We have found another great Ruiz movie – the cinematography and music in this are not kidding around. Like La Flor, it opens with a diagram of the movie’s structure, then proceeds to blend some of Ruiz’s favorite things (pirates, painting, mirrors) into a meta-narrative folding in on itself. Death is extremely temporary here. Throw in some cannibalism and incest. And of course there’s a Ruiz film with morphing in it, why wouldn’t there be?

Guy Scarpetta in Rouge:

Here, the familiar features of Ruiz’s universe – parallel worlds, baroque uncertainties, telescoping of different times, co-presence of multiple spaces, deconstruction of characters, transgression of every parameter of classical narrative – are subject to an overflowing enthusiasm and gamesmanship … But we must not conclude that the film proceeds from the pure arbitrariness of an unbridled imagination. Quite the contrary, and this is the first great paradox to be emphasised: nothing, here, is left to chance … Nine narrative themes (in principle autonomous, heterogeneous) are posed as the raw material … the entire combinatory consists of making these cellular narratives cross each other’s paths, whether two by two or three by three, and also consecutively – each of these telescopings engendering, almost automatically, a specific narrative (one which logically implies that the characters can double or reincarnate themselves, leap time frames, and belong in several places at once).

High quality from the start, the rare perfectly-calibrated teen movie, best I’ve seen since Detention. The writers have watched Harold & Maude a couple times, but the teen sisters’ suicide pact and gruesome fake deaths pay off nicely.

Ginger is bitten by a wolf, which drug dealer Sam then runs over with his van, and now outcast Brigitte tries to save her sister’s life while Ginger makes the most of her new supernatural popularity.

Mimi Rogers nails it as their mom. Chris Nolan a big fan, cast both girls in Insomnia the next year – Ginger also did Bones and Freddy vs. Jason, and both returned for the sequels. Drug Dealer Sam is aka Revenge-Seeking Goth Ian from Final Destination 3.

The Roller Coaster Sequel. After the big funhouse setpiece, M.E. Winstead (the girl with hair like this) and her late bestie’s bf Kevin (a guy from The Ring Two Remake) survive, along with two goths (I’m about to see him in Ginger Snaps, she was in a Queen Latifah movie), a jock (Texas Battle of Wrong Turn 2), and two girls named Ashley who will soon die in cranked-up tanning beds, leading to a great edit to their coffins. Winstead figures out the pattern just quickly enough to find each person moments before their deaths, while being stalked by a goth, until something happens, I forget what, and they all think they’ve escaped, until a haha coda on an NYC train.

Our heroes, too late to save the jock:

Little sister Julie in front of a Carolyn Mark poster:

Very funny and enjoyable movie, obviously a must-see motion picture, but it loses something – part one was original, and part two carried a previous character forward and developed the idea, but then this is just part one again, almost a remake, the previous movies only existing diegetically in a web search jumbled in with 9/11 conspiracy theories.

Maybe unwise to watch two Stephen King movies in a week, but what’s wise about SHOCKtober? This movie is famous for its incredibly bleak ending (survivors are mercy-killed before discovering army is defeating monsters), the main change from the book, which is incredibly bleak in a different way (humanity loses).

Man vs. Tentacle:

Thomas Jane (lately of Shane Black’s Predator) is a poster artist working on a Dark Tower cover, going into town with his son and prickly neighbor Andre Braugher (of a Salem’s Lot remake), becoming trapped in a grocery store by the mist and its monsters. But the thing with The Mist isn’t the monsters, it’s everyone in town who hates each other suddenly getting trapped in a confined space and unloading their baggage. Got a real TV movie feeling despite all the pedigrees. Darabont’s still in gee-whiz period-piece mode in a modern setting, and all the theatrical on-the-nose dialogue doesn’t help. Performances are still a leg up on Langoliers (as are the digital effects, but that’s a very low bar).

Woman vs. Insect:

Little Billy followed this up with The Dark Knight, then a starring role in Joe Dante’s The Hole, not bad. Laurie Holden (Pyewacket) is the teacher who takes care of the kid while TJ works on becoming the hero of the story. Store Manager Robert Treveiler (the Richard Chamberlain Night of the Hunter remake) tries pulling rank, townie William Sadler (running the trifecta after Green Mile and Shawshank Redemption) tries to out-tough-guy TJ. Hard to keep track of every character as they quickly fall to bugs or suicide or murder, but the beardy hick dude who aggressively follows whatever’s the worst idea going around is veteran of terrible sci-fi/westerns Buck Taylor (Cowboys & Aliens, Wild Wild West, Timestalkers). There’s only one gun and Toby Jones claims to be a crack shot, so in a rare display of good sense, the group hands it over. He’ll eventually use it to kill Marcia Gay Harden, who starts raving about the apocalypse and demanding sacrifices. It’s cool that TJ recognizes early on that loud Christians are dangerous, though the movie’s overall theme seems to be having no faith in humanity.

Wasn’t kidding about the Dark Tower cover:

“Dad, I’m worried about you. You need to get back into biotech research.” Gotta give it up to Shinya for making the same exact cyberpunk movie for the fifth time. Diminishing returns, but once again a guy finds himself hulking out, turning into a machine.

