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If a single trait characterizes Dario Argento's 21st century output,
it's its self-referentiality. Always a cine-literate filmmaker, his
recent material has verged almost on self-parody. Amid all this, a
generation of filmmakers have grown up with his films and been
influenced by them, some more profoundly than others. Some, like Tim
Burton, have assimilated his visual style into their own. Others have
been more flippant in their appropriation of Argentoisms, with Quentin
Tarantino lifting the music from The Bird with the Crystal Plumage for
use in Death Proof, and Diablo Cody including a conversation debating
the merits of Argento relative to H.G. Lewis in Juno. In effect,
"Argento" has become something of a buzzword for a certain type of
movie brat: a slightly edgy (but not too edgy) name they can mention to
show that they're a little off the beaten track (but not too far off).
Oddly enough, Giallo represents something of a hybridization of the director's self-referentiality and the sort of fan idolatry that champions his films for their more superficial elements while ignoring the qualities that truly mark them out. Although the first credit at the end of the film reads "written and directed by Dario Argento", the original script in fact originated from two American fans, Jim Agnew and Sean Keller, with Argento essentially being brought on as a director for hire. This is not the first time this has happened: the two episodes he directed for the largely disappointing Masters of Horror series also originated from other writers, much to their detriment. (If Pelts had been directed by Eli Roth, I doubt it would have been appreciably different.) While Giallo's script is nothing remarkable, the overall execution is handled with considerably more flair than Jenifer or Pelts. This may be because Argento is on familiar stomping ground, with the Italian locations lending an air of natural class. Giallo is far from the bland, anonymous piece of work for hire that many feared it would be. While Frederic Fasano's cinematography lacks the verve of a Tovoli or even a Debie, and Marco Werba's Herrmannesque score alternates between effective and intrusive, there are little Argentoisms throughout, mainly in the lightly humorous moments. Likewise, an early sequence at an opera recalls Argento's 1987 masterpiece of the same name, while the oddly ambiguous final frame is reminiscent of The Cat O' Nine Tails.
That said, Giallo's most direct counterpart is The Card Player, and it's tempting to see them as two sides of the same coin. However, while The Card Player was clinical, high-tech and almost bloodless, Giallo goes in the opposite direction. Its set design hearkens back to the past, from Avolfi's dingy basement office to the foregrounding of Turin's picturesque monuments and buildings. The violence is also ramped up a notch, and it's tempting to view the film as Argento's reaction to the recent spate of so-called "torture porn" movies. The director has made conflicting statements as to his opinion of these films, but the lengthy scenes of Elsa Pataky being menaced and tortured in the killer's grimy underground lair are more reminiscent of Saw or Hostel than anything in Argento's past filmography.
And there's the rub: despite being marketed as a return to the genre that made a name for Argento in the 1970s, Giallo... well, isn't actually a giallo. The plot operates more as a cross between a cop thriller and a gore-soaked torture flick, the title referring solely to the killer's jaundiced skin. His face is seen almost from the start and his identity is ultimately not hugely important. Far more interesting is the way in which he and Avolfi are constructed as two sides of the same coin, both pariahs who operate in dark underground lairs and have suffered violent, traumatic pasts. As with much of his past work, Argento seems to be actively encouraging a Jungian reading. At times, this becomes a little too on the nose, with the casting of the killer... well, it's an intriguing choice but ultimately one that will either baffle people or have them slapping their foreheads at its obviousness.
With one notable exception, the cast acquit themselves reasonably well. The elephant in the room is Adrien Brody, who not only receives top billing but also an executive producer credit, performing uncredited script doctoring duties and making key decisions about the score (including nixing Argento's regular collaborator Claudio Simonetti). His role is an odd one, and it's far from the vanity project I expected. Avolfi is not particularly pleasant: he's distant, smarmy and reckless, and an act he committed in the past further blurs the line between him and the killer. Unfortunately, the specifics of this event, revealed around two-third of the way through the film, sent the audience at the screening I attended into fits of hysterics. More problematic in my mind, however, is Brody's performance. He seems to be imitating any number of 40s film noir detectives, but comes across as a mumbling buffoon whose reactions and line delivery always seem to be at odds with what's actually happening. He's not the first Oscar-winning actor to work with Argento, but he IS one of Argento's least convincing protagonists.
