There are folks out there who go to the movies to be entertained. It’s a pretty obvious statement, redundantly so, one might say. It’s not like I’m resistant to having a fun time at the movies, hey I make a point of catching pretty much every big old mainstream comedy film to come down the chute, but for some reason the films that stick with me the most, and that demand repeat viewings from me are those that veer into the realm of the uncomfortable, the offputting or the strange.
It’s been a particularly fine couple of years for flicks that fit in with the template of “Alpha Entertainment” I’ve made for myself.
Case in point being Kill List (available on dvd/blu from Madman Entertainment- not a plug, just offering directions), a recent British film from director Ben Wheatley that just knocked my socks off, and I picture myself pestering my friends endlessly until they acquiesce and watch the thing, so that I may further bore them by raving about how brilliant it was. I’d call it “stunning”, and not necessarily in a fun way. More like actually being stunned, in that it’s a disorienting and queasy shift in the fabric of reality. I’m not going to give anything away regarding the plot, but it’s the combination of an eerie, atonal music score, the brutal, realistic immediacy of the visual palette and the sinister precision of it’s editing (especially the jarring title cards that split up the chapters of the story) that shape this movie into something beyond the sum of it’s parts. There’s an internal logic to Kill List that the audience is not made privy to the audience for large chunks of it’s running time, and indeed there’s a lot that remains unexplained after it’s finished.
These are all good things, especially within the medium of cinema, the closest thing we have to dreams to being dragged into the physical world. A movie has to be more than just a delivery system for a plot. It’s a whole, with a shape, a weight and a sound that are more than our protagonist moving from point “A”, through three acts of drama to a neat resolution. This doesn’t always have to take the shape of a nightmare, but for some reason that form speaks loudest to me.
Danger, despair and a disorientation of the senses have become a stronger force in modern film than we’ve ever seen. Should we ask ourselves why?