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Until the Light Takes Us (2008)
More complex than cartoon Satanstists
Although I'm not what you'd call a big fan of the music scene at the core of this film - I don't own a single one of the records - I've been aware of bits & pieces of the story over the years and had enough of a casual interest to catch a screening of the documentary at an AFI screening.
I was happily surprised by a few general aspects of the film - the general good film quality, the unlabored presentation of the characters, and also the unexpected soundtrack. As another reviewer says: "the music for this movie was very appropriate ... a mix of black metal and ambient music, making the movie very easy to watch while still putting you within the dark atmosphere." I'll add that this ambient music helped make the metal segments seem all the more heavy-hitting and abrasive. A wise choice.
It's refreshing, as in case of Until the Light Takes Us, when a documentary doesn't judge it's subjects, especially when the urge to justify their approach (aka cover their ass) must have been present. The viewer benefits most from this in the interesting present-day clips of Fenriz and Varg Vikernes (Burzum) and the unforced comparison of the two and the time they are given the time to reveal themselves, both good and bad (and very bad) through their own words and ideas.
Although this doc is unmistakably about a metal scene, it's also got a wealth of insight to the power of the entertainment news media to re-define the reality in ways they're irresponsibly probably not even aware of.
Layer Cake (2004)
Layers of clichés
It's always suspicious when a movie's opening scene looks and sounds like something i saw in a Mastercard commercial earlier in the day. Some Mastercard commercials are pretty inventive though. There was nothing original or inventive about Layer Cake.
I heard good things about this movie. I wish I could remember those sources so I could cross them out of my future reading.
During the opening credits the gangster narrator, in typical post 1990s gangster film/ Goodfellas knock-off style, breaks it down voice-over for us about how he not a gangster, he "just a businessman who happens to deal in cocaine." He buys, he sells. He's not a monster, just a guy doing business. Zzzzz. But the clincher is that he's "getting out." So you see, it's not just a Goodfella's knock-off, it's an all around cliché free for all.
I really don't know why I kept watching. The characters were one dimensional bozos. The photography was cheap and ugly. The music was embarrassing. I'm only giving it a 2 because the filmmakers and actors seemed technically competent.
how unimaginative can you get? watch DEBS and find out.
don't worry, no spoilers. i left the theater before it was over.
in retrospect it was my own fault for thinking this movie could have been entertaining. i wonder, how could any movie about 4 hot girls in miniskirts be so useless? they seem to have looked for every opportunity for clichés and taken them. there's several attempts at cheap laughs, but none of them are funny.
I never cared much for Charlies Angels (2000) but in comparison with DEBS, Charlies Angels seems like a classic. the comparison is so obvious. therefore, i can at least credit DEBS for showing me the craft behind normal Hollywood blockbusters that i might have previously thought were talentless.
Francis Bacon (1988)
the finest documentary i've seen about an artist
This film makes it all seem to simple: an overview of the artist, and a discussion with him about his work and what inspires him. This is simple, yet i've never seen it done so well. This is the documentary that I wish could have been made about a hundred other artists from Michaelangelo to Van Gogh. Not knowing much about Francis Bacon's personality, I was surprised that he was so candid in the interviews which accounts for the greatest part of this documentary's success. The film itself is photographed and edited with the perfect balance of style that accentuates (not distracts from) its subject and a casual relaxed pacing.