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 Review: 'Beyond the Black Rainbow'

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UnknownKadath

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Age : 27
Location : I live in my namesake, of course!.. Okay, in real life - Japan.

PostSubject: Review: 'Beyond the Black Rainbow'   Thu Sep 13, 2012 7:55 pm



Beyond the Black Rainbow
Written & Directed by Panos Cosmatos
Year of Release: Erm... 2010 initially at Tribeca, 2012 with an actual distributor.
Score composed by Jeremy Schmidt and Sinoia Caves
Starring: Eva Allen, Micheal Rogers, and Scott Hylands
Running time: About 109 minutes
View the trailer!
Viewed: Yesterday, on YouTube's VOD service.
Score:

Atmosphere. It is a wonderful thing for a movie to have. Atmosphere pulls you further into the films world, and can even slowly defuse that pesky suspension of disbelief. I go gaga over atmospheric films, and it shall be said that "Beyond the Black Rainbow" is one of the most atmospheric movies I have seen in years. The atmosphere is pulled off perfectly, it feels as though you are cascading on various drugs - viewing the highs, the lows, and enduring an increasingly bad trip - and that was most certainly what director and writer Panos Cosmatos was intending for the film. And no, Panos Cosmatos is not a pretentious pseudonym like I originally thought. He's the son of George Cosmatos, the guy who made Rambo: First Blood Part 2 and Cobra.) It also helps that the film has an incredible score by Jeremy Schmidt, a Canadian keyboardist who has done work for the awesome indie rock group Black Mountain (Click that link, you won't regret it.) and currently is the founder of a synthpop band called "Sinoia Caves," to whom the films score is credited to. The music in this film fits it like a glove, and I'll argue that it is one of the films most valuable assets aside from its atmosphere.

The film itself centers around 3 key figures: Elena, Dr. Berry Nyles, and Dr. Mercurio Arboria. Elena is a 17 year old psychic who is being held prisoner in the Arboria research institute, a once thriving commune that has collapsed in on itself - only leaving 3 other humans who aren't zombified or mutated by Dr. Arboria's "benign" pharmacology. Elena is being watched over by Berry Nyles - a twisted and perverse scientist who lost his humanity on the day of her birth, after altering some states, if you will (Hey - the movie made an obvious homage, so that means I can call the film on it.) by combining Arboria's drugs and using some kind of sensory deprivation therapy. Nyles treats Elena like a toy, controlling her psychic powers and constantly injecting her with various drugs and sedatives and psychologically and emotionally torturing her; and it is clear there is a sexual desire burning in Nyles as well. Meanwhile, Dr. Arboria is dying and cannot even get out of bed - and make note, Arboria has a kind heart despite how many people he fucked up, and Elena was meant to "usher in a new age of enlightenment" with her powers and as far as Arboria knows - she has brought peace to the world, and has no clue of what Nyles is doing to her.


Because this is what you see on "benign" pharmacology.


Let me say something right off the bat: Dr. Nyles, played by a man named Micheal Rogers, is the true star of the film. He is one scary motherfucker, and as the film goes on - he only gets more and more disturbing, and he's already an unpleasant role to begin with, he can make something as simple as taking happy pills look fucking creepy as shit. The way he toys with Elena is cruel, the highlight of his day is watching Elena cry after psychologically torturing her, he licks his lips seductively watching Elena kill one of the only remaining scientists, and there are deep implications that only make him a more and more unpleasant presence - half the film, you feel like at any moment he's going to just give in to the beast and rape Elena, kill her, or both; and there's the strong implication that he already has raped her, and to be honest? Not having a rape scene and merely letting the implications build up with no real answer is far more disturbing then just showing her get assaulted. Nyles manages to even save a rather random 5 minutes in the last act where the film suddenly switches gears from "Sorta art house film" to "Generic Slasher" film, his mannerisms and the reveal of his inhuman form during this scene makes you ignore that they're ripping off every slasher movie ever made for a few minutes - because he makes a damn scary slasher villain.

This is his reaction to watching Elena kill a co-worker. Note that you cannot see his hands, and he is gasping and moaning. Seriously - this guy is fucking creepy.

...but with all that said, the film was a disappointment. If you watch this movie - you have to have a lot of patience. Let's not beat around the bush, Panos wanted to make a film like "2001" - slow, long, drawn out shots included. It thankfully isn't 3 hours long, but it still feels far longer than it should. The film is intentionally vague about certain parts of its plot, but through simple mental math - it can all be assembled, and the message underneath becomes insultingly obvious: "Drugs and mystic cults and perverts are bad and shouldn't be allowed to do science, mmm'kay?" ...Thanks movie, I never would have realized that without you. Primary school be damned.

This is seriously all the subtlety there is to the "Drugs are Bad" message. >_>

The story has many interesting ideas, but they are all played wrong. Let me point something out, Panos: 2001 was able to get away with being vague as fuck because it actually had substance under the surface that was carefully baked in and allowed people to chew on what they saw and try to figure it out. You just lifted up a rug, swept your message underneath, and left it at that. There is no substance beneath your vague, slow scenes - and that is ultimately what kills what could have been a superb film, and instead derails it into becoming merely an "Okay" film. I had the patience to sit it out, and the cinematography was memorable, the soundtrack was incredible, and as stated - the atmosphere is impeccable and incredible. But the ideas fall apart under scrutiny, and it really is a damn shame the film couldn't have been a more enjoyable watch overall.

I actually did like the film, but I can't really recommend it to someone unless they really, really like this sort of movie and can enjoy the ambience while forgiving the films lack of substance. Plus, Elena's birth/when Nyles went nutso is easily one of the most incredibly bizarre, disturbing, and visually memorable things I've ever seen on film - so it may be worth it even for that, but again - only if you have the patience and can enjoy the films many good points while ignoring its massive, glaring flaw. It is available for viewing on YouTube video on demand right now, and I think that is the only way to see it - I'm not sure. It was shelved after Tribeca 2010 and only just released recently so it had a bumpy road to release.

Oh, and if you're wondering what the hell the title is all about, it refers to what Nyles saw in his sensory deprivation voyage, and later in the film when he finally snaps and tries to go after Elena - he talks to his wife about his "spiritual journey" and how he came in contact with a large cloud that he refers to as "Gorgeous in shape and massive, like a black rainbow" and that the drugs and sensory deprivation allowed him to "Pass beyond the black rainbow - and stare into the eyes of god."

This is what Nyles looks like, passing through the black rainbow... MMyep, totally benign pharmacology. This is from the most memorable scene in the film though.


Edit: Oh, and here's one of the best music pieces in the film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKCHXpSEtOU I seriously hope Sinoia Caves releases the soundtrack.


Last edited by UnknownKadath on Fri Sep 14, 2012 5:27 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Added screenshots (I usually do this, but was too lazy.) and added some more commentary I was too lazy to mention.)
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