Rewind Review: Edge of Darkness (2010)


As those who know me, and if such a person exists, cyberstalk me, know I created this blog after writing on another site, which shall remain nameless, for a while. The point is, I have material sitting around waiting to be re-used on occasion I will re-post them here. Some of those articles or reviews may have been extemporaneous at the time but are slightly random now, hence the new title and little intro, regardless enjoy!

Edge of Darkness

Prior to the release of Edge of Darkness much of the discussion regarding it related to whether Mel Gibson can still carry a film as a lead actor, since he hadn’t starred in a project in six years. The answer to those concerns is a resounding yes. Gibson carries this film just as easily as any he had in the past and is just as good, if not better than he was in doing so.
Note that spoilers may be found below.
Edge of Darkness is a film which is a slow burn but it is most definitely a good thing. This film does not give you the complete picture at the outset and slowly, about at the same pace as the protagonist, you start to see what the circumstances surrounding the murder were. Eventually you work through the entanglements the plot has created to reach some sort of clarity of precisely what is going on. Differently than Sherlock Holmes a plot is uncovered which is far-reaching but not far-fetched.

Edge of Darkness
The action sequences in the film are very good and very intense and contrary to some reports were not too few and far between. They are some of the more resonant portions of the film showing that the filmmakers in this case strove for quality over quantity.
Those complaints were mainly made by those comparing it to the miniseries, which this cannot be. It is a film and must stand on its own two legs. As interesting a project as it is it makes one wonder why Gibson chose this as, essentially, his comeback vehicle.
On the downside the visions and posthumous conversations that Gibson’s character has with his daughter do become very tiresome. There are far too many of them for so short a film. Eventually they start to lose their effectiveness and yes they do drag the story somewhat though not for a lack of action around them.

Recently, The Guardian wrote an article on the troubles with accents specifically South African ones when interpreted by American actors. Conversely though the Bostonian accent seems to be thriving and is not nearly as exaggerated as it was and Mr. Gibson and the rest of the cast playing locals are to be commended for that.
Where the film truly excels though is through the supporting character, Jedburgh, as well as the man who plays him Ray Winstone. This is a funny, dark and intriguing character which is the kind of dubious man without a past and affiliation that is most likely to get involved in a mess like this to clear it up. His and Thomas Craven’s (Mel Gibson) relationship is fascinating and helps to drive the story forward.
Unfortunately, the Achilles Heel of the film turns up again once more at the very end with a very cheesy shot of Thomas Craven and his daughter walking side by side. It is a shot without any finesse and tells us information we have already surmised that could be conveyed another way.

Edge of Darkness
Ultimately, this is a good action film with an interesting and intelligent plot that is well worth seeking out.

Once Upon a Time in the 80s: Music Videos (Part 9 of 17)

This is a recapitulation of a paper I did in college. This is part eight in the series to read other parts go here.

The music video of all visual art forms probably had the shortest period of time where it was a true art. If you look at music video now it becomes more and more rare to find one that attempts to portray some kind of narrative it has become what the artists originally feared merely a showcase for a song and an artist who looks like they should be an actor. The 1980s, however, offered some very unique and experimental ventures in this new medium.

MTV, which once upon a time stood for Music Television, launched in August of 1981 and it debuted with one of the better videos they ever aired called “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles. Artists debated the intrinsic value, or lack thereof, of music videos Hall & Oates were opposed to them and Madonna was in favor of them citing that musicians when on stage acted and this was just a different medium. Fitting that she would make such a statement because Madonna was a pioneer of the video every bit as much as Michael Jackson.

If pressed to find an end for the music video as an art I’d point to Milli Vanilli’s efforts in 1989. They were two dancers who were hired by a record company to lip-sync their way to fame. They won a few Grammies and were found out in 1990. After that point the packaging was no longer hidden and videos became less and less about anything but putting visuals to a new single. But the music video was already a staple and here’s how it came about.

Experiments like David Bowie’s “China Girl” soon became more refined, and even cinematic, like Madonna’s homage to Marilyn Monroe in “Material Girl.” There was the irreverence of The Cars in “You Might Think” and then there were masterworks in the genre as well. One of the best videos of the 80s is undoubtedly Billy Joel’s “Pressure” it’s a visual romp, with images that add to the despair and, well, pressure of the lyrics, nothing is really explained by the lyrics and the images don’t mimic the song. It’s truly great. Billy Joel also managed to cram all of Americana since the 1950s in a three minute video for “We Didn’t Start the Fire” it is such a kaleidoscopic approach to a song which is literally going over world events while we get the portrait of a household changing while the world around it burns down.

Thriller (1983, Epic Records)

Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” is probably the most important video in music history. It was treated and packaged like a film. Jackson got John Landis (An American Werewolf in London) to direct it and there was even a making of special. Nearly all of Michael Jackson’s other videos are better but this is the one that set the stage for how he approached them. It is labels and artists merely only looking at his videos as singing and dancing numbers that have bred a lack of originality and the pathetic state of the music video today. No one has to given as much thought to narrative and production since and are only concerned in the superficial most of the time, unlike Jackson.

Madonna, meanwhile, love her or hate her, has always been doing something different. In the controversial “Like a Prayer,” she falls in love with a modern day martyr who is accused of a crime he didn’t commit. In “Open Your Heart,” she’s a stripper who becomes a boy’s obsession, in “Express Yourself” she leads a revolt in a video that was based on Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, in two videos shot in black and white “Vogue” and “Oh Father” she takes two different approaches celebrating sensuality in one and lamenting a death in another.

If and when another media savvy and quality performer comes about the music video may be revived. It is still an art form with a great deal of potential to entertain because by its very nature it combines two of the most powerful elements in entertainment: music and the motion picture. The music video is for the most part a marketing tool, but every once and a while it does spasm and let a bit of art come out.