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Movie review: 'Violent Blue'

Music can't drown out dreariness.

January 06, 2011|By Robert Abele

There's a lot of music playing over the crisply formal images in Gregory Hatanaka's experimental-minded L.A.-set yarn "Violent Blue": amped-up swatches of classical, rock, pop, jazz, even a strange kind of Japanese new age folk.

The never-ending jukebox of a soundtrack, though, is the only thing that stimulates the senses in this drearily indulgent slog, wherein a kind-faced Slovakian music teacher (Silvia Suvadova) with composer's block is thrown into a cage by her mad ex-husband ( Nick Mancuso), while her mute, hermit-like electronics savant brother (Jesse Hlubik) is ghost-visited by a beautiful, blond, murdered music student (Andrea Harrison).

With room in his meticulously composed, pretentious art-noodling for silent-movie intertitles, footage of a pig slaughter, side characters acting bizarrely (which is not to be confused with actual acting) and the occasional nude female, Hatanaka does manage a strangely compelling rhythm of drawn-out sleep inducement and head-scratching pick-me-up.

The brief glimmers of deadpan humor only make the heavy-handed metaphors about inspiration and obsession seem that much more tin-eared. Plus, at over two hours, it's a lot of experiment for such meager lab results, and would make any self-respecting fan of avant-garde filmmaking head straight for a Charles Bronson chaser.

"Violent Blue." No MPAA rating. Running time: 2 hours, 9 minutes. Playing at Culver Plaza Theatres, Culver City.

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