SITGES PT. III: FROM COLD ROCK TO REMOTE LOCATIONS IN THE BRAIN

These two stories have nothing in common but just one remark: they are not bad films but I didn’t feel enthusiastic about them either.

I watched The Tall Man on Wednesday morning, after the suffocating and insane Antiviral, I needed something more dynamic , so it was ok. Aurora on the other hand, was the first one of the marathon, right after having a quick lunch while waiting in the queue, and I was lucky not having succumbed to the classic nap, because the dialogues in the original language were too monotonous, the rhythm was super slow, and the atmosphere was perfect for it.

THE TALL MAN, Pascal Laugier (2012)

I have to admit I expected much more from The Tall Man, having in mind its director Pascal Laugier had shocked  the audience in Sitges few years ago with the film Martyrs. This was the first time he directed an English spoken film supported by a remarkable budget.

Right before the screening of the movie, the attendants were given an amazing small book of the film, including the plot, press reviews, the cast and their roles introduced, how the crew was gather, so as the selection of settings. Very interesting and a nice (and expensive) gesture.

Things in the mining town Cold Rock, in Washington State, are rough. Not only unemployment and poverty strike the neighbors, but also the alarming amount of children disappearing in the area, as if abducted. Everybody talks about The Tall Man, it’s become a popular legend which terrorizes Cold Rock.

Julia Denning (Jessica Biel) is a nurse performing as the doctor in town, who happened to be her husband dead some years ago. She remainsthere even though she’s still seen as a stranger by the locals. She lives with her son David (Jakob Davies), and her friend Christine (Eve Harlow), who looks after the kid while she’s working.

One night an intruder breaks into the house to take David with him, but this “Tall Man” doesn’t know what Julia is capable of to recover her beloved kid. When she informs the authorities on the disappearance, some doubts and evidences point her as responsible for the disappearance of the children, thus she will have to carry on with reckless search for David, getting away from the locals at the same time. Eventually the truth will be discovered.

Pascal Laugier has explained that this project was born years ago, and was interrupted when he worked on the shocking Martyrs. This time he wanted to focus on a real subject as the source of horror, again the starting point is the abduction of children, but this time The Tall Man is a dark thriller. The director thought of Jessica Biel remembering her performance in Texas Chainsaw Massacre. She is an angel face but also has a very athletic body being great in action scenes, in which she tried to avoid being stunted, being more realistic.

It’s true that for most of time the audience is finding their own conclusions that are not valid due to the change of the events and perspectives. The most interesting aspect is that we always tend to identify and label the characters, the good guy, the bad guy…and here this labeling is not suitable till the end. Still, many characters are not relevant, if you pay attention you notice things valid for the final conclusions, but there are other aspects which could be omitted without affecting the final result. The initial plot is not bad, but the development is not convincing.

AURORA (VANISHING WAVES), Kristina Buozyte (2012)

Aurora was the opening film to the marathon at Retiro movie theatre. I didn’t have any idea of what it was about, just the mocking remark of a friend of mine saying he had read somewhere it was erotic.

So there I am, front-centered, ready to enjoy the experience of several movies in a row for about 9 hours, and curious about this Aurora. For no reason, the title was making me of Solaris, something very funny because in essence, the two hours of story were too Solaris inspired.

To start with, the main language in the film was Lithuanian (I thought it was Russian, quite similar and monotonous), with very few lines in English, included in the dialogues among scientists.

Lukas (Marius Jampolskis) has volunteered for a series of experiments consisting  of neuron-transfer transmissions in order to get some response from Aurora (Jurga Jutaite), a young beautiful woman, who is into deep coma after a car crash. The transmissions would be as if travelling into another dimension where Lukas and Aurora will star a secret love affair he will not report to his superiors, putting all the experiment into risk, and also the life of the patient. Of course these strengthened ties will bring out other feelings and situations completely unnoticed in the real world, up to a point all this will be negatively affecting both Lukas and Aurora.

The language, the rhythm, the story in a different dimension, the behavior of Aurora, the sound effects, the work with cameras… everything reminded me as an attempt to create a modern Solaris. It’s undeniable that Tarkovsky’s film was the main inspiration.

It was a rough film to start the marathon, dense, slow, a bit twisted, but the story was quite interesting. Erotic? Nah, you can see boobs, naked bodies and sensual scenes, but not big deal. There were these moments the actors try to create an ideal and allegoric scene of beauty, but the way they move ends up being quite of funny, lessening the effect. Definitely modest in the impact on the audience.

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