Friday, November 4, 2011

Film Pairing — The Gruesome Twosome

Many of us find stories about hit men and women interesting. In Bruges is one of my favorites. But serial killers? Less so, I think. Perhaps its because hired killers usually involve interaction between evil and lesser evil. Maybe even murder with a moral purpose. We know why this person is being killed. Dexter is a serial hit man and, as such, seems to get some sort of exemption. He kills bad people. We can argue the morality of it. But serial killers, people who kill for unknowable or unimaginable reasons, are another story. If this kind of motiveless killing, this kind of random victim selection, this kind of darkness exists in human souls how can any of us imagine we are safe from evil? Ever? This makes many viewers uncomfortable.

If you are willing to cross that line, here are two dark, but dissimilar films with this uncomfortable premise. They promise an edgy night at home.

Mr. Brooks exemplifies the notion that a pillar of the community can have, for some unknown, perhaps unknowable, reason a desire to create art with death as the medium. Kevin Costner plays the killer pillar and Demi Moore plays the cop. Many twists and turns here. Some say too many. However, for me the 2007 film holds together. One fascinating twist is that the fastidious killer has an admirer, a stalker. I suggest you make this the first feature of the evening. It is gruesome, but far less viscerally so than the second feature.

Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt are magnetic in this extremely dark tale about a serial killer taking it upon himself to punish those who have engaged in one of the seven deadly sins. The cinematography is magnificently depraved — rain, dimly lit and distressed interiors. A general sense of rot, decay and despair permeate the film. And while Seven pretends to pose a certain philosophical question, the answer will certainly not cheer you up. The story is tight, well constructed and diabolical. The end, even if you should guess it, is ingeniously and disturbingly fitting. Released in 1995 and directed by David Fincher, the film also features Gwyneth Paltrow and Kevin Spacey.

What’s a good drink to accompany a night of serial killers? Something warming and reassuring, maybe. Cognac. By the end of Seven, you might want to move on to something stronger.

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