It’s not that good a film. It’s unnecessarily gory, the fight scenes are comical and the jump scares predictable. But Leigh Whannell’s The Invisible Man film does succeed in one area: the use of empty space.
The justification for all of these shots is that the evil invisible man is probably there watching Elizabeth Moss and hence us, and that’s what works so well, what makes it so creepy. It’s akin to Hitchock’s shower scene in Psycho where the shower, the safest place of all, was made dangerous.
Whannell’s film makes every place dangerous – every room, hallway and corner of anywhere you can go. He might be there watching, ready to fuck with our heads.
Jean-Dominique Bauby’s tersely poetic memoir, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, typed from the blinking of an eye, is harrowing and crystalline clear, moments chronicled by a man on the precipice of death:
I am fading away. Slowly but surely. Like the sailor who watches the home shore gradually disappear, I watch my past recede. My old life spurns within me, but more and more of it is reduced to the ashes of memory. I went to Paris and was unmoved by it. The streets were decked out in summer finery, but for me it was still winter, and what I saw through the ambulance window was just a movie background. Filmmakers call the process a “rear-scene projection,” with the hero’s car speeding along a road that unrolls behind him on a studio wall. Hitchcock films owe much of their poetry to the use of this process in its early, unperfected stages. My own crossing of Paris left me indifferent. Yet nothing was missing – housewives in flowered dresses and youths on roller skates, revving buses, messengers cursing on their scooters. The Place de l’Opera, straight out of a Dufy canvas. The treetops foaming like surf against the glass building fronts, wisps of clouds in the sky. Nothing was missing except me. I was elsewhere.
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The piece chronicles moments in film in a full 24-hour loop, focusing on a specific time, thus operating as a virtual clock. We arrived at 10:45pm and expected to watch shortly thereafter until 2:00am or so; however we were told that it would be a three-hour wait. Unbelieving, we went ahead and were oddly heartened when we found the wait was to be only 2 1/2 hours. We moved slowly, very slowly and envied those in front of us who had planned ahead; they had magazines and books.We mused, checked our messages – there were none – took turns going to the bathroom, thrilled at the incremental steps and stared at the slowly looming sign.We finally arrived, yes, three hours later at 1:45am. We were sleepy as soon as we sat but the film was good. More than that. It was exhilarating. We were in a cinematic world at an alluring hour…trapped in the frame with lovers, drunks and confusion.
Fonda in “La Ronde”
Shue and Cage in “Leaving Las Vegas”
“Planes, Trains and Automobiles”
A woman beside us kept turning on her phone, and I had had enough. I leaned over, “Please stop playing with your phone.” She glared back. “I’m not playing. I’m texting my son.” What was she thinking? She was missing it! These were the witching hours of celluloid, the time of transition, from darkest night, lost in thought, to the realization of the approaching day. This was the time of winding clocks, standing naked by the window and watching emus walk through the bedroom.
“Tales of Ordinary Lives”
“Phantom of Liberty”
The man beside me, a vague mix between Andy Warhol and John Cale in pale sunglasses and what looked like a tea cosy draped on his head, was fully reclined and began to snore; it was 4:00am. We considered staying longer – until 5:00am and beyond – but thought it better to come back another time, whenever the event may be staged again. We would just have to go to bed early and have Marclay’s film as our virtual alarm clock for another day.