Structured like a labyrinthine video game. Packed with loads of paranoid suspense and style. Tuned with the hazy thick atmosphere of a bad dream. A diabolical guessing game from scene to scene. Triangle is one of the most enjoyable mind benders out there, a funhouse of a thriller that sails into murky metaphysical water and doesn’t let either it’s protagonist or its audience off with a cheap resolution. Imagine Dead Calm crossed with Memento and you’ll begin to have some notion as to where this film will take you. It’s a freaky voyage, as star Melissa George finds out after a yachting expedition with friends hits a nasty patch of storm weather. Soon a massive, deserted ocean liner crosses their path, and they are forced to board it after the typhoon wreaks their smaller craft. The rest of her crew just seemed puzzled by the derelict vessel, but Melissa has an eerie, gnawing feeling that she’s been on this boat before, a feeling that something is very wrong. Suddenly there’s a mystery person hunting and killing them, and if I just made it sound like a run of the mill slasher flick, please be assured that it’s anything but. What I’ve described happens in what is maybe the first quarter of the film, and everything after that point is a trip into a dizzy, seafaring twilight zone of psychological mystery and reality warping uncertainty that makes George unsure if anything, including her own perception of reality, can be trusted. Events repeat themselves, characters dart in and out of the wormhole of a narrative arbitrarily yet with a hidden purpouse that managed to scarily elude me for much of the film. It’s scary in the way that ducks usual horror trends. There’s violence and even some ghastly gore, but the real fear here lies in the unknown, the idea that forces beyond what we perceive as reality are messing around with us, and indeed they do mess around with her and then some, right up until the last frame of an ending that’s commendable, haunting and difficult to process. George makes great work of the confusion that morphs into terror and then outright existential panic, keeping us on our toes with the way she handles her character arc. Keep an eye out for a young Liam Hemsworth too. For psychological thrillers, it don’t get much better than this, and it’s off the radar enough that you’ll be able to recommend it to your friends who chances are, haven’t even heard of it.
I have never read the Hunger Games books, and didn’t rush out to see this first installment when it was released. I have this thing where I sometimes resist a largely popular project simply because it’s buxzingwith so much hype. There’s a word for that that I resist even more, which starts with H, but good luck getting me to admit to that. Anywho, I did watch it one day on netflix, loved the hell out of it, and have seen every subsequent entry, up til last year’s final one. It’s damn great storytelling that soars on a brilliant extended performance by Jennifer Lawrence, who is the actress of her generation and a genius of the craft no matter what anyone says. People called this a slick version of Battle Royale, and while that may be true, it’s certainly not a bad thing, and not the sole extent of what the franchise achieves. There’s stinging social commentary which both condemns and makes satirical light of modern North American culture. It examines the power of propoganda for both good and bad ends. It looks at the abuse of power, and the potent rise of fascism and fear tactics, and how quickly they can become commonplace. And this is all in a young adult orientated film that stars a strong, unhindered female protagonist. Gives you hope for the world. Lawrence is powerful as Katniss Everdeen, a young woman chosen from her district to compete in the much celebrated and very violent Hunger Games, a death tournament which serves as a purge and reminder to the citizens what it cost them to rebel against their oppressors years before. This is all at the behest of mega villain President Snow (Donald Sutherland oozes quiet malice with every articulate and icy syllable), who lives in the wealthy and decadent capitol city of Panem, a dystopian version of North America. Along with Katniss there’s also Peeta (but no hummus) a local baker’s boy played by Josh Hutcherson, who really struggles to match the skill level of almost everyone around him, especially Lawrence. They are thrust into the posh and stylized razzle dazzle of Capitol life as they train for the ruthless games, watched over by previous Victor and proud alcoholic Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), as well as preening diva Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks channellig Marie Antoinette crossed with a poodle). The film takes some time to ramp up to the games, but as soon as it does the events unfold in breathless fashion set against a lush wilderness background, each and every member fighting tooth and nail to stay alive against both each other and the obstacles which gamesmasters have placed in their way. Anyone with an intense fear of wasps will want to be warned. A clever riff on the talk shows of our climate is shown, as the competitors are quizzed by Ceasar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) a manically hopped up pop personality with a hairstyle that would make a samurai jealous and teeth so white they get accused of stealing oscar nominations. Tucci is truly a well of energy and the proceedings go electric whenever he’s around. Watch for Paula Malcolmson, Liam Hemsworth, Wes Bentley, Toby Jones and Lenny Kravitz as Cinna, a kindly fashion guru who takes a shine to Katniss and designs her a dress to end all dresses. Lawrence carries the entire thing on her mockingjay wings, making Katniss a spirit of unrest, a true symbol of hope and above all, a scared girl tossed into events she can’t possibly imagine navigating. Her performance is most of what makes these films so solid, and they couldn’t have made a better casting choice. Be sure to stay fpr the credits to hear ‘Abraham’s Daughter’, a fittingly grandiose original song by Arcade Fire.