The Hit

In 1984, director Stephen Frears hadn't made a feature film in 13 years; Terence Stamp hadn't starred in a film in over a decade; and Tim Roth had a single movie credit to his name. The Hit, a flinty crime drama that was anything but its namesake on initial release, finds these three itching to bust into the game, which, in no time at all, each did. Wearing its existential trappings on its sleeve, the premise of this overlooked gem is, appropriately, simplicity itself: four mismatched people in a stolen car have to get from point A to point B, in a journey fraught with predictable but no less delicious tension. Willie (Stamp) is a criminal informer destined for, yet oddly accepting of, imminent death; Myron (Roth) is a loose cannon thug-in-training spoiling for a fight; while Maggie (Laura Del Sol) seems innocent but harbors her own taste for blood. John Hurt's frosty assassin completes the quartet. The Spanish countryside through which they drive -- a disturbing reflection of the characters' equal interdependency and deep mistrust of each other -- radiates a barren aridty that calls to mind The Passenger, Antonioni's similarly philosophically minded road film. The promise exhibited in Stamp and Roth's riveting performances, as well as Frears's deft handling of internal dread and external violence, soon came to fruition. Within a year, Frears had made his career breakthrough with My Beautiful Launderette, while Stamp and Roth would soon go on to establish themselves as vital and durable screen presences (Hurt, of course, was already there). To anyone watching, The Hit already gave notice that they were ready, willing, and able to step up to the plate.

April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.