HOW I ENDED THIS SUMMER. Enjoyed this story of isolation, old and new Russia, survival, a psychological war of wills. Two actors and an old wooden weather station in an arctic landscape; sometimes films don’t need much more. It has a plot device that would be at home in an Ian McEwan story too. Also includes the most inventive keeping warm scene I’ve seen since THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.
A FIELD IN ENGLAND: I really enjoyed the film; sublime weirdness and suggestions of real dread in parts, and I liked the overall aesthetic. It’s intentional trippy disorientation was further enhanced by my own writhings in the sick tent. And few can conjure the sense of great occult power in a film, like Ben Wheatley can, which this film attested to. Though I thought less humour, or even no humour at all, might have better suited the subject and story. Grim fate, more of a sense of tragedy in a Bergman or Herzog approach would have been more to my taste (but that’s my taste). I look forward to watching it again (I’ve watched Kill List four times and a fifth viewing is brewing).
THE HUNT: Intense and terrifying (particularly for a man) Danish film about a difficult subject and the modern equivalent of Salem’s witch hysteria. Also a heartbreaker.
SIGHTSEERS: Genius. I think other fans of THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN will like this film as much as I did. Seems to be one of those blackly comic and absurd gems that is throttled out by the pressures of the British status quo and class system (and the quiet horror of each).
DARKNESS & FRAGILE: I recently gave in to my anal-completist instinct and watched the two Jaume Balagueró feature films that I’d not seen – FRAGILE and DARKNESS. Having been awed by SLEEP TIGHT, REC (1&2), and THE NAMELESS, seeing his other two features felt like necessity. And I enjoyed both of these films. Particularly DARKNESS, which had moments of the infernal that made the hair stand up on the back of my neck (echoes of Argento’s THREE MOTHERS trilogy; HOUSE OF THE DEVIL may also have been inspired by this film). Each film strives for a more general audience in story and setting than his other films (old children’s hospital and American family in Peril in their new haunted home, respectively), but the slow escalation of unease with infrequent flashes of the sinister, building to a critical mass busy with plot twists (that aren’t shit), revealed the quality of his vision. Even in a mainstream blockbuster (the intention, I think) he can define and distinguish the evil-uncanny in a way few others do. So although I frequently felt that I’d seen these films many times before, DARKNESS had a special quality that also under powers his other supernatural films: the suggestion of something “wise” and old and hideous, operating beyond space and time, but clawing to get over here with us … I could pull threads, but the ultimate weirdness of these films raises them above their modest, disparaging reps, IMO. The visual Gothic of his other supernatural films is in abundance too.