Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Cillian Murphy is the male Meryl Streep: he is the right choice for anything.

I wanna talk to y'all about Peacock for a hot minute.

So lately it takes a lot for me to get excited about film. I feel like everything I love, cinematically, took place in the late '50s and all through the '60s and 70s. I stop getting excited, like, really really excited, about film somewhere after Dog Day Afternoon. There are some '90s movies that I love for novel reasons: quotability, laugh factor, the memories attached to watching it 400 times with the same six people (see: Good Will Hunting), but lately, I've been less than pumped to google what's playing at the cineplex. The last film I really clawed at my own face with excitement to see was The Dark Knight and it didn't disappoint.

I guess I should preface this by saying that I think Cillian Murphy is an angel sent to us from heaven which probably looks a lot like Ireland anyway, and we should all watch anything he dedicates his time and creative energy to because the dude is alien-looking and so talented. I said this to someone today who responded with, "But he made Red Eye," to which I promptly said GET OUT OF MY FACE AND NEVER SPEAK TO ME AGAIN. Firstly, we all get one throwaway and secondly, if you did not at least enjoy Red Eye and find yourself entertained by it, I would hate to spend a day in your shoes because your existence must be so pretentious and miserable.

Having said all that, Peacock pretty much blew me out of the water. Ages ago, when I read the premise and news about casting started filtering in, I was skeptical because I had already seen Cillian Murphy do drag in Breakfast on Pluto, and I was already happy with having seen him look better than me in a leather cat suit. However, from the very first shots of Peacock, it's easy to tell that this is a very, very different film and a very, very different way of looking at putting a one hundred and twenty pound Irishman in a dress.

Peacock tells the story about John Skillpa, a man with Dissociative Identity Disorder who also lives concurrently as his own wife, Emma Skillpa. A freak train accident reveals this wife figure to the community and from there, hijinks ensue, including but not limited to murdering people, yelling at Susan Sarandon and lighting a motel room on fire. I don't want to go too in depth with the plot because I think the film is worth seeing and there's a special level of hell reserved for people who tell you the ends of films that are worth getting emotionally invested. What I really want to talk about is just how beautifully this film is composed. First, some shots about light:

So, like the noir-genre is wont to illustrate, a lot of this movie is about light. Where light is, where light isn't, and where light should be. The whole thing is really Hitchcockian (invented word) in terms of color saturation and representation. Think Vertigo, but with the sharpness cranked up. This means that Cillian Murphy is perfectly lit and striking in every. Single. Shot. Every frame is so delicious that I want to freeze it, print it and frame it. At transitions, there were multiple shots of various things in ruin like, fences, birdhouses, etc, and it really snagged the small town feeling of isolation and being tucked away from the passing and therefore corruption of time.

A lot of this film is also related to color. The reds inside the house where John lives and transforms into Emma make it seem womb-like and warm. The set designer described it as a cocoon, which is also appropriate if you think about it as a place where John is sheltered and allowed to shift from one self into the other. Regardless, there are moments of color clarity that are just plain beautiful.

I'm running out of words to talk about how great this is, but there's so much brilliant framing too. I think the writers or whoever were really trying to beat that into our heads because at one point, Susan Sarandon's character buys Emma Skillpa a picture frame. There's one shot that I can't find a still of because no one gives a shit about movies like this anymore, but Emma Skillpa is sitting at the breakfast table, eating, and there's a clock right above her head, and she's framed on either side by the entry way into the living room, and in the distance, there's a little door... I might be concocting this brilliant image in my head. Maybe it's windows instead of the entry way, but either way, the framing is great, as it is in the following shots:

Oh, really? You're gonna triple up that mirror image thing? AND you're gonna put a window reflection in the shot? Yeah, really. You're gonna do that.

So, in what I hope isn't too long-winded of a conclusion, there are certainly some flaws to this film, most predominantly Ellen Page and her inability to get rid of her Canadian accent or to be even remotely interesting on screen. Or to not be Juno. But where it falls flat, the rest of the cast picks it up. Even Bill Pullman was doing more than swaggering around and acting presidential. This film was only more reason for me to make sure I watch everything Cillian Murphy does because I'm never disappointed. I even love the flops, most notably, Sunshine.

Actually, the only thing I hate about this film is the DVD cover.

It's not Nightmare on Elm Street, for Christ's sake.

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