Saturday, May 26, 2018

Three Films Make A Post: Stephen King took you to the edge with The Shining and Pet Sematary. This time......he pushes you over

Matchstick Men (2003): A film about con men seems to be a really weird proposition for Ridley Scott, for this particular genre thrives on the proper sense of timing and pacing, both not elements of storytelling many of Scott’s film suggest much understanding of. Consequently, the – terribly obvious if you’ve seen a couple of films from the genre – con part of the movie sputters and stops awkwardly, not exactly helped along by how bland the whole con is. Of course, this is the sort of film that thinks itself rather above the concerns of a proper genre film because IT HAS SOMETHING TO SAY! Alas, what it actually does say is neither terribly interesting nor insightful, so this bit does fall pretty flat too.

I’m also not terribly happy with the film trying to get most of its humour out of making fun of the mentally ill, as excited as Nicolas Cage seems to be to play this sort of thing. Doesn’t help much here that the jokes often just aren’t terribly funny.

El bar (2017): Which is also something that troubled me about Álex de la Iglesia’s comedic thriller about a group of people stranded in a bar with a deadly virus, all Man being the greatest monster of them all tropes imaginable locked with them inside, and a really stupid government conspiracy outside. The mix between comedy and thriller never quite worked out for me not just because the jokes aren’t funny (there’s only so many times you can laugh about a hipster beard), but because the characters are comedy characters – too broadly drawn to make the thriller and psychological side of the film convincing, a decent cast notwithstanding.
As an old pro, de la Iglesia does know how to stage this sort of thing competently and somewhat excitingly, but to my eyes, this is the plot of a forty minute short film stretched out to feature length by adding random clichés about how horrible people under pressure are.

Sisters of the Plague (2015): Jorge Torres-Torres’s New Orleans set mumblecore arthouse horror film (seriously) about ghosts, possession, and relationship troubles certainly isn’t generic, on the other hand. Given the mumblecore aspirations, its slowness (though unlike with Matchstick Men this seems at least the consequence of an actual directorial decision) and the film’s general air of conscious spurning of many filmic conventions, this one’s going to be hard going for many a viewer. I got something out of it – Josephine Decker, Isolde Chae-Lawrence and Thomas Francis Murphy certainly play their behinds off, and while I found the heavily metaphorical use of the supernatural and quite a few of its moments of purposeful sloppiness (it’s the mumblecore influence, I’m sure) not much to my taste, there’s a sense of place and an air of the Weird about parts of the film that I found at least fascinating, sometimes even riveting.

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