Saturday, April 21, 2012

Three Films Make A Post: GHOULISH! GORY! GHASTLY!

Drive (2011): Well, I doubt anybody needs me to fall in with the chorus of praise for Nicolas Winding Refn's film; its class, the excellence of Ryan Gosling's (with the rest of the cast certainly not to be ignored) performance and the quality of Refn's direction are self-evident. What isn't as often mentioned when talking about Drive is how perfect a fit Refn as a director is for adapting a James Sallis novel (despite the changes). Both excel at telling sparse seeming, yet complex stories who only look minimalist when you're not looking at them closely enough. Both men's work reminds of poetry, if you can imagine poetry that's as shockingly and horrifyingly violent as Drive becomes during its second half. I don't generally call films masterpieces (because I don't believe in them or the canonical order in art their existence implies), but with this one I'm really tempted.

Oculus: Chapter 3 - The Man with the Plan (2006): Despite its awkward title, Mike (Absentia - my write-up of that film will be coming up shortly) Flanagan's short film about a man (Scott Graham) haunted by his demons, a white room and an evil mirror is a really excellent piece of work. Tight, weird with a capital W, and as dynamically directed (and edited) as anything taking place in a single room - and, one could argue one person's mind - can be, it's the sort of thing I'm bound to enjoy. It's also the sort of thing that could only work as an independently produced short film - adding anything to it on a budgetary level or in the number of script pages would only reduce the film's tenseness and focus.

Red Balloon (2010): Another short film (available to see here), but of a very different style than Oculus. This film about the dangers of babysitting is slick in a Hollywood way where Oculus seems more personal, pushing all suspense buttons with professional care and craft. Actually, it's the sort of short that seems made as a demonstration that yes, one can be trusted with money for a larger production, and less because there's a story to be told for which the short format is ideal. It's hardly the fault of the two directors I'm temperamentally inclined to find exactly such a thing very, very boring, even if it is very, very well crafted (which Red Balloon is).


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