Skip to main content

I feel like I know this place.


Triangle
(2009)

(SPOILERS of Triangle and Time Crimes) I've not seen Chris Smith's Severance, mainly because Danny Dyer's in it. On the evidence of this film, however, he's got talent to spare as a director, although I'm not so sure the several years he spent on the script have paid off.

Melissa George and her yachting companions encounter strange weather conditions and then come across an apparently deserted ship. Exploring it, things start to get weird. And then a whole lot weirder.

Whilst the "What is it about?" is evident by the time the credits roll, a glance at IMDB's Boards indicates how much debate the different possible permutations of the plotting have provoked. I actually prefer the looseness of possible interpretations (in comparison with the too rote for me Time Crimes for example, with which this shares certain structural similarities even if its conceptually very different) but there's a sense that getting to caught up in analysing every detail will end in disappointment, reading in levels and tangents that were not intended.

Melissa George is outstanding, some of the CGI is ropey, and there's a shot reveal just after an hour in that is just jaw-dropping.

Time Crimes stopped working for me when the protagonist decided to wrap the bandages round his head. Then, without reflection or (apparent) flaw in his actions, he went through the motions of repeating himself as the antagonist he’d encountered earlier, in order to complete the loop. How, aware of the situation, was he able to repeat his actions and why did he make the assumptions he made and decisions he did, which were pretty grim ones? I just didn't buy into the character’s choices. And more than that, the action of playing out the earlier events to the tee did not engage me or seem remotely plausible.

Likewise, in Triangle I began to get uneasy when George seemed to be blundering into forced repetitions. Then - joy - she became aware of her ability to change the outcome, which culminates in the shocking scene of all the dead copies of the female character she sees on the deck (and a nice touch that many of them have the cardigan she then puts on the dying character). So other versions had that self-awareness.

But then, after this flash of insight, she seems to revert to type, repeating the actions in order to fulfill the narrative demands (as far as I could tell). Which seems to involve the same kind of precise repetition of events we see in Time Crimes. Even though they require different definitions of what the loops "constitute", they are played out in similar language. It left me disappointed as, from that point until she reaches shore, I found the film all-too predictable again.

I can see some of the arguments that others have presented; that she would ultimately succumb to her violent nature and so, despite a flash of awareness, reverts to type. And, the compulsion to get back to her child operating as an overriding impulse. But, as at least one version of her (the one who was beaten to death on deck by herself) hadn't taken that course, I'd have liked to see more variations of it play out differently. There's a point in the film where the giddy potential (the bodies on deck) falls into a more routine line; there could have been any number of variations on the theme presented or versions of herself on different courses aboard the ship. The course chosen might serve the purgatory/damnation theme more fittingly, but it fails to satisfy in terms of character logic.

There are still other aspects of Triangle that require protective logic to explain, like the "gods" rules for what on the ships stays and what goes with each loop. The mirror sequence is probably the most under discussed moment in the film in terms of symbolic importance; is there supposed to be a "switch" then, where full realisation of what George must do takes place and she becomes the ruthless killer version of herself?

Ultimately, I was left dissatisfied as the film was neither as rich or layered as I hoped it would be; partly because the use of certain elements felt over familiar, but mainly because the characters become slaves to the where Smith wants to take the plot and so cease to hold integrity.

***

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

She writes Twilight fan fiction.

Vampire Academy (2014)
My willingness to give writer Daniel Waters some slack on the grounds of early glories sometimes pays off (Sex and Death 101) and sometimes, as with this messy and indistinct Young Adult adaptation, it doesn’t. If Vampire Academy plods along as a less than innovative smart-mouthed Buffy rip-off that might be because, if you added vampires to Heathers, you would probably get something not so far from the world of Joss Whedon. Unfortunately inspiration is a low ebb throughout, not helped any by tepid direction from Daniel’s sometimes-reliable brother Mark and a couple of hopelessly plankish leads who do their best to dampen down any wit that occasionally attempts to surface.

I can only presume there’s a never-ending pile of Young Adult fiction poised for big screen failure, all of it comprising multi-novel storylines just begging for a moment in the Sun. Every time an adaptation crashes and burns (and the odds are that they will) another one rises, hydra-like, hoping…

This isn't fun, it's scary and disgusting.

It (2017)
(SPOILERS) Imagine how pleased I was to learn that an E Nesbitt adaptation had rocketed to the top of the US charts, evidently using a truncated version of its original title, much like John Carter of Mars. Imagine my disappointment on rushing to the cinema and seeing not a Psammead in sight. Can anyone explain why It is doing such phenomenal business? It isn’t the Stephen King brand, which regular does middling-at-best box office. Is it the nostalgia factor (‘50s repurposed as the ‘80s, so tapping into the Stranger Things thing, complete with purloined cast member)? Or maybe that it is, for the most part, a “classier” horror movie, one that puts its characters first (at least for the first act or so), and so invites audiences who might otherwise shun such fare? Perhaps there is no clear and outright reason, and it’s rather a confluence of circumstances. Certainly, as a (mostly) non-horror buff, I was impressed by how well It tackled pretty much everything that wasn’t the hor…

Imagine a plant that could think... Think!

