A once famous, and now washed-up, Hollywood Screenwriter, fighting to finish his latest script with an unrealistic deadline. He finds himself in the center of a murder investigation ...
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A once famous, and now washed-up, Hollywood Screenwriter, fighting to finish his latest script with an unrealistic deadline. He finds himself in the center of a murder investigation involving a prominent politician's wife. The surrounding events feed him inspiration for his script.Written by
This is one of those movies not so easy to warm to, as is evidenced by the polarized reviews here. But I found as I got more accustomed to the quirky pacing and flashback/flash forward style I liked Mysteria more and more until it became as they say compulsively watchable. It's difficult to categorize Mysteria: the closest to a broad brushstroke description would be neo-noir, but more specifically it's a kind of existential retro-thriller parody, with lots of B movie overtones, which I suppose is a more circuitous way of saying neo-noir. The story takes place in a Los Angeles-like environ in a frozen, late 80s (or thereabouts) gestalt, but it's all a little vague.
To some extent Mysteria has to be catnip to fans of noir, and of course several noir films are specifically mentioned, including The Killing, the choppy, nonlinear style of which Mysteria mimics. Other films that are referenced, either by design or no, include Dead of Night, and more recently, Usual Suspects, Memento, and especially Mulholland Drive.
Mysteria is well-cast. The familiar names – Landau, Zane, and Glover – have what amount to little more than extended cameos. But it's Robert Miano's movie and he's perfect for the role: he essays the confused, unkempt, unshaven, needing-a-shower, always late, always-smoking-a-cigarette hero in in eminently underplayed style and somehow it works perfectly.
Mysteria pulls out about every neo-noir trope in the book: along with the murky look and labyrinthine plot we have near-caricatures of the sleazy private eye and especially the down-on-his-luck screenwriter (is there any other kind?). Aleister Bain is a gin-swilling, chain smoking, disheveled, onetime success who lives in a low class hotel where he can't pay his rent, and of course he has writer's block. A bright spot in his life is a beautiful blonde film student (played by Meadow Williams) who's his biggest fan and a kind of Gal Friday wannabe.
Ultimately the story leaves quite a bit unresolved, to say the least. And I like that. Maybe I'm just easy to please but I give this one a solid seven stars.
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