Sunday, June 08, 2008

The Fall

(2008) *****

After my gushing horrorthon review of the visuals in director Tarsem Singh's debut movie The Cell last year, it won't come as a surprise that I made a special effort to see his new movie on the big screen (I say special effort, but had Zack arrived on time I would have likely missed it).

The Fall actually premiered two years ago at the Canadian Film Festival, and since then has been screened at various festivals, but it didn't get any kind of general release until a few weeks ago. Even then that release was limited, and so it's unlikely any of you will be able to follow my next bit of advice: please please please see this movie on the big screen. We're in "run, don't walk" territory here.

Set in a Los Angeles hospital in the 1920's, it's a tale of a meeting between two people who both have tragedy in their pasts and on-the-job injuries. Roy is a stuntman whose last stunt went wrong, and five-year-old migrant worker Alexandria broke her arm while picking oranges. She visits the bedridden Roy, and Roy tells her a story.

The director's visual sense can make even the mundane real-world settings dreamlike and gorgeous, but it's the look inside Alexandria's imagination that is the star of this film. Like the mindscapes of The Cell, these vistas are limitless: fantastically huge, deliciously colored, splendidly costumed. Unlike The Cell, there are far more genuine location shots and far fewer special effects -- and those effects that do show up are the subtle kind that aren't meant to be noticed. In truth I only spotted two.

As the various exotic locations unspool on screen, you can see why it took him six years to make another movie. Here's the list of places they shot: Andaman Islands (South Pacific), Argentina, Bali, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, China, Egypt, Fiji, Hollywood, India (several locations), Italy, Maldives, Namibia, Nepal, Prague, Romania, South Africa, and Turkey. Each location is hand-picked for perfection, and I must've gasped out loud a half-dozen times as yet another beautiful shot revealed itself.

The cast is made up of complete unknowns, which is often a plus these days. Added to that is a stunning performance by Cantinca Untaru, who plays little Alexandria. Anyone who's ever been put off by precocious, unrealistic movie kids will love her; she's a complete natural. So much so I'm pretty sure a lot of her scenes were ad-libbed, and the result is utterly charming.

I just did a moviefone search and those of you in RI will have to go hunting in Massachusetts to find a showing, and I know that's probably too far. It'll still be great to watch on the dvd, so I'll make some more noise when that happens. To those of you with the arthouse theaters of SF or NYC at your disposal, I urge you to check this out. It's more than eye candy, it's an eye banquet.

For a taste, I've linked some of the clips from the imdb video gallery. (You'll probably have to get through an ad for The Bucket List, but not on every single one.) The first four feature some of the fantastic imagery I'm mooning about, the last two depict some of the excellent interplay between the two main characters. Take a look.

Your Wisdom Shall Save Us All

Publicly Banished

Butterfly Reef

May I Be Frank With You?

Touch One of My Toes

What's in the Box?


JPX said...

Nice review! I'm delighted that you were able to catch this. I like The Cell and watched it on your recommendation. It's times like these when I wished I lived in a place that played all the obscure films. Alas, I might have to wait for the DVD.

Julie said...

This movie is fantastic.

Update on Zack.

We went in for another non stress test today, and Zack is, as usual, non stressed. He's just hanging out. He sounds great in there, and he's moving a ton. Meanwhile, I'm having constant contractions, which I also got to see on a monitor--very interesting stuff. But they are not the kind that lead to a baby. It seems that on a fundamental, biological level, I am "too posh to push." My body just will not go into actual labor. I sort of think of it like a dog that is really good at getting the ball but just won't give it back. My body is great at growing babies, but it doesn't know how to do the next step.

I'm so glad we didn't waste our money on childbirth classes. So Tuesday it is!

miko564 said...

Perhaps Zack knew on some instinctual/DNA level that his father wanted to see this movie and, besides eating LEGOs, making the old man miss a movie is the fastest way to piss him off. The giant head already is paying off!

Octopunk said...

"A dog that is really good at getting the ball but just won't give it back." I know that dog, it's DCD's Miso!

Actually, what he does is fetch but only bring the ball about halfway back. When you tell him to bring it to you, he just picks it up and puts it down again in the same spot, as if to say "duh, it's right here. Come over here and throw it again."

I just went on imdb and found out that Lee Pace (Roy from The Fall) also plays the main character on the show Pushing Daisies. So not a complete unknown.

Also, the flick has a stop motion sequence. Yay stop motion!

Julie said...

JPX, if there's any way you can make it into your neighboring state to see this movie, you won't regret it! It's a transcendent experience, for real yo.

DCD said...

Octo - I thought the EXACT same thing about Miso!!

Glad to hear the update - I didn't want to interrupt your last weekend of "just the two of you."

Cool new avatar Miko!

DCD said...

PS - Charles Darwin's coat is FIERCE!!