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Kevin Spacey (winner), Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, Christopher McQuarrie (winner), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture, Kevin Spacey (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay – Original, Christopher McQuarrie (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Editing, John Ottman (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Film (nomination), Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role, Kevin Spacey (nomination), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor, Kevin Spacey (winner), Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male, Benicio Del Toro (winner), Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay, Christopher McQuarrie (winner), Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Cinematography, Newton Thomas Sigel (nomination), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor. Kevin Spacey (nomination), National Board of Review Award for Top Ten Films (winner), National Board of Review Award for Best Acting by an Ensemble (winner), National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actor, Kevin Spacey (winner), National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor, Kevin Spacey (nomination), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor, Kevin Spacey (winner).

Ways to Watch: Amazon Prime, Vudu, iTunes, DVD Availability.

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