Giallo is a decent offering from a director whose work of late has been decidedly patchy. While I'm sure the usual battle lines will be drawn, with fans alternating between branding it a return to form and proclaiming it to be proof that he is a has-been, the truth is somewhere in the middle. No, it's not the next Profondo Rosso, but anyone who expected otherwise would simply be deluding themselves. It's substantially better than either of Argento's Masters of Horror outings, a step up from Mother of Tears, and a superior thriller to Do You Like Hitchcock? It's also more engaging than the overrated Sleepless and about on par with the underrated The Card Player, a film that for me improves with each subsequent viewing. Problems aside, Giallo is surprisingly good fun.
The high point in the film comes midway in the form of Adrian Brody's childhood flashback: the camera heaves this side and that inside an amber-lit room as though floating in the air while a music box lullaby that brings back memories of Goblin's School at Night theme from Profondo Rosso chimes in the background. Other than that, the movie might as well have been called "Routine Slasher" because there's nothing that recalls the glorious days of the Italian giallo here, no wink or homage or black-gloved killer stalking distraught heroines in kitsch/chic Rome apartments, countryside villas, and medieval architecture and certainly none of the Technicolor phantasmagoria Argento and his peers conjured on celluloid 30 years ago because anyone who has followed Argento's career knows he has been working in dark muted DV canvases for the past 10 years, this absence of style flooded with wooden acting, bad English from non-English speaking actors, and a script the sum of plot contrivance happenstance and logic jumps. Some will argue these have been staples of Argento's career and I will disagree because their place has always been peripheral to a certain grand guignol aesthetic by whose outrageousness, stylistic or otherwise, not only have they been relegated to the margins but they have made perfect "sense" there in the margins as part of Argento's style (or Italian horror film-making in general). If Mother of Tears was a bold step in the direction of Phenomena's schizophrenic conclusion, this is a step backwards to the undistinguished workmanlike nature of Il Cartaio and Ti Piace Hitchcock. Everything here is generic. The score sounds like Batman Returns throwaways (Claudio Simonetti's absence is sorely felt), the villain is a curious mixture of pathetic and creepy, Argento's stylized violence is conspicuously absent. This is a serial killer movie trying to balance between crime procedural and slasher such as one may find in Lionsgate's STD catalogue. If you're looking for the giallo homage the title promises, you'll find it in Sleepless. This is a routine affair not worthy of the master's name or his fans' time and money.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The latest movie from Dario Argento, the master of the giallo film, is
called, perhaps unsurprisingly, Giallo. Perhaps influenced by the
self-referential Tarantino/Rodriguez movie Grindhouse, Giallo is
another film named after an exploitation genre. What IS somewhat
surprising, however, is that Giallo isn't really a giallo at all.
Argento seems to have instead opted to have a go at the sub-genre known
as torture porn. This is a bit perverse from a man whose output has
been made up almost exclusively of gialli, or at the very least
non-giallo movies that retain many of the conventions of the genre,
i.e. the mystery killer attacks of the supernatural horror films
Suspiria and Inferno. So it may seem like a joke on the director's part
that Giallo isn't a giallo. Why doesn't it fit into the genre? Well,
the main reason is the fact that the killer's identity is revealed
early in the film; gialli can vary greatly in content and style but the
one thing they must retain is an element of mystery and this film
abandons that early on. Instead the film adopts the approach of the
torture porn sub-genre, of films like Hostel, dwelling as it does in
scenes of torture rather than murder set-pieces. This extends to the
grungy and grimy look and colour scheme; we don't have the rich,
vibrant colours of Argento of old, or the inventive camera-work that he
was once famous for. Giallo is quite an ugly looking film, fitting
perhaps as the title villain (Yellow/Giallo) is one ugly dude; he looks
a bit like the bastard child of Carlos Puyol and Mark Knopfler, only
much, much worse. He is very repellent but I, for one, much prefer
Argento's androgynous black leather clad maniacs of old. I also
preferred their HINT of sexual deviancy, as opposed to the spectacle of
Yellow masturbating in front of his laptop to images of bloodied women.
Too much Dario, too much...
For those of you hoping for a homage to Argento's gialli classics of old, I have to sadly say this is not it. I have read that Argento was actually a director for hire in this movie and that would not surprise me as the feeling I had watching this was that the director wasn't entirely giving his all in this film. It all seems a bit half-hearted. And that extends to the acting performances too, which are a bit stiff throughout. Although I don't see much point in saying too much about this as its par for the course with Argento movies, his scripts and direction of actors have been notoriously uneven throughout his career. However, the same cannot be said of the soundtracks in his previous films, the music from the likes of Deep Red and Suspiria is legendary. Here, sadly, the score is a bit uninspired. Not bad exactly, just unmemorable and workmanlike. The look of the film too is very pedestrian. Sadly, not very Italian looking.
