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DuPont Sunday is back!

Convinced for a time that her breakthough experimentation with coherant light and the human genome project was somehow more important than reviewing new DVDs, hottie supergenius Alexandra DuPont has returned to tackle a version of “The Usual Suspects” that is almost certainly far superior to the one that currently rests upon Herc’s shelf.

Thanks as always to The DVD Journal for the regular loan of the comely (and versatile!) Ms. DuPont’s fabulous Sunday-night reviews!

Review by Alexandra DuPont                    

"My hope will be that, until the very last minute of the film, (the audience is) not quite sure what's going on. There's no bigger compliment that anyone will be able to pay to me — that they really got had, that they really didn't know until the very end. And I think that with the cast and crew they've put together — I know my work is done. They have the big thing to pull off now. It's just a big, well-structured magic trick, and I don't envy them the work they have to do. But if they pull it off, I think people are really gonna be shocked. I think they're gonna come away saying, 'Wow! I've really gotta see that again.'"

Usual Suspects screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie,
speaking in 1994, a year before the film's release

"I always equated the movie to The Wizard of Oz. New York was Kansas and Los Angeles was Oz, with a cool cast of strange characters that they would encounter — you know, Red Foot by the Korean Friendship Bell, and this strange pool hall where they meet Kobayashi, and is he the man, or the man behind the curtain?... That's where a lot of that design, and perhaps some of the color and vibrance, came from."

Usual Suspects director Bryan Singer

"The Usual Suspects is a maze of lies, not clues."

— Actor Stephen Baldwin

The Usual Suspects Spoilerific Special Edition DVD FAQ

[box cover]Warnings: 1. The following review — not unlike this particular DVD's supplements — assumes the reader has already seen The Usual Suspects and is aware of its critical twists and turns and last-minute revelations. 2. The following review, now that I re-read it, also spoils The Wizard of Oz and Citizen Kane for good measure. 3. If you're new to The Usual Suspects and buy/rent this DVD (which hits the street this Tuesday, April 2), I'd recommend you watch the movie before you sample any of the disc's featurettes or commentary tracks. Oh, and it's a masterful crime flick and well worth your hard-earned cash. Anyway:

What's the story?

FBI agents Jack Baer (Giancarlo Esposito) and Dave Kujan (Chazz Palminteri) are mopping up after a big, bloody mess — an apparent botched heist in which a cargo ship went up in flames. The only survivors are a logorrheic, crippled con named Roger "Verbal" Kint (Kevin Spacey) and a badly burned Hungarian sailor.

Verbal (blessed with an immunity deal that one cop [Dan Hedaya] describes as being handed down from "The Prince of Darkness") soon finds himself grilled by Kujan about the events that led up to the boat heist. The remainder of the film is essentially one long, semi-convoluted flashback: a tale of five crooks (Gabriel Byrne, Kevin Pollak, Stephen Baldwin, Benicio Del Toro, and Spacey) who meet in a police lineup and decide to do a "job" together — only to have a mysterious Eastern Bloc gangster named "Keyser Söze" butt into (and, in some cases, end) their lives.

As Verbal spins his story, the question "Who is Keyser Söze?" comes to dominate the proceedings — a sort of blood-soaked variant on Citizen Kane's "Rosebud" mystery. Is it former corrupt cop Dean Keaton (Byrne)? Is it mysterious emissary Kobayashi (Pete Postlethwaite)?

Roger Ebert just like totally panned this movie back in 1995, didn't he?

Uh-huh. He, like a handful of other critics, found The Usual Suspects to be an ultimately hollow stylistic exercise — a story robbed of its power by its final moments. Ebert wrote:

"The story builds up to a blinding revelation, which shifts the nature of all that has gone before, and the surprise filled me not with delight but with the feeling that the writer, Christopher McQuarrie, and the director, Bryan Singer, would have been better off unraveling their carefully knit sleeve of fiction and just telling us a story about their characters — those that are real, in any event. I prefer to be amazed by motivation, not manipulation.... As Verbal talks, we see what he describes, and his story takes on an objective quality in our minds — we forget we're only getting his version."

