Sitges 2012 Dispatch: Subtitle Woes, and Jennifer Lynch's CHAINED
Here's what I know: The 3-D stop-motion animation in O Apostolo is gorgeous right from the first scene, which depicts two convicts running through labyrinth tunnels in hopes of escaping from prison. Both men talk quite a bit in these tunnels, and based on audience-laughter, I think that some of what they say is funny. That's about where I checked out, but, according to the plot synopsis, the man goes back to a town where he hid some stolen loot and encounters a bizarre array of crazy characters. Based on the visuals I saw and the plot synopsis alone, I'm going to go ahead and recommend this one, if you can find it in a language you speak.
I sat through all of Animals, which was in a mixture of Catalan and English, but I drifted off a few times because of both the language barrier and the incredibly comfortable seats in the main Sitges screening theater. The film is about a boy who is best friends with a walking, talking Teddy bear. Yep, I bet the release of Ted really bummed out director Marçal Forés.
But besides the talking bear, there's really no comparison between the two films. This bear speaks slowly in a Macintosh-sounding voice and isn't foul-mouthed or particularly witty. The film, from what I could tell, is a Donnie Darko-like adventure of sorts, only this time, the film is much more concerned with the passage from the imaginary world of childhood into the harsh realities of adulthood. The mood of the film was sensitive in a way that reminded me some of Mysterious Skin, but the subject matter was nowhere near as harsh. Anyway, fans of tragicomic coming-of-age films with a surreal twist should keep an eye out.
Jennifer Lynch's latest is a disturbing, unique take on the serial-killer genre which will likely stay with you for a few days after you watch it. Whether or not it ages well then, is a different story. For the most part, I don't have a lot to add to Kurt Halfyard's excellent review of the movie -- It's a deft, suspenseful balancing act of terror, bizarre family-dynamics and occasional dark comedy.
But then there's the twist ending, which indeed feels tacked-on and desperate, as Kurt mentioned. But beyond the fact that it contradicts the movie's tone, I felt like the twist actually made the rest of the movie lose some of its potency. The more I turned Chained over in my head, the more questions arose about character motivations that seem, to me, unanswerable. Scenes that originally seemed disturbing suddenly lost some of their power.
For me, it still didn't completely ruin the movie, as there's too much talent on display -- both from Lynch and the cast -- in the earlier scenes to completely dismiss. Still, it's disappointing after such a tense, assured journey into darkness, and you might enjoy the movie more knowing in advance that you're going to need to ignore the ending.
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