Wednesday September 30th at 9:00pm, #Bond_age_ officially goes off the reservation. In our first #Bond_age_ Choice feature since The Quiller Memorandum a few months ago, #Bond_age_ regular @tapwateralice has given us the red pill (or was it the blue pill? Shit I forget). Say, Adam Slusar, why have you chosen this film, Beyond the Black Rainbow, to live tweet with the #Bond_age_ brethren? (Use #Bond_age_ hashtag, btw.)
Now more than ever, in the wake of movies like Kung Fury and Turbo Kid, it seems a new generation of filmmakers are looking for a slice of the ‘80s nostalgia pie. If you’re like me, and becoming disenchanted by major blockbusters aping the gritty realism and navel-gazing of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy (but hey, I like at least two of those movies so don’t bring out the pitchforks just yet), this might be a good thing; a growing trend in “neo-retro” aestheticism can only mean more opportunities for glorious synthesizer soundtracks and balls-to-the-wall ridiculousness. And who doesn’t love those things?
But while ‘80s pastiche and riffing on VHS action movie mayhem is easy enough to wrap one’s head around, the film I want to introduce is a different beast altogether.
Beyond the Black Rainbow is firmly established in 1980s retrograde – complete with a haunting synth score and 1983 setting – but don’t expect to find any cheesy one-liners or gun-toting heroics here. Our mute protagonist, Elena (Eva Allan) is a patient at the Arboria Institute under the care of the enigmatic Dr. Barry Nyle (Michael Rogers). Elena, who possesses strange powers, is kept seemingly against her will in what appears to be a nightmarish fusion between the space stations of 2001: A Space Odyssey and the deathtrap environments of Cube. Claustrophobic, grim and cryptic, director Panos Cosmatos channels the likes of David Cronenberg and Dario Argento in a film that defies a conventional plot description. You’re best to go into this one blind.
Being that this is my pick for the #Bond_age_ Choice live tweet, some of you might be wondering if Beyond the Black Rainbow has any ties to Bond? On one hand I could say “no”… but on the other hand, the dynamic between Elena and Dr. Nyle does bear a few striking similarities to that of Solitaire and Kananga/Mr. Big in Live And Let Die. And 1983 was the “Battle of the Bonds”, after all…
But in all honesty, I chose Beyond the Black Rainbow because it’s one of the most absorbing, strange and visually stimulating independent art films that I’ve seen in recent years. Open-ended and vague in certain respects (and I mean this in the best possible sense of the word), but nonetheless a film that rewards the repeat viewer and those who pay close enough attention.
I enjoyed my first experience and I hope you do, too. For as Buckaroo Banzai once said: “No matter where you go… there you are.”
(Beyond the Black Rainbow is available to stream on Netflix (CA), Google Play, as well as BluRay & DVD. An embed for the film will appear here on the #Bond_age_ site for the duration of the live tweet and then disappear immediately after the conclusion of the festivities.)