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MAY 13 — If you’re not as obsessed with the art and magic of film-making as I am, it’s actually very easy to mistake a good storyline for good film-making.
It’s one of the easiest misunderstandings one can make as a film fan because story and screenplay are the very foundation of every film and therefore most of us will think that it’s a major factor to consider when evaluating films.
But littered throughout history are great films where the story and screenplay are as basic as they come, yet they become special because of the artistry and skill of the film-maker.
Just check out Seijun Suzuki’s Branded To Kill or Tokyo Drifter to see examples of typical and basic scenarios turned inside out by the director’s mad usage of film language which produced two stone cold classics of cult crime cinema that still astonishes to this day.
Still, there’s nothing like a good scenario to mesmerise even the most casual of film fans because while not everyone can appreciate what an edit, a camera angle or a lighting decision can do to give meaning to a particular scene, anyone can appreciate a good story, especially if that story’s a high concept one.
And while genre films are beloved because of how beholden they are to the particular sets of rules and plot mechanics that make up their genre, once in a while we’re hit with a film so bold, so bonkers, so imaginative and, dare I say, so original (or fresh) that we need to sit up and take notice.
And so I present to you three new (or new-ish) films that might just fit this criteria; one of them is even set to play in Malaysian cinemas soon!
If you’re a genre fan, then the name Nacho Vigalondo should already be very familiar to you, thanks to his very imaginative body of work which includes Timecrimes, Extraterrestrial and Open Windows, not to mention his awesome segment in V/H/S: Viral.
With names like Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis headlining his latest film, you’d be forgiven to think that he’d be toning down his often outrageous high concept scenarios because with big names like that, this one is surely his bid for Hollywood.
But this may just be his most outrageously original and innovative film yet, which is part kaiju (giant monster) film and part romantic comedy, and that’s probably not even half the story.
This is the story of an alcoholic party girl who moves back to her hometown to sort her life out after being thrown out by her boyfriend, she meets an old school friend who obviously still has a crush on her.
As this is happening, a giant monster has been making random appearances in Seoul, destroying parts of the city and of course causing the deaths of many innocent people.
How all this connects and make sense I will leave you to discover for yourself. Suffice to say that when it comes to high concept and narrative invention, I personally think that Christopher Nolan has got nothing on Vigalondo, and that is not an overstatement.
Released on VOD right at the tail end of last year, and on home video about two months back, Abattoir might just be one of the most overlooked horror flicks in recent times because not only does it have a quite one-of-a-kind concept (which as any seasoned horror fan will tell you, is not something you encounter very often), but it’s also a tour de force of cinematic style, marrying the stylistic conventions of film noir with all the necessary menace of supernatural horror.
It’s a murder mystery where the mystery revolves around a mysterious figure who collects rooms (or parts of a house) where a grisly murder has occurred.
By “collect” I mean that this person buys the property, completely rips apart the particular room he wants, and puts the property back into the market afterwards.
Directed by under-rated genre veteran Darren Lynn Bousman (who did most of the Saw sequels, the Mother’s Day remake, and many more), this is a seriously slick and well-made horror flick that clearly deserves to be distributed widely in cinemas.
How it went by unnoticed the way it did, we’ll never know. But if you like horror, you really do need to see this pronto!
For someone who likes to pay attention to movie credits, be it the names of directors, writers, cinematographers and even producers, the name E.L Katz is one that almost always guarantees a good time in the world of US genre movies.
First making his name as the writer of Adam Wingard’s early films like Home Sick and Pop Skull, Katz (who’s now using the name Evan Katz) made an even bigger splash with his fantastic directing debut Cheap Thrills, wherein he expertly mixed the ingredients of your standard US indie crime thriller with a dark, twisted and almost perverse sense of humour.
He’s at it again with his second film, which again seems like your standard US indie crime thriller, this time about an ex-con trying to live on the straight and narrow after going out of prison.
But the more you watch the film the more you’ll realise that Katz is just one sick puppy, piling on the misery on his hero while also delighting at surprising his audience with the many twists and turns of his plot, and of course the great many hilarious deaths that play like awesome comic punch lines if they were jokes.
The sheer unpredictability of the familiar storyline is what will have you hooked to this small but very nasty gem. Inappropriately hilarious is what I’d say this film is.
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.