sixteen things tagged “suspense”

The Salesman (2016) IMDb A+

Saw with LD. This was our first Asghar Farhadi movie and it won’t be our last. Everything was magnificent: story, acting, screenplay, all of it. I remarked to LD that he managed to punch us in at least ten emotional centers in our hearts. So masterfully paced we didn’t feel two hours flow by.

Here’s a short clip where he describes his filmmaking process:

The hardest part is when the movie is done. When the movie starts to have its distance from me. When the movie is over I don’t show it to actors. Because they just look at themselves, and their opinion wouldn’t help me. I show it to some people who don’t have anything to do with cinema. Same with the script. I have the past script to the French teacher of my daughter.

When normal people see the film they can’t tell you what they feel right away. But while they’re watching the film you can sit with them and feel which part they are getting bored and which part gets them excited. The most important thing for me to understand after I am done with a film is that if my film is boring or not. I don’t like anyone to go out when viewing my film even if they have to go and pee. My film has to do something that they have to finish it and then leave.

I’ll watch the A Separation next1.

  1. Not that they matter too much but both these movies won Academy Awards for Farhadi. He refused to accept the second Oscar in person “out of respect for the people of my country and those of other six nations who have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the US.” If you didn’t notice when the movie was released: One guess as to which administration that happened under. ↩︎

Aranyak (2021–) IMDb B

Watched with LD. Decent attempt at Desi Noir in picturesque Himachal Pradesh1. Raveena Tandon is intense, vulnerable, and puts in good work as Kasturi Dogra. Great stuff by Parambrata Chattopadhyay, Zakir Hussain, and Meghna Malik. If Jeff Goldblum had a younger brother from an Indian mother, he would look like Indraneil Sengupta. The denouement was a bit rushed and left the door wide open for a second season presumably based on how well this one did. Watchable, predictable, enjoyable.

The wedding song was the laziest composition I’ve heard in a while (spoilers… maybe.)

  1. Really didn’t see the Mare of Easttown comparison and am irritated that, henceforth, any tough female cop character with domestic issues will almost always draw a comparison to Kate Winslet’s Mare. Lovely 🙄 ↩︎

The Lighthouse (2019) IMDb A

"Robert Pattinson said to me before agreeing to this, ‘I don’t want to make a movie about a magical lighthouse. I want to make a movie about a fucking crazy person.’”

Jess Joho, “What the hell did ‘The Lighthouse’ even mean?”, Mashable

Saw with LD. Noir, Jung, myth and mythology, Proteus, Prometheus, masculinity, sexuality, very large phallus, isolation, identity, lobster dinners, psychosis, mermaids, flatulence, alcoholism, omens, portents, songs, odes, the-father-is-the-son-is-the-father, Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

“Every Frame a Painting” and it somehow manages to be quite funny at times. Oh and this (emphasis mine):

Underneath the jargon and flatulence, the film is mostly concerned with identity.

Vinnie Mancuso, “‘The Lighthouse’ Ending Feeds Myth and Symbolism to the Birds”, Collider

Bravo!

Shadow of a Doubt (1943) IMDb A

Watched with CK. This was Hitchcock’s favorite movie:

This was my father’s favourite movie, and it was because he loved bringing the menace into a small town1, into a family that had never known any bad things happen to them. They adored this uncle. They just adored him. Yet they had no idea what he is like. The whole suspense of the movie is, “When are they going to find out?”

Patricia Hitchcock

And then there’s this exchange 🤣

CHARLIE
Oh, what’s the matter with you two ? Do you always have to talk about killing people?

HERB
We’re not talking about killing people.

JOSEPH
Herb’s talking about killing me, and I’m talking about killing him.

ANN
It’s your father’s way of relaxing.

CHARLIE
Can’t he find some other way to relax? Can’t we have a little peace and quiet without dragging in poisons all the time?

  1. The thick black smoke at Uncle Charlie’s arrivals is meant to be a bad portent. He uses this a lot. ↩︎

Us (2019) IMDb A

Excellent stuff again from Jordan Peele. Thought the first half was about slavery and lost identity. Wisecrack has a great video on the movie’s various interpretations.

The Wailing (2016) IMDb A

Saw with LD. Long, slow, visceral, beautiful, gory. Kept me guessing. Excellent stuff.

There’s a pervasive hush and sense of stillness that lingers over the region of Gokseong, and scenes of brazen, crazed madness are often preceded by shots of tranquil mountain vistas whose lush, thickly forested landscapes increasingly feel smothering and secretive. This is a film as beautiful as it is gory, as painstakingly scenic as it is committed to stark visual interplays between darkness and light.

All the while, the story of Gokseong unfolds in fits and starts, each puzzle piece more confusing than the last. Are the residents of the town being systematically poisoned with a drug that causes them to become frenzied, savage killers? Are they being cursed? Or is it both, and for what reason? Na’s writing layers tension upon tension, particularly through the escalating paranoia that each of the townspeople comes to feel for any and all outsiders.

However, answers are much harder to find in this film than accusations. Horror fans wanting a plot whose ending dovetails nicely with all the elements that preceded it may wind up feeling frustrated, though many more may be drawn into the heart of its darkness: the conviction that terror has come to this town and there is no escape to be had.

– Aja Romano, The Wailing is the most unsettling Korean horror film in years, but it offers more chills than answers

Hereditary (2018) IMDb A

Deeply upsetting. One of the best horror movies I’ve ever seen. Anthony Lane of The New Yorker on what gives it its potency

Should you want to measure the psychological disturbance at work here, try comparing “Hereditary” with “A Quiet Place.” That recent hit, for all its masterly shocks, is at bottom a reassuring film, introducing people who are beset by an external menace but more or less able to pull through because, as a team, they’re roped together with enough love to fight back. “Hereditary” is more perplexing. It has the nerve to suggest that the social unit is, by definition, self-menacing, and that the home is no longer a sanctuary but a crumbling fortress, under siege from within. That is why there are no doctors in Aster’s film, and no detectives, either, urgently though both are required; nor does a man of God arrive, as he does in “The Exorcist” (1973), to lay the anguish to rest. Nothing, in short, can help Annie, Steve, and the kids, and they sure can’t help themselves, stationed as they are inside their delicate doll’s house of a world. There is no family curse in this remarkable movie. The family is the curse.

The amazing Colin Stetson did the soundtrack which is somehow even more unsettling than Brian Reitzell’s Hannibal.

Update 25 Oct 2018: If this was a movie:

Ann Hamilton Horse Eye photograph