Thursday, May 28, 2015

Film Pairings  — Heading Out On The Cinema Back Roads

I have no problem with well-made mainstream, even formula films.  I like a few hours of pure escape from time to time.  I think Indiana Jones is one of the greatest B movies ever made, for example. But as regular readers of this blog (both of you) know, I also like off-the-wall cinema. Though I’m not attracted to gratuitous violence sex or blood and guts, I like taboo topics and quirky themes, and I especially like psychological thrillers.  What I expect though is what I’d expect from any good film — fine acting, a compelling story and professional though possibly unusual cinematography. The movies in the double feature I comment on here will make some squeamish, some flummoxed and some angry.  So, having read this, watch the films at your own risk.

Several posts back I posted film commentary on films by Joseph Gordon-Levitt called “A Thousand Shades of Crazy.” Eddie Redmayne, like Gordon-Levitt, is now a certifiable top-list actor. Though their charms are different, both were fiery comets from the beginning, often playing deeply troubled young men. I reviewed one of Redmayne’s early films in this post.  Here are two other of Redmayne’s early works.

Tom Sturridge And Eddie Redmayne
Murderous Intent:  There is a sense that the bones of the drama are vey much like the current glut of mythical/romantic tales of vampires and legends and destiny and castles and blood. Tom Sturridge, in this British boys’ school drama, is cast as either a crazed loon or a descendant of an ancient tribe who must occupy his contemporary counterparts’ mind in order to realize the myth. That mind belongs to an already troubled schoolmate played by Eddie Redmayne.  It is destiny. Or it’s murder.  And the police have Redmayne’s rebellious character under arrest for the deaths of three likely killed by the eerie Sturridge character, including the eerie Sturridge character himself. Toni Collette helps steady the film as a valid crime drama despite its not quite integrated medieval roots.  She plays a forensic psychologist trying to help homicide sort things out. Gregory Read directed this 2006 film that, other than Redmayne’s extraordinary performance, needed a good bit more sorting. Setting this modern story against a Gothic boarding school background kept reminding us of the murky subplot. But for those up for a bit of a challenge, Murderous Intent, also known as Like Minds, is worth it. And it’s quite possible that the murkiness is a product of my own murky mind.

Julianne Moore And Redmayne
Savage Grace: This is a true story, though there is some dispute about some of the scenes. However the film about the heirs of the Bakelite fortune – the incest and murder aspects, anyway — is purportedly accurate. Redmayne plays the dangerously schizophrenic son of an absent father and a clueless mother, played by Julianne Moore. The film was based on the book of the same name, written by Natalie Robbins and Steven M. L. Aronson.  It was directed by Tom Kalin, and released in 2007. Kalin also directed Swoon, another psychological thriller based on a true story.

Many will find the two films add up to a disturbing evening  — each film for different reasons.  However, those viewers who appreciate masterful performances need to look no further than Eddie Redmayne and Julianne Moore.

To have at hand during the evening if you’re staying in might be some hearty red wine for the first of the two features. Because we move to a sunnier climate (and fewer clothes) for the second, maybe a white wine from Greece or Portugal. My new personal favorite non-alcoholic drink is merely a chunk of lemon or lime with tonic.

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