For movie watchers, few things can be more frustrating than films that begin with a sequence of immense promise, only to show over the remainder that the emperor truly wears no clothes. Two new examples come from the horror realm.
Until now, Ethan Hawke was having a wonderful year. Before Midnight, the third leg of his trilogy with director Richard Linklater and actress Julie Delpy, brought waves of critical acclaim and talk of another Oscar nomination for their collaborative screenplay, while The Purge turned a meager investment into a highly profitable box-office take.
Neither a chain of spice stores nor a Food Network program, The Seasoning House is a bleak-as-nuclear-winter thriller set during the Balkan conflict of the 1990s. A deaf girl named Angel (Brit teen Rosie Day) is taken from her home by soldiers who shoot her mother dead.
Paul Schrader’s The Canyons opens and closes with a montage of abandoned movie theaters. For this film in particular, that choice strikes one as symbolic in several ways: not only as a comment on the state of the industry, but on the state of The Canyons itself. You’re unlikely to find many 2013 films this empty.
What's a director of classic musicals doing in science fiction? Making Saturn 3, one of the worst of the genre Hollywood made in the immediate post-Star Wars / Alien era. Stanley Donen (Singin' in the Rain) takes to it about as well as you'd expect; he's in over his head.
The Loneliest Planet 5:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday Oklahoma City Museum of Art 415 Couch okcmoa.com 236-3100 $5-$8
It’s curious that the Internet Movie Database has classified The Loneliest Planet as a “thriller,” since the film forgoes not just all that genre’s trappings, but narrative altogether.
Forty-nine minutes pass before an act of what passes for conflict occurs. Ironically, doing so further slows a glacial pace. The existential Western Meek’s Cutoff looks like Run Lola Run by comparison.
Written and directed by junior filmmaker Julia Loktev, The Loneliest Planet has divided critics wildly. Moviegoers can decide on which side they fall when it plays Friday and Saturday evening at Oklahoma City Museum of Art.
Among a virtual three-person cast, Gael García Bernal (Casa de Mi Padre) and Israeli actress Hani Furstenberg rough it as Alex and Nica, an engaged couple hiking through the Caucasus Mountains of Eurasia with their guide, Dato (newcomer Bidzina Gujabidze), in what feels like real time — agonizingly so. It’s as if mumblecore summoned enough energy to go outdoors.
Alex and Nica play footsie; the trio sings campfire songs in full; our couple teaches Dato R-rated tongue twisters in English; Dato performs rope tricks; Nica urinates in the dark. What has “happened” by the time the credits roll hardly justifies a feature treatment, whether or not the sex scenes are included. (Early in the picture, Alex, ever the gentleman, removes his fiancée’s tampon pre-coitus.)
Inti Briones’ oft-gorgeous cinematography of the landscape is not enough to recommend a viewing. The Loneliest Planet may be of interest to those insane people who find things like “camping” and “absence of plumbing” fun, or to those who seek irrefutable proof that Furstenberg is a natural redhead. —Rod Lott