Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Three Films Make A Post: Watch. Learn. Don't have nightmares.

Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films (2014): If you’re like me, and going into Mark Hartley’s documentary expecting to learn anything more about Cannon and its films than you could via a Wikipedia entry, you’ll quickly realize you’ve come to the wrong film for that. This is nearly exclusively a series of chronologically sorted anecdotes and jokes as told by various talking heads once involved with Cannon. Some of the anecdotes are funny, and the film is well paced, but I can’t say I found myself all that riveted by this one, perhaps because I expect from a 100 minutes plus documentary to actually have something to say about its object, or because I found the large swathes of irony the filmmakers use to hide their own opinions about Cannon and what it was annoying. It’s a rather un-visual film too, with a lot of short, often decidedly random feeling clips from Cannon films breaking up lots of footage of interview subjects sitting in front of a black background, and very little reason for this not to be a piece made for the radio. But then, I’m quite clearly not the audience this was made for.

Last Shift (2014): Rookie cop Jessica’s (Juliana Harkavy) first shift as an actual cop is the last shift in an old police precinct, where she’s working a night watch job alone. Unfortunately, the station is haunted as all get out, and a past concerning a dead cult leader and Jessica’s own father just won’t stay buried. For most of its running time, Anthony DiBlasi’s satanic cult leader ghost movie (that’s a genre, right?) is a rather focused and effective little number. Sure, there’s a decided lack in originality on display, and the film has the tendency to throw in the whole kitchen sink of spooky phenomena but DiBlasi handles most of this stuff with enough aplomb it results in a rather entertaining, if not particularly new feeling, time.

Enter the Void (2009): I had avoided this particular void until now because most of what I had read about Gaspar Noé’s inspiring and self-indulgent head trip of a movie let me assume this to be one fast, flashy, loud, yet still very long piece of sensory overload.

It’s rather the opposite, apart from the sensory overload, though, the film winning its often dream-like quality through a calm and floating approach to, well, everything, Noé hitting the spot where a just ridiculously showy sounding visual approach feels rather natural, and like the only way this particular narrative could have been realized. The floatiness of, well, being dead, makes a fantastic contrast to the rawness of the characters’ emotions.

From time to time, particularly in the last third or so, the film does drift off into moments I don’t think are supposed to be funny yet are, pat Freudianisms make themselves known, and the silliest money shot never to have made it into a porn movie makes an appearance. Of course, Noé makes up for that with what looks like a deep compassion for some deeply messed up characters to me, as well as with the little fact there’s  little else quite like Enter the Void.

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