Saturday, February 11, 2012

Three Films Make A Post: in her eyes...DESIRE! in her veins...the blood of a MONSTER!

Gantz - Perfect Answer (2011): In the second Gantz movie (that in truth is the second half of one very long movie) Director Shinsuke Sato still ignores the fanservice part of the manga he is adapting, and concentrates on the characters and a lot of melodrama that's from time to time broken up by pretty fantastic fight scenes, as well as by a handful of pleasantly weird flourishes. The general tenor in reviews of the film seems to be that there just aren't enough of the fight scenes, but I really prefer the two tour-de-force set-pieces the film does have to the "more blood, more tits" approach; you know, there's nothing wrong with trying to stay classy. The problem the film has in my eyes is one of pacing - it takes a bit too much time to get going (and a bit too much time to actually end once the plot is over and done with), and then hasn't quite enough time left to develop the huge swathes of manga it has decided to adapt. I still enjoy the two Gantz films quite a bit more than most films of the blockbuster league, though.

The Black Sleep (1956): In theory, it must have sounded like a good idea to make a Gothic horror movie about the usual mad science stuff featuring Basil Rathbone, Lon Chaney Jr, John Carradine and a heartbreakingly ill looking Bela Lugosi. In practice, it's one of those films where most of the old stars are just carted out for a few minutes to remind the audience of better films, and the only one of them with a substantial role - Rathbone as the mad scientist - has the difficult job to not upstage Herbert Rudley too much while still acting like the prototype of Cushing's Baron Frankenstein.

The film's main problem is that there really isn't anything remarkable about it except for Rathbone's performance - the script is tame and lacking in imagination, Reginald Le Borg's direction is characteristically bland, and little happens that could not have happened in a film twenty years earlier in exactly the same way. "Pure retro" was an approach to art with as little power in 1956 as it has today.

Investigation Into The Invisible World (2002): I know, it's an incongruous position for someone like me, who always praises Werner Herzog's documentaries for their respect for even the strangest people and ideas, to take, but I find the same approach taken by Jean-Michel Roux talking to a bunch of eso crackpots and schizophrenics in Iceland pretty offensive. It might have something to do with Roux's visual style too, or rather the way he tries to turn Iceland into the cover of an Enya record (though at least the film's score by Biosphere and Hector Zazou is much above the Enya-level) using post-production effects so aggressively manipulative I was at first thinking something was wrong with my DVD player. To me, the whole project feels like kitsch with pretentions to be art, which is always the worst kind of kitsch as well as the worst kind of art.


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