The Avengers 4.12: Man-Eater of Surrey Green
Most remarked upon for Robert Banks-Stewart having “ripped it off” for 1976 Doctor Who story The Seeds of Doom, although, I’ve never been wholly convinced. Yes, there are significant similarities – an eccentric lady making who knows her botany, a wealthy businessman living in a stately home with an affinity for vegetation, an alien plant that takes possession of humans, a very violent henchman and a climax involving a now oversized specimen turning very nasty… Okay, maybe they’re onto something there… – but The Seeds of Doom is really good, while Man-Eater of Surrey Green is just… okay.

You better watch what you say about my car. She's real sensitive.

Christine (1983)
(SPOILER) John Carpenter was quite open about having no particular passion to make Christine. The Thing had gone belly-up at the box office, and adapting a Stephen King seemed like a sure-fire way to make bank. Unfortunately, its reception was tepid. It may have seemed like a no-brainer – Duel’s demonic truck had put Spielberg on the map a decade earlier – but Carpenter discoveredIt was difficult to make it frightening”. More like Herbie, then. Indeed, the director is at his best in the build-up to unleashing the titular automobile, making the fudging of the third act all the more disappointing.

Don't worry about Steed, ducky. I'll see he doesn't suffer.

The Avengers 4.11: Two’s A Crowd
Oh, look. Another Steed doppelganger episode. Or is it? One might be similarly less than complimentary about Warren Mitchell dusting off his bungling Russian agent/ambassador routine (it obviously went down a storm with the producers; he previously played Keller in The Charmers and Brodny would return in The See-Through Man). Two’s A Crowd coasts on the charm of its leads and supporting performances (including Julian Glover), but it’s middling fare at best.

It could have been an accident. He decided to sip a surreptitious sup and slipped. Splash!

4.10 A Surfeit of H20
A great episode title (definitely one of the series’ top ten) with a storyline boasting all the necessary ingredients (strange deaths in a small village, eccentric supporting characters, Emma even utters the immortal “You diabolical mastermind, you!”), yet A Surfeit of H20 is unable to quite pull itself above the run of the mill.

Believe me, our world is a lot less painful than the real world.

Nocturnal Animals (2016)
(SPOILERS) I’d heard Marmite things about Tom Ford’s sophomore effort (I’ve yet to catch his debut), but they were enough to make me mildly intrigued. Unfortunately, I ended up veering towards the “I hate” polarity. Nocturnal Animals is as immaculately shot as you’d expect from a fashion designer with a meticulously unbuttoned shirt, but its self-conscious structure – almost that of a poseur – never becomes fluid in Ford’s liberal adaptation of Austin Wright’s novel, such that even its significantly stronger aspect – the film within the film (or novel within the film) – is diminished by the dour stodge that surrounds it.

Have no fear! Doc Savage is here!

Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze (1975)
(SPOILERS) Forget about The Empire Strikes Back, the cliffhanger ending of Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze had me on the edge of my seat for a sequel that never came. How could they do that to us (well, me)? This was of course, in the period prior to discernment and wisdom, when I had no idea Doc Savage was a terrible movie. I mean, it is, isn’t it? Well, it isn’t a great movie, but it has a certain indolent charm, in the manner of a fair few mid-‘70s SF and fantasy fare (Logan’s Run, The Land that Time Forgot) that had no conception the genre landscape was on the cusp of irrevocable change.

Let the monsters kill each other.

Game of Thrones Season Seven
(SPOILERS) Column inches devoted to Game of Thrones, even in “respectable” publications, seems to increase exponentially with each new season, so may well reach critical mass with the final run. Groundswells of opinion duly become more evident, and as happens with many a show by somewhere around this point, if not a couple of years prior, Season Seven has seen many of the faithful turn on once hallowed storytelling, and at least in part, there’s good reason for that.

Some suggest the show has jumped the shark (or crashed the Wall); there were concerns over how much the pace increased last year, divested as it was of George RR Martin’s novels as a direct source, but this year’s succession of events make Six seem positively sluggish. I don’t think GoT has suddenly, resoundingly, lost it, and I’d argue there did need to be an increase in momentum (people are quick to forget how much moaning went on about seemingly nothing happening for long stretches of previ…

James Bond, who only has to make love to a woman and she starts to hear heavenly choirs singing.