It's the tale of two men who are striving, against a background of fear, distrust, and discouragement, to work out what they want from each other and how to achieve it. And it's one of the most complex and beguiling cinematic love stories since Wong Kar-wai's turn-of-the-century monument In the Mood for Love.
The 4:3 aspect ratio is often referred to as the shape of a conventional television screen, but when contemplating the work of Powell and Pressburger, there is a far more rewarding comparison to be made, which is with the shape of a traditional 19th-century Victorian theater stage.
In the early nineties, London’s remaining rep cinemas were slashing prices and recycling their stock in the hope of staving off the inevitable. The market followed: an impoverished student with a bus pass, like me, could englut himself.
Later adaptations such as the musical version with Claude Rains and of course, the Andrew Lloyd Webber stage behemoth, tried to harness this sympathetic dimension overtly, but ended up playing down the horror. This is not something Chaney’s Phantom will ever be accused of.
Other critics have looked at the psychopath Cady (a role De Niro lobbied hard for) as an extension of Travis Bickle or Rupert Pupkin, but this rather misses the point. It is Nolte's Bowden who is the “Scorsese male” here (Cape Fear's own Henry Hill, or Jordan Belfort).
The reason is that a section of the U.S. comic fraternity (the likes of Ben Stiller and Will Ferrell) has seen something the vast majority of the American public hasn’t yet, and that something is what Coogan does better than anything else: Alan Partridge.
What is more unforgivable than the dilatory, cynical waste of talent dribbling off the screen in Rush is that some critics appear to have fallen for its superficial charms (period cars! sex! third-degree burns!) and are content to overlook its structural deficiencies, not to mention its fundamental pedestrianism.
Wheatley reacquaints himself with his roots in television humor and presents us with something more straightforward than before (there is no doubt you are watching a comedy from start to finish) but which still allows him room to indulge his predilections for unpredictability and all-out gore.
By concentrating less on the pathological aspects of Vincent’s behavior and more on the crushing weight of the trap of work, the pressures and hypocrisies of which have taken him to the edge, Cantet turns the story into a trenchant plea for liberation from salary servitude.
The Thing is not just an unnerving title: by its nature, the enemy, a corrosive alien organism which kills and replicates its prey, has no distinct face or personality of its own—a “conquer and survive” motivation is initially ascribed to it, but it defies any description.