Saturday, October 6, 2012

Netflix streaming tip: Jessica Biel shines in Pascal Laugier's surprising THE TALL MAN

Something else entirely is THE TALL MAN, the new film from Pascal Laugier, who, a few years back, gave us the ghoulish, grizzly and very dark Martyrs. To talk much at all about his newest work is to spoil the several surprises that turn the movie from one thing into another. As both writer and director of the film M. Laugier is extremely deft in how he handles the progression.

Children are disappearing from the depressed, ex-mining town of Cold Rock, and rumors attribute their disappearance to the work of a frightening figure known as the Tall Man. Jessica Biel, shown at bottom, portrays the town nurse who find herself in the midst of the latest disappearance.

Writer/director Laugier, at left, is adept at building suspense in the early scenes, which work quite wonderfully in their slightly off-kilter way. While we seem to be dealing with a number of cliches of the genre here, even as cliche, these scenes meld together speedily and smartly so that we're not troubled with too much déjà vu. And then, slowly, the very core of what we think we know is shaken, and from there we move onward.

There is at this film's base a strong element of elitism at work, which I can't go into further without spilling too many beans, so I'll just say that when watched by a group of intelligent adults, the post-movie conversation surrounding The Tall Man should be plentiful and keen.

Often, movies of almost any genre seem content to try to give us what is expected in that genre, either as well and as interestingly as possible, or just in standard format that most viewers seem perfectly willing to tolerate. Some of us, of course, keep crying out for something other than the usual cliches. Yet when a movie comes along that upends all these, it is too often under-appreciated in its initial foray. Only later, when enough outliers have been able to see and judge the film, does its reputation begin to rise.

So it will be with The Tall Man, I predict. It opened only a month or so ago, here in New York City, so the fact that you can view it now, in high definition, via Netflix streaming, is in itself reason enough to get that monthly service. (You can also rent or purchase the movie on DVD or Blu-ray.)

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