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Now Playing: ANGEL HEART, THE PRIME GIG, THE SUM OF ALL FEARS

Mickey Rourke and Robert DeNiro in a neo-noir with a twist. Ben Affleck and Morgan Freeman in a Tom Clancy nuclear thriller. And Ed Harris and Vince Vaughn in a long con. It’s a roller coaster week of suspense, thrills, chills and twist endings here on Sundance Channel. Hang on to your hats!

Film noir has always been an aesthetic that reflects our darkest fears, and while the classic era of the 1940′s still gets the most talk (think DOUBLE INDEMNITY, FALLEN ANGEL or THE BIG SLEEP), noir has remained an important outlet for filmmakers to reflect our anxieties right up through today. The 1980′s saw more than its share of well regarded film noirs, including Joel and Ethan Coen’s BLOOD SIMPLE, David Lynch’s BLUE VELVET and this film right here: Alan Parker’s mix of psychological horror and the supernatural, ANGEL HEART. If you only know Mickey Rourke from recent work like THE WRESTLER, you’ll have a hard time believing this is the same actor.

ANGEL HEART, Thursday at 10P

Released in 2002 (but based on a Tom Clancy novel written well before), THE SUM OF ALL FEARS asks the question we’d all like to avoid: what if a terrorist got hold of a nuclear bomb? Ben Affleck plays Jack Ryan (the same character portrayed by Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford in earlier films), a young CIA analyst tasked with accompanying CIA Director William Cabot (Morgan Freeman) on an inspection of Russian nuclear facilities. A web of intrigue is opened up when Ryan notices that three nuclear technicians are unaccounted for. We can guarantee that you’ll be legitimately shocked at various points in this movie, although it’s also an interesting film to watch knowing that the real-world events of 9/11 actually occurred during its production:

THE SUM OF ALL FEARS, Sunday at 8P

The sleeper of the week is THE PRIME GIG, with Ed Harris returning to a form he last displayed in GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS. As the leader of a telephone sales scam, you can almost believe that he’s playing Dave Moss at his new job, and who wouldn’t want to watch that? Despite an all-star cast that also includes Vince Vaughn and Julia Ormond, this film was pushed out straight to DVD on September 14, 2001, at a time when America was in no mood to watch movies about salespeople and con men. 11 years later, it’s worth going back and taking a fresh look for the performances alone.

THE PRIME GIG, Saturday at 8P