Saturday, March 10, 2007

...and scary movies

Two recent non-horror films I've had the privilege to see - both great, and both scary as hell: Anthony Mann's Border Incident, with its insectile bandits and cutthroats and the nigh-unbearable scene of murder-by-plow. This film is a close cousin of T-MEN for a number of reasons: both films relate the story of undercover agents who spend time apart from each other while pursuing an elusive center to an unnavigable criminal structure. Both films have documentary book-ends and exhibit strong faith in the moral correctness of government law enforcement. Ricardo Montalban is the lead, his softness is not a liability, but a feature of his identity, remarked upon more than once. The cast is made strong by its supporting characters - Howard Da Silva, Arthur Hunnicutt, Sig Ruman, Arnold Moss, and James Mitchell. As for the look of the movie, well, let's just say it's not found dead-center between Mann's claustrophobia-inducing noirs and severe-angled westerns for nothing.

Raoul Ruiz's Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting, whose terrifying aspects are less direct; the film is a unique puzzler but the ending gave me a pretty decent shake. Ruiz piles on misdirection after misdirection so that when he ultimately suggests a real vector (get OUT!), the effect is cathartic. The cumulative effect of so many living, breathing (twiching!) mannequins was of strangulation.

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