Michael Bergeron
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Berberian leads cool titles

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L1001274_TobyJonesasGilderoy&CosimoFuscoasFrancescoCoraggioBerberian Sound Studio is quite a title. No it’s not a rock documentary although the first thing I thought of were lyrics from the Steely Dan song “Your Gold Teeth.” “Even Cathy Berberian knows/There’s one roulade she can’t sing.”

Leon casino, Berberian Sound Studio actually concerns a British sound designer (Toby Jones in top form) that takes on a job mixing sound for an Italian horror film. The trick that BSS plays on the audience is that you think you’re watching a story about a nebbish professional dealing with a strange culture. In reality you’re being sucked into the vortex of a gruesome horror movie but only by hearing the sounds and hearing the words that describe it’s particular terror.

The movie within the movie has witches, torture, witchcraft, torture; you get the idea. It struck me while watching BSS how effective the filmmakers were of making me produce this imagined imagery in my head and not on the screen. But then again how much more effective were the imagined scares in Dreyer’s Vampyr or Day of Wrath than in more graphic Argento films, both set in motion by the actions of the supernatural?

On the screen we see a beleaguered Jones playing mind games with his own moral perception of what he thinks is happening. His conscience is bothering him.tonia-sotiropoulou-toby-jones-berberian-sound-studio

We also see a duo of foley artists, that is to say a couple of guys who create sounds for the film in said studio. For instance they hammer watermelons for the sound of bodies breaking. But these guys, besides being comic figures mainly due to their physical appearance, are not the type to waste props – they eat the melon after squashing it. There’s also the hands-on producer, the arrogant director who’s never really around, and the sexy secretary who actually signs all the checks. They all seem to be at odds with Jones’ prim and proper manner.

Berberian Sound Studio plays exclusively at the Alamo Drafthouse Mason Park. It’s the caviar being released this week, but there’s also some farm raised salmon if you consider Redemption, Fill the Void or White House Down.

redemptionSomeone asked me, ‘Wasn’t there a White House attack film earlier this year?’ And I replied there certainly was (Olympus Has Fallen), and it’s still playing at this moment in small towns in America that have one movie theater that play the film once nightly. White House Down wants to be action packed and comedy friendly. So Roland Emmerich emphasizes the battle while cutting for comedy.

There’s one scene where the good guys (Channing Tatum and President Jamie Foxx) are being chased by the baddies in Presidential SUVs, in circles on the White House Lawn. It was the funniest thing since the same kind of circular chase (albeit on a highway) was done in the 1979 The In-Laws. Whoever controls the greenlight needs to okay an instant sequel where Tatum and Foxx defend Air Force One against terrorists.

Redemption offers Jason Statham in a serious role. There are action stars that rarely appear in dramas and there are those like Statham who can act and occasionally lend their talents to lower budget and more thoughtful fare. In Redemption we’re introduced to Statham living on the streets with other homeless types. He obviously has issues with his military past but for whatever reason he’s working out his problems as a vagabond.

The boxes where he and other live at night are attacked by thugs who whist his women away and whore her out. While being outnumbered and chased Statham manages to find a luxury apartment where the owner is out of town for a couple of months. Statham wants to avenge his woman friend but also has designs on a nun who runs the soup kitchen he used to frequent. As far out as all this sounds Redemption has the vision to elevate the melodrama into something substantial. Redemption is playing exclusively at the AMC Studio 30.

— Michael Bergeron