Sunday, October 26, 2008

Cinema: Mother of Tears

Dario Argento's latest movie is his best since 1987's Opera. Unfortunately, that's not saying much because Argento's post-Opera pre-MoT movies range from bland to outright awful. But whatever else MoT is, it's not bland. The apocalyptic conclusion to the Three Mothers trilogy begun with 1976's Suspiria (now indisputably the best movie Argento will ever make) and followed by 1979's Inferno, MoT has more crazy conviction than Argento's shown in a long time. What it lacks is atmosphere and style, two things which used to be Argento's trademarks and which helped compensate for Argento's recurring flaws, namely his inability to direct actors or to come up with a coherent plot. What passes for a story here concerns Argento's usual plucky female protagonist (played by his daughter Asia Argento), trying to stop a coven of witches led by the Mother of Tears (played by the underwhelming Moran Atias) from bringing about the end of the world; in this she's guided by several characters including the ghost of her mother (played by Daria Nicolodi, Asia's real-life mother.) The movie reportedly had the biggest budget of Argento's career, but none of it shows on the screen. Hopes for Argento, who turned 68 this year, of renewing his fans' faith with a late-career comeback are dimmer than ever. And yet I'll still be watching his next offering, despite having the unpromisingly reductive title Giallo (that's the Italian name for a literary and cinematic subgenre of murder mysteries which many of Argento's movies fall under, so calling the film Giallo is like calling a comedy Comedy.)

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