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Usual Suspects, The

Bryan Singer's Oscar-winning twisty thriller is one of the best-loved films of the 90s, and rightly so.

The complex story is told in flashback by stoolie Verbal Kint (Kevin Spacey) who is spilling his guts to US Customs officer Dave Kujan (Chazz Palminteri).

Kint tells of how five career crims - Dean Keaton (Gabriel Byrne); Michael McManus (Stephen Baldwin); Fred Fenster (Benicio Del Toro in a star-making role); Todd Hockney (Kevin Pollack) and Kint himself came together for a seemingly simple heist, but then got caught up in various betrayals and double crosses, at the centre of which lay the mysterious and enigmatic underworld figure Keyser Sose.

Advance hype for The Usual Suspects (which takes its title from a line in Casablanca) suggested another Pulp Fiction-esque hipster crime flick, but the film has its own groove. Noir-ish and stylish without being derivative, it's head-scratchingly confusing at times, but never less than wholly captivating.

The off beat cast all do their jobs well, but Del Toro and Spacey (who won an Oscar for his trouble) are the clear stand outs.

Along with his well-received (albeit brief) turn in Seven, The Usual Suspects help Spacey make the leap from well-regarded character actor to bona fide leading man.

In addition to those already mentioned, we also get such fine, genre-ready talents such as Dan Hedaya ( A Night at the Roxbury); Giancarlo Esposito (Do The Right Thing) and Pete Postlethwaite (In The Name of the Father).

The script by Christopher McQuarrie also won an Oscar.

Following The Usual Suspects, Bryan Singer made the not-terribly-well-received Stephen King adaptation Apt Pupil before bouncing back with the first two X-Men films.

He recently re-teamed with Spacey for the eagerly awaited new Superman movie Superman Returns (in which Spacey plays Lex Luthor). It is due for release in June. You can follow the progress of the film with video diaries on the BlueTights website.