On the plus side it's briskly paced and is never actually boring. And some of the unintentional silliness is really quite enjoyable if you approach it with the right frame of mind. The flash-back scene near the end of the film had some people in the audience at the screening I attended in absolute hysterics, although, in fairness, this is not something that will necessarily surprise Argentophiles, as much of his output does contain a fair bit of daftness. It has to be said that Adrien Brody does put in a very hammy performance as the cop, which is almost in Frank Drebin territory. Although some of the humour was surely intentional too, the scene where the coroner and Brody light up cigarettes over the corpse was hysterical. I suspect there cannot be a smoking ban in effect in Italy. Of additional note is the rather strange ending. I won't describe it but it does seem really wrong, and dare I say it, pointless, I will leave you to be the judge of this for yourself though.
Sadly, I don't think Giallo is going to kick-start the moribund Italian film industry into producing superior horror and thriller films. It isn't really a return to form for the director either. But, ultimately, perhaps last night's audience reaction wasn't too far off the mark. There was quite a bit of laughter at some of the sillier scenes, however, at the end there was a round of applause. And I must admit I joined in too because despite the myriad of faults in this latest Argento offering, I did quite enjoy myself.
In Torino, the American model Celine (Elsa Pataky) is abducted by a
taxi driver while driving home in Piazza Victoria to meet her sister
Linda (Emmanuelle Seigner) that has just arrived in her apartment to
visit her. On the next morning, Linda reports in the precinct that
Celine is missing and the sergeant in charge asks her to go to the
basement to meet F.B.I. Inspector Enzo Avolfi (Adrien Brody) from the
Special New York City Department that is investigating a serial-killer
that kidnaps foreigners to destroy their beauty. When a Japanese woman
is found moribund nearby a fountain, Enzo and Linda find that the girl
is calling the abductor "Yellow" (Byron Dreida) and Linda concludes
that the guy might have jaundice. They go to the Policlinic di Torino
where they disclose that Flavio Volpe might be the sought killer.
"Giallo" is a stylish but unoriginal and predictable thriller of Dario Argento. I am a big fan of this Italian director, therefore I can not agree with reviews that evaluate his work as mediocre. However, I would expect much more from Mr. Argento that uses a story that gives the sensation of déjà vu to the viewer without any surprise. I love also to see the gorgeous Emmanuelle Seigner and she never disappoints in the role of a desperate woman seeking out her sister that is missing in a foreign country. Adrien Brody is restraint and quite bureaucratic in the role of an inspector with a traumatic past. The powerful soundtrack is another good attraction of this movie. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "Giallo Reféns do Medo" ("Giallo Hostages of the Fear")
Acceptable gory killing film in which Dario Argento demonstrates his
penchant for original ideas and creative directing . In Torino, Celine
,Italy, a woman named Linda (Emmanuelle Seigner , Roman Polanski's
wife) fears her sister , a fashion model girl named Celine (Elsa
Pataky, at that time Brody's girlfriend) , may have been abducted .
Obstinate Inspector Enzo Avolfi (Adrien Brody, also producer) gets some
clues and fears it's worse . When a Japanese young girl is found at
nearby a fountain, Enzo and Linda along with Chief Inspector named Mori
(Robert Miano) find that the woman is calling the sadistic kidnapper's
skin is "Yellow" . Both of whom team up to rescue her from a sadistic
murderous known only as Yellow, or Giallo . The Inspector along with
Linda start following the tracks that lead a cab man who might have
jaundice and they go to a hospital.
Classic though average Gialli with imaginatively staged gory killings by the master of horror, the talented writer/director Dario Argento . Italian cult director Dario Argento, master of arty gore, brings this eerie and stylish story plagued with depraved gore murders . Exciting film with stylish , effective aesthetic that packs lots of gore , guts , chilling assassinations and twists plots . This is a trademark terror work for the Horrormeister Argento with high tension quotient and equally elevated suspense by means of an ever-fluid camera that achieves colorful shots well photographed by the cameraman Frederic Fasano. Noteworthy for intelligent edition work that tightens the mystery , glimmer use of color and distinctive utilization of shock images . Sometimes weak screenplay is added to nice but gory special effects . Thrilling musical score by Marco Weba with suspenseful whispers combining to fortissimo soundtrack which help achieve incredible creepy moments . The terror pieces are well staged with eye-opening flair-play and contain obscure tracks to the denouement of the script .
