The Triangle,Greenaway: The Shorts, and The President’s Last Bang
The Triangle Lion’s Gate
Originally airing on the Sci-Fi Channel in December, The Triangle is a glossy and longwinded TV mini-series from executive producers Bryan Singer (X-Men) and Dean Devlin (Independence Day) that sports a decent cast including Sam Neill, Lou Diamond Phillips and Eric Stoltz.
In style and tone, The Triangle is a lot like an extra-long episode of The X Files. Shipping magnate and billionaire Eric Benirall (Sam Neill) hires a mix-and-match team of researchers to investigate the disappearance of several ships that have gone missing in the Sargasso Sea, a body of water that’s home to the legendary and fearsome Bermuda Triangle. Benirall’s foursome sets out to uncover the mystery of the Triangle and, in the process, uncovers a vast, nefarious government conspiracy.
This 255-minute, two-disc set includes only the three installments of the film and a very brief behind-the-scenes featurette. In all fairness, since The Triangle’s already four hours long, anything more could be overkill.
Though the plot points are overripe and the pseudo-scientific premise is underdeveloped, there’s something inherently compelling about the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle. Unfortunately, even the slickest computer animation can’t save this one from its tedious, un-ambitious ending, leaving us to wonder why we spent four hours waiting for this to get better. Nate Brown
Greenaway: The Shorts
Prior to becoming known as the irritant and iconoclast filmmaker of A Zed and Two Noughts, The Belly of An Architect and Drowning by Numbers Peter Greenaway made numerous shorts. These six cover his middle period: 1967-78.
Greenaway’s peccadilloes — a fascination with sequences, numerical and otherwise and his interest in the function of language — are on display here. Intervals (1969) deconstructs Venice as a canal-straddling picturesque postcard city, and presents it as a barely recognizable series of static, staid images. Windows (1975) is a curious mock exploration of the particulars of defenestration in a small English village and is droll to the nth degree. Dear Phone (1977) alternates shots of iconic red British phone boxes and pages of scrawled text as its read by a narrator, playing (and I use that term somewhat loosely) with the idea that cinema is merely “filmed text.” H is for House (1973) is essentially a home movie with a knowing absurdist tone. Water Wrackets (1978) is an at times utterly gorgeous, elaborately conceived laughless spoof. Walk Through H (1978) is a sort of pinnacle of the Greenaway way — layers of non-sequiturs wrapped carefully around a series of visual signposts (maps) leading the viewer into a blissful nothingness.
Professorial commentary from Greenaway who dismisses the films as “youthful juvenilia” yet nevertheless offers in-depth analysis of them.
A boon for aficionados; a challenge for neophytes.
The President’s Last Bang
The 1979 assassination of South Koren President Park Chun Hee by the head of Korean Intelligence is rendered black-tinted farce in Im Sang-soo’s restaging, which reopened old wounds at home and played upper-echelon festivals abroad.
Both the dictatorial Park regime and the botched coup attempt stripped of all traces of dignity: the President is a doddering horndog spewing samurai quotes to his status-obsessed subordinates, while KCIA head Kim Jae-gyu is quite possibly insane. The assassination itself (at a private party featuring cabinet members and a couple of good-time girls) is interrupted mid-splatter when Kim’s pistol jams; he has to run outside to get a new one. Im’s potty-mouthed historical revisionism peaks at the appointment of the acting President, when one of the army officials semicircled around Park’s naked corpse modestly places his hat over his former leader’s genitals. If Im’s political mud-drag occasionally ranges into scatological didacticism and overstylization (memo to the Korean film industry: enough with the CGI-enhanced dollies through panes of glass, already), maybe it’s only appropriate: if the making of history is a flawed process, so too is the documenting of it.
A brief, grinning stills gallery; a brief, grinning interview with Im; and the trailer, which builds up the historical grandiosity while holding the other, satirical shoe in dangling reserve.
“Comedy equals tragedy plus time,” on a national scale.