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Non-Review Review: Trance

Trance is a dirty, messy little film. I’m not talking in terms of gore or graphic violence – although there is a surprising amount on display here. Instead, Trance feels like Danny Boyle is trying to get back in touch with his roots, the sort of stylishly shot, haphazardly structured and uncomfortably candid films from his earlier career. Boyle has, after all, gone from an underground auteur to a part of the cinematic establishment.

After all, we’re no longer talking about the director you constructed such grubby little pleasures as Shallow Grave or Trainspotting. Danny Boyle has an Oscar on his mantelpiece for Slumdog Millionaire, and a two nominations for 127 Hours. This is a man who organised and oversaw the London Olympics last year. You don’t get more legitimate or mainstream than that. Trance reads like an attempt by Boyle to prove that he hasn’t ventured too far away from his cinematic origins, and can still turn out a grubby little niche thriller starring a cast of sociopaths just waiting for an excuse to turn on one another.

Trance lacks the broad appeal of Slumdog Millionaire or even 127 Hours, but I’d be lying if I said I could resist its trashy pulpy charms. There’s a thrill here in watching the cinematic sleight of hand, observing as a veteran master of illusion proves he still can handle the old standards. It isn’t anything new or revolutionary, and there’s the constant threat that it might unravel at any given moment, but the thrill of Trance is watching Boyle trying to hold it all together. He doesn’t quite make it look effortless, but he gets there in the end.

It's a frame!

It’s a frame!

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Non-Review Review: The Candidate (1972)

The Candidate is that rare movie that is anchored firmly in its own time, released in June 1972, but remains relevant through until today. Writer Jeremy Larner won an Oscar for his screenplay, and his portrayal of election politics seems worryingly plausible. The Candidate is remarkably frank about its politics, but also in its depiction of the system. There’s no pussyfooting around for fear of alienating the audience with hostile political ideas, instead the film embraces its political position and runs from there. While it feels like it was written in the shadow of the then-looming 1972 Presidential election, it does seem to be quite applicable to modern politics.It remains relevant, perhaps an illustration of how little has changed.

If anything, it seems like The Candidate is relatively tame compared to current political realities.

“I came here to chew gum and get elected… and… well, I’m not out of gum.”

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