Crooked & Narrow, Open Windows (Vigalondo, 2014) and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (Amirpour, 2014)

An update on Crooked & Narrow to start. The first teaser for the film is embedded below. No definite completion date of yet, but the film itself is moving along well in post. Enjoy this first look!

 

Open Windows

I’m a Nacho Vigolondo fan. I love his short film 7:35 in the Morning, and his first two features, Timecrimes and Extraterrestrial. So I was pretty excited for his English-language foray, Open Windows.

Sure, it’s got Sasha Grey in a major role, and I thought her acting was even sketchy in The Girlfriend Experience, which I ultimately liked. But Vigalondo’s got style and a twist on genres that I like.

The conceit here is fun: much of the film takes place on a computer. Okay, so maybe that doesn’t sound fun. It actually sounds pretty damn wooden and static. But that’s the director’s skill – injecting life in topics that sound staid.

There are things to like in Open Windows. The experiment often works. Like the multiple panels in a Timecode, part of the entertainment here is derived from multiples points of interest moving simultaneously. Vigolondo doesn’t really take the Figgis “where do I look” approach? His camera moves fluidly from open window to open window (the title is a nice double entendre), directing our attention.

The film requires some serious suspension of disbelief (how were those hotel windows made transparent again…?), and patience with a trio of side-characters who feel pulled from Micmacs. There’s the penultimate sequence that is a bit clumsy and over-explanatory – part Mission Impossible, part Quick Change, its “gotcha” quality succeeds in that it explains some of the seemingly ill-conceived character motivations (which are nothing of the sort in hindsight), and flails in its talkiness.

But Open Windows works in its thoughts on the over-exposure of celebrity and fan obsession, and the menacing – and prevalent – idea that a computer might be the most dangerous weapon around. The middle act moves forward with some nice imagery (digital sequencing(?) of a body in a trunk, for example), and in true Vigalondo fashion, the end is darkly funny, featuring a haphazard villain who’s female infatuation gets him way too far into the lives of others.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

Ana Lily Amirpour’s vampire film has one of the best titles of the year. It’s a stylish black and white vampire film. A good ride when at its campiest or when it’s a simple boy-meets-girl story, the movie sort of plays like an indirect Spaghetti Western homage at times: open landscapes, tight frames contrasted with wide vistas, a loner anti-hero who has several showdowns with others amidst an empty landscape.

Ultimately, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night hits its stylish notes too hard. The constant focus changes grate even when you aren’t anticipating them and slow-motion and music are used as a crutch. Do you really need to play entire songs all the time? It gets to the point that you wait for the song to end for the scene to end and not vice versa.

Nothing much really happens in A Girl. That’s fine when the scenes are strong enough. There’s an ugly (good-ugly) sequence in a car early-on that sets up some strong antagonism and builds horror-movie tension, but the best is between The Girl (Sheila Vand) and Arash (Arash Marandi) in her room. It’s more slow motion and more music, but there’s emotion beyond the sound and movement there. It’s also played for unpredictability via a smartly framed close profile 2-shot that begins entirely empty. What are her motivations here? Why are they moving closely together? When she puts her head on his chest its a great romantic climax.

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About dcpfilm

Shooting, teaching, writing and watching the Phillies.
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3 Responses to Crooked & Narrow, Open Windows (Vigalondo, 2014) and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (Amirpour, 2014)

  1. Lory Ghertner says:

    It’s hard to find a really worthy film these days, particularly about my ancestors, so I hope you have or will review, Let the Right One In, the best vampire story since Bela Lugosi entered my nightmarish world and perhaps the best film of the recent past.

    • dcpfilm says:

      Oh man, Let The Right One In is great! I’ll have to rewatch and review. Did you catch Only Lovers Left Alive? It’s a strong vampire film, I thought.

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