But isn't panning the film on those grounds a bit like dismissing The Wizard of Oz as bankrupt storytelling because all that Yellow Brick Road crap ended up being Dorothy's fever dream? Or because Rosebud was just a damned sled?

Very possibly so. As J. Jordan Burke wrote in The DVD Journal's review of the original, no-frills DVD, The Usual Suspects is a passionate embrace of the fakery of the movies — "pure cinema. The Usual Suspects is only about itself, and how the whole language of cinema is exploited to tell its unusual story." For my money, McQuarrie and Singer are in love with the notion that the moviemaking process itself is an exquisite falsehood — so what's the harm in piling on a little more legerdemain?

And even if the film is ultimately a "magic trick" about nothing other than its own inventiveness, can we dismiss so easily the vivid characters ("real" or "fake") and the colorful tableaux McQuarrie et al create? What's great about Suspects is that every member of the filmmaking team comes to play, and every member of the filmmaking team seems to be playing a different game — and it all meshes together beautifully.

Singer bathes McQuarrie's zinger-filled script in a lurid color palate that wipes away the grit and turns it into something akin to a fable. Meanwhile, each of the five leads seems to have studied at a different acting school, possibly on different planets. Spacey (in a Best Supporting Actor turn) takes a calculated approach, calibrating his performance so every action has a double meaning; Byrne is a strict naturalist, playing the reluctant Keaton as a series of tics and glowers; Pollak draws on his stand-up comedy roots, smart-assing his way through the film; and Baldwin acts like he dropped by on his way to a Bruckheimer set, mixing violence and sexual menace with relish.

And of course there's Benicio Del Toro — whom Spacey describes in the disc's new extras as being "from Mars" — taking a somewhat bland character on the page (and one initially written with Harry Dean Stanton in mind) and speaking all his lines as helium-tongued gibberish. Plus the film is sweetened by a surprisingly lush musical score — one of the best of the 1990s — written by of all people the film's editor, John Ottman.

So is this brand-new "Special Edition" worth my time and money?

Oh, absolutely. Once again, MGM Home Entertainment has created a protein-rich platter — with brand-new standard and widescreen transfers of the film (plus two commentary tracks) on one side of the disc and a quite-decent set of special features on the other. The picture, of course, looks great, and the soundtrack's a strong Dolby Digital 5.1 mix.

So how about those extras?

On Side One, we find two commentary tracks. The first is the much-beloved commentary with director Bryan Singer and scenarist Christopher McQuarrie, which was at one point available as Tape Two of a special two-tape VHS "gift pack" (which this author still proudly owns, BTW, having used its enclosed Usual Suspects butane lighter for years to fire up her cigarillos).

This commentary has long been celebrated as one of the best ever recorded — owing largely to the fact that McQuarrie and Singer (friends since high school) are secure enough in their talents to make fun of themselves and their work. Here we learn that the filmmakers thought of a title and poster tag line ("All of you can go to hell") before they actually wrote a story; that everyone in the cast and crew (well, five people, anyway) seems to have played Keyser Söze in one shot or another; that McQuarrie was opposed to casting Del Toro as Fenster, and now admits he was wrong; that either Singer or McQuarrie (they start to sound alike after a while) "could have done without the whole flame/urination bit"; that Del Toro had decided he was playing a "Black Chinese Puerto Rican Jew"; that there are numerous editing errors in the film, including magical cigarettes and airliners that change type in mid-landing; that many characters are named after McQuarrie's friends and/or employers; that the actors were occasionally tense, unable to keep a straight face or, in the case of Peter Greene, "terrifying"; that McQuarrie was once a bodyguard for jewelers; that neither filmmaker knew until after the film was finished that the "greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist" line originally came from Baudelaire, and in fact they borrowed it from people who were quoting Baudelaire themselves; that they had a jolly time writing the cleaned-up ADR for airliners and television; that they never expected the "Oswald was a fag" line to make it to the final film; that the Coast Guard shut down the boat-heist shooting for a while; and that the misleading flashbacks that close the film were added quite late in the game.

