After a conversation at work during which I slated lots of modern films, a colleague asked me which recent movies I actually liked. Embarrassingly I was hard-pressed to answer and could only cite The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo from my last year of viewing. Well, I am pleased to say that another movie has floated my boat - Panos Cosmatos' Beyond the Black Rainbow.
The first thing to say about this movie is that it certainly won't appeal to everyone. This is reflected in the very mixed reviews it has received (some judging it to be quite dire). It is, however, right up my street. The plot, such as it is, revolves around the ordeals of a girl incarcerated in a dubious pharmacology institute because her existence is a threat of epic metaphysical proportions. More importantly the movie is a loving homage to the straight-to-VHS nasties from the early 80s. Think THX 1138, Silent Running and Solaris shot through with plenty of vintage Kubrik, Cronenberg and Lynch. I say 'homage' but, as this astute article at Cinema Scope points out, the film is so faithful in its rendering and so obsessive in its detail that it is less a pastiche and more an out-of-place artifact. The details are just amazing - fictional vintage clothing labels, drugs from Benway's laboratory, biro-scrawled thrash metal audio tapes and badly printed pseudo-scientific notebooks.
Much in the same way as my Girl with the Dragon Tattoo experience was heightened by Trent Reznor's awesome soundtrack, Black Mountain keyboardist Jeremy Schmidt augments ...Rainbow with a menacing, throbbing synth-mix inspired by John Carpenter. Alas the soundtrack does not seem to be available as a complete entity.
I'll end this post by quoting this reviewer who summed up the film better than I ever could: it's like Matthew Barney and Trent Reznor remade 2001: A Space Odyssey.