This scary motion picture is professionally directed by Dario Argento , though uninspired and with no too much originality. Argento is one of those film-makers (other examples are Mario Bava and Riccardo Freda ) who set off simple for frightening us to death . His period of biggest hits were the 70s when he directed the animals trilogy : ¨Four flies over gray velvet¨, ¨The cat of nine tails¨, ¨Bird with the crystal plumage¨, after he directed some masterpieces as ¨Suspiria¨, ¨Inferno¨ , ¨Tenebre¨ and of course ¨Deep red¨ , one of the best ¨Giallo . In 1995 Argento made a comeback to the horror genre with ¨La Sindrome Di Stendhal (1996)¨ and then by another version of ¨The phantom of the Opera¨ (1998) both of which starred by his daughter Asia Argento . Most recently, Argento directed a number of 'giallo' mystery thrillers which include Insomnio (2001), ¨Il Cartaio (2004)¨, and ¨Ti Piace Hitchcock?¨ (2005), as well as two creepy , supernatural-themed episodes of the USA TV cable anthology series "Masters of Horror". Furthermore , to his Gothic and violent style of storytelling , ¨La Terza Madre (2007)¨ has a lot of references to the previous two movies as 'Suspiria and Inferno' which is a must for fans of the trilogy . And finally directed this so-so film called ¨Giallo¨ . This bloody fun plenty of graphic gore and weirdness may not be for all tastes but to be liked for Argento connoisseurs especially .
As a big Argento fan I was eagerly anticipating Giallo. I was
disappointed then when it received some rather harsh reviews from fans
and critics. Upon seeing it with rather low expectations I have to say
I was pleasantly surprised.
Whilst it wasn't one of his best works it was a fine movie and even a second rate Argento movie is better than the vast majority of movies. If I'd have seen it with high expectations maybe I'd have been a little disappointed but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It could have done with more deaths and more twists and a better climax but the characters were interesting and it was engaging and intriguing throughout.
His unsurpassed use of camera angles and panning is still there and a joy to watch even if a little more subtle than some of his classics. A lot of people tend to overlook such things and criticise plot and acting in his movies but his use of camera is perhaps as important as plot in his movies and certainly more important than acting. You don't watch an Argento movie for acting, although the acting in this is much better than in some of his older movies. It could have done with a more memorable score but the music was still very good.
So not one of his best movies but not his worst and not deserving of the harsh criticism. Worth giving a chance; didn't blow me away but I was gripped from start to finish and I'm not going to turn my nose up at that.
When a director distances himself from a movie that is never a good sign. And after watching this movie I have to say that he is right to do so if there is truth to this claim. There was a time Dario Argento could do no wrong. So what exactly happened? Maybe we will never find out. But for now I understand very much that this isn't a movie to be proud of. There is not one scene that shows the master's brilliance. It does make me wonder what the movie could have been without the interference of the producers. It also doesn't help that the story is quite weak. There are no twists and turns. Well, maybe a very little one. None concerning the Killer. But the biggest flaw of "Giallo" is the lack of real tension and suspense. Even when the killer is known a giallo movie should provide thrills. Otherwise what would be the point of this movie. (Thinking about it, this movie can be seen as a bad parody about the giallo genre.) Adrian Brody and the beautiful women are the only things that stand out in this below average product. Avoid big time!
I couldn't believe the ratings for this movie and after watching it i
really think that it deserves a solid 5 or 5.5.
Biggest drawback is the yellow bad guy who is presented as a degenerated handicap who just wants to get rid of everything beautiful. The resemblance to Rambo is just obvious and it looks like a comedy from time to time. Minus 4 points for that. Revealing the identity of the bad guy too early just makes the movie take another hit as a viewer might get a little uninterested. "Yeah that's him, and yes they're going to catch him sooner or later. Why keep watching this?" Brody saves the movie from falling too deep and obviously this movie seems very professionally executed with strong visual side. It is just too bad that it falls into below average TV thriller category and there just doesn't seem to be enough plot for a full movie. In the end this movie is more of a horror movie than a giallo thriller.
Is it still worthwhile to watch it? Yes if u are not expecting a masterpiece and just some fun. Argento style is still definitely there and it's just hard to find any message that the director wants to say with this.
Still i give it a 6 because i was entertained.
When the man responsible for some of the best giallos ever made directs
a movie simply titled Giallo, then I suppose one might reasonably
expect him to fully embrace the conventions of the genre (many of which
he was instrumental in establishing). Instead, Argento only loosely
follows the giallo format, the grimy approach he adopts being more akin
to the recent US 'torture porn' trend, a fact that has unsurprisingly
caused something of a critical backlash from fans of Italian horror.