Coming off the high of the McQuarrie/Singer track, I'm sorry to report that the brand-new commentary with editor and composer John Ottman is an ever-so-mild letdown. Ottman's a sharp cookie, make no mistake, and his obvious passion for film scoring makes for some rare insights — but he's also working alone, and he's just nowhere near as funny as his compatriots. I'm sorry, but facts are facts.

Ottman's highly technical commentary touches on, among other topics, the value of title sequences; his fears that Suspects would be lumped in with Pulp Fiction and its ilk; the benefits and hazards of using a "temp track" to score a film's rough cut; and the advantages (when you're both composer and editor) of being able to edit the film so the score can take precedence. A handful of complaints: Ottman sort of knocks Singer for shooting one scene in a single master shot; he tends to take credit a lot; and he uses the word "funnest" in a sentence. Otherwise, it's a genial, smart, well-rounded and valuable track, and I'm glad it's finally been recorded.

Moving on to Side Two of the platter, we find the rest of the extras and at least one Easter egg. First up is a "Featurettes" menu containing 1:21:12 worth of documentaries — playable in five parts or as one continuous stream (with the umbrella title "Round Up: Deposing The Usual Suspects"). The docs feature brand-new, surprisingly blunt and profane talking-head interviews with Singer, Ottman, Spacey, Byrne, Baldwin, Palminteri, Del Toro and Pollak:

• "Pursuing the Suspects" (24:56) talks about the travails of assembling the talented cast. Byrne — who was "hot" at the time and thus helped the filmmakers secure financing — was apparently reluctant to work for "personal reasons" (trouble with ex-wife Ellen Barkin, perhaps?). Palminteri, meanwhile, had a handful of days to shoot his scenes with Spacey, and Stephen Baldwin (who's simultaneously smarter and more arrogant than I imagined he'd be in the new interviews, and who provides many of the doc's best sound bites) kept pushing Singer's buttons, hoping Singer would stand up to him. There's also some jokey (?) recounting of "tension" between Pollak and Baldwin on the set;

• "Doin' Time with the Suspects" (26:45) riffs on the production itself — with the interviewees mostly praising Singer's insane bravado at age 27. There are also outtakes from the famously hard-to-film lineup scene; Del Toro, according to Pollak, was flatulent the whole time, and Spacey recalls Singer chewing the actors out in frustration for continually cracking up;

• "Keyser Söze — Lie or Legend?" (18:35) reveals all the actors who played Söze in various shots in the film — and features actors remembering how many different ways they seemed to pronounce the name. Highlights include learning that "Keyser Söze" essentially translates as "King Talk-Too-Much," plus a bemused Spacey remembering Byrne pigeonholing Singer and insisting that Dean Keaton had to be the arch-villain. (Byrne really gets razzed and mimicked by the other actors quite a bit in the featurettes, BTW);

•  Also included is the much-fluffier 1995 "Original Featurette" (6:39) that promoted the film before it hit theaters, featuring younger-looking cast members in costume discussing the movie but revealing no secrets;

•  And finally there's "Heisting Cannes with The Usual Suspects," which features home-video footage of the actors and principal crew "doing" Cannes, where they were apparently quite the cause célèbre. There's some footage of Pollak whining about having to tell the same stories over and over, plus a shot of Del Toro (who apparently did his promotional duties in high-water pants and sneakers) flipping off the camera.

The next menu features the 2:23 theatrical trailer with an introduction by John Ottman. During his 1:20 intro, Ottman riffs on the horror of the movie's original, farmed-out trailer, which was never used:

"They were trying to sell a film the audience wasn't going to get.... It had all this rock music in the background. They tried to make it seem like it was this hip, Pulp Fiction movie.... They edited together all the 'cool' dialogue in the movie.... I gave it my shot.... I was able to use my own score."

Sadly, the final trailer Ottman's introducing — while a damned sight better than the farmed-out aberration he describes — does utilize a variant on that tiresome "In a world...." voice-over narration device. The DVD's 2:22 "International Trailer," using character-name title cards and Spacey narration, is far cooler. There are also eight TV spots — five 30-second spots and three 15-second spots — that are strung into one continuous eight-chapter track.

