Two for the Seesaw of Fate

DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP

Move Over, Ripley

Three for the Seesaw?

When a movie is based on a Patricia Highsmith novel of murder and double-crossing, and when such a movie is set in Greece in 1962, with gorgeous photography and attractive actors, you expect a hit.

The Two Faces of January doubles our Janus syndrome.

This extraordinary film has had tepid reaction. Apparently the times have changed for the worst. Hossein Amini’s brilliant work might have wowed them in 1962, but today’s dullard audiences need more car chases and special effects.

Three Americans (couple Chester and Collette MacFarland) run into small-time crook Ryland, and it’s a contest to see who’s more untrustworthy. Since this is a Highsmith story, amorality and sociopathic behavior is the norm.

We love the opening when two dangerous men sound each other out like cruisers at a bar. Viggo Mortensen (the epitome of an attractive older man) tells his beautiful trophy wife (Kirsten Dunst), he wouldn’t trust Oscar Isaac to mow his lawn. We were hooked.

Hitchcock traversed the territory first with Highsmith, figuring out that two wrongs just multiply like rabbits.

Comeuppance is hard to come by with characters like these. You can enter and exit by the same egress, but you may end up in some time/space continuum where crime pays the last man standing.

It’s inevitable that the two dubious characters end up playing father and son to escape the law when they have a history of disrespecting their fathers. It’s a delicious Highsmith irony.

Hossein Amini enters the directorial sweepstakes with an impressive start. We are lately compiling a list of intelligent filmmakers who have managed to pass through movie doorways by-passing the deplorable extinction of true movie fans.

Keep those complicated movie plots coming. A few of us dinosaurs are feeding off them.

Mad Max Meets Lenny & George

DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP

 

Boys Will be Boys

Australian director David Michod joins up with Robert Pattinson as a slow-minded young man named Rey in The Rover, their second movie together after Animal Kingdom.

Pattinson now has the power to do the movies of his choice, and he is choosing to become a fascinating actor.

It’s ten years after the collapse of civilization and, once again, we find ourselves in the desert with dusty cars and dirty dogs. Guy Pearce is another actor who seems to blend into the chameleon required of roles. They are futuristic Of Mice and Men.

Bad guys steal Pearce’s car, and worse, they leave their brother for dead. Pattinson is slow to grasp the fate of being abandoned when the two men become lost foundlings.

The world is homoerotic in this apocalypse for no reason that is discernible. All the men have paired off as if the ark of survival has inverted the score. So, Pattinson and Pearce also bond as they pursue the car thieves.

You might wonder why a man would be obsessed with his car when he is left a Range Rover in its stead. You might be justified in wondering because you’ve been had by a clever writer and director. As in his Animal Kingdom, Michod knows how to play simple but effective cinema on his audience.

We were hooked on this movie from its opening shot of a near-catatonic Guy Pearce and a near-overly sensitive Robert Pattinson. They don’t make buddy movies like this anymore.

It is all so simple and direct that you realize the effort is called hopelessness. We love movies that use metaphor and setting to wring out philosophic depths to a coat of dust.