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Bob Doto [Film Festival 05.07.11] movie review scifi cult experimental dystopic



Year: 2010
Director: Panos Cosmatos
Writer: Panos Cosmatos
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Bob Doto
Rating: 7.8 out of 10

Ooooo.... So many opinions. Marina loved it. Twitch loved it. Our commenters hate it. Your mother doesn't get it. As far as I'm nominally concerned, this film is entirely and without a doubt rooted in the suspended psychic animation of no soap...radio. Get it?

Set in a 1980s-ish world you never knew (though could have, had you hung around any number of cults bent on futurism), writer-director Panos Cosmatos's BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW follows a young woman, Elena (Eva Allan), imprisoned, drugged, and made virtually immobile by her male-mental scientist captor, Barry (Michael Rogers), who employs extreme mental dismemberment tactics on the one girl set to be the crown of humanity. When we meet her, however, she is barely the crown of catatonia.

The first, second, and third acts smash into one another as they each vie for narrative supremacy. Characters speak only when spoken to, by God or by science (God II). And, the cinematography is hell-bent on recreating a futuristic 80s visual experience that was cool when it was the 80s and referencing the past was still seen as lazy and uninspired.


In order for me to appreciate this film I need to erase the reliance on appropriated retro-80s BS and focus on A. how much BTBR is really a film about male-ness, and B. how all the retro-80s BS can be read as a character in its own right. 'Cause let's face it, Peaches' 2000 release, "The Teaches of Peaches," had already capitalized on an already exhausted 80s throwback culture, and that was eleven years ago!

Read as a hyper-exposed dissection of the power-triumphant masculine condition, BTBR is ripe like a juicy melon. The attention to/obsessional with detail, the forced modernity, the sparse language and heady manipulations all contribute to a squeezed environment, tense with repressed humanity. However, Cosmatos' obsession with 80s retro, the trying to get it all "just right," and the lack of any real character development leaves me kind of "meh" with it all. I mean, yes, all of these qualities can easily be read as a contribution to the overall dystopian anti-human narrative: Not getting to "know" the characters in the film is a nice inversion of the "me generation" antics of a decade bent on individualistic futurism (think: yuppie scum). And yet, I don't totally buy it.

But, I like that.

I like that I'm not sure whether BTBR will always be dismissible. I like that I can see myself, a few years down the road, thinking I should check it out again, having an unexplainable urge to look for more.

Down at the other end of the spectrum, I like that when I'm done watching BTBR I have this desire to ride over to Bushwick (in Brooklyn) and yell at the top of my lungs, "STOP BEING SO OBVIOUS AND AVERAGE!!!" There's something about BTBR's negative space that makes you want to get up and move, fill in the blanks, take a massive dump, pet a goat.

There's something about BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW that simultaneously scream-says "yes!" and "no!," leaving viewers to scramble for their iPhones to call a random number and ask "How do I feel about Pong?," while people who were actually born before the 80s get back to cutting down fauxhemian hipsters from their bogus lofts where two elephants sit in a bathtub repeatedly asking one another to pass the soap.

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Anonymous (8 years ago) Reply

This review made me want to pet a goat...

This movie is beyond awesome in every way. Why does every movie have to have character development? What's so important about it? It really does not matter because this movie is timeless art. The people that didn't get it should just watch sucker punch because the theater that showed this at TIFF had it playing in several cinemas. Thank Buddha for rush tickets!

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Panos Cosmatos (8 years ago) Reply

Sorry I forgot to sign the above comment with my name.

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Marina (8 years ago) Reply

lol lol lol

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George Weaver (8 years ago) Reply

Panos Cosmatos is a douche. This is my review of the film I saw at Tribeca.

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agentorange (8 years ago) Reply

"There's something about BTBR's negative space that makes you want to get up and move, fill in the blanks, take a massive dump, pet a goat."

Just saw it. I think I loved it. To be honest I didn't know how I felt until I read your line above. So true. The film is SO hypnotic and dislocating that when it ends you just want to feel some life again. Play a punk rock record. Look into the sun. Spin around until you fall down.

I think Cosmatos should have ditched the "1983" bit altogether and just let it live in its own strange time and world. Unless the director can enlighten me as to why it was crucial to set the film in the 80s it seems like an affectation that only he would find interesting. It turns the film into pastiche when it's actually strong enough to be it's own work of art altogether.

Did anyone else think of the dudes from Dune when Barry transformed into his true self at the end?


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