Sunday 2 January 2011

Hextuple Bill Mini Musings: December 2010 left overs...

The Descent: Part 2:
Neil Marshall's spelunking 'chicks with picks' claustrophobic nerve shredder was a truly wonderful piece of pin-sharp scare mongering, but annoyingly for the American release it had to have an 'up' ending (relatively speaking) ... or, rather than 'up', an ending capable of providing a sequel.

So here we are with a second part that brings in a bunch of American spelunkers, including one beligerant bastard of a Sheriff, and off we go again as the sole survivor of the first quietly goes along with the plan to head back down into the caves.

There are a few moments of nice scene setting, but there's no mystery here. The first had mystery, and it had build-up (lots of it), and most importantly it was nail-bitingly claustrophobic and provided a handful of proper scares. Sadly, yet entirely predictably, this unnecessary sequel can't beat Marshall's superior original, which should have always been a stand-alone affair.

Lost Highway:
Having been all about Twin Peaks for a few weeks, I figured I'd give David Lynch's surreal dose of disjointed nightmares another go - I say that because during my teenage years I attempted to watch it and gave up after half an hour. So a good ten-or-more years later I returned, determined to see it through to the end.

There's not really much of a plot, nor does it seem there is supposed to be one, so really it's a series of vaguely connected nightmares and nightmarish ideas. Like a blended mixture of shreds of various disturbed night's sleep. I much prefer Blue Velvet, but it was good to finally see this one through to the end.

The Bird With The Crystal Plumage:
Everything that Dario Argento is, does best, and does time-and-again, is exemplified during an early sequence in which an artist witnesses a mysterious attempted murder in an art gallery. Everything about this sequence summarises Argento's direction, writing, and attention to appearances.

Typically, the plot has its fair share of holes (particularly the typically last-minute-seeming twist), but Argento has never really been about having a solid plot. It's all about the carefully crafted design behind the camera of what is in front of the camera, and Crystal Plumage proved to be an involving muder mystery.

Deep Red:
Similar to Crystal Plumage, this gore-flecked murder mystery features an artist (a pianist) becoming fascinated by solving a murder, which becomes a series of murders, featuring a figure clad in leather gloves, a black hat, and a leather trench coat. Once again the plot isn't the main focus - it's the lush visuals and sheer design aesthetic - and, again, the twist reveal is all a bit hurried. However, once again, this proved to be a hypnotically good bit of giallo.

The Cat O'Nine Tails:
It's not really a horror flick, it's a murder mystery, that just so happens to feature moments of horror-movie-like crimson grue, and - you guessed it - aesthetic takes the driver's seat. The plot is a little more dense than either Deep Red or Crystal Plumage, and while I enjoyed it least of the three, I still dug the overall vibe.

Up In The Air:
Thank You For Smoking, and Juno, were both memorable comedies with an indie-ish vibe that stretched beyond the dull and banal traditions of many recent Hollywood laughers, and Up In The Air continues in a similar vein. The final act may prove less assured than the first half, which provides a strong central protagonist for George Clooney to sink his teeth into - a protagonist who is a bit of a narcisistic git who only cares about getting to 10 million frequent flier miles and being away from 'home' as much as possible. Yet, much to the quality of the script and direction, you never feel put off by this man - indeed you find yourself becoming fascinated, impressed even, by his carefully organised business travel life going from city-to-city sacking employees of various companies, whose bosses are too wimpy to do the deed themselves.

I really quite enjoyed it, and out of Reitman's two previous flicks, it feels more like Thank You For Smoking - with it's not-that-likeable-yet-still-likeable protagonist - than Juno, with it's face-punchingly-sarcastic high schooler.

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