Friday, November 13, 2009

yellow peril.

Another year, another Argento film released to mild audience apathy and a hostile reaction from the critics.

Unfortunately my 'press credentials' (a cut out Daily Bugle card stuck in the side of a trilby and a cardboard box painted up as a camera) weren't enough to get me in to see it at it's Edinburgh premiere earlier this year, so I've had to wait with baited breath for a screener to arrive.

Well, was it worth the wait?

Giallo (2009).
Dir: Dario Argento.
Cast: Adrien Brody, Emmanuelle Seigner, Elsa Pataky, Valentina Izumi, Linda Messerlinker, Taiyo Yamanouchi, Giuseppe Lo Console and Byron Deidra.

The cosmopolitan city of Turin, where two foxy girls about town, the teeny tiny Keiko and her man chinned pal Marjorie are enjoying a (fairly stilted) night at the opera.

Realising that this is an Argento movie and that watching a fat bird sing is, in this situation a fair way to get killed (or at the very least shat on by crows) they decide to bid their farewells and hit a local discotheque instead, hoping to find some hot tunes and even hotter men.

Fat chance of that seeing as the place is full of greasy haired, tight t-shirted 80's throwbacks dancing badly to cheesy Europop, including one poor sod wearing a t-shirt with a suit and bow tie printed on it.

If anyone in this movie deserves to die then it's him quite frankly.

Nice legs, shame about the imminent face cutting.

When Keiko manages to pull the only bloke in the place under fifty, Marjorie reckons she'd have better fun with the wobbly plastic pal she keeps under her pillow so decides to head back to the hotel.

With brightly lit rain pouring down in that heavy, Suspiria fashion and Marjorie having a high, hairsprayed bonce, she quickly flags a passing taxi and jumps into the comfy back seat, little realising that the cab driver is a notorious kidnapper and mutilator of fit young birds.


"Teeth in mah mooth!"

It's not long before she's being taken down a deserted alley (which is, I must admit better than being taken up the casino) and jumped on by the driver.

Which is nice.

Tho' not as nice as the beautiful catwalk (as opposed to Airfix) model Celine (Beyond Re-Animator's Pataky), who is counting the hours (and pretty frocks) till she can head home to see her older, harsher sister Linda (Mrs. Roman Polanski, Seigner), recently arrived from America on a visit.

Wouldn't you know it tho' but on her way back to her apartment, Celine has the bizarre misfortune of hailing the same taxi as poor Marjorie, soon finding herself injected in the face with drugs, her expensive shoes stolen and a final indignity waking up in a dirty, egg stained, spunk encrusted basement owned by a Mister Tony Yellow.

A moon faced slobbering beast of a bloke so named because of his yellow jaundiced skin.

Before we move on I'd just like to point out that Mr. Yellow is portrayed by one 'Byron Deidra' (which could be an anagram of the lead actors name if I'm not mistaken) in a frankly magnificent tour de force performance the like of which hasn't been since Lord Udo of Kier fondled a sheep's innards during Flesh For Frankenstein.

Showing us all just why he won nine awards (including an Oscar) for his heartbreaking turn as Wladyslaw Szpilman in The Pianist, Brody (wearing a fat suit, dirty vest and a Bo Selecta! Mel B. mask) brings a truly subtle sense of realism to Yellow. Whether he's mumbling profanities at various chained women or simply having a sly wank whilst staring at photographs of his victims, the performance is truly terrifying.

No, really.

It's as if that Brody, for a giggle during rehearsals decided to do a drunken Robert DeNiro impression to amuse the crew and, not wanting anyone to steal his crown as the giallo joker, Argento called his bluff and told him that it would be a perfect way to play the villain.

Obviously neither of them wanted to admit defeat so the performance stayed in.

"Laugh now!"

Anyway back to the plot.

When Celine fails to return home, a worried (I think she's worried, tho' she does spend a fair amount of the film frowning) Linda heads over to the local police station, where she ends up interrupting an important pizza delivery much to the annoyance of the desk sergeant who hurriedly sends her off to the cellar, hang out of the maverick no nonsense inspector Enzo Avolfi (Brody).

Moody, mysterious and armed with a sexy beard (and with a great line in 1980's blouson jackets), Avolfi is a cop on the edge, haunted by the death of his mother at the hands of the bald bloke from Do You Like Hitchcock? and obsessed with finding the maniac responsible for this recent spate of murders.

"Wahey! Stop starin' at me tits mon!"

"Kiss kiss no more... wakey wakey!"

But time is running out for Celine and as more and more bodies begin turning up in the city, the only clue to the killers identity is a word whispered by a dying Japanese victim....


"This is the most extreme case of
mooth shite-in I have ever seen!"

After the cinematic abortion that was the final ten minutes of The Third Mother and the pantomime villainy of The Card Player you'd be forgiven (by some people but not me) for thinking the the master of the home haircut, Mr. Dario Argento had lost his mojo.

I say lost but from the evidence it seems more likely that it was violently removed from his chest with the same rusty nail scissors he cuts his fringe with.

I'll be the first to admit that the performances veer wildly from the kite flying, crack fuelled excesses of Adrien Brody to the almost narcoleptic lows of Emmanuelle Seigner and yes, the labyrinthine Argento plots of old have been replaced by characters randomly shouting out facts for no other reason than to get the story done and dusted but what the Hell I loved every minute of it.

Coming across like a cut price, lobotomised version of Tenebrae, it's true that it lacks that certain 'something' that made Argento's earlier such a joy but how much of that is down to the director and how much is down to the well publicised studio interference?

"I can see your house from here Jesus!"

But come to the film with the right mindset (or a head full of red) and there's plenty to enjoy.

Including the earlier mentioned masturbation scene, which is well on the way to becoming the greatest cinematic wank since Harvey Keitel cracked off a Barclay's in The Bad Lieutenant and, on a more serious (if less sticky) note, Frederic Fasano's lush cinematography coupled with the Danny Elfman-esque score from Marco Werba.

Guilty pleasures don't come better than this.

No comments: