Tuesday, October 7, 2014

THAS 2014: DJINN WATCH 2014 - Fabio Zanello Reviews DJINN

Italian film critic and writer Fabio Zanello, who has penned a volume on the films of Hooper in 2001 in his native language, has reviewed DJINN on the film website CiaoCinema.

 "Il cinema di Tobe Hooper" by Fabio Zanello

I link to his thoughts on EGGSHELLS at the same film site in the "Compendium" page near the bottom.  About DJINN, he imparts generally positive thoughts about this "family psychodrama [filmed in Dubai] with local actors."  He makes note of the use of the architecture of the highrise building and Hooper's mastery of such aspects, although claims the overall film would "take less frantic editing to be another masterpiece of the director."

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Scenes from The Dark, #2

2nd installment.  This series going in chronological order.

The camera in revolution around two newscasters.

The post-newscast.  Contained all in one shot.  The camera revolves, then devolves.  The anchor partners reveal their relationship: warm, conducive, nurturing.

Zoe (while unplugging her mic. Curt and wanting the truth): "Well?  How was it?"
Jim (telling it to her, to the best of his abilities): "It was good... it was good.  Relax."

The Dark, a film about professionals doing their best (even as they fail or undermine themselves).

The camera devolves.
(Pulls backward.)

 Jim: "Uh, what's the father like?"
Zoe (shaking her head): "Couldn't reach him."
Jim (shaking his head): "That could be tough..."

The purpose of the devolution reveals itself.  We were removing ourselves from the realm of the presenters before the camera (that realm and its energy captured initially by the "camera in revolution") to the "devolved realm" of the technical slaves, who devote themselves to furnishing the (well-intentioned) egocentricity of media broadcast, having the know-how to do the actual recording and actual transmitting.

The devolved realm: the cameraman winds down and dismounts his camera, a B-camera strolls in in choreographed tandem.

 Zoe (picking up the conversation; protesting): "Jim, violence was my angle."
 "Dupree makes his living off of violence!"
 "I read one of his so-called novels, it was nothing but..."
 "... blood, and guts..."
"... and vicious stories of the occult."
 Jim (again, only wishing to tell the truth): "It was still rough on Dupree."
(He stands.)

Cardos's camera, previously still, booms ever slightly upward in a complete, rigid verticality, a regimented camera-mimicry of Jim's very motion.

Jim (over Zoe, to the third anchor): "Kenny, we'll be right back."

 Zoe (maintaining her sense of self-righteousness): "I'm sorry for his daughter."
 Jim: "You saw the girl?"
(Zoe nods silently.)
 Jim: "Hey, look, Zoe..."

Jim goads her, but with no mean-spirited or even condescending, chauvinist edge.

Cardos's camera has followed them out of the TV set and past the cameras, and he has directed the actors to stride briskly in the direction of the camera, forcing it to backtrack even more - caught in their fervent, self-involved path.

 "... you could always go back to doing fashions on Beverly Hills."

 While at first, they were walking forth at a slight angle along the camera...

... soon enough they are directed to walk essentially in a beeline straight towards the camera.

And with that shift in directionality, Zoe says her climactic line of professional resolve, in a film where professions make the persons.

Zoe: "Nothing's sending me back to the minor leagues."

 Jim: "All right."

Jim's "All right" is a pragmatic, agenda-less affirmation.  It sends this amiable scene off just right.

The camera stops in its tracks to allow for its two professionals to overcome it, whilst splitting ways, to suggest two people certainly independent, certainly at different points in their career.

Cathy Lee Crosby's steely 100-yard gaze fuzzes as it breaks into the foreground and forever past the camera (think Gloria Swanson at the end of Sunset Boulevard, another shot depicting a person in a mix with professional ambition).

The two partners - colleagues, supporters - still part ways, as the life of professional pursuit is more often than not a solitary and self-made one.

A crowning moment of cinema as a wry, whimsical thing.  A moment of character and pointed thematics aided by a presentational long-take shot and the way the camera itself is used to cleave two characters in the creation of strident and loquacious visual metaphor.  The invisible camera?  I think not!

Never has a camera been so not invisible... as to stage a scene so as it literally comes between two actors, whilst they are still on-camera!  The camera knows what's up: in the world of the media, the presenters and the camera are always cohabiting.  This scene in The Dark makes perfectly clear the two levels of cameras at play.  The film camera can make poetic the television one.  The two TV presenters try their best to ignore it (the non-diegetic film camera), but it gets what it wants out of them: splitting them up in a moment of perfect cinematic image.

Cinema, for a brief moment, denuded of that most contrived of narrative devices, the character (see below): a moment of pure cinematic image.