Thursday, June 26, 2014

Mind Control

Kafka (1991) - Soderbergh
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It's a pleasure revisiting Kafka, Steven Soderbergh's sophomore effort, after so many years. It tells a conspiratorial plot involving nebbish insurance clerk, Kafka (Jeremy Irons), discovering more than crippling bureaucracy behind the walls of 'the castle'. It involves mind control and a mad scientist.

Soderbergh gets the look and feel right, shooting it contrasty/grainy B&W then adds some color to accentuate the surreal nature of it all. Jeremy Irons is too proper and too erect to come across as a sickly eccentric. But if you could get fucking JEREMY IRONS on your second movie to play KAFKA, who could say no?
Teressa Russell is unbelievably hot as a sultry eyed revolutionary and always dependable Ian Holm pigeonholes himself again as the mad doctor/tool of a bureaucrat who finds kinship in Kafka's writing, regarding it as the future he envisions.

Opening sequence:


The Prisoners (2013) - Villenvenue
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I give Villenvenue is a very capable filmmaker - he is very good at creating moody, high tension atmosphere with some help from Roger Deakins. As I expected, The Prisoners is an overwrought, heavy handed thriller where coincidences and little clues all neatly line up at the end after series of red herring. Where Zodiac- another calculated, clinical exercise from David Fincher succeeds in understatement while maintaining incredible tension, The Prisoners collapses in its own weight. Paul Dano (playing dimwit again)'s unjust imprisonment makes you feeling disgusted, but what's the endgame here, since it becomes less of a focal point? Comeuppances, moral judgment and punishment are easily predictable. All it needs is a Wagnerian score to top it off. Too bad really, because Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman are superb in this.