We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
"Philip Kaufman's "Twisted" walks like a thriller and talks like a thriller, but it squawks like a turkey. And yet the elements are in place for a film that works -- all until things start becoming clear and mysteries start being solved and we start shaking our heads, if we are well-mannered, or guffawing, if we are not.
Let me begin at the ending. The other day I employed the useful term deus ex machina in a review, and received several messages from readers who are not proficient in Latin. I have also received several messages from Latin scholars who helpfully translated obscure dialogue in "The Passion of the Christ" for me, and, as my Urbana High School Latin teacher Mrs. Link used to remind me, In medio tutissimus ibis.
But back to deus ex machina. This is a phrase you will want to study and master, not merely to amaze friends during long bus journeys but because it so perfectly describes what otherwise might take you thousands of words. Imagine a play on a stage. The hero is in a fix. The dragon is breathing fire, his sword is broken, his leg is broken, his spirit is broken, and the playwright's imagination is broken. Suddenly there is the offstage noise of the grinding of gears, and invisible machinery lowers a god onto the stage, who slays the dragon, heals the hero, and fires the playwright. He is the "god from the machine."
Now travel with me to San Francisco. Ashley Judd stars as Jessica Shepard, a new homicide detective who has a habit of picking up guys in bars and having rough sex with them. She drinks a lot. Maybe that goes without saying. Soon after getting her new job, she and her partner Mike Delmarco (Andy Garcia) are assigned to a floater in the bay. She recognizes the dead man, who has been savagely beaten. It's someone she has slept with.