Friday, 31 August 2018

NZIFF 2018 Diary: Let The Corpses Tan

Following a bank robbery, a group of robbers retreat to a hilltop villa to divvy up the spoils. Their plan goes wrong when a series of unexpected visitors - including a single mother and a pair of motorcycle cops - arrive at the house.

Eventually the house turns into a battle ground as the thieves battle the visitors and each other to control the loot... 

This review is going to be something of a self-own. I was not a fan of Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani's Amer, and because of that I skipped the duo's second effort, The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears.

Now I want to re-watch/evaluate all of their work, because this movie is awesome!

Watching Let The Corpses Tan, one word kept popping into my brain: sensuality. From the sound design to the Super 16 photography to the Morricone-style score, everything about this movie is pungent and idled up to hit all of your senses.

The sound is so foregrounded, you can almost smell the flavour of the meat hanging in the house, the sweat, the cordite from the gun discharges, the leather jackets, the sweat skin...

This movie reeks.

One of my earliest movie memories is the sound of feet on cobblestones in Mary Poppins. This movie's soundscape dialled me into the primal rush of sound and image. And while these aesthetic choices are cranked to the max, they do not feel extraneous, or a stand-in for content. This movie is pure cinema.
The obvious reference point is the Italian police thrillers of the 70s, but stripped down to the bare essentials. It is as if someone took the opening scene of Sergio Leone's Once Upon A Time In The West and extended it for 90 minutes.

This is a story of outsiders, motivated by self-regard, greed, violence and sex. The overheated visuals and soundtrack feel keyed into the characters' avarice. There are points during the stand-off where the filmmakers cut away from the claustrophobic interiors to god's eye shots of a model of the house with ants scurrying through it in a primal evocation of the humans' self-involved mediocrity. In the grander scheme of things, these people and their struggle over the gold is fruitless.

If that sounds a little highbrow, never fear. This movie is genre piece as race car, with all the non-essential parts taken off. It is a classic pressure cooker of a thriller, filled with double-crosses and one-upmanship. It also features a deep, rich vein of pitch black humour.

This movie is a blast.



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