wo new films this weekend were good examples of missed opportunities by filmmakers following up critically acclaimed pictures.
I admit to having reservations about Rodrigo Cortes’s debut, “Buried,” in which Ryan Reynolds found himself buried alive in the Middle East. But the film was mostly well reviewed by critics.
His latest, “Red Lights,” has primarily been panned and while it eventually falls apart under scrutiny, I found sections of it more intriguing than his debut.
In the film, Cillian Murphy and Sigourney Weaver play psychologists who disprove paranormal phenomena, but who find themselves in a dilemma when a blind, renowned psychic (Robert De Niro) whose sleights of hand are particularly difficult to figure out resurfaces after a 30-year-hiatus.
First and foremost, the performances in the film are all solid, especially Weaver, who portrays a cynic with a troubled personal life that makes her want to be a believer.
The film is a thriller and there are a number of creepy sequences, especially one in which Murphy seeks out De Niro in an old building with décor straight out of “Twin Peaks.”
There is a plot twist at the end of the film that would have likely felt more at home in an M. Night Shyamalan film. And while the concept of this twist could be viewed as clever, it simply does not hold up. These types of endings are supposed to force moviegoers to go back and view the entirety of the film with different eyes and, in this case, the evidence just isn’t there.
“Red Lights” is a film that held my attention, but was ultimately unsatisfying.
I can’t use the expression “sophomore slump” for “Alps,” the latest picture by Greece’s Giorgos Lanthimos as the movie happens to be his third feature.
But it was his second film, “Dogtooth,” that brought him critical acclaim. The only thing more shocking than the film itself, which chronicled the decline of an isolationist family crippled by some severe dysfunction, was the fact that it earned an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film.
I found “Dogtooth” to be a disturbing and perverse, but frequently hilarious and fascinating, experience.
So, “Alps,” which is equally as weird but not as compelling, is a bit of a letdown. It’s certainly not a bad film, just not as original as its predecessor.
For many viewers, much of the film will be spent in confusion. It’s difficult to discern the exact nature of the service carried out by its group of protagonists, several of whom work at a hospital.
But we come to find out that the group, which consists of two older men and two younger women, learns the personality traits and hobbies of the dying and then spends a couple of weeks pretending to be them after they have died in order to allow the families time to adjust to their loss.
One of the women gets in too deep and has trouble letting go herself once a family no longer needs her services.
The picture’s visuals are stark and its script is elusive. This style worked well for “Dogtooth” due to its outlandish content, but slightly drains Lanthimos’s latest of its energy.
Despite his latest being a slight disappointment, the director is a genuine talent with a vivid imagination and I look forward to his next film.