Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Three Films Make A Post: Prey. Slay. Display.

The Girl on the Train (2016): Tate Taylor’s thriller cleverly plays with the – often somewhat problematic – expectations his audience will have concerning female characters in thrillers, not only subverting these expectations and clichés but also making it a functionally important part of the plot.

Apart from this, the film is also recommended for the general flow of Erin Cressida Wilson’s script – that finds time and place to put a human face on characters who usually don’t get that honour, well, apart from the main villain, that is, but there’s just no way to do that for him without destroying the plot – as well as its brilliant leads in Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett and Rebecca Ferguson and for Taylor’s elegant direction.

Belladonna of Sadness (1973): Eiichi Yamamoto’s non-generic anime (if you take anime to mean all types of Japanese animations) is not just a trippy and heady mix of exploitation, enlightenment and pure weirdness but also a perfect way to recognize the po-faced traditional critic who just can’t recognize art when it’s not presented to him (and it’s invariably a him) in three hour slabs of equally po-faced movie directed by a director permanently in tears about the state of the world or by Fellini, and who always feel the need to reassure themselves they are following a deeply dignified path, where no jokes are allowed, and everything is horrible, and grey. Particularly grey. Why, yes, I looked at some of the reviews this type of reviewer gave this one with the new restoration, how do you know?

In other words, this is a film awesome, and beautiful, and bizarre, inappropriate, and bonkers, stupid, and clever, and exploitative, and sad all in equal measures, taking its art style seemingly from a pop art/LSD-inspired idea of Beardsley and running with that while supposedly adapting Michelet. One really rather watches this one than writes about it.

Ludo (2015): This Bengali horror movie directed by two guys going by the definitely not search engine optimized monikers of Q and Nikon is a curious mixture of the crude, the creepy, the highly generic and the original, as probably behoves a movie concerning the adventures four teens encounter with a cursed ludo variant in a closed for the night shopping mall. Visually, there’s quite a bit to like here, while the storytelling is more than just slightly awkward yet does get into my good books by combining the deeply generic and the locally specific to arrive at its horrors.

Tonally, there seems to be a heavy influence of 70s grindhouse cinema in play, mixed with some kicking against Indian cinematic taboos, and interesting monsters. This doesn’t add up to a particularly tense movie, but it is one that clearly goes its own way for its own reasons after a point, something I can’t help but respect.

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