Moving along, we find a menu containing five deleted scenes, all of them in fairly spotty shape and all "hosted" with John Ottman introductions:

•  "The Restaurant Scene" (3:30, incl. intro) features a vastly more elaborate setup of the scene climaxing with Agent Kujan's arrest of Keaton as he's trying to negotiate a life-redeeming deal in a restaurant;

•  "Finding Arturro's Body" (1:44, incl. intro) features a little boy, fishing off a bridge, witnessing a body bubbling up out of the bay. As Ottman says, this scene "almost tops the other scene for being cheesy," and feels as if it came from another movie entirely. Ottman also laughs as only successful people can at having snipped the scene's $5,000 corpse dummy from the film (it does, however, show up in a two-second flashback in the final cut);

•  "McManus and the Hungarian" (1:27, incl. intro) is a sort of "mini-story" culled from second-unit footage, featuring a kitchen altercation between Baldwin's character and some sailor thugs;

•  "Planting the Bomb" (1:04, incl. intro) explains why Keaton asks "What time is it?" when he's about to be killed by Söze — he'd just placed a bomb in the ship's hold;

•  And "Extra Verbal" (1:54, incl. intro) is a slightly longer edit of Spacey's final moments with Palminteri as he exits the police office. As Ottman says, the extended scene's just a beat too long; the editor also laughingly recalls throwing wads of film at Singer, calling the tons of extra, raw Verbal footage "bullshit."

Rounding out the "official" extras is a wildly slapped-together and offensive 7:10 "Gag Reel with Intro" by Bryan Singer. I'll quote from Singer's own mildly embarrassed-sounding intro to the piece:

"In an effort to find material you haven't seen already to make the purchase of this disc worthwhile, uh, I dug up a thing we created just for the cast and crew to amuse them in case they hated the film after they saw it.... Some of it's a little vulgar, so I'm not going to show you all of it.... I don't know if it's worth the full price of the DVD, but it might be worth a couple cents."

As for the ensuing "gag reel": If this is the "de-vulgarized" version, I shudder to imagine what Singer didn't show us. Spliced from outtakes and other footage, the whole thing plays like one of those closed-door Friar's Roasts filled with tasteless cracks about "butt piracy." Gay jokes and expletives are strobed with Max-Headroom-like abandon, and, dear Lord, there's an original rap song about the movie's lead characters.

You said there were "Easter eggs"?

I found one — and because I think extras should be easy to access and not hidden under puzzles (as if the DVD format were some crap-tastic "Myst" variant), I'm going to tell you exactly how to access it:

Scroll up and select the logo on the main Special Features menu. You'll end up in a menu featuring a collage of items from the police-office bulletin board and surrounding environs. There are five highlight-able items; select one of them and it tells you there's a puzzle to solve: "Every picture tells a story – select them in order and see two additional featurettes." Whoo-hoo.

Select the pictures in the following order: "Quartet," "Guatemala," woman, and coffee mug. For all this needless effort, you now have two featurettes to choose from:

•  "John Ottman Interview with Film Historian" is a wide-ranging 17:42 video interview, filmed in a static two-shot, in which Film Score Monthly Senior Editor Jeff Bond talks with Ottman about his music for The Usual Suspects, among other matters. Although Mr. Bond is a less-than-dynamic inquisitor and looks like he's about 12, he asks the right questions; there's a lot of meat in this interview — and it's an appalling crime that you have to solve that stupid puzzle every time you want to watch this featurette. Ottman reveals himself to be a recovering hard-core film-score nut: He tells us his temp track for Suspects included cuts from JFK, Outland and Basic Instinct — plus such relative obscurities as Ken Wannenberg's score for The Philadelphia Experiment. We also learn Ottman's thoughts on the lost art of film scoring, temp-tracking in general, his score for the all-but-unseen Incognito, how he got the combo scoring/editing gig by "blackmailing" Singer, the coolness of having one's music on CD, and how depressing it is that he no longer collects scores now that writing them is his career.

