MANDY (2018, Panos Cosmatos)
Full of shit in all sorts of fascinating, novel ways. It’s not often you come across a director so visionary, so singular and unique, and also so terrible at the same time. Usually movies and styles this idiosyncratic are also good, so it’s some sort of achievement that this manages to be crap unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
Not to say that it isn’t a huge pile of influences: there’s a lot here from Hooper to Carpenter to Lynch to Ken Russell to Rob Zombie, and if you melt all of that together, put it in a bag and shake it around, you could squeeze out this trippy bore. But the familiar ingredients have never quite been cooked in this manner, so I was constantly questioning what might happen next, and constantly apathetic about the trivial, insipid answer.
Cosmatos seems to have dropped a giant book on color temperature in front of his DP, who decided that stocking up on red bulbs and overexposing the shit out of it would make everything look wild, man. And maybe it does. I have nothing against a movie that provides distinct pleasures when experienced on hallucinogenic drugs, but I do have a problem if the movie requires that medication to enjoy it. For audience members watching this sober, it is nothing but a slow, gory, self-important trudge. The intended jokes fall flat (“That was my favorite shirt!” and “Don’t be negative!” seem to come from two totally different characters and neither one works), and Cage does not help them land. For all the shots that amaze — like the close-ups of Roache and Riseborough dissolving into one another — the shot that says the most about this movie comes in the second half, when Cage is riding an ATV into the cult camp. His wheel gets stuck, and Cosmatos cuts to a tight insert of the rubber tire spinning, spinning, and spewing out the mud in which it is stuck.