' ' Cinema Romantico

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Trailer Battle: Hurricane Heist v Hard Rain

I awoke one morning last week to a text from my friend Rory which merely included a Youtube link fashioned with a “You’re welcome.” Indeed, I was thankful, because what awaited me on the other end of that link was a trailer for a forthcoming film called – [assumes Dave Barry voice] I’m not making this up – “The Hurricane Heist.” It’s a bank heist, see, in a……hurricane! Ai-yee! And upon seeing the trailer for “The Hurricane Heist”, my mind immediately flashed back 20 years to “Hard Rain”, a thriller about a bank heist in a flood that is only memorable for the worst Bruce Springsteen reference in cinematic history (I’m not giving it away for free – you will have to slog through that scrap heap the same as I did lo so many years ago) and the classic 2003 Onion piece in which a woman comes to wholly regret a one night stand when she wakes up to discover her temporary paramour’s DVD collection is littered with “banal choices” like “Bedazzled”, “Narrow Margin”, and, yes, “Hard Rain.” “Don’t you buy a movie because you’re somehow passionate about it and want to watch it again and again?” she wonders. “Does this guy feel that way about ‘Hard Rain?’” That’s good stuff.

As such, almost immediately upon concluding “The Hurricane Heist” trailer, I checked “The Hurricane Heist’s” release date to make a mental note (must see!) and then watched the trailer for “Hard Rain”, which made me nostalgic because that trailer adorned my first theatrical showing of “Titanic.” (So did Howie Long’s “Firestorm.” 1998, man.) And I have to say, the “Hard Rain” trailer is pretty damn good in that It-Looks-So-Bad-It-Could-Be-Good way. It wasn’t, of course, as established, but still, we are not talking about the finished product. We are talking about a two minute burst, and if trailers have become, in their own viral, attention span-less way, a kind of art, I could not help but compare “Hard Rain’s” trailer to “The Hurricane Heist’s.” You know what that means…trailer battle!!!

Trailer Battle: Hurricane Heist v Hard Rain

The trailer for “The Hurricane Heist”, alas, starts out behind the eight ball. That is because the guiding voice of the “Hard Rain” trailer is the immortal Don LaFontaine, meaning that when he says “you have the perfect recipe for the perfect crime”, you don’t snicker, you nod along and think, “You know, he’s right.” The trailer for “The Hurricane Heist”, on the other hand, in these tragic LaFontaine-less times (he died in 2008) forgoes any kind of overwrought narration to just slap the words “the perfect heist” on the screen.

Of course, it’s a bit unfair to ding “The Hurricane Heist” when LaFontaine was simply not available. But, even if we remove LaFontaine from the equation, the manner in which “The Hurricane Heist” trailer parcels out information is suspect. Let me explain.

“The Hurricane Heist” trailer opens with this rather standard-issue CGI shot of a hurricane followed by a character declaring, as if we didn’t already know, “Hurricane’s coming.” That’s the best you got?

Compare this to the “Hard Rain” trailer, which, before LaFontaine even speaks, communicates to us its movie’s environment with a Bible pull. Respect.

And then accentuates that with a shot that pushes in on Randy Quaid in pouring rain on a CB asking “Are we all gonna die?” in this sort of dialed down deranged voice that almost knows it’s in the movie’s trailer.

Quaid points to another way in which “The Hurricane Heist” is positioned behind the eight ball from the beginning. That is, “Hard Rain” star power, or a version of it, with Quaid, with Christian Slater, with Minnie Driver (who would have been on her way to a Best Supporting Actress nomination for “Good Will Hunting” round about this time), and with, yes, Morgan Freeman. “The Hurricane Heist”, on the other hand, has Maggie Grace, which, no offense to Maggie Grace but she can’t hang with Freeman-y gravitas. But then, the trailer does Grace little favors with lines like “This is not good.” That’s not the sort of line that pops, not like Freeman’s resplendent “He’s a slippery one”, which the impeccably-voiced actor turns into cornball poetry. Almost as good is Quaid’s indulging in a Bush I joke: “Read my lips: three million dollars.” That joke, of course, would have been ten years old in 1998, marking it as dated then though it feels that much more dated now, and that passé quality brings us to the trailers’ most stark difference — that is, editing.