•  Meanwhile, the decidedly less substantial 3:01 "Interview Outtakes" featurette features embarrassing cutting-room floor excerpts from the new talking-head interviews. Chazz Palminteri (who, BTW, looks 50 pounds lighter and 50 years older) chews out "these fuckin' sound guys"; Pollak crosses his eyes; someone tries to remember to say something nice about Pete Postlethwaite; and at least two of the actors want to know if they're getting a free DVD out of this.

Is that enough?

— Alexandra DuPont

• Color
• Anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1)
• Double-sided disc
• Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), Dolby 2.0 Surround (French)
• English, French, and Spanish subtitles
• Commentary with director Bryan Singer and scenarist Christopher McQuarrie
• Commentary with editor/composer John Ottman
• "Round Up: Deposing The Usual Suspects" — five "making-of" featurettes with new interviews
• Theatrical trailer (with introduction by John Ottman)
• International trailer
• Eight TV spots
• Five deleted scenes
• "Gag Reel" with intro by Bryan Singer
• Easter egg revealing two additional featurettes: "John Ottman Interview with Film Historian" and "Interview Outtakes"
• Keep-case (with ginchy plastic outer sleeve that bathes the suspects in a hazy sunset shadow)

Readers Talkback
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  • April 1, 2002, 1:57 a.m. CST

    "The Usual Suspects"...

    by crimsonrage

    ...meanders too much in the mid-section. Half the time, I didn't know what the hell was going on. Liked the ending though. For my money, McQuarrie's directorial debut ("Way of the Gun") is a superior effort.

  • April 1, 2002, 2:20 a.m. CST

    Usual Suspects video 2 pack

    by claypool

    I got that too! And I still have lighter that came with it. Actually, that was my first commentary track I've ever listened to (never got into laserdiscs). Man, i must have listen to that track at least a half a dozen times. It kinda sucks because every commentary I hear now I've got to compare to this one. It's a great one. Anyway, I'll be picking this up on Tuesday!

  • April 1, 2002, 2:50 a.m. CST

    My Region 4 (Australia) DVD has the commentary track.

    by Cash Bailey

    But it has nothing else on it. If the other extras are cool I may just buy this one, too. BTW, the commentary is funny as hell, but not a patch on the Kurt Russell\John Carpenter ones.

  • April 1, 2002, 2:53 a.m. CST

    Hey, does anyone know anything about this PREDATOR Special Editi

    by Cash Bailey

    I heard they were gonna give it the same treatment they gave DIE HARD just recently. If this is true then we are just too spoiled for great DVDs this year. I'm still buzzing over those FELLOWSHIP discs.

  • April 1, 2002, 3:40 a.m. CST

    good goly goddamn, its about time I added this flick to my DVD c

    by Tall_Boy

    one of my favorite experiences of living with my housemates last year was one of them saying "lets watch a buddy lent me this flick called 'The Usual Suspects'" Got the whole place addicted to it. Great friggin flick, and screw Ebert for not knowing any better. A Collectors Edition is just the incentive I needed to add it to my collection. horray!

  • April 1, 2002, 4:04 a.m. CST

    Dammit, I *love* when Stanley Spector Gets To Spout His Wisdom:

    by EricAlan69

    He is, without question, one of my three favorite TB'ers of all time. I love this man! // e.

  • April 1, 2002, 5:32 a.m. CST

    Good movie but...

    by dogfish112

  • April 1, 2002, 5:34 a.m. CST

    Good movie but...

    by dogfish112

    The second time I watched it, it certainly didn't have the same impact. It was still amusing but really worth another run through. I won't be purchasing this DVD

  • April 1, 2002, 6:10 a.m. CST

    One day Harry, you may be able to write a review that is ...

    by Silver_Joo

    ... articulate, informative and enjoyable, rather than a plodding account of the morning before you saw it, and how that affected the movie. Gosh, there were even references to other films, that were not Guillermo del Torro efforts...

