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|Index||34 reviews in total|
I would give this movie about a 6.5 out of 10. It is entertaining, the
central plot is somewhat original, and I was a fan of the
cinematography. It's rather visually appealing.
That being said, it was definitely not all that I'd hoped for. One of the other reviewers said the filmmakers thought they were making a smarter movie than they actually were, and I have to say I agree with that. The plot concept and the idea of anamorphosis is rather original and has a lot of potential. Yet I feel as if the filmmakers thought that this concept was SO ingenious that they didn't need to develop other parts of the film. The back story, for example, is explicated through memories and conversations so that the past is never wholly or even adequately revealed to the audience. What's worse, the character development is completely lacking. Willem Dafoe, who acting-wise does a nice enough job, reveals certain attributes about his character in very subtle ways. The rest of the characters, however, are pretty one-dimensional and used strictly as plot devices. And, as is common in film, the police work done in the film is a bit illogical.
All and all, the film is all right. I'm a big fan of psychological thrillers and I was certainly on the edge of my seat for a great deal of this one. It's pretty instantly gratifying, but if you take a few minutes to think about what you just saw, you might see some of the flaws I just mentioned.
PS - for those of you who are squeamish: there is little/no actual violence, but plenty of gross dead bodies.
Willem Dafoe is a troubled detective who is now teaching at the police
academy. Years earlier he helped solve a series of murders that were
laid out like works of art...especially when seen from a specific
location. When a frisky couple knock into a door in their building they
unknowingly step into a crime scene that once again has echoes to the
earlier case. Dafoe is called in to take a look and it soon becomes
clear that the killer is intent on bringing him into his ghoulish works
I want to say this is Saw for the art set, but its not quite that. To be certain the murders are gruesome and very clever, but this film aspires to be more than a catalog of death and destruction. For the most part this is a good little thriller about a troubled man searching for a unique killer that he doesn't want to deal with since its opening too many doors he wants to keep closed (Dafoe's character is an odd duck. Points to the filmmakers for giving us a very odd man for a central character). For most of its running time I really enjoyed the film. The problem for me was that the ending didn't really come together. The film ends but it isn't really resolved, which considering how it ends makes sense but left this viewer (and my dad) going, thats it? It was a disappointment.
The real question is is the film worth seeing? Actually yes. The murders are unique and the film keeps Dafoe's character is worth seeing. I don't know if I had paid 11 bucks to see this on the big screen I would have been so forgiving, but on IFC in Theaters on cable it was worth the time.
6 out of 10 (because of the flat ending)
When it comes to cinema there's nothing I like more than stumbling
across an independently made film with an intellectual story, an
interesting cast and a fresh director. Anamorph is a psychological
thriller that ticks all these boxes and combines them with a great
premise, the only problem here is that the premise has been poorly
executed. Directed by the up and coming Henry S Miller and starring
William Defoe (an often underrated, but favoured actor of mine),
Anamorph tells of a weathered Detective called Stan Aubrey, Defoe, who
is assigned a homicide case that bears incredible similarities to a
case he undertook five years previous. The film is based on, and gets
its name from, the concept of Anamorphosis. For those that are unaware
this is a technique of painting, employed during the Renaissance
period, in which the artist manipulates the laws of perspective to
create separate images on a single canvas.
The psychological thriller is one of the most difficult genres to pull off as in order to live up to itself the film will require an immense amount of concentration in both writing and direction to keep the viewer intact whilst simultaneously not boring them. Anamorph does itself no favours by utlising cliché storytelling techniques so often associated with this type of film. Examples are the ageing detective, a sombre piano score, stark lighting, mysterious strangers and the elaborate death scenes. Instead the film merely regurgitates past offerings, the obvious being Seven, Kiss The Girls, and the more recent Zodiac and combines them with yet another take on what makes a serial killer tick. Unfortunately the only thing that kept me compelled during this film was Defoe. His rendition of a troubled and obsessive detective ridden by guilt and heartache was very good, and would have been better if had not had been for the poor script. There are many problems that lie in the writing of this film, one of which is that the audience is deprived of any real character development and another is that it has poor dialogue (certain scenes had me cringing - they could have been penned by a child), the banter between some characters was clearly there to further the narrative which usually isn't a problem providing it is unnoticeable.
The direction and cinematography of the film were good, and the manner in which the flashback scenes of the previous case were arranged were both artful and creative as they alluded to dripping, the very process of either dripping blood or paint onto a canvas. The minimalism of Aubrey's apartment and the discussions on art that took place in the bar were very well directed and filmed. These scenes are probably the best of the film as they complement his character's bleakness with a muted aptness of style. The director's ability at portraying the concept of Anamorphosis was also good, although the fact he had to use a metallic coffee mug to further the plot and employ pretentious final visuals did taint a somewhat overall good effort. Furthermore, the elaborateness of the death scenes harks to the film Saw, but Anamorph is nothing in comparison - yes it is more intellectual and challenging but in this instance that doesn't make it a better film.
