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HEAVEN
An Alex Grant film review
An evocative totally stylized thriller

Tom Tykwer’s new film taken from a script by deceased demi-god of synchronicity Krzytzof Kielowski will elude complete understanding unless you have a grounding in the films of Fritz Lang.
This German expatriate U.S. director had mastered an extraordinary deployment of architecture and space as dramatic personae His existentialist thrillers reveled in a fatalistic,paranoid world-view, wherein vast criminal conspiracies between law-enforcement and mobsters [THE BIG HEAT/ BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT/WHILW THE CITY SLEEPS] ruled America.

There is an even greater debt within the imagery of HEAVEN and a more demanding a task asked of the viewer : extensive familiarity with the religious icons and imagery of Renaissance Art.

An evocative totally stylized thriller centred upon an amateur saboteur [ Cate Blanchett] and the Italian policeman who aids her escape from custody – again think of Fritz Lang’s FURY or his YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE; HEAVEN abruptly becomes a spiritual New Age/ Sewage melodrama after an hour or so of intense suspense.

The final 25 minutes of this short film [less than 90 minutes] are an hommage to Italian painters of the C16th and C17th eras. European architecture has seldom played such a huge role in defining character and human interaction as Tykwer allows it to do here. Beings dwarfed and trapped by spaces both interior and exterior. Filmgoers today are largely unfamiliar with such a subtle dramatic use of insensate features of the urban and rural landscapes the exquitise blend of figures into landscapes.

Such a claim makes HEAVEN sound cold and heartless, which it is not. The only recent film to accomplish this Langian juxtapositioning of people and places is DARK CITY [1997] by Alex Proyas, which was gravely misunderstood and undervalued by the amateurs who dare to consider themselves "critics" in Canada when they barely pass muster a reviewers and industry-owned flacks.
Take a look at the archives of any daily newspaper of the past decade and you will be astonished by the ignorance displayed on their film pages whether local or national broadsheets and tabloids.

© Alex Grant October 2002

Now Showing in Tinseltown - Vancouver

ALEX GRANT Sunday OP-ED

THE WEARYING COUNTERPRODUCTIVE STATE OF FILM ‘REVIEWING’ IN CANADA

Reading with minute attention the reviews of Oscar-winning scenarist STEPHEN GAGHAN’s atrocious directorial debut film ABANDON probably the very worst film I have seen in my entire life – dialogue that truly stinks, acting that has no peer in inadequacy (Benjamin Bratt as a recovering substance-abuser cop is less competent than ‘Guy Smiley’ the SESAME STREET puppet, all smirks and no charm) it dawned upon me that there are no ‘critics’ of film in Canada worthy of the title.
The Globe and Mail’s review of ABANDON on Friday, October 18th 2002 was so ill-judged and incompetent, .the mind boggles in disbelief. Of course Roger Ebert of Chicago is everywhere.
The ubiquitous duke of avoirdupois, a legendary "heavy-hitter" in his own mind, and a man mountain of utter mediocrity as a much-vaunted reviewer. I refer to Roger as DWEEBERT.And everywhere he is THE NATIONAL POST, THE VANCOUVER PROVINCE. His writing reeks of sell-out. How on earth could this mediocre middle-brow justify KNOCKAROUND GUYS- a wannabe Scorsese/Tarantino movie in which even the day-for-night cinematography is inept? A gangster farce marked by such severe mood-swings it makes the moody Frank Sinatra liks as sane as Mahatma Ghandi on Prozac.

Local reviewers in the Lower Mainland are no more reliable, insightful or well versed in film. Some local wag in THE SUN on October 18th 2002 asserted that the U.S. remake of THE RING is the scariest horror film since THE EXORCIST. Do these hacks know more than your average 10-year old about their chosen field? In the same daily a while back there was an attempt to justify THE FOUR FEATHERS, a film that had absolutely no relevance to today and is treading water – or rather sand – impotently for its unendurable duration.

Most informed readers of THE SUN know that if their reviewers recommend film "X" avoid it like the plague. THE BANGER SISTERS was highly recommended in those pages for its script ! A scenario of astonishing banality and crudity.

I could enlarge on this theme of the total inadequacy of film journalism at length, but the Philistine ‘know-nothing’ commentary wil no doubt prevail. As used to be the adage about rock’n’roll writers: people who can’t write writing for people who can’t read. With film: people who can’t see writing for people who fail to see what is right under their eyes.

© Alex Grant- October 2002.


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