  • April 1, 2002, 9:58 a.m. CST

    So where is the INCOGNITO DVD SE???

    by -mrbean-

    I liked that movie.

  • April 1, 2002, 10:26 a.m. CST

    The Singer/McQuarrie laserdisc commentary was the first I ever l

    by Osmosis Jones

    And still one of the best. "Give ME the keys, you Fairy Godmother!" Since my laserdisc rotted within two years of buying it, I'll definitely be picking this up.

  • April 1, 2002, 10:58 a.m. CST

    Incredible Bryan Singer interview

    by ZakChase

    The Singer/McQuarrie commentary was also the first one I ever listened to. I still have my old VHS 3-pack. Oh, and if anybody wants to read some real news (as opposed to useless DVD reviews like this one) head over to and check out their incredible Bryan Singer interview. He talks about Suspects, X-Men, X-Men 2 and the vastly-underrated Apt Pupil. Just a fantastic -- and long -- interview.

  • April 1, 2002, 12:34 p.m. CST

    Usual Suspects is one of my favorites

    by neovsmatrix

    I already have the older DVD, but I'm definitely getting the Special Edition DVD because the older DVD looks and sounds like crap.

  • April 1, 2002, 5:04 p.m. CST

    This is Keyser Soze

    by Famous X

    McQuarrie worked at a law firm called Richards, Watson & Gershon before this movie came out. He got the name Keyzer Soze from one of the lawyers there, Kayser Sume. Check it out:

  • April 1, 2002, 6:41 p.m. CST


    by Carson Dyle

    Van, is that you?... Ed maybe?...

  • April 1, 2002, 11:56 p.m. CST

    Best commentary tracks?

    by billz333

    I don't know how good the one for Usual Suspects is, but my favorites so far are: 5. Fight Club - David Fincher, Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bohnam Carter 4. Army of Darkness - Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell 3. Evil Dead - Campbell 2. Exorcist - William Freidkin (he is such a bastard, but he tells some good stories) 1. No f***ing contest - Evil Dead II - Sam Raimi, Scott Speigel, Bruce Campbell, Greg Nicotero. I'm sorry to everyone else, but I could listen to the Evil Dead II commentary every day for ten years and not get tired of it. Honorable mentions go to some others in my collection: Blair Witch Project - Directors The Thing - John Campbell(Please release a new Halloween DVD with commentary!!!!) and Kurt Russell Re-Animator - whole cast and director (although kind of gets out of hand in places) Seven - Fincher and Pitt again, with some Morgan Freeman. Wish they had all been in the same room. My two pesos. Thanks for reading.

  • April 2, 2002, 12:46 a.m. CST

    Go ahead and roast me on a spit, because I agreed with Ebert (Sp

    by St Buggering

    At the end, we're basically told that none of what we've just seen atually happened, and therefore, any emotion or attention you've invested in the events is wasted. And for the record, I think the same of "The Wizard of Oz". The "it was all a dream" ending is one of the most maddening storytelling devices of all time. Since none of it really happened, how can the story hold any interest or tension on repeat viewings? Drives me nuts.

  • April 2, 2002, 1:29 a.m. CST

    so rosebud was ONLY a sled...

    by arkhan77

    and here i thought it was a metaphor for innocence, youth, familial attachment and the love of games. oh, and st-buggering: y'know, all those other movies you like that don't have a twist ending such as usual suspect's and wiz of Oz', you do realize that none of those stories really happened either, right? they're actors, on a set, right?

  • I dunno, but that question's gonna keep me up all night. What a writer. And hell, the dvd looks almost worth buying. Almost. I'm trying to graduate college here. Need money for that, and I blew my DVD allowance on 'Moulin Rouge'.

  • April 2, 2002, 1:34 p.m. CST

    Thank you for saying I look about 12...

    by Morton

    I'm actually 41, but you'd think I'd get carded more considering how damn young I look...