Finally, I feel that Anamorph should have been a much better film. Its basic idea, of a serial killer utilising a largely forgotten painting technique as his means of disposing his victims, is both fresh and original. However upon viewing it, the overall feeling is that the film was rushed and that it was hastened to release. There is no doubt that the film has been poorly written and, regrettably, when a film is poorly written it is much better to have a good and experienced director at the helm as only then will it at least stand a chance of being salvaged. Anamorph has failed to better itself from the indolent script it began with. Usually I feel that too many writers can ruin a film but here I feel that more were needed to treat the initial idea with the respect it deserved.
I just had the amazing pleasure of seeing the world premiere of
Anamorph (and met Willem Dafoe, Henry Miller, and Marissa McMahon) at
the Oriental Theater in Milwaukee WI. All I can say about this film, is
that it is a brilliantly and "artfully" filmed movie.
First, please discard any first impressions that this movie has anything to do with high schoolers morphing into animals. It does not. The title is based on the art concept of Anamorphosis, a technique that creates two different visuals on one piece.
Initially, I did not expect this movie to be that great. Mainly because I had never really seen a movie with Willem Dafoe as a lead actor, and because most thriller movies that have come out lately are all the same. I was terribly wrong... I think he is the only one that could have played the obsessive compulsive and guilt ridden cop he is. I found myself completely drawn in by his character throughout the whole movie. The film itself is shot in beautiful blue highlights, and includes extremely interesting transitions in the opening credits! The movie is compelling, terrifying, and extremely smart. There were scenes that made any of the Saw movies look like child's play, and I was literally was on the edge of my seat for most of the movie.
I highly suggest this movie to anyone that loves any type of thriller, horror, or detective movie, because frankly, I think this is one of the best and smartest I've seen in awhile!
This movie is great up until the ending. The cinematography is great,
the acting is top-notch and the plot and storyline keep you guessing
and on edge till the end.
The end is a terrible let down for an otherwise superb production. Its like they ran out of ideas and money at the same time. Or maybe there is a producer to blame.
I would definitely recommend watching this movie even with the poor ending. I was reminded several times of the movie S7ven. Willem Dafoe's character is extremely meticulous as was Morgan Freedman's character. Other common elements: Both movies have young detectives partnering with soon to retire detectives. Both movies have a seemingly omnipotent serial killer always three steps ahead of the detectives, baiting them along and watching from the background. Both movies rely upon arcane literature and art to understand the villain's human "paintings."
I could continue to list common elements in both movies however I don't want to give anyone the impression that this is a knock-off of S7ven--its not. Rather its like reading a detective story written by the same author with different characters. If you liked S7ven I think you will like this movie. Just don't expect any great surprises.
The biggest difference between S7ven and this film is the ending. S7ven had an incredible, mind-boggling ending while Ananmorph ended like a candle blown out leaving the viewer in the dark and unsatisfied.
Stan Aubray (Willem Dafoe) is an NYPD detective who likes to collect
Renaissance-era chairs and has a mild case of both OCD and alcoholism.
Five years ago, he was the lead investigator in the "Uncle Eddie"
serial killings, in which victims were posed in settings, as if to
create a work of art. Stan is still haunted by the last killing, which
he feels he should have prevented. However, Stan eventually solved the
murders. Or did he?
Now, there are new serial killings that are similar, yet different. The artsy posing is there, but is much more gruesome and elaborate, involving Renaissance techniques such as camera obscura and anamorphosis. Many in the police and press are calling these new killings "copycats." Stan isn't so sure.
While watching the plot develop, one inevitably makes comparisons with the Hannibal Lecter movies. While this film aspires to that level, it falls short, mainly because although the basic premise is not without interest, the writing fails to deliver on the promise. Stan's character is unfortunately made a lone wolf, with minimal dialog and interaction with other characters, even keeping his partner in the dark. Willem Dafoe, he of the high forehead, hollow cheeks, and strong chin, does a great job with what he's given, but can't quite carry this film on his own. The supporting cast was, somewhat understandably, very uninterested in their roles, with the exception of Peter Stormare as the character of the low-level art dealer. Finally, the lighting effects of the flashback scenes and final scene can only be described as bizarre, and not in a good way.
