Saturday, 22 December 2012

Beyond the Black Rainbow

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.

The sinister engineer who appears briefly in the movie. I was thrilled at his Daft Punk-meets-TRON costume. His stance and posture are very direct nods to the xenomorph in Alien.


  1. Not sure I trust your opinion. I seem to remember you liking Prometheus...


  2. Steve - there are some aspects of Prometheus I think are awesome, while others aren't so great. It's a mixed bag but ultimately I enjoy it for its production design and general aesthetics.

  3. The production design is indeed great. Mr Scott has repeatedly proven himself as a great world builder in both his execution and his ability to get the best designers around him. Now, if only that extended to getting a half decent script to go with it. Good production design does not a good film make and here it certainly did not...

    But Beyond the Black Rainbow does indeed sound intriguing...

    ... and I'm never going to let you hear the end of your liking Prometheus...

    ... I'll forgive lots because you like Big Trouble in Little China...

    ... but will exact bloody vengeance if you say a bad thing about my beloved Evil Dead 2.

  4. This looks like it could be a winner, thx solaris both of them and silent running are all in my top sci fi echelons. This one reminds me of the post modern " Moon " that captured those seventies bleak idiosyncrasies with panache.