Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
The philosopher Thomas Hobbes tells us life can be "poor, nasty, brutish and short." So is this movie. Alexandre Aja's "High Tension" is a slasher film about a madman prowling a rural area of France, chopping, slicing and crunching his way through, let's see, a body count of five or six people, including a small child that the film does not neglect to show crumpled and dead in a cornfield. That's what it's about, anyway, until we discover it actually consists of something else altogether, something I think is not possible, given our current understanding of the laws of physics.
The movie premiered at Toronto 2003 in a version that would clearly have received an NC-17 rating. It has been edited down to an R, perhaps the hardest R for violence the MPAA has ever awarded, and into the bargain, Lions Gate has dubbed great parts of it into English. Not all: There are inexplicable sections where the characters swear in French, which is helpfully subtitled.
I had forgotten how much I hate dubbing, especially when it's done as badly as in "High Tension." It's lip-flap on parade. The movie was originally shot in French, but for purposes of the dubbing one of the characters, Alex (Maiwenn) has been given an American accent. As she and her friend Maria (Cecile De France) arrive at the deserted country home of Alex's family, Alex warns her: "Their French is even worse than mine." Since the parents hardly speak except to scream bilingually, this is not a problem.
The story: Alex and Marie are driving out to a country weekend with Alex's parents. Alex seems normal, but Marie is one of those goofy sorts who wanders into a cornfield for no better reason than for Alex to follow her, shouting "Marie! Marie!" while the wind sighs on the soundtrack -- a track that beavers away with Ominous Noises throughout the movie; is there a technical term like Ominoise?