“The Hurricane Heist” trailer cuts with that trendy alacrity while the “Hard Rain” trailer not only draws its cuts out a beat or two longer, but goes so far as to just sort of plunk a whole scene, if condensed, down right at the beginning. And so rather than merely mixing a ton of blinding images Bay-style together to fry our eyes, the “Hard Rain” trailer finds surprising cheesy, old-fashioned joy in its edits, like Christian Slater’s saying he buried the money in a cemetery because he doesn’t like to carry around that much cash followed by a cut to a smiling Minnie Driver, that age-old device of cuing us to chuckle at a joke that is not funny.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: man, “Hard Rain” is running away with this thing. Not so fast! I haven’t mentioned “The Hurricane Heist” trailer’s secret weapon — namely, The Scorpions’ “Rock You Like A Hurricane.” Indeed, even if the “Hard Rain” trailer indulges in some jokes, like the one above, it takes itself very seriously, whereas “The Hurricane Heist” wants you to know this is not merely escapism; this is platinum level escapism. If you spend the first chunk of that trailer wondering if it wants you to laugh, “Rock You Like A Hurricane” tells you that it does, communicating its unabashed non-commitment to actual quality.

Then again, the “Hard Rain” trailer has its own secret weapon.

This isn’t a show at the State Fair grandstand, son, this is a movie. And Betty White marching out on her stoop and calling Quaid’s character on the carpet might as well be “Hard Rain” dunking on “The Hurricane Heist.” In fact, if I hadn’t already seen “Hard Rain” and known it was supremely awful and awfully boring, I’d probably go watch it.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Small Town Crime

Typically “private investigator” in noir is shorthand for bitter drunk down to his last chance. That’s true of Mike Kendall (John Hawkes), burgeoning private investigator at the center of “Small Town Crime”, save for the bitter part. He is a drunk for sure, cleaning his car dashboard of empty beer cans most mornings, and down to his last chance absolutely, which has come about because of his drunkenness, but he does not, frankly, seem all that bitter. Consider the movie’s opening, which catches sight of Mike as his garage door opens, pounding his morning beer, before the shot flips and we see his car parked in his lawn, having left a shattered white fence post (I had a hard time Mike kept maintained in the first place) in its wake. That might’ve been enough. Except, then he sits down and bench presses weights, pausing to slurp more beer, then pausing to puke, then bench pressing again, a guy devoted to physical health even as he wrecks it. If you are a drunk with the wherewithal to stick to your morning weight lifting routine you can’t be all that bitter.

This is how Hawkes plays the part too, forgoing, say, Paul Newman’s drearily droll countenance in “Harper” or Michael Shannon’s exhausted whateverism in “The Missing Person.” Hawkes has Mike bop down to the unemployment office each week to collect his check, which he does by cheerily employing his alcoholism as a safeguard against ever landing a job. Oh, he makes stabs at getting on the wagon, like the standard issue shot of ignoring the beer cans in the fridge for the milk carton instead, but there is something in the way that Hawkes desperately glugs that white liquid that makes you think, like Ron Burgundy, milk was a bad choice. Why the sound design makes beer guzzling down his gullet resonate with less dread than boys will be boys whimsy. His oddly ebullient air is finally compromised when he comes upon a young woman, bruised and bloodied, lying on the side of the road, and then becomes determined to solve her murder, hiring himself out as a P.I. to the dead girl’s father (Robert Forster). Yet even here Hawkes rarely strikes a sour tone, playing it more with a frenzied itch to crack the case.

That’s an odd tone to strike, particularly when every death on screen is presented so macabrely, and brothers Eshom and Ian Nelms, who wrote and directed, cannot always manage it. There might have been something Coen-ish here, except their atmosphere of desert and darkened bars is never heightened, betraying a more formal tone. And they write none of their supporting characters with any sense of panache, save for Dale Dickey’s bartender who gets one hellacious speech and then is shunted inside. Everyone else is treated with a surprising sort of earnestness, at least in relation to Hawkes’s drunken bundle of joy, like Octavia Spencer playing his sister, whose character never really goes beyond steadfast yet exasperated, or Anthony Anderson playing Spencer’s husband, a good-natured character who seems readymade to exist as Watson to Hawkes’s Sherlock but mostly just turns up to get placed in peril.