But although Giallo clearly doesn't warrant its title, and, devoid of his usual visual flair and labyrinthine storytelling, is far from the director's best work, neither is it totally deserving of the drubbing it has received.
The film moves along briskly enough, switching regularly between crime and police procedure to ensure that boredom never sets in; the hero cop-with-a-dark-past, Enzo Avolfi, is played with conviction by Adrien Brody; Emmanuelle Seigner makes for a decent enough side-kick; the rather lovely Elsa Pataky is required only to look scared and beautiful, but does so convincingly; and the strangely familiar killer is delightfully daftan ugly, dummy-sucking, bandana-wearing taxi-driver with yellow skin (caused by a dose of Hepatitis C, inherited from his junkie mother) and a hatred of all things beautiful.
Argento also finds time for a few seriously nasty moments, including a graphic hammer to the skull scene, a nasty bit of finger pruning (resulting in plenty of pumping blood), and a wince-inducing moment involving shards of broken glass.
Whilst it is true that Argento's typical sense of style might be lacking on this occasion, there is still enough to enjoy about this film to make it worth a goafter all, even Argento at his worst is better than many other directors at their best.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Because I like this movie. After all the bad ratings and negative
reviews of Argento's latest movies I was very reluctant to watch
Dario's movies from 'Opera' and on wards; but after I watched 'La Terza
Madre' and 'Il Cartaio' I decided to start ignoring all the bad reviews
and all the comments on how "the once great Italian Horror director has
declined". Indeed, it appears the only movies people wanna compare
Dario Argento movies is to the other Dario Argento movies. I've grown
weary of all this bitching about how he doesn't make his movies as
exotic, artistic or otherworldly as he used to make them in the mid
70's to late 80's. People don't seem to want to move on and have an
open mind to how a director can make movies. Sure, it is a basic plot
for a Giallo movie but it is still an original story, with compelling
and interesting characters. The story is thought provoking and
chilling, it tells the story of an ugly man who murders beautiful
women. Beautiful because he likes to destroy what he lacks: beauty. It
is reminiscent of Leatherface from 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre'. Now,
the other half of the story centers around Inspector Enzo Avolfi who is
investigating the murders, who by the way, is a murderer himself. That
makes for a morally ambiguous story where one wonders whether the
protagonist of the movie is any better than the antagonist.
Genre: thriller/horror, year of release: 2009, director: Dario Argento, writers: Jim Agnew, Sean Keller and Dario Argento, plot: catch the murderer, themes: childhood trauma, alienation, madness, sexual perversion and moral. Now, childhood trauma has often been explored in Argento's movies but here it is more in focus and gives the narrative thrust. It is in focus since the movie is more driven by the main characters and their childhood traumas. What they are doing in the movie has a lot to do with what they experienced in their childhood. Avolfi's motivation for doing what he is doing is because he witnessed his mother getting killed. Volpe is haunted by his past and in his deteriorated state of mind he is obsessed with beauty and his lack thereof. Leading him to stalk, torture and ultimately murder beautiful women. I admit I cried a little when Volpe's story was shown, an unwanted child by his mother, picked and bullied by his peers and rejected by even the Catholic Church. Volpe is such a tragic character. It appears to me this movie is more or less a character study of two men with childhood traumas. Two murderers each on their side of the Law. It evokes the question: is the man who is a murderer hunting another murderer any better? What are their differences? Volpe's motivation appears to be compulsion and desire to feel better about himself and Avolfi, I don't know, redemption? But it can be argued Avolfi wants to make sure an episode like his mother doesn't happen again.
But I think I am getting a little too heavy here, anyway the violence depicted in the movie is depraved, tasteless and downright grim. It seems to be a problem for most people who complains about this solid movie. I don't see any problem with that because, although I like the bravura and operatic violence in his early movies the depravity of the violence shows there is nothing beautiful about violence. Violence is an act of atrocity which can not be justified. Also, I like how 'Giallo' is more driven by characters rather than the plot. Yes the plot is the same. Yes many of the gimmicks he used in the 70's and 80's are still the same (example: people crashing through windows, ultra violence, swooping camera etc). No, it is not as artistic as 'Suspiria' or as dreamlike as 'Opera' but it is still a thought provoking story with sensibilities beyond the typical splatter and slasher films. Come on people, be more open minded. This is a good atmosphere thriller/horror with interesting characters and story. Or just keep hating this movie, so I can love it even more LOL
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