Monday, December 9, 2013

Putty Up

Let's get this out of the way: I like--not love--Dario Argento.

I understand and appreciate his contribution to genre cinema. Suspiria is something of a masterpiece. His support and connections helped make Dawn of the Dead be all that it could be. I’ll admit that I’ve yet to see some of his more respected early efforts (Deep Red, The Bird With the Crystal Plumage, Four Flies On Grey Velvet among them) but regarding his middle-career streak (Tenebre/Phenomena/Opera), I come up in a rather scandalous category of meh.

Maybe I should just wait to reserve any complete judgment until I see his long-awaited Dracula 3D. Word on the street is it’s a hit!

Quick Plot: A young model named Celine is abducted by a yellow tinted mad man with a thing for disfiguring and killing beautiful women. Luckily for his latest soon-to-be victim, Celine's sassy flight attendant sister Linda will stop at nothing to save her. For Linda, that mostly means tracking down Adrien Brody's tortured Inspector Avolfi to crack the case before it's too late.

Giallo is, I guess, a giallo, save for the fact that doesn't really tease you with a mystery to the killer's identity. 

Well, maybe it does?

See, for some sort of creative/silly/yet sort of entertaining reason, Brody does double duty as the earnest hero and mumbling murderer. Now anyone who's ever caught a glimpse of Adrien Brody only to feel as though his one-of-a-kind schnozz has poked them in the eye might be wondering 'How can you possibly disguise a man with a face as singular as Adrien Brody?'


I'll spoil a question that you might otherwise be distracted asking for Giallo's 90 minute runtime: no,  Putty Brody is not the secret long-lost twin of Non-Putty Brody. Nor is Putty Brody supposed to be Non-Putty Brody in a putty disguise. Nope. He's just playing two parts a la Paul Dano in There Will Be Blood or Frank Morgan in The Wizard of Oz

Except with about 85% more putty.

You’re probably now thinking “how can you possibly get back to a semi-serious discussion of this movie when all I can think about no wis putty?” I feel your pain. And answer simply with this:

You can't.
High Points
Dummy violence! It's a giallo and it has dummy violence! THAT'S A GOOD THING!

Low Points
So. That was an note of ambiguous hope to end on eh?

Lessons Learned
Italian policemen were never taught how to take a pulse

The more puttied your face is, the further back your memory goes. This calculation does indeed lead to the conclusion that if your face is made entirely of putty, you can remember your life in your heroin addicted mother's womb

When considering what to be when you grow up, remember a hidden bonus of the occupation 'fashion model': you'll probably be skinny enough to squeeze through a chained door when trying to escape a mad putty-faced serial killer

Perhaps it explains my clumsiness as something blood-related: Italians are not very good at walking, at least if it involves passing another person without crashing into them

Randomly Aggressive Product Placement
Because watching a movie about a man who slaughters pretty young women ALWAYS puts me in the right mood for snappy Diablo Cody dialog

Look, I'm not calling Giallo a good movie. But unlike a lot of other gialli, it didn’t bore me. Many diehard Argento fans will call it a true shame, but as someone who’s never been overly impressed by the filmmaker’s output, I don’t see it as being THAT bad. It’s more that he never quite improved from where his run ended in the mid-80s. Fog up Giallo to make it look like it was made in 1987 and try to tell me it’s that much worse than Opera

Or just don’t watch it and save yourself an argument. The choice is ultimately yours.

Kissy kissy.

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