Film Review: Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010)

Release Date: December 3rd, 2010
Directed by: Panos Cosmatos
Written by: Panos Cosmatos
Music by: Sinoia Caves
Cast: Michael Rogers, Eva Allan, Scott Hylands, Marilyn Norry, Rondel Reynoldson

Chromewood Productions, Magnet Releasing, Mongrel Media, 110 Minutes

Review:

“[while holding baby Elena and before submerging her into the black goo] Your mother’s reabsorption into the cycle of life won’t be for nothing, my darling, Elena. You will be the dawning of a new era for the human race… and the human soul. Let the new age of enlightenment begin!” – Mercurio Arboria

I really dug Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy, a film that sort of came out of nowhere a few years ago that in some ways, boosted and reignited Nicolas Cage’s acting career. I don’t think that it was long-lasting but his role in Mandy proved that the dude can still bring it and excel when given the right part in a movie.

Cosmatos only has one other film and, at this point, it’s already over a decade old. It’s been in my queue since I saw Mandy, however, so I felt like checking it out was long overdue.

Now having seen this, it’s a picture that I’m really split on.

From the visual side of things, it’s pretty close to a masterpiece. From a storytelling point-of-view, it’s pretty sloppy, slow, pointless and boring.

Visuals can salvage a film for me, sometimes. The thing is, there has to be enough meat on the other side of the coin for me to give an extremely artistic picture a pass on its weaker points. This one just doesn’t have enough to make me care about what’s actually going on in the movie.

This has a lot of really cool, bizarre shit thrown in but I don’t want to watch a movie just to see a surrealist painting in motion, I want to connect to it on a visceral level that requires me to care about what I’m watching and the characters within it.

This is one of those films that introduces cool but underdeveloped concepts and ideas but then never really tries to make it make sense. Sure, you can draw allusions based off of bits of dialogue and clues but when the filmmaker wants you to do all the work and see it in your own way, which I assume is the case here, I find that lazy and it makes me think that there was never a clear vision to begin with.

The entire film plays like a dream. You see and experience wild and cool shit but when you get through it and try to piece it together, it’s just a big blob of cool visual shit and a rollercoaster of mixed and underdeveloped emotions. You just think, “Well, I don’t know what the fuck that was about but it was kind of cool in certain parts.”

All that being said, I can’t knock the acting. It’s pretty good even if every character gives a severely understated performance.

Also, the music and sound were really neat and interesting. It added to the surreal effect of the picture quite well.

In the end, I didn’t just find this underwhelming, I also found it to be disappointing. However, I’d still check out whatever Cosmatos comes up with in the future.

Rating: 5/10
Pairs well with: Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy, as well as other modern overly surreal movies like Under the Skin and Enter the Void.

Film Review: Mandy (2018)

Release Date: January 19th, 2018 (Sundance)
Directed by: Panos Cosmatos
Written by: Panos Cosmatos, Aaron Stewart-Ahn
Music by: Jóhann Jóhannsson
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache, Bill Duke, Richard Brake, Ned Dennehy, Olwen Fouere, Sam Louwyck, Hayley Saywell

SpectreVision, Umedia, Legion M, XYZ Films, RLJE Films, 121 Minutes

Review:

“You are a vicious snowflake.” – Red Miller

Everyone is raving about Mandy. Most of the comments I’ve seen have painted this as a modern surreal horror masterpiece. Well, it’s definitely not a masterpiece but it was a serious mindfuck and pretty enjoyable.

It’s almost two movies though, perfectly split down the middle and broken into two solid hours.

The first half of the film is romantic, sweet and then very fucked up and disturbing. It tells the story of Red and Mandy, shows their love for one another but also brings in the evil Jeremiah Sand and his cult. Sand has an obsession with Mandy, after seeing her walking through the woods.

The second half of the film deals with Red, having watched his woman burn alive due to the actions of Sands’ cult, walk into the mouth of hell for a one man revenge killing spree. And as enchanting and mesmerizing as the first half of the film was, this is where shit really hits the fan and it’s a balls to the wall blood feast.

What makes the film so surreal is the mixture of it’s bizarre plot and evil characters along with the use of color, lighting and overall cinematography. This mixture of narrative and visuals makes this feel like early David Lynch meets recent Nicholas Winding Refn. It’s a pretty interesting marriage of styles but at the same time, that alone can’t carry a film and this thing is more drawn out than it needs to be.

There isn’t as much action as the trailer might imply but the action is pretty good where it occurs. This is a bloody film and it really hits a raw nerve in several places. But one could make an argument that this is style over substance. I won’t necessarily say that but I will point to the fact that the things I found most interesting weren’t really expanded on or fleshed out enough, in my opinion. I definitely felt like I needed to know more about Sand and his minions.

The film’s score by the late Jóhann Jóhannsson, this was his final film, was a perfect compliment to the film’s visual and dark allure. Jóhannsson’s work here magnified the effect of key scenes.

This is definitely a memorable film that I know I will watch again in the future but it isn’t so compelling that I’ll fire it up again anytime soon. I do, however, wish that I could have seen this on the big screen.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: Panos Cosmatos’ Beyond the Black Rainbow.