Odd Thomas and Berberian Sound Studio are currently available on instant Netflix
Odd Thomas (2013) – Not rated
“In a California desert town, a short-order cook with clairvoyant abilities encounters a mysterious man with a link to dark, threatening forces.”
Odd Thomas is based on the first in a series of books by Dean Koontz featuring the titular character. For being based on a novel, this movie is unusually brief (1 hr 36 minutes). imdb lists rather a large number of scenes cut.
I’d be generous in calling this film streamlined but, while it seems a little choppy, it is not incoherent. Exposition is breezy and mostly done in voiceover by Odd (Anton Yelchin). Many things in Odd Thomas could use fleshing out – both ideas and relationships.
Yelchin is certainly a magnet for franchises. He was Chekov in the two most recent Star Trek movies, Kyle Reese in Terminator Salvation, and Clumsy Smurf in the Smurf movies. Here he has the opportunity to anchor a franchise.
Writer (screenplay)/director/producer Stephen Sommers is no stranger to franchises either, having done the reboot of The Mummy (1999) which not only spawned two sequels but also a prequel that itself became a franchise (The Scorpion King movies). Unfortunately Dean Koontz does not have a track record of movie hits like Stephen King. Dean Koontz has eighteen writing credits including four movies based on Watchers. That and Demon Seed were minor hits, the rest not so much.
Clearly I digress. Odd Thomas ran into some legal and financial problems and was delayed and then dumped on the market.
Yelchin is charming. Stormy, our heroine, is played by a very attractive Addison Timlin (Derailed, Stand Up Guys). There are good, albeit brief, turns by Willem Dafoe, Patton Oswalt, and Shuler Hensley. Most of Oswalt’s scenes ended up on the cutting room floor.
I have not read the book but the movie seems like a Cliff’s Notes version. It is still a lot of fun though.
Berberian Sound Studio (2012) – Not Rated
“A shy sound engineer agrees to work on a depraved horror film, only to find that the dysfunction surrounding the project blurs fiction and reality.”
I like it when a favorite character actor gets a chance to be star in a film of their own, particularly when they are a character actor because they don’t fit the standard Hollywood model of beauty. Such is the case here with Toby Jones (recently Arnim Zola in Captain America).
Berberian Sound Studio is filmed and edited very well. Scenes end exactly when they should. Closeups occur often and are well-done. There are no wide or open shots leaving the film feeling very claustrophobic. Sound, as you might expect from the subject matter, is astonishingly good. Berberian Sound Studio is in a mix of English and Italian with English subtitles. Other than Jones, the other actors appear to be all Italian.
Berberian Sound Studio will reward your patient viewing. Gilderoy’s (Toby Jones) mental state being disturbed by the content of the film in the first two acts is gradual but very effective. No spoilers but the third act takes a brilliant turn. The camera movements and shots are central so put away your cellphones and ipads when you watch this disturbing, subversive film.