12.02.2006

what i'm watching: nine queens

I have another movie recommendation for you.

One type of film Allan and I both really enjoy are "con" or "caper" movies, where confidence people create elaborate sleights-of-hand, and the audience is the ultimate mark. The best known and loved con movies are "The Usual Suspects" and "The Sting", both excellent films. For us, the gold standard will always be David Mamet's "House of Games," a movie so mind-bending that we've seen in multiple times and are still taken, each time. David Mamet also made "The Spanish Prisoner," another very good con movie.

This week we saw an Argentinean movie called "Nine Queens" (Nuevas Reinas), which has much in common with all these films. Watching the movie, I knew the trick couldn't be as simple as what appeared to be going on - I knew I was being taken - but I couldn't figure out how. At one point, with the movie on pause, Allan suggested what turned out to be the truth, but we both dismissed it as impossible.

At the very end, just before the truth was revealed, I had a flash of revelation, but no time to work it out. It took us quite a bit of discussion after the movie to piece it all together, which is one sign of a well-constructed con.

"Nine Queens" is Argentinean writer-director's Fabian Bielinsky's debut, and an extremely impressive one. He cites "House of Games" as his principal inspiration. I won't say this is as good as "The Usual Suspects," with that incredible performance by Kevin Spacey, but if you enjoy these kinds of movies, don't miss this one.

8 comments:

Wrye said...

Might I suggest The Zero Effect? It's not exactly a con movie in the same sense as the above, but shares some elements. A very satisfying puzzle.

L-girl said...

Thanks! I'm adding it to my Ziplist right now.

Nice to see you, Wrye. How are you?

Wrye said...

Good, I think, if a mite withdrawn. Work is sucking up my creative energy, and Wryette's pondering going to Korea to teach for a while, so I'm even more preoccupied than usual. Come to think of it, the whole Fall's been kind of busy when it hasn't been outright draining, between work and going to Japan. The entertainment value of watching a million Vancouverites cope with winter driving is small compensation.

Have you seen Matchstick Men and Catch Me if You Can?

M@ said...

Geez, is there anything we don't agree on? Usual Suspects and Spanish Prisoner are two of my favourites too. (And Mamet's ability to twist stories -- Glengarry Glen Ross and Spartan (and Heist, too, I guess, blech) make similar u-turns. Definitely part of Mamet's MO.

I'm definitely going to look for Nine Queens. I've been campaigning to get zip.ca back and I think SuMei is close to cracking...

L-girl said...

Geez, is there anything we don't agree on?

So far, only Curb Your Enthusiasm. :)

And I'm not a diehard fan the way Allan is, anyway.

Have you seen State And Main, Mamet's comic turn? It's excellent.

Keep up the Zip campaign. It's money well spent IMO.

L-girl said...

Wrye, I'm sorry to hear that. Although your shadenfreude is admirable. ;-)

Have you seen Matchstick Men and Catch Me if You Can?

No and yes, in that order. I usually avoid anything with Nicholas Cage. A movie has to be really good to get me past him.

Woti-woti said...

Nothing like a good 'con' movie. I'll have to put 'Nine Queens' on my list. Every time I see one of those 'personal' lists, 'The Usual Suspects' always springs to mind in 'What's Your Favourite Movie'. On the TV level, I still like the old 'Rockford Files.' James Garner is a perfect con-artist.

L-girl said...

Rockford Files, I can immediately hear the music in my mind. I associate that with a whole generation of shows - Columbo, Macmillan And Wife, Kojak.