PETER STRICKLAND'S 'BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO' PREMIERED AT EDINBURGH FEST LAST WEEK
The Hollywood Reporter's Neil Young suggests that Peter Strickland's Berberian Sound Studio was inspired by Michael Powell's Peeping Tom and Brian De Palma's Blow Out. Young viewed Berberian at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, where it had its world premiere last week. Here is an excerpt from Young's review:
The nightmarish side of moviemaking is imaginatively if unevenly dramatized in writer-director Peter Strickland's sophomore effort Berberian Sound Studio, the most critically lauded of the Edinburgh's 18 world premieres. Starring superlative British character-actor Toby Jones in a rare lead role, this UK/Germany co-production follows the misadventures of a timid sound-mixer working on a grisly shocker in 1970s Italy. But while the plethora of sly references and in-jokes will delight genre aficionados and cinephiles, a third-act spiral from queasy dark comedy into more ambitious David Lynch-ish territory will likely leave more general audiences frustrated. The film therefore looks likely to emulate Strickland's Transylvania-set 2009 debut Katalin Varga and enjoy a lengthy festival run followed by small-scale art-house distribution and small-screen sales.
Evidently inspired by such inside-baseball predecessors as Michael Powell's Peeping Tom and Brian De Palma's Blow Out, Strickland displays intimate knowledge of the lurid Italian 1960s-80s giallo wave of violent thrillers and horrors from the likes of Dario Argento, Mario Bava, Lucio Fulci and Sergio Martini. Familiarity with these pictures isn't essential to get the gist of what's going on in Berberian Sound Studio, but it certainly helps.
Taken on its own terms, the film works as a character-study of fortysomething, mild-mannered, workaholic Gilderoy (Jones) - first name or surname? - a fish out of water amid these tempestuous southern-Europeans. The film-within-the-film The Equestrian Vortex - directed by the flamboyant Giancarlo Santini (Antonio Mancino) and seemingly modeled on Argento's masterpiece Suspiria - of which we see only the amusingly ludicrous opening-titles. We watch Gilderoy and company, including bad-tempered producer Francesco (Cosimo Fusco), watching the movie - for which the Studio, in accordance with typical practices of the day, provides the entire soundtrack.