Thursday, January 17, 2013

Under 250: Beyond the Black Rainbow

At this point it's been a few weeks since I excitedly realized Beyond the Black Rainbow awaited me on Netflix. After taking in the hallucinatory quality of the starkly beautiful opening sequences with multiple, texted exclamation points, the rest of the film plodded on to ultimately disappoint.  Visually, Black Rainbow is a stunner.  The film seems to exist, in a way, as eye candy for those seeking a rehash of the B-movies inspired by the aesthetics of spartan Kubrickian science fiction.  It's a hazy drugged-out experience that moves in slow motion to synthesizers and which lures in one half of its audience purely because of the clarity of its aesthetics and the other part because they've just took a bong hit and are looking to have a deep philosophical discussion on something that may not have real philosophical meaning at all.  The film is set in a rather nightmarish version of 1983 where a girl is held captive and mute by a quietly deranged scientist at a 'commune' called Arboria.  It's a flimsy, flimsy plot built off of mind games and psychological torture, and the film plays out like a contained, dead-end version of 2001 (minus the cosmos); hypnotic, but uspeakably boring.  It's the first effort of director Panos Cosmatos, and I'd like to give it the benefit of the doubt.  Perhaps it's that film school concept that just had to be shot before moving forward, maybe it's the THX 1138 that comes before the storm.  Cosmatos has potential (and a great eye), but after a captivating beginning, it slowly unravels to leave the viewer unsatisfied.

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