53: The Box (DVD)

I missed The Box in the cinema, it being my year without film. It is the kind of film I would normally jump at, liking claustrophobic paranoid fantasies, films based on Twilight Zone episodes, Cameron Diaz, James Marsden and even not minding Richard Kelly*. And it starts promisingly enough, with a decent period scene setting and some nicely sympathetic leads. And then Frank Langella turns up at the door with the Box. The Box is a nice, cheap, period looking piece of technology – with its big red button under a dome. But the box isn’t the problem. The box and what it leads to may be as preposterous as anything thrown at us in Kelly’s other films but at least has a semblance of fun fantasy storytelling around it. The problem is Langella. Or at least his digital face.

Langella has played some of the greatest villains known to man. Insert Richard Nixon and Skeletor jokes here. He can play a morally ambiguous creep in his sleep, and sort of does here. But for some reason, never all that clear, half of Langella’s face is digitally removed as a scar. A bit like Aaron Eckhart in The Dark Knight, but without the reasoning. Look at it here.

Its not horrific to look at, its just a bit odd. And it give Diaz some initial reason to distrust him (before he suggests she pushes the button and kills someone randomly). But the ubiquity of digital effects means this is a digital effect. Indeed what is a grimy little sci-fi film is packed with pointless effects use. They are probably used to kipper up Marsden’s tie for all I know. I am not sure why this pointless use of technology bugs me more than two and a half hours of Transformers hitting each other**? It just seems to be there because science fiction equal effects in someones mind. The really annoying thing is that actually make-up couild have done something just as good. Because remember there was a film where all of the skin on Langella’s face was removed.

*I only disliked about 40% of Southland Tales, which puts me way ahead of the curve.
**It bothers me more cos I saw the Box.

Film 2Oh!! is an attempt to write about every film I have seen this year which is really quite tricky. This year I have seen 169 films, written about 53.