2015.12.22 // Filed under: Screen
Beyond the Black Rainbow could be a good deal shorter; the final half-hour really tries the patience. It’s also a little too much in thrall of its influences (David Cronenberg’s films and Ken Russell’s Altered States for the most part, but also Carpenter, Argento, maybe even Boards of Canada and the video game Bioshock?) to stand on its own as a mindbending psycho-horror. But Panos Cosmatos’ debut feature at least steals from the best, while the villainous Michael Rogers steals this very picture with his malevolent presence.
The short version is that it’s The Searchers crossed with a ’70s cannibal flick. But there’s a uniquely primeval feel to Bone Tomahawk, a sense of things much older and unknowable that haunts our intrepid band of four frontiersmen (including Kurt Russell and Patrick Wilson) as they trek blindly into the territory of ghostly killers to rescue a number of their own. The horror aspects are oversold, I think, despite the occasional white-knuckle tension and gory violence, as S Craig Zahler’s film is much more a meditation on the wrongs of Manifest Destiny, and of men’s foolish pride getting in the way of common sense.
Did Spike Lee even see the original Oldboy? Or did he just read a vague synopsis and get Park Chan-wook confused with Takashi Miike? Because reading it that way is the only way this film makes any kind of sense in its own right. Gaping plot holes and glaring continuity errors aside, it’s entertaining in a fucked-up kind of way, Lee clearly having some fun in trying to outdo the nutzoid likes of Tarantino (and we know there’s no love lost between those two). But as a remake of a blackly comic thriller classic? Needless to say it’s an utter failure. Why didn’t Lee go with another title? It would’ve made a world of difference. Not that it would fix those plot holes, mind.
It doesn’t half meander, but David O Russell’s extremely ’70s confidence scam caper gets a lift from its eminently capable cast, from the main roles (Christian Bale in his ridiculous method get-up; Amy Adams glamming up the shop) to the minor players (Jennifer Lawrence lights up every scene she’s in, sometimes literally; Louis CK as a hapless Fed is understated comic gold). With any other assemblage of actors, I can’t see it working.
I know the term ‘fan service’ has a specific connotation, but it really should also apply to the chain of ostentatious geek references that pass for storytelling in Terminator Genisys. It’s a very busy film, that’s for sure, essentially a remix of the first two (the less said about Terminator 3 the better) but lumbered with so much jury-rigged franchise lore – for a franchise built upon a little low-budget sci-fi thriller with fundamental plotting flaws to begin with – that it collapses in on itself well before the mind-boggling final act.