The writers made the mistake of trying to make up for the film's deficiencies by upping the gore scale, and in doing so, probably cut the film's box-office receipts considerably. Parents: the film's R rating is *very* well-deserved. Even adults should ask themselves if they're strong of stomach before going to see this movie.
In conclusion, I would recommend this film only if you're a big fan of Willem Dafoe and/or this genre.
A detective (Willem Dafoe) is on the hunt for a killer who transforms
his victims into works of art. The cases grow more and more brutal, and
some suspect the detective himself may somehow be involved (though,
from the audience's point of view, this involvement is not apparent).
Who is the killer, can he be caught?
I had low expectations for this film. Dafoe is an amazing actor, and has appeared in some great films (and some not-so-great but still popular ones). Typically, he wouldn't be in a film unless it was going to be huge. This being a straight-to-DVD title, I had to wonder... could it be good if they felt that Dafoe wasn't enough to carry it to the big screen? And the answer is simply: it's good, but not that good.
Dafoe is a great actor, and Peter Stormare ("Prison Break") is a good character actor (playing, as usual, a thuggish type here). But they are put in a plot that doesn't really have much depth. The writer was concerned about getting us from corpse to corpse, but that was about the extent of it. The directing, likewise, is good, but will do little to further a career -- a year from now, I'll be the only person to recall this film. The special effects were good and deserve credit. While not the most realistic corpses ever, there was plenty of time and thought involved... so cheers to you.
The one thing that stood out for me as quite good was the musical score. I have to say the composer hit the right nerves. I may already be mentally unbalanced -- this is true -- but the music hit me hard and gripped me, leaving me feeling dread and despair, which music will not often do. If the composer's goal was to create a mood of hopelessness and bleak darkness, I call this a success.
A philosophical question could be raised about whether the acts committed here were murder, art or both. Some might suggest that the death of one person may be a worthy sacrifice if the art produced is of significant value. If death can be used to justify some things, why not art? The film doesn't really explore this theme, and I'm inclined to believe that murder is hardly, if ever, justifiable. But a potential discussion exists here.
If you want to see a film about murder being turned into art, see the 1959 Roger Corman film "A Bucket of Blood". Or don't. But "Anamorph" will end up being an impulse rental that ultimately lets you down, I fear. 2008 is a slow year for horror and thrillers, so you may end up resorting to lesser fare to feed the addiction. Just be warned in advance that this is simply that and nothing more.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film is basically two hours of Dafoe's character drinking himself
- nearly literally - to death. The only surprise in this film is that
you didn't have enough clues or character knowledge to be surprised. It
was just a grim, sad waste of time.
Willem Dafoe is excellent actor. Peter Stormare is an excellent actor. But this film just sucked. Slow doesn't make the movie bad, it was just bad. The sketchy plot mixed with artistic ramblings of anamorphic detail aren't cohesively drawn together in a meaningful way for a plot except to highlight some gore which is illustrated from several perspectives, finally at the end. I really appreciate the artistic vision, but as entertainment, it put me to sleep. (Seriously, I fell asleep and had to re-watch the film - which was even more disappointing.)
I generally don't like to make negative comments or reviews on the works of others, even when they suck, but this film warranted one. It's just too bad that these great actors were shamed with this end result.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Some films are intentionally ambiguous leaving the final interpretation
up to the viewer while others simply fail to tell a cohesive story
causing the viewer to invent all kinds of theories about what the film
was trying to say. Anamorph falls into the latter category.
This is one of those films where the death/crime scene is a work of morbid art, in the tradition of Se7en and Silence of the Lambs. The film looks good with its fiery cinematography. It's paced well and Willem Dafoe turns in a smoldering performance as the aging cop we're never clear on just how torn apart are his insides. And that's where this film fails. It's never clear about much of anything and tries to justify itself via the concept of the anamorph whose rendering "Depends on where you stand." Flashbacks and reflective turmoil are used to try and fill in the blanks as to why Dafoe's character is so intimately connected to the crimes. The film's denouement gives us a silly special effect suggesting multiple personalities may be involved. But 'maybe this' and 'maybe that' aren't good enough and I'm confident that at film's end you will scratch your head and say "Whaaaa"? It's also disappointing that, surprisingly, we weren't treated to any really good anamorph illusions. Given the title of the film, I'm just saying ....
This story deserves a better director. Someone who understands the
subject very well. The idea was really cool but follows the same
platform of movies like Silence of the Lambs. Acting is nearly good. I
think with a little more effort and time it could have been more
There are too many co-incidences which spoil the mystery. The story is certainly dragged at places. And at places it makes you sleepy. The music is nothing great. Willen Dafoe tries his best to impress. So I think it is not the one to watch in a theater but its a good watch at home. Nothing Brainy about it. It won't keep you guessing.
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