  • April 2, 2002, 3:09 p.m. CST

    arkhan77: Gosh, you got me there

    by St Buggering

    I never realized that movies were fictional. Thank god there are people like you around who are willing to share their extreme cleverness with ignorant clods like myself. I think you know exactly what I was saying there, buddy. But then, I know how hard it is to pass up a chance to insult somebody in a talkback (See earlier part of post). At any rate, the point was that WITHIN THE CONFINES OF THE FILM, what happens should be real. If it's all taken back in the end, then what was the point? Note that this is not the same as an ending in which all the previous events are thrown into a new perspective, such as "The Sixth Sense" or "Fight Club".

  • April 2, 2002, 4:26 p.m. CST

    If, at the end of the movie, everything is taken back...

    by JTylor

    I think the point is: in the Wizard of Oz, that Dorothy comes to terms with where she lives and the idea that she can overcome her problems, if, in her dreams, she can overcome even worse (if you want it all "real according to the rules of the story," check out the original Oz books, by all means, since Oz in those books *is* real, and eventually Dorothy and her family come to live there on a permanent basis). In something like Fight Club, the fact is that Tyler Durden, even if he is *SPOILER* another personality, he nonetheless has real effects and comes to personify Jack's hostility and dissatisfaction. As for the Usual Suspects, I think what's truly wonderful about the movie is that the story works within the world of the film to produce effects, such as Keyser's freedom, the perpetuation of the myth, and to make us, as an audience, more skeptical in general. So, quite ironically if we go with Ms. DuPont's assessment that the film is about emphasizing film's artifice, The Usual Suspects also emphasizes the effect stories have on us through Verbal's storytelling skills, that lies do real work, one way or another, no matter if they are told, written, or shadows on a screen. In its contempt for the audience, the Usual Suspects confirms film's status as useful art. Then again, I'm the sicko who showed my English class Peter Jackson's Forgotten Silver without any background.

  • April 2, 2002, 7:22 p.m. CST

    hey buggy boy!!

    by arkhan77

    sorry if i was a bit harsh there, didn't mean to insult you that much, but i'm gonna have to stick to my guns. if what you're really looking for in movies is emotional attachment to fictional characters, then i believe you're a little part of the big problem with movies nowadays; i believe that cinema is about storytelling, both in its form and content, and that twist at the end of Usual Suspects just adds another layer of storytelling fortifying the pre-existing groundwork (and all of that within the context of the movie)

  • April 2, 2002, 10:59 p.m. CST

    Jeff Bond!!!

    by Osmosis Jones

    You da BOMB! Anyone who loved Starship Troopers is cool in my book.

  • April 3, 2002, 1:03 a.m. CST

    the ending, JTylor...

    by Mithril

    Okay, got to say this. I don't think the events in TUS are all a lie. The best liars will tell you that in order to lie convincingly, you tell as much truth as you possibly can, and then lie on some points to cover your ass. The fact that Verbal is driven away by "Kobayashi" verifies this (as does the discovery of Keaton's girlfriend's body). He, no doubt, told the truth about there being a character like that and about the character's actions, but changed the name and certain details (like the building they attacked him in) so the cops can't find him. Same with Redfoot and the rest. By grounding the story in truth, the cops can check his story, and it checks out, but the things he wants to stay hidden stay that way. And Verbal probably changed some other things as well (he was probably the one that suggested the trip to Miami, not McManus). I've actually found that the end doesn't take away any pleasure from watching the movie again, but actually increases it, as you start to piece together which parts were true and which weren't: did that happen, did it happen but just differently? I spent a while hypothesising that Keaton actually knew Verbal was Keyser and was working for him (think about it: he's the only one who's met him before - claims it was in prison, but could be lying - and vouches for him, gets the rest of the gang to go along with Verbal's plan...or is this all just lies told by Verbal?) or whether he was innocent. Not my only reason for liking the film, of course. Great acting, writing, directing, cinematography and music are a big part of it too. I'm just saying that you shouldn't dismiss the whole film as being all lies. ***JTylor: you think you were sadistic? Please... I sat there saying nothing when our religion teacher said that he was thinking about showing this new movie Se7en in our class, because he'd heard it was about the seven deathly sins and thought it would be educational. Should've seen his face when the movie rolled...