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Hello children, gather round for another edition of the Tagline, the only blog where I personally write about what Vanilla Ice was doing in 1991 and then make awkwardly sexual comments about members of the Avengers (haha members GET IT). Anyway this week was SUPPOSED to be kung-fu week, but due to some unforeseen acquisition challenges instead it's going to be random crap like every other week-week, but I can't bust out a gem like Cool as Ice every day so instead I'm going to be reviewing a movie that WASN'T a massive joke. After experiencing some challenge actually locating the movie, because the original name was different than the American title of the film, I tracked down Mindscape (called Anna in the US) a film reinforcing my already dubious impression of Taissa Farmiga. This film features Mark Strong in one of his rare roles as not a sneaky bad guy plotting to murder you, or an upfront bad guy who is nonetheless still trying to murder you. Instead he is John Washington, a sort of psychic detective, who can use a kind of hypnotism to enter the memories of others. This memory investigation is the principal conceit of the movie the "one thing" that's different from what is otherwise our world. John is down on his luck as the movie opens, due to a trauma in his past, that sometimes intrudes on his sessions and had previously caused him to have a stroke. The memory investigating and the way a person's own memories can intrude seemed a lot like the dream stuff in Inception, but it was distinct enough that it didn't feel like they were just ripping off that movie. Anyway, John is out of money to spend on booze, and so goes to his boss Sebastian (Brian Cox AKA Hannibal Lecter AKA William Stryker) looking for a job. He is offered one, in the form of Anna (Taissa Farmiga who as you may or may not know is a witch/ghost/member of the bling ring) who is on a hunger strike, and also maybe a complete psychopath. She's the daughter of incredibly rich parents, and is super smart but also extra strength weird, and is on a hunger strike. She eventually reveals that this is because she fears being drugged by her step-father, who wants to have her institutionalized. Ten minutes of her in the movie and I could really see where the guy was coming from, even if he WAS a douche.
John begins therapy sessions with Anna, slowly delving into her really messed up memories as he attempts to discern whether she is a total maniac, or just happens to be surrounded by awful people, and I have to say both scenarios have ample evidence to support them, making it difficult as the viewer to really be sure as to what's going on. In a movie that is dealing with mystery, I think we can all agree that is a good thing. This movie at its core is more or less a detective story, only with sci-fi elements that add nuance and suspense to the proceedings. Because of John's kind of shaky mental and emotional state, it starts to get really murky as to whether he is really incisive and picking up on deceptions on the part of Anna or others in the movie, or whether he's just a liquored up crazy guy who's a few sandwiches short of a picnic. Mark Strong as usual is fantastic, and it's nice to see him given the chance to take the lead, rather than being a supporting character or villain. He brings a very convincing sense of pathos to the role, and he is a very sympathetic character, though he clearly is at the breaking point and dealing with Susie Crazy is clearly not helping him with his issues.
I initially had a tough time finding this movie after I watched some previews, because the title was changed between it's British release and the US release, and the movie also never really saw a wide release in the US to begin with (I ended up finding it through video on-demand, which I guess it went STRAIGHT to, though Netflix hasn't picked it up...yet). One thing I thought was very nice was that, even as a movie shot on a relatively modest budget (under 5 million RELATIVELY OKAY) this movie never FEELS like it's off-brand or direct to video. The camera work is top notch, the script is super tight and flows well, it's just an overall very polished piece of film, that is acted well on all sides. Brian Cox is another actor who I think is always under-valued, despite his talent, and also the lady who was the Red Viper's wife on this season of Game of Thrones gets thrown off a balcony. Just thought I'd toss that part in (haha toss). Taissa Farmiga displays a talent for playing unsettling young ladies, but I'm just not sure if she's going to end up being stuck typecast as the doe-eyed girl who isn't-as-innocent-as-she-appears. She hasn't been in a lot of movies, but that role seems to feature prominently.
As another segment of the virtues this movie displays when attempting to make a compelling film on a budget, this movie is very quick and to the point, without a lot of needless add-ons. It's just over 90 minutes run time, and that whole amount basically is relevant to the main plot. It manages to in that space establish a premise, execute on it, and fit in enough twists to keep you engaged throughout, and it also managed to actually surprise me a bit with the ending. Oh shit I just realized that the guy who cut off Jaime Lannister's hand in Game of Thrones is ALSO in this movie, I guess now we know what these people do after they get murdered SPOILER ALERT, nah I'm just kidding I don't think Ellaria Sand dies that I'm aware of. I mean Valar Morghulis and all that. That's all for today! Join me again later in the week, when I alternately review something kind of stupid, or something REALLY STUPID.
|I was in Sherlock Holmes you know.|
|Also in Kick-Ass I got blown up. That was a rough day.|
|Spoilers she was a ghost the whole time.|