Archive for the ‘2000s’ Category

Who are you to kill my mom?

Dario Argento returns to the murderous nature of art and music in SLEEPLESS where a haunted musical instrument serial killer returns after years of silence. Max von Sydow shuffles through his scenes with an over-aged bumble. While excellently filling out the faulty memory of the retired inspector who first tracked the case, he has little to do and the pain of his affliction is inconsistently displayed. He remembers, then he doesn’t, its a flaw in the scripting more than anything else.

The Dwarf Killer is on the loose again, killing with cut out farm animals and using silly contrapasso means of dispatch. There are some fairly effective scenes of tension and gruesomeness, but the gore is fairly light. Plus the sheer meanness of the killer is not as pronounced. Which might have something to do with the fact that Asia Argento is played by  Chiara Caselli, in this one.

The lighting is not as richly artificial as other, more effectively disconcerting, Argento pictures. Nor are there many of the off-putting out of reality rooms or other spaces that establish so much of the nightmare dread. SLEEPLESS happens too much in the real world, which makes the problems with the plot and time line all the more glaring.  Still, the loose ends and red herrings aside, we have seen this solution a few other times in giallos, but it is a pretty good reveal in this one too.

Overall, I would recommend this a a fine giallo, but a mediocre Argento, easily skipped over.


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Iron Man is one of the more problematic Marvel superheroes. First, the character was intentionally designed, in the 1960s, as a character to challenge the young, liberal readership of Marvel comics. Conceived as a wealthy capitalist, brilliant womanizer, and linchpin in the military-industrial complex, Iron Man was meant to embody ‘The Establishment.’ Second, the character’s origin story, gives pause, since it reads more like one of a bad guy, a villain, turned insane by the wiles and pitfalls of his own genius. How many tropes in the villain-verse are convoluted contrapassos designed to expose and punish the dark heart of the impure and improper? Iron Man falling prey to his own genius and weaponry fits this Marvel cliché like a well worn glove.


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The Road

the Boy and his Papa's corpse on the beach

I am not sure where to begin to talk about THE ROAD.  I mean the audacity of attempting to re-imagine a Fellini?!

I liked the book a whole lot, its not as good as a Blood Meridian, but it is a tense and powerful novel. But what I love about McCarthy rests, almost entirely, in his ability to push to the edges of the narrative the gruesome reality of his brutal stories. What possibilities exist, do so at the loose frays on the edges of scenes and characters. McCarthy’s skill is in focusing the horror on the most mundane elements. The scene where father and son enact the house invasion, only to find the human cattle in the cellar will always stick with me, not for its brutal silliness, but for the abject horror that the father drops his zippo somewhere down there. The potential narrative arc of that lighter is devastating.

But the movie, by its very nature as a visual medium, needs to illustrate with a crisp and unflinching exactitude. As a result, the images are static. The ambiguity and desperation is only as effective as the faces, actions, or grime that can be shown. Add to that, the necessity of back story melodrama in the expanded role of the mother, and what results is a less morally elusive narrative. Instead what we are treated to is a sad mash up of science fiction conventions – shades of Road Warrior, survival porn, and the rich history of washed-out blues and grays of bleak dystopian films – and the power is stripped of its emotion, in its place is manipulation.

Everything that makes the novel good, ultimately failed the movie.


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