Sep 6, 2010


Wave after wave, these old horror maestros rekindle their slightly squirming fan base to watch the buzz kick shit around the Internet and film circuits. That must be the reason, some sick sadistic fetish for crushed expectations. I mean, why else would Dario Argento be releasing the fetid premature efforts that he is to this day? After Do You Like Hitchcock?,The Card Player, and Mother of Tears, the only consistent aesthetic Dario retained from his glory days of lite-brite wop thrillers was his unbridled narcissism and plucky sense of violence. While these two facets do build a product, the result is not something I'd appreciate from the man responsible for some of the greatest Italian horror films, directing or producing. Without Argento, would Demons have found a budget to play with? The fickle pseudo-science of premonition will not be wasted here in this text space but rather, I'd like to review his latest foray in homicidal angst and othernatural slaughter in his sardonically-titled Giallo. Get it? Let the chortling begin.

Giallo marks the third Adrien Brody film I've reviewed in a 2 month span. I wish it were a coincidence but truthfully, I've found myself drawn to his irreplaceable charm and versatility. After viewing Predators and discovering that even wimps can play macho, I've selected several films of his recent career to view and haven't been disappointed by his roles yet. Even in The Experiment did he traject the desperation of having to play guinea pig to a sadistic and blatantly homosexual Forest Whitaker. Adrien's ability is not to be underestimated and I find myself very warm to the idea of him playing a smarmy detective shadowed by seclusion and late night pizza. That begins Giallo in a way, however Adrien Brody's character, name of Enzo, isn't introduced until after the damsels in distress are desecrated by the killer known esoterically as "Yellow." After the sister of an American stewardess is kidnapped, the desperate dame from The Diving Bell and the Butterfly seeks the help of Inspector Enzo Avolfi to recover her before it's ultimately too late.

If I had to protect a single shred of evidence to prove the films reputation as anything but fallible, I'd select Brody's performance as an asshole investigator whose modus operandi is letting himself get too attached to cases. After watching his mother get slaughtered as a child, Enzo discovers the killer working at a butcher shop and decides to appropriate his own vengeance. Growing up, it must have become obvious that his only possible career path would be to convert to a gumshoe and track down serial murderers. This set-up is enough to install the arrogant, egocentric personality that is good for few laughs as his nasty demeanor paints the screen. Not only does he deflect the sex appeal and passes from Emmanuelle Seigner but leaves the film with such form that will undoubtedly echo in the minds of critics and cynics alike. Only after the film reaches its conclusion can you form a solid hypothesis on whether the film had the makings of something of acceptable quality. Even at the point of this review I'm very torn between hating this film and appreciating its brave casting and slimy misogynistic violence.

No Italian thriller is complete without a formidable opponent, a killer for continuity's sake. In this film, the killer is grotesquely crafted as a cab driver with appalling intentions for young bodies. Yellow, named for the color of his skin and the taunts of school children, operates solely on the destructive inner guide that leads him to slaughter beauty in order to progress his own vanity. To complete his psychosis, Argento made sure to dope him up on "happy pills," thus endangering the victims even more because once his euphoria peaks, all hell breaks loose upon the supple and soft bodies of some of Italy's more beautiful specimens of lechery. Giallo is by all means a serious film, which hurts its credit, but the thing I couldn't get over most was how Yellow (played by Brody as well), in all his facial prosthesis, didn't look any less monstrous as he does without practical makeup application. Intentional or not, the idea of Argento cementing the killers pugnacious appearance as less of an embellishment towards the actors real face tickles my ribs. Subversive resentment for not acquiring the intended Ray Liotta? Possibly.

Dario Argento set himself up for failure, what, with creating all those classic departures from your typical Italian slasher by implementing luscious colors with the purpose of enchanting the set and creating something of a brand of mysticism around death. His reputation has preceded him since his cinematic venture into an extended midlife crisis. To be fair and blunt, Giallo isn't the phoenix rising from the ashes of which you so wished. I can find much to hate and much to appreciate, Giallo is simply a film that will not make everyone happy. The faults lie heavy in the diagrams of the killer, Yellow, as his jaundiced skin has led him to the instrumental slash-repeat ritual that leaps to his close capture. Beautiful escapist entertainment, for us and him, is what Giallo rests on. The idea of being engaged, whether it be from an awfully scripted slasher film to Adrien Brody who tries his damnedest to be a dapper douche, is the drive of Giallo. Perhaps the biggest flaw of Argento's latest is that this film wears its heart on its sleeve and will catch flak for doing so. Let my unmentioned recommendation float on the promise that it's not as bad as Mother of Tears


1 comment:

jervaise brooke hamster said...

Theres nothing wrong with a geezer being misogynistic as long as hes rampantly heterosexual as well. By the way, i thought "Mother of Tears" was superb and much better than that pile of ludicrously over-rated hogwash "Suspiria".