Maybe that constitutes a spoiler, but probably not. “Small Town Crime” is nothing if not predictably plotted, and, more troublingly, rarely finds ways to illuminatingly color within its obvious lines. It seems to want Mike’s damn the torpedoes intent to inadvertently put all those he cares about in danger, a callback, to what went wrong in his previous life as a policeman, seen in solemn flashback. It’s Jake Gittes going back to Chinatown, in other words, though this one ends in a western-styled shootout, less notable for its serviceably portrayed gunplay than a brief moment when the girl’s father is called on the carpet for how his treatment might have spurred her toward her terrible demise. It’s the only time the movie sort of stops to even consider the girl herself. That, I dare say, might be deliberate, who she is and what she means being trampled by Mike’s own determination to re-make his place in the world, though the movie never makes clear whether or not that’s true. On the other hand, Mike’s inevitable lesson learned isn’t so inevitable, evoked in an ending that doesn’t seem to completely let him off the hook. The closing credits go for an obvious joke with other characters, but I kept wondering if Mike had made his way back to a bar.

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Humans (a theatre review)

The stage for Joe Mantello’s Broadway touring production of Stephen Karam’s “The Humans”, which I caught at Chicago’s Cadillac Theater Palace where it recently wound up its run, is virtually two stages. It is a shabby NYC duplex in the shadow of where the Twin Towers collapsed, and in a flood zone where Hurricane Sandy recently wreaked havoc, a fact that does not pass unmentioned several times for prickly comic effect. And because the six characters go up and down the spiral staircase from one level to another and back again, it kept reminding me of the British series “Upstairs Downstairs.” Not in any kind of exact way, mind you, but how that British television series sought to examine both the economically prosperous and economically squeezed. In “The Humans”, however, that space between the two has evaporated. Downstairs is a windowless basement pressed up against a noisy laundry room while Upstairs has bars over the window and a noisy upstairs neighbor making an unholy racket. You keep expecting something to crash right through the ceiling. Eventually, essentially, something does.

Karam’s dramatic device is age-old yet no less effective – that is, a family Thanksgiving dinner. It does not so much allow for grievances to be aired or even old wounds to be re-opened as ever-present anxieties of the re-convening Blake family to be stoked. They do give thanks, in a ritual involving the smashing of a peppermint pig, though their thanks tend toward the banal, all except for the matriarch, of sorts, Momo (Lauren Klein), though she is terribly ill and out of it, mostly sequestered to a wheelchair, in her last days. Her blessing, however, feels like sunny optimism of a bygone era, about to pass on with her, regarded by her heirs with as much amusement as belief.

Brigid (Daisy Eagan), hosting dinner for her family along with her boyfriend Richard (Luis Vega), is an aspiring composer riddled by student debt and tending bar, while big sister Aimee (Therese Plaehn) is a lawyer who has been denied partner for taking too much time off in the wake of a health complication, lives suggesting promises that have gone bust. Their parents, meanwhile, Erik (Richard Thomas) and Dierdre (Pamela Reed), financially and occupationally embody the vanishing middle class. If the adage of becoming your parents used to elicit dread for emotional reasons, “The Humans” evokes how modern times have re-fashioned that into a more practical dread, where the term comfortable retirement has become an oxymoron, end-of-life living reduced to nothing more than suffering through omnipresent financial stress. “Don’t you think it should cost less to be alive?” Erik rhetorically asks with a pang that momentarily made me think he was at a Paul Ryan townhall.

As Dierdre, Pamela Reed seems to carry the full weight of this burden in her very being, and when her character mentions going back on Weight Watchers, Reed gives it the ring of in advance futility, an inefficacy that might as well connote retirement planning. And Richard Thomas stands at the middle of “The Humans” even if Erik stands just off to the side, sitting at the end of the dinner table with the air of a man who isn’t sure what’s left for him. He occasionally positions himself at that barred upstairs window as if watching guard, trying to play protector, brought home in his constant admonishments of ensuring safety in an un-safe neighborhood. And again and again he implores the importance of family, that when all else fails that is all you have left, except, as we shall see, emblematic of Karam’s screw-turning dialogue, even these battered of bromides are not fit to be buried but to diabolically come back around and bury him. No eternal truth is safe.

