Happy (belated) New Year! Before we get started with 2020, there's still a lot of debris to clear out from 2019. In this installment: In Fabric, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and 47 Meters Down: Uncaged.
The Duke of Burgundy, Peter Strickland's second feature, was one of my ten favorite films of 2015. Hell, it was one of my eight favorite films. That's a lower bar than it would usually be—2015, as a cinematic year, has been exceeded in its lousy mediocrity only by the year that's just passed—but it's still a sign of some modest excellence to have cleared it, and I think it's a pretty great movie, an art-horror romance ribboned with surrealistic and absurdist touches that still has a real, genuinely emotional story of relationship dysfunction to tell beneath the opaque glaze of 70s-nostalgic Europastiche that represents its director's preferred, and only, mode of artistic expression. In Fabric, Strickland's follow-up to The Duke of Burgundy, is rather more the follow-up you might've expected from Berberian Sound Studio, his first film. That is, it's an ultimately-tiresome exercise in pursuing his various aesthetic interests which, in Strickland's conciliatory gesture toward his film being about something, or anything—and, in fairness, this does put it miles ahead of Sound Studio—winds up being about an absolute shitload of "somethings," which all add up to far less than the sum of their parts by the end.