Saturday, September 03, 2005

In the City of Blinding Headlights

So I’ve been back in New York for almost a week now and even more embarrassing than my blog writing sabbatical is that I’ve only been to the movies twice. Once for my first viewing of the 1958 French film noir, Elevator to the Gallows directed by Louis Malle. An exceedingly entertaining crime story which was very interesting in terms of its clear influence on Goddard’s future forays into the genre that began as an American product appropriating a French title and soon became fondly emulated by the French themselves.

Yesterday I made it to my first contemporary release which happened to be the crowd pleasing and surprisingly critic pleasing, Red Eye. While I might have benefited by seeing it without high expectations from its high rating on, I still managed to find it to be an entertaining, campy, thrill-ride not unlike the similarly gimmicky Cellular, although not quite as fun as that self-consciously goofy beat-the-clock thriller. It’s more than a bit difficult to talk about Red Eye without giving away the fun of the element of surprise aspect so integral to the film’s enjoyment, much applause to Dreamworks for its limited teaser trailer.

Wes Craven wisely under directs the film and creates a great claustrophobic feel using limited and restrained camera moves, relying more heavily on aural stings in the soundtrack to illicit the occasional cheap jump in the film’s first and second acts. When we get to the third act and the film ventures into more familiar Craven territory, he manages to keep things fresh by quietly commenting on this fact with a fun vocal nod to Scream and a sly time-of-day reversal during the standard genre climax.

It’s also nice how heavily the film relies on the actors’ performances with large portions of the film feeling like a stage play, both a good and bad thing. Rachel McAdams naturally conveys a balance between sensibility and charm and fear and helplessness. Cillian Murphy relishes his role and looks to be having a lot of fun, especially when he is “going through the motions” required of his character toward the end. The supporting passengers are nicely handled and understandingly appear no more obtrusive than they need to be in order to serve their plot purposes.

Wes Craven also deserves recognition for dealing with very touchy subject material and manages to gracefully sidestep unpleasantness in a story housing a myriad of landmines.

Hopefully I’ll be able to fit in more movie watching and blog writing but with classes starting I may have squandered fertile opportunity in these past two weeks of inactivity but I’ll keep my fingers crossed for the weeks to come. If not I have some poorly written Silent film papers to coast by on if things become really dire.

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