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April 20, 2011

Lost in the 2000s - November

(Note from The Mike: One of my recent goals has been to revisit some of the literally hundreds of movies I watched for free back in my movie theater days of the early-mid 2000s.  There are a lot of movies I saw and occasionally bought on DVD and then shelved away and haven't really thought about since.  Hence, The Mike decided it's time for FMWL to get Lost in the 2000s.)

(2005, Dir. by Greg Harrison.)

I wrote something really fantastic about this movie once.  It's lost now, but I distinctly remember it being one of those rare moments where someone on a message board (Gosh, remember those?) asked about what the movie meant and I suddenly blacked out like Will Ferrell in Old School and rattled off everything I thought the movie meant.  And they were like whoa.

But that smart commentary on the film is lost now, just like November was on my DVD shelf.  The abstract film features Gale Weathers/Courtney Cox from Friends teaching photography and witnessing her boyfriend (the always cool James Le Gros) die in a corner shop burglary gone bad, before she's forced to deal with her post-traumatic stresses and the exceedingly strange events that are occurring around her.  The film doesn't fit into what is traditionally recognized as the horror genre, but is full of haunting sounds and images that should remind the viewer of surreal filmmakers like David Lynch.
Cox is on screen for nearly every minute of the surprisingly short (78 minutes, including credits) psychological thriller, and she's about as good as I'd expect her to be.  I've never been a big fan of her as an actress - Gale is still my least favorite cog in the Scream films - but I suppose if I had to pick an actress from Friends to lead headline the film, she's the best I could do. She never dives too far into her mental anguish, which is a good thing to an extent, but I didn't quite think the actress was unsettled enough to really make me entirely care about the character's plight.
Luckily, the movie's not really about her.  It's about what's happening to her, and what's happening to her is really freakin' interesting.  The complaints of annoyed neighbors start to become violent quakes, phantom photos of the night of the shooting appear in her classroom, and things like using a cotton swab - or a Q-Tip, if you're one of those fancy rich people - become dangerous.  Editor and director Greg Harrison keeps the film visually interesting  by switching the color palette throughout his three part narrative, and the sound effects throughout the film provide a lot of welcome tension. The end result of the film might be a little obvious - I'm guessing my description of the film could have already given it away - but it's the film's sensory appeal that really makes it memorable to me.
There are many layers to November's mystery, and I still can't say I get all of its psychological twists and turns, even if the film does its best to spell things out for the viewer through title cards and a drawn out epilogue.  But November still gets me on a visceral level, and I think Cox and Le Gros do enough to keep us involved in Harrison's surreal tale.  If you're looking for something off the beaten path that's a bit abstract, I highly recommend it.

1 comment:

Emily C said...

Wow, I can't believe I've never even heard of this film! It sounds really intriguing, and I'm definitely going to check it out. Cool idea to tackle The Mike! I'd love to revisit all those films that I saw around the time I was in high school/college- I'm sure there are some I'd have a very different opinion about now.