Devil's Knot (Atom Egoyan, 2013)

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lacritfan
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Devil's Knot (Atom Egoyan, 2013)

#1 Post by lacritfan » Wed Nov 20, 2013 12:11 am


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flyonthewall2983
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Re: Devil's Knot (Atom Egoyan, 2013)

#2 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Wed Nov 20, 2013 12:50 am

Watch the docs instead.

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warren oates
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Re: Devil's Knot (Atom Egoyan, 2013)

#3 Post by warren oates » Wed Nov 20, 2013 1:07 am

Hmm. I don't see why this is some sort of either/or proposition. Unless you've seen the film and are asserting that it sucks? In many ways this seems like ideal subject matter for Egoyan. A body search straight out of Exotica. A Sweet Hereafter like channeling of collective grief into witch hunting/scapegoating. All inflected by the bottomless mystery of any given individual's private motivations. Every film Eogyan's ever made has been directed as if it were a weirdly intense and personal whodunit. So I'll certainly be interested to see