Saturday, February 25, 2006

Watch Nightwatch Tonight

What a movie!

I haven't been this thrilled watching a movie in ages. From the start, I'm hooked.

Don't believe the hype machine, this isn't this year's Matrix -- The Matrix was a sterile, popcorn movie with one philosophical gimmick about whether the world is real. And dull acting by Keanu.
This is a messy, chaotic whirlwind where it looks like nothing is under control, but it all just hangs together perfectly. The hero is not the one and only hope, he's just another gifted Other -- people with special abilities, either on the Light or Dark side of the eternal struggle, now in a long-term uneasy truce. OK, like Matrix, it makes it possible that you could have another life, a different world out there (this will spawn roleplaying games, video games, etc. almost guaranteed), and that's going to be a big draw for the young moviegoing audience.

This movie is as rich as one of Hayao Miyazaki's fantasies such as Spirited Away, and draws on myths as well as Neil Gaiman, with nods to pop culture (a video game played by one of the villains is intercut into the climax to great effect, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is shown on the TV), and respect for the viewer -- you never feel cheated anywhere.

Little touches: the spider-legged doll, the rose in the crystal ball gearshift knob, a pop diva wearing a dress that seems to defy structural engineering, the psychic surgery methods used by the Light's healer... and did I mention the subtitles?

Yup, it's in Russian, subtitled in English, which adds a dimension to the film rather than just a distraction. A vampire's seduction which manifests in her voice appearing in floating wisps of blood morphs into Come to me..., subtitles during conversations with characters moving through a room may have the words come out from behind the wall the character passes by, and data read by a character off a screen scrolls on like an old computer terminal.

Kudos to Fox Searchlight for bringing this to the US, daring to take Russia's biggest film series (now in their second of three, Daywatch), and not dubbing it with Hollywood stars. The subtitling shows respect for the film - it fits, it works and it entertains.

You're still reading this? Click the link and find where it's playing by you. Take your friends.
And no, they're not paying me for this.

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