If the play’s conversation is nearly constant, the clever stage set-up also  carves out myriad moments of silence, with Richard spending the play’s opening apart from everyone else on the bottom floor, emblemizing his outsider status, while later in the play characters continually flee upstairs, to use the bathroom, to check the score of the game, as if seeking respite from wearying familial proximity. That we are able to simultaneously hear and see what they are deliberately fleeing makes their respites doubly moving, particularly because conversation often focuses on those out of the room, deftly implying what and why they are escaping, and how it eternally lingers in the air.

That silence, however, grows more sinister as the play winds to an unexpected, overwhelming conclusion, one in which the recurring joke of burned out light bulbs ingeniously lays the groundwork for the sensation of the whole world getting smaller, closing in, until it is right on top of them, which is what that repetitive upstairs noise finally comes to symbolize as it stops being funny and seems to almost emblemize some sort of fissure in the Earth opening up to claim Erik. It’s cinematic, almost, risen to a David Lynchian level, in ways that I don’t wish to spoil but also perhaps could not satisfactorily explain to you if I tried. Maybe it’s enough to say I caught myself holding my breath. And as the play ended, I could not help but mentally equate Erik with that most desperate, twitchy of all Springsteen protagonists, the one in a stolen car, riding by night, traveling in fear.

“In this darkness,” he concludes, “I will disappear.”

Friday, February 16, 2018

Friday's Old Fashioned: The Cutting Edge (1992)

Although “The Cutting Edge” is very much of its time – that is, the early 90s – in terms of its clothing, strict devotion to grimy lighting and anomalous slow motion to make the whole thing come across like a feature length music video, it is also narratively timeless. Its screenwriter was Tony Gilroy, who has gone on to bigger and better things, and for “The Cutting Edge” he culls from two dependable genres, the underdog sports story and the rom com, and melds them, like if William Powell and Carole Lombard had made a movie about bickering figure skaters trying to qualify for Garmisch-Partenkirchen which, oh my God, would that have been something. Instead we get Moira Kelly as Kate Moseley, so off-puttingly uppity that she can’t keep a figure skating pairs partner, forcing her semi-domineering father (Terry O’Quinn, finding more layers than I remembered) to pair her with a down on his luck ex-hockey player, Doug Dorsey (D.B. Sweeney). They bicker and cajole their way to the Olympics in Albertville, with director Paul M. Glaser rarely easing off the gas and Gilroy wielding his beloved story reversal to the hilt.

Gilroy is so dedicated to the reversal, in fact, that the movie opens in the midst of one, with American Olympic hockey player Doug Dorsey waking up late in the bed of some foreign competitor, late for his hockey game. It is suggestive of the Olympic Village we always hear about, but no doubt actually showing the Village wasn’t in the budget so we don’t see it, and anyway, we don’t have time to breathe anything in because “The Cutting Edge” barely lets us breathe at all. This Action Already In Progress beginning is emblematic of the movie’s overriding mania, narratively and aesthetically, with close-ups the favored camera angle, for conversations and ice skating, and pop music all over the soundtrack, reaching back to the 80s but also moving forward to the 90s. Watching this movie, frankly, made me feel like the guy in “Back to the Future” listening to Marty McFly’s band audition. “You’re just too darn loud.” This movie is so loud. I can’t help but think this was part of the plan, amplfication as a means to spruce up figure skating. Long before Margot Robbie’s Tonya Harding was hollering at judges in “I, Tonya”, Doug Dorsey was convincing Kate Moseley (Moira Kelly) to ditch the woodwinds and get funky.

Of course, Doug will have to meet Kate in the middle, or close to it, and Kate will have to meet Doug in the middle, or close to it, which becomes caught up in her impending marriage to some paint by numbers dolt that crumbles when she and Doug fall in love. Sweeney, however, works better when they are at odds then he does feeling lovelorn, and he never quite makes his turn toward wanting to figure skate feel more than compulsory. Kelly, on the other hand, who gives as good as she gets too in their quarrelsome scenes, actually gives her Falling In Love bits a more truthful ring by not playing them lovelorn at all and going instead for something closer to shock, with wide eyes and curt replies, like she cannot quite believe she has Fallen In Love. That wide-eyed air also aids Kelly as her character is made to realize she has been entirely molded by her father in the name of this Olympics quest. In that air you can sort of see her snapping back into reality, and suddenly coming to terms with a life that is not her own.

This figure skating movie’s great failing in the end, however, is, uh, its figure skating. It perhaps goes without saying that neither Kelly nor Sweeney were figure skaters of any repute, learning how to do it just for the movie, and it shows. The skating scenes, of which there are necessarily many, alternate between quick cut close-ups of skates slashing across ice and the determined faces of its characters before then cutting to wide shots of the two doused in shadows to obscure the skating doubles. There was no real way around this, of course, and in her re-assessment of the movie for Vulture in 2012, Amanda Dobbins offers the standard rebuttal of just going and watching the effulgent, immortal Gordeeva & Grinkov on Youtube if you want real figure skating.

But that is a critical cop out. If you want to make a movie about figure skating, sorry, but find a way to better blend the actual skating with the illusory or you’re going to get dinged. That’s the contract you enter into as a moviemaker. And a scene at the Olympics gives away “The Cutting Edge’s” game when we see a nameless pairs skating couple in long shot and you remember the sport is best seen like this, in wide frames and continuous takes, like Rogers and Astaire when they danced, and it was Astaire that the great Norwegian figure skater Sonja Henie referenced when she came to Hollywood. Off the ice, “The Cutting Edge” sort of gets by, but on the ice, nothing can compare to Henie’s concluding ice capades in “Sun Valley Serenade” (1941). There are some things even the movies can’t fake.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Shout-Out to the Extra: Under the Tuscan Sun Version

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: “Extra?! Extra in back?! When I said act cool, I did not mean act too cool for school! Can you take it down a notch, please?”
EXTRA: “..........”  
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: “Oh, ok. Never mind. Picture’s up!” 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Some Drivel On...Under the Tuscan Sun

*My beautiful girlfriend is a Diane Lane devotee, particular when it comes to that famous cinematic genre, Diane Lane Gets Her Groove Back, as well as that genre’s prominent subgenre, Diane Lane Going to Pretty Places. And as I often do in cases where I watch movies with no intent of actually writing anything about them, when I watched “Under the Tuscan Sun” with my beautiful girlfriend recently for mere enjoyment, I still felt compelled to offload a little drivel about it, with a bonus “Under the Tuscan Sun” track coming tomorrow. 

“Under the Tuscan Sun” opens with the perfect life of writer Frances Mayes (Diane Lane) being thrown out of whack when she discovers her husband is having an affair. So Frances’s pregnant pal Patti (Sandra Oh) offers her Tuscany vacation package which Frances rejects before she reconsiders in the face of gloomy life moments and goes. In Italy she seems ready to simply unwind until she goes all in on by purchasing a rundown ramshackle villa on a whim. That is how “Under the Tuscan Sun” goes. Say anything you want about it but do not say that writer/director Audrey Wells, who adapted the film from the bestselling book, is not committed to the story reversal, transitioning from Sad Diane Lane – usually accentuated with drab sweaters and a messy ponytail – to Happy Diane Lane – usually accentuated with elegant dresses and her hair up and in curls – and vice-versa so frequently that you are surprised Diane Lane doesn’t wind up with whiplash. But then, this commitment to reversals scene to scene seems to cause Wells to miss the prominent through-line of the villa itself.

When Frances purchases the house and hires a motley crew that mostly cannot speak English to rehab it, this comes on readymade as the preeminent plot point. That Frances’s former life was perfect is not so much illustrated as simply assumed, and that it is then instantly thrown out of whack, while a necessary narrative device, sure, also suggests that a Perfect Life is only tenable with some Hard Work. And this house renovation would seem to suggest said Hard Work. Yet after initially devoting time to it, like when a fairly massive mishap leaves a gaping hole in a wall, the refurbishment mostly falls by the wayside, just sort of commented upon and glimpsed in passing before, suddenly, without quite understanding how they got there, the house is postcard worthy. I’m sure that somewhere lurks a more cinéma vérité version of “Under the Tuscan Sun”, perhaps with Trieste Kelly Dunn as Frances Mayes, where the focus is almost strictly on house rehab and the director visually connects home restoration with the restoration of the soul. That might be a great movie! It is not this movie, which glosses over considerable real world details to embrace fantasy.

