- 1h 21m
An inventor (Masterson) must protect his inventions from becoming casualties of the Cold War.An inventor (Masterson) must protect his inventions from becoming casualties of the Cold War.An inventor (Masterson) must protect his inventions from becoming casualties of the Cold War.
"Dark Mind" is a very stylish film about a young inventor in the late 1950s who is threatened by things such as, but not limited to: the mob, the Russians, the Communists, the police, the landlady, the girlfriend's jealous ex-boyfriend, the rat in the walls, the rat exterminator, and if you can't surmise... his own mind. It takes a very expressionistic approach with visuals (in particular, lighting) that present an increasingly claustrophobic & self-focused existence not unlike an old film noir but ramped up on steroids.
I have to say, in the last 20 years and probably 2000 movies, I haven't been so utterly impressed with a director's visual style as with "Dark Mind". The last time something blew me away like this, it was "City of Lost Children" in 1994 by French directing team Jeunet & Caro (Jeunet went on to achieve international fame with "Amelie"). Here, as with "City", we get a revolutionary approach as can only be made by a young director who doesn't answer to big budget studios. Nothing is dumbed down for mainstream appeal. The result is a masterpiece which will certainly not be popular in its own time. But if you're looking for a movie that will challenge your mind & senses & blow the socks right off your butt, look no further. I should also add that the movie, despite its heavy theme, has some spots of great humor. I don't hand out perfect 10s very often, but I'm not hesitating one bit.
Although the style is truly unique, I'll name a few directors & films that can be compared, just for the sake of giving you an idea of what's in store. Terry Gilliam ("Brazil", "12 Monkeys", "Tideland"), Darren Aronofsky ("Pi"), Alex Proyas ("The Crow", "Dark City"), early Tim Burton ("Batman") and of course the aforementioned French geniuses Jean-Pierre Jeunet & Marc Caro ("City of Lost Children", "Delicatessen"). Something that all these directors have in common is a masterful use of darkness while presenting vivid, exaggerated colors that are pleasing to the eye. The result is a captivating, nightmarish style that will both delight & unsettle you.
Our hero is "Paul" (expertly played by Christopher Masterson who, you'd never guess, was the little kid in the 1992 comedy "Singles" whose debut line was "And then something comes spewing out of the penis... SPAM!"). Paul is a very strange and lovable nerd, complete with thick George-McFly glasses, who is consumed by the quiet arrogance of genius as well as his blind patriotism to a country at the height of McCarthian paranoia. This makes a chilling combination which leads Paul further into his tiny, isolated world of notebooks, wires, and big machines that go "bing". Appropriately, the entire film is shot on small indoor sets. No sunlight ever. And yet, like the mind of an eccentric genius, these small rooms are filled with interesting details. Camera angles are quirky, colors are exaggerated, and there are lots of closeup macro scenes of little objects.
Into Paul's life come a host of memorable characters who are almost like scifi creatures. Everyone seems to be certifiably insane except the gorgeous waitress at the local café whom Paul develops a nerdy crush on. And all the while there is the spectre of McCarthianism which we see in propaganda-like posters all over the place. All these elements fuse together and build up to a spectacular climax bordering on Kubrickian genius (the final, mind-bending act of "2001: A Space Odyssey").
Something else that also struck me as genius is the FANTASTIC musical score. The composer Jasper Randall chose the cello as the primary instrument conveying Paul's "voice", and I couldn't agree more. The pieces are intimate & haunting, yet grand in their own way. More than simply atmospheric background like we may be accustomed to in other films, the music in "Dark Mind" is as much a part of the experience as the visual style.
In short this film blew me away, and if the things I've said make any sense to you, I guarantee it'll blow you away also. I had never heard of director Nicholas Peterson before this, and according to IMDb this is his only feature film. I'm seriously prompted to stalk the guy just to tell him what a great job he did.
- Sep 25, 2014