Friday, October 5, 2012
|9:00 p.m.||Death and the Compass|
Alex Cox (U.S./Mexico, 1996)
In Person/Alex Cox
Alex Cox’s ongoing fascination with Jorge Luis Borges is seen in this revised and rejuvenated version of Death and the Compass, the original 1992 release being almost a half-hour shorter. Here, we are engaged by the dogged Peter Boyle as Erik Lönnrot, a philosophical detective who uncovers a series of murders that might be the outcome of an occult conspiracy. His method of investigation is to construct patterns of coincidence far more elaborate than the crimes themselves. The arch-criminal in this kabbalistic case is Red Scharlach, played by two-faced Christopher Eccleston, a diabolical designer of dread. Lönnrot’s boss, Treviranus (Miguel Sandoval), frames the investigation with a mad commentary spurred on by the agonized memories of the city that surrounds him. Staged at the Estudios Churubusco Azteca in Mexico City, Death and the Compass revels in its ornate artificiality. Baroque sets immersed in darkly saturated shadows and enveloped by sweeping camera movements create an atmosphere that melds the logic of dream with the rendering of a graphic novel. Lönnrot pursues his foe across this delirious topography, following a map of his own devising that leads him to the simple revelation that a labyrinth can sometimes be a straight line.
• Written by Cox, based on the short story by Jorge Luis Borges. Photographed by Miguel Garzón. With Peter Boyle, Miguel Sandoval, Christopher Eccleston, Pedro Armendáriz Jr. (86 mins, Color, 35mm, From the filmmaker)