Indeed, when Frances meets an extravagantly romantic Italian and he says something extravagantly romantic things to her she incredulously declares “It’s just that’s exactly what American women think Italian men say.” That perhaps speaks to the American proclivity for placing absurd romantic projections on anything, which is also worthy of exploration, sure, though Wells prefers to merely raise that objection and then overrule the objection itself. No, if “Under the Tuscan Sun” is about Frances sort of finding herself in the midst of a fantasy come true then it also becomes about Diane Lane trying to will this fantasy to life.

You wish she got more movie star moments, like the one her English friend gets when she’s dancing in the fountain like it’s “La Dolce Vita”, even if you wish that moment would be tailored strictly for Diane Lane, wholly original unto herself. Then again, maybe Lane doesn’t need nor want a movie star moment. She does well in comical moments, usually opposite Sandra Oh, a wonderful scene partner for her whose “What’s Happening?” face is firmly on point, but she does even better selling typical rom com bunk, like when her character’s relationship with the aforementioned extravagantly romantic Italian lightly combusts, a moment she plays like someone who can’t quite come to grips with this happening because she’s not quite sure she deserves love in the first place. She does deserve of it, of course, just as everyone does, and the way she brightens in the company of an untraditional family of house laborers and new friends and old friends makes you realize that she has realized this truth.

That makes it somewhat disappointing that the script adds unnecessary punctuation in the form of some nondescript new guy that turns right up at the end for Frances to fall in love with, underlining the myth that true happiness only arrives in the arms of another. But, whatever. This was just icing on the cake, not the point, because by the time it happened, Diane Lane had already convinced me that Frances Mayes was going to be ok.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

That One Scene in Sicario

“There she is. The beast. Juárez.” That’s what DEA Steve Forsing (Jeffrey Caravan) says in “Sicario” (2015) as his black SUV caravan, armed to the hilt, snakes its way across the Mexican border to grab hold of an important so & so and then drag him back to El Paso. Forsing doesn’t really need to say it, of course, except for expository purposes, but then, he is also trying to scare the wits out of newbie Kate Macy (Emily Blunt) sitting in the SUV backseat. He does. He scares the wits out of us too. Of course, by the time we get to this point, we really have no wits left to scare.

If there is a better single cinematic sequence in the twenty-tens than this one, I have yet to see it. I guess you could call it an action sequence, though the gunplay is mostly just limited to the end, and is rapid-fire fast, less about thrills than the surgical precision of those doing the shooting and the damned-if-we-do-damned-if-we-don’t fatalism of those who get shot. But really, it’s a sequence in which mood is paramount, and that mood is dread. You feel this dread for a lot of reasons. You feel it in the way director Denis Villeneuve tilts the camera from the submachine gun being cradled by Benicio del Toro’s engimatic Alejandro to the eyes of Kate. You feel it because of Kate’s eyes, which are the bellwether throughout this scene (and the movie), and so you feel it from the way Villeneuve and his editor Joe Walker keep returning to her eyes at crucial moments. And you also feel it because of the music of Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson.

His music for the scene first appears in the scene’s couple quick triggers. First, after Kate has painfully, reluctantly agreed to go along on this heavily armed jaunt into Juárez, her character is left standing alone, at which point Jóhannsson’s first indelible, per the more expert language of Thomas Goss, “downward-glissandoing low strings from C to A”, evoking the sensation of your stomach dropping, like you really are being pulled down, down into the belly of the beast.

Jóhannsson repeats this downward movement as Alejandro removes and folds up his suit jacket, like a boxer disrobing to go meet his opponent in center ring, making it clear trouble is on the horizon.

Jóhannsson keeps that downward movement going over a series of aerial shot drifting over the Rio Grande and into Mexico. Lord, we’re on our way now, on a roller-coaster called The Beast in those terrifying instants when it’s making its slow climb up the first hill before you plummet.

And as those aerial shots continue, Jóhannsson both intensifies those downward movements while adding a kind of crunching percussion, growing louder and louder until it becomes so cacophonous that it seems to become indistinguishable from the whirring blades of a black helicopter overlooking the scene and vice-versa. And it’s the kind of moment you re-visit after seeing it for the first time and realize that not only was the dread raised to a level where you can hardly stand it so much that you feel like just giving up and crashing through a window like a glued-up Steve McCroskey, but that the dread was raised to such a level without, really, anything dramatic even happening. That? That’s the magic of the movies.

Jóhann Jóhannsson died on Friday. He was 48.