Sunday, February 14, 2016

Three Films Make A Post: A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste

Abracadabra aka Loves of the Living Dead aka Heaven Wife, Hell Wife (none of which actually is a very useful title for the film at hand, but what can you do?) (1986): It’s a late 80s Hong Kong horror comedy, so you should pretty much know what to expect – weird slapstick, the frightening mating rituals of the late 80s HK movie youth, lots and lots and lots of blue, red and green light, dry ice machines running overtime, much running around and a barely discernible back story that could work for a ghost tragedy if the film cared to use it (of course it doesn’t). We also learn things like the fact you can get rid of ghosts with blow driers because they hate electricity (ghosts are radio waves, you see, and therefore allergic to electricity), meet a friendly ghost taxi driver who likes punk-style haircuts, and so on. It’s not so crazy it deserves its own blog entry, but there’s quite a bit of fun to be had with Peter Mak Tai-Kit’s film, and some rather stylish use of said traditional HK ghost colours to gawk at.

Harry Price: Ghost Hunter (2015): If you’re like me and could care less this isn’t even trying to be a portrait of the actual historical Harry Price, nor about an “actual” (cough) haunting, you just might appreciate this fine British TV movie for the clever film about truth, lies, belief and the unsuspected depths of people beyond their outward signifiers of “identity” for what it is. Sure, the haunting bits aren’t particularly creepy, but this is really rather a character based mystery that include the possible supernatural as something to put pressure on the characters, so it doesn’t need to be. What the film offers instead is more thematic richness than I expected going in, or as the film’s tone suggests, more Sarah Grey than Harry Price (which is a good thing), some deft ways to place the plot historically, and the typical high standards of acting and art direction of British TV period pieces.

The Oxford Murders (2008): When one thinks Álex de la Iglesia, one usually would not have in mind a film like this British/Spanish/French co-production based on a Spanish philosophical mystery novel that looks rather well-funded. Well, at least I would not. Which is a bit of a shame, because I did enjoy this one rather more than the shrilly screeching cinema de la Iglesia usually delivers. Turns out the man can build a mood, knows how to provide space for an actor like John Hurt (who has been doing wonderful work wherever he goes during the last ten years or so, as a journeyman actor in all the good meanings of the term, leaving behind class wherever he goes), can film long dialogue scenes without either feeling the need to show off how creatively he can film them or leaving his film feel draggy, and uses his senses of play and of the grotesque much more effectively when they are not the only tricks he has up his sleeve.

No comments: