Winter Kills

A bandaged man tells Nick the truth about his dead brother

Nineteen years after the assassination of US President Tim Kegan in 1961, his brother learns from the lips of a dying bandaged man that the official report into who really fired the gun was wrong. I know that, says the dying man, because I was number two rifle that day, and what’s more I’ll tell you where the gun I used has been hidden. Using the murder and bits of the life and family background of President Kennedy as a template, William Richert’s 1979 drama then heads off into the undergrowth for a hack through the weeds of the improbable. Winter Kills isn’t just a conspiracy thriller but a conspiracy thriller constructed like … Read more

Bad Times at the El Royale

Chris Hemsworth as Billy Lee

The “who’s zooming who” thriller of the 1990s rides again in 2018’s Bad Times at the El Royale, one of those epics where, by the end, almost everyone is dead and the building is in flames yet barely a spark of emotion has been generated. That is probably the intention. Instead writer/director Drew Goddard wants us to admire the spectacle, and gasp as he piles dialogue on top of plot on top of wayward characters and vainglorious allegory, switching timelines, digressing, flashing back, hopping from one “lead” protagonist to another as he goes – oh no, he’s dead – and generally having a fun old time in a big, kitsch, faintly ridiculous but very enjoyable … Read more

Cutter’s Way

Jeff Bridges as Richard Bone

When it’s remembered at all, 1981’s Cutter’s Way is often lumped in with All the President’s Men, The Parallax View and other 1970s conspiracy dramas, but it’s much more at home in the company of 1970s noirish murder thrillers, like Chinatown, or, most obviously, Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye. Apart from mis-categorisation its other big problem is its title. It was originally Cutter and Bone, after the two men at its centre, drunk, angry firecracker Alex Cutter (John Heard), who lost an eye, an arm and a leg in a war we assume to be Vietnam. And slinky, college-educated golden boy Richard Bone (Jeff Bridges), whose given and family names both hint at … Read more