Trance: when an art heist goes wrong the only auctioneer who knows where a valuable painting is can’t remember what he did with it. Purposely or not, this is a fragmented mess of a film: it’s hard to know exactly what is past, present, hypnosis, and visions – making it frustrating to follow at times. The twist-o-rama finale in particular is both super-smart and hyper-ridiculous. If it’s one thing though, Trance is visually sumptuous; some parts feel like a technical demo reel – full of impressive techniques, colouring, imagery, and most scenes have some form of reflection / symmetry. Yet, no matter how much Boyle tarts this up, it still manages to feel like a TV drama for the most part; lots of talking, small locations, tight cast etc. There’s also a really, really, strange ‘hairy bush’ Vs ‘shaved pubes’ sub-plot. Trance is part cutting-edge super-styalised directorial flare, and part humdrum, but the shattered timeline and ambiguity of what you’re watching make it very hard to tune in to. I imagine this plays better with a 2nd viewing.
Standard night out for us Scottish people…
Heat: a professional robber and homicide detective go head to head in a battle of wits, guns and getting the job done. The film is laden with superb moments & set-pieces: action, suspense and climaxes, which means that the film is gripping, explosive and unpredictable for the most part. You couldn’t hand-pick a greater cast of actors at their peak – right down to the extras (including Henry Rollin’s neck!!). Both leads are fantastic, equally volatile yet in-control men, despite the contrast between Pacino’s shouting / flailing and De Niro’s calm / focused anti-hero. Both portrayals are physical, entertaining, and career-tipping performances, so much so that by the end, you don’t really want either to snuff it. The biggest problem is that, by wanting to keep the film believable and give it more clout, almost every character gets some back-story, which means that the film spends some time opening lots of minor tangents, many of which are never resolved or revisited – or related to the plot. There’s no question about it, Heat is an outstanding film, and I’d love to give it 9, or 10, but I’d have been much happier watching a three-hour film focused almost exclusively on the two central performances, than have them share the runtime with a multitude of smaller, less relevant characters.
“Don’t let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner.”
JCVD: shows two perspectives of a post office robbery that Van Damme’s involved in… but this isn’t like any other film he’s done. He basically plays himself, in real life. To keep it realistic there’s not much action or explosives outside the opening scene – which is a self-referencing parody – and the DVD box. It’s pretty much an anti ‘Van Damme’ film; foreign language, with subtitles and genuinely clever & complex subject matter. To confuse us further it comments on his life, fame, the media, drug use, his filmography, similar actors and the movie business in general. Above this, Van Damme puts on a sensational performance, peaking with a 6-minute long single-cut soliloquy with his heart on his sleeve – which you absolutely do not expect. Above that it’s shot and executed brilliantly, with stylish visuals and editing. People that don’t ‘get it’ will think it’s just a crap action film, which is no doubt the reason it went straight to DVD. It’s self-indulgent, but it totally blew me away is it was less than 1% what I expected. Damme good viewing!! (Sorry)