Desaturated greys and browns except for a few popping colors. It’s in English; the dialogue and the plot being spelled out more explicitly are both weaknesses. When the action comes it’s prolonged and incoherent. The soundtrack is more pounding than ever. The clean HD photography clashes with the jittery underground lo-fi intentions. I did not hate it.

Hulking-guy’s son is run over by Shinya. He learns he was born from an android replica of his dead mom… he gets blasted by a hitman, also shoots himself in the head and lives… tetsuos a few city blocks. I wrote “I think Shinya wanted to be a suicide cult leader,” but I don’t know if I meant the director himself or the character he’s playing.

Opens with Stephen McHattie’s young partner Billy killing a kid. These actors would reunite in Tarsem’s Immortals with John “no relation” Hurt.

Their fatal visit to Viggo’s diner plays hell on the family. Son Jack (a punk drummer in the Germs biopic) goes from self-denigrating violence-avoidance to kicking asses in the school halls. You don’t see wife Maria Bello much even though she gave the best performance of 2005… she was in Prisoners and some recent crappy horrors.

Ed Harris shows up the very next morning calling Viggo “Joey,” stirring up trouble that’ll get him and his boss (oscar-nom William Hurt) killed. Not pictured: Sheriff Peter MacNeill, one of the Crash-ers.

Loner sailor Farrel takes shore leave when his gigantic ship docks in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, and sets off to look for his mom. He catches a ride to his family’s town, drinking heavily, passes out in a shed and is carried to the family home, where his dad berates him. Mom is alive but far gone, doesn’t recognize him. He gives a younger girl (Scope says this is his abandoned daughter, not a little sister like I’d thought) some money and a souvenir trinket, then “I’m off,” but the movie stays with the girl. Minor evolution from the laboring guy in La Libertad to the journeying (and daughter-seeking) guy in Los Muertos, but it barely can predict the new textures of the (journeying, daughter-seeking) Jauja (and I haven’t caught up with the movie theater-set Fantasma).

Alonso in Cinema Scope 36:

Liverpool is the result of throwing the ingredients of Fantasma into La Libertad and Los Muertos … I think that simply filming someone is the best way to demonstrate what I think about the human being – about his lack of communication, his isolation, and his incomprehension about himself and the world … I’m very interested in describing characters’ environments. I think that these environments may even be more important than the characters themselves.

Camille is home during WWI waiting for her man, and when he sends a letter telling her to stop writing, she cuts her hair short and sneaks out of town, hoping to blend in with soldiers while tracking him down. She joins an increasingly suspicious troop company – turns out they’re deserters heading to the Belgian border, and they have a habit of pulling out makeshift instruments and singing a continuing song about a blind girl. The men get sick and fall in holes and hide in caves, she helps by killing a lookout guard, she admits her name is Camille but they continue thinking she’s a boy, somehow.

I was right to think this would pair well with A Very Long Engagement. She is Sylvie Testud (in Vengeance, stars in La Captive) and her man, who appears at the end, is Guillaume Depardieu (the same year he was very good in Don’t Touch the Axe). A European Barn Owl can be seen – and heard – towards the end, which gains the movie an automatic half star, but it doesn’t need to kiss up to me with owls, I was already charmed. On letterboxd it looks like nobody loved this, so now I guess I’ve gotta see his other features, which nobody also loved.

This was the end of a successful Cannes Fortnight, in which I watched a bunch of movies I’d never seen by directors who had new work premiering at Cannes: Serge Bozon, the Dardennes, Claire Denis, Hlynur Pálmason, Cristian Mungiu, George Miller, Sergei Loznitsa, Jerzy Skolimowski, and David Cronenberg.

From Sammo Hung to Jeffrey Lau this week. After Eagle Shooting Heroes, Lau made a two-part Journey to the West with Stephen Chow called Chinese Odyssey, and a few years later, this movie has… no relation to that one – probably just a U.S. distrib capitalizing on name recognition. Heroes was produced by Wong Kar-wai, featured cast from Ashes of Time which was being shot at the same time, and jokey references to the Wong film, which ended up releasing later than the would-be parody because Wong spends years in the editing room. These two buddies have not learned their lesson, repeating the same trick here with 2046, which wouldn’t come out for two more years. Besides the Wong refs (also a Days of Being Wild joke, and people being precise numbers of meters apart) it’s got really good music, overall a snappy action-comedy.

Princess Faye Wong escapes the palace, in part by smashing through the gate with her head, pursued by Emperor Chang Chen. Meanwhile, Tony Leung is the most hated man in his small town, obstructing business to his beloved sister’s restaurant (she is Zhao Wei of Three and Red Cliff) while trying to find her a man. Each sibling couple falls for their counterpart, and it looks like things will work out until the Dowager Empress Rebecca Pan (Maggie’s landlady in ITMFL) denies the marriage to Tony, and Princess Faye goes mad. As usual in Chinese movies, everyone mistakes the two lovely women for men, but this goes even further, becomes a genuinely transsexual movie when Tony and the Princess swap roles at the end.

Chang and Zhao being weird:

Tony and Faye in trouble: