Thursday, April 4, 2019

The Overlook Theatre Reviews: Suspiria, Luca Guadagnino's

A darkness swirls at the center of a world-renowned dance company, one that will engulf the artistic director, an ambitious young dancer, and a grieving psychotherapist. Some will succumb to the nightmare. Others will finally wake up.

7 of 9 viewers "Liked" "Suspiria" (2018, USA)
Creature reviews have been minimally altered in an attempt to maintain their voice:

The Berkeley Blazer - "I loved Call Me By Your Name, and I love this movie.  I almost want to
mark it down slightly for the parts of the score where Thom Yorke sings (I loved his instrumental work), but the particular feeling of being lost in a cinematic world to this degree is so rare that I can't let such a triviality sway me from celebrating this movie.  More thoughts below in the wrap-up." - 5 Stars

Trash (R) - "Finally, all the elements that uptight critics approve of in horror have been packaged together into one soulless experience. Suspiria epitomizes “Elevated Horror” as a derogatory term. Bloated, constantly declaring itself artistic and formal, pretentious, and utterly vapid. Like some art school asshole who has a Hieronymus Bosch poster in their dorm but has the brains of a Rob Zombie flick. It didn’t read as feminist. I didn’t read much of anything. At the end, the most shocking thing about SUSPIRIA is that I didn’t really get bored during its three hour run time." - 2 Stars

The Wandering Panda - "I've got to say I didn't know what to expect with this film. I love the original with its striking use of colors and cinematography that at the time is just baffling. And I've got to say Suspiria 2018 is a way more dense film with so much going on in the foreground and background, with branching storylines that may be hard to follow. With a runtime of almost 2 and a half hours, this is a long film but I've got to say Suspiria 2018 has a better script, story, and acting. I just wish they'd release a version mixing the visual of the original with the storyboards of 2018." - 4 Stars

Lord Battle - "I love a polarizing film and Suspiria seems to be the cream of the crop for 2018. I've spoken to horror fans, film fans, casual fans, sentient fans, and people who wandered into the wrong theatre and no one can agree on anything! I'm not sure why this review took a comedic twist but it might have something to do with the fact I can't seem to agree with where I stand with this Argento remake... reimagining... sequel?! Okay, here's what I know: I felt like I missed A LOT while catching Suspiria on its lightly attended opening night. It honestly made me feel kinda dumb, like I should have known more about the war/global political climate with emphasis on women's rights of the time. And since I didn't I was missing something, but I couldn't get the damn film outta my head! I fell in love with the idea of current affairs washing over me as an audience member whose only focus was this dance school which was filled with fascinating rooms. Maybe the colors were mute and earthy but the textures were rich and inappropriate. The doorknobs where painfully centered but the mirrors were abundant and unflinching, and then there was the underbelly of the school... You know what, I loved this film. Suspiria climaxes in perhaps the best unholy ceremony in celluloid and did so without an ounce of religion. The unholy nature of this story is in our ability to lose ourselves in art while those outside our walls suffer and die. Do I think Suspiria is an art film positioning itself against art? No, but if mirrors represent a character's inner conflict, what is to be said about photographed, painted, and printed eyes betraying one's location and motives? Is this a commentary on cellphone use? Are we being judged by past selves? Or is this just another one of the film's philosophies that fizzles out? I really feel like liberal Germany birthing witches we are rooting for while orchestrating a world war may have some underlying meaning, but who knows? I sure don't. It definitely seems like every time I think I have an answer I end up with 2 more questions, and yet I can't stop thinking about this film. I hope this spawns a trilogy." - 4.5 Stars

Greyranger - "There was no way in hell this was going to match the viscerality and vibrance of the original. Happily, it goes hard in its own direction, taking in German politics the history of contemporary dance, coven administration and management, feminism, and a suitably twitchy Thom Yorke score. Dug it. Hope Guadagnino does Inferno, too." - 4 Stars

Math Mage - *Spoiler* - "No one respects somatic components. Everyone stresses about having enough bat guano, and magic words are all over the place. But no one thinks about how important gestures are to spellcasting (except anime ninjas and they don't count). So the next time someone asks why they can't cast spells while being seized by a giant crab, I'll refer them to this movie. Professional dance is weird; for the uninitiated, it might as well be sorcery. So witches running a dance studio makes perfect sense. That's not a spoiler, but this is: my favorite thing is when a monster's victim turns out to be even more monstrous. This has to be done correctly and it is done perfectly here." - 5 Stars

KillDozer - "I was dragged to a theater kicking and screaming to view yet another pointless and unnecessary remake. Lucky for me this remake, although still unnecessary, was made by some talented individuals with real vision. With an obvious color palette change and mood shift from the original, I believe this is a film that can stand on its own. The audience is treated to something beautifully shot with incredible performances and an intensity built up through choreography. To be honest, my experience was much different from those I watched the film with. I was pulled directly into the journey of an old man who had to go through hell to find peace but that literally is another story. The consistent mood throughout this unnecessary remake managed to capture my attention and let me have a unique experience on screen without constant comparison to its inspiration. This film had no reason to be remade but in the end, I'm glad it was." - 4 Stars (belongs on the shelf next to the greatest witch films and worth another watch)

Slayer Swift - "I appreciated Suspiria more than I enjoyed it. Susie’s first dance and Olga’s corresponding torture was so unexpected and disturbing (while also being kind of beautiful?). I still don’t fully understand what was going on underneath the studio or why, and I think I was looking for a more redemptive ending. Also, why were there so many characters? That contributed to my confusion. My favorite parts were the flashbacks to Susie’s Mennonite childhood and her mother’s realization of Susie’s destiny. Also, Chloe Grace Moretz as Patricia was magic. The Cold War Berlin setting was interesting, but I’m not quite sure what it added to the story. There was a lot going on, and I think I need another watch to take it all in." - 2.5 Stars

Huntress - "Weeks after seeing it, I still find myself thinking about some of the major moments of Suspiria. But there was so much more to this movie than its highlights and I spent a lot of the runtime wondering why we were seeing so much unrelated world building. Luckily, the remake was nothing like its iconic and vibrant predecessor, so comparing the two doesn't feel necessary, but it did take a post-viewing conversation for me to feel fulfilled after walking out of the theatre. And while I really enjoyed the contrast of cold gray buildings to cozy apartments to long dark hallways, I wouldn't say I was profoundly affected (which I feel like many reviews went for). Although the more I reflect on Suspiria, the more I want to rewatch it, for all of the not so subtle horror elements that it nailed." - 3.5 Stars

The Overlook Theatre Final Rating*
(Below is for after you've seen the film)

I’d rather not attempt to interpret this re-imagined Susperia, as better minds have published essays with words like "Jungian symbolism" and "collective historical trauma" for our reading pleasure.  I want to talk about why this was the perfect complementary mood piece to Luca Guadagnino’s penultimate opus Call Me By Your Name, which happens to be one of my favorite cinematic experiences of the last five years.

First let me ask:  Would you prefer to frolic among the hills and hamlets of Northern Italy with gorgeous creatures of culture and comfort as they explore and discover archaeological relics and their
budding sexuality?  Or, would you rather mod out smoking cigarettes in the girls locker room during of East Berlin's most tumultuous historical periods with a combative coven of dancer witches? The first scene is pleasant for most, and the second probably seems vile and repulsive to the healthy-minded.  When Guadagnino and cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom are at the helm, these worlds are rendered mutually compelling.  CMBYN and Susperia both employ muted textures with vibrant color palettes and both use a meandering sense of pace to boil the audience like willing frogs. Some have commented that Susperia is a drab film, but is this merely due to the fact that there
is a lot of grey?  The use of reds -crimson, damask, blood-  spring at us with gnashed teeth against dour concrete backgrouds and ages muted wood.  Both films give me the sensation of watching a '90s foreign film on VHS but in HD.   Call Me bathes us in deep beauty and erotic longing, while Susperia jams us into a phantasmagorical bloody womb where a new world is forged from past evils.  Not pleasant.

Has the critical response to Susperia been so much more polarizing than CMBYN simply because it is a beautiful film about ugliness? I'd rather not speculate, but I can say that many who praise Guadagnino's Susperia rightly add the caveat that the film is not for everyone; I found it seductive and yet I can't call it a seductive film.  Honestly friend, if you're not hooked in the first twenty minutes of either film then you'd probably do best to abort the process (though you'd miss some acerbically brutal dance macabres)".

While viewing these movies we viewers can vaguely acknowledge there are heady themes at play, those Important Questions and What Does it Mean to be Human?isms that bearded men bring up on dinner dates. These thematic ventricles yield little blood, and work best as structural underpinnings in service to the sensuality on display.  You may be the type to have never have given the profession of archaeology a thought outside of Indiana Jones, but in CMBYN when Elio's father pulls the
boyish face of a statue from the sea, the sensual and the intellectual are synthesized though the gaze of the filmmakers and we are transported; the passion of the academic -for that moment- is our own.
You may not even be able to spell ballet, but the dance sequences in Susperia both onstage and the mirrored walls of the academy will euphorically clutch your heart and release you bowels (the highest
form bodily applause).

I would like to catch Susperia in the theatre one more time to see if it can still possess me, or maybe I will think a bit more about the implications about what is actually happening.  Hopefully, I'll get lucky and I'll get swept off my feet again, like some cozy dream.

- The Berkeley Blazer

The Overlook Theatre materialized in a Century Theatre for a screening on 11/1/2018
*Based on the star ratings turned in by character reviewers, others viewed and got to "Dislike" or "Like" but that does not affect the rating.

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