Meewella | Critic

According to P

Tag: Masanobu Takayanagi

QuickView: The Pale Blue Eye (2022)

“I do consider death to be one of poetry’s most exalted themes.”

Cadet Edgar Allen Poe

Sleepy Hollow for a new generation, The Pale Blue Eye adapts Louis Bayard’s murder mystery novel set during Edgar Allen Poe’s time at West Point Military Academy, the title plucked from his most famous poem, Lenore. Scott Cooper draws inspiration liberally from Sleepy Hollow’s aesthetic, with snow-covered forests providing greater chill than the film’s dabbling in occult horror. Masanobu Takayanagi’s cinematography often veers toward a blue-tinted greyscale, reminiscent of his similar natural landscapes in The Grey. In his third collaboration with Cooper, Christian Bale is reliable as ever in the role of outside investigator Landor. However, the primary reason to see the film is to experience Harry Melling’s enthralling performance as Poe — physical similarity aside, he captures the inner world of the man’s open-minded intellect and his fascination with death. The film’s dual perspective between this unlikely pair — drawn together by their intellect and isolation — can dilute its potency. The Pale Blue Eye succeeds more in atmosphere than its ponderous storytelling, the mystery unfolding adequately if not quite satisfyingly (an early clue is ignored by the characters yet subsequently proves key, whilst other information is withheld entirely). Strong performance and exquisite imagery are sufficient to maintain engagement, but The Pale Blue Eye leaves the viewer cold rather than chilled.


QuickView: The Grey (2011)

The Grey poster

“Once more into the fray. Into the last good fight I’ll ever know. Live and die on this day. Live and die on this day.”


Joe Carnahan’s survival thriller falls squarely into the grizzled man versus nature blueprint, Liam Neeson leading a handful of oil workers through the Alaskan wilderness as they are stalked by a pack of wolves. The Grey explores the human reaction to becoming prey, fear of the wolves being as dangerous to the group as the wolves themselves. The action is sparing, with suspense crafted more through the push and pull of threat and stand-off, fire being the group’s strongest tool both as a defence and to stave off the freezing temperatures. Whilst it may lack the audaciously complex cinematography of Iñárritu’s The Revenant, there is still a sense of beauty and grandeur to the vast and desolate snow-covered landscape. Only a few characters are developed during the film’s quieter moments, most notably Frank Grillo’s Diaz, who initially seems a stereotypical contrarian antagonist. The Grey‘s abrupt ending will frustrate some viewers though it is what I anticipated and, I think, what works best for the film; a few seconds of post-credits footage offer slightly more certainty for those who require it.


"A film is a petrified fountain of thought."

(CC) BY-NC 2003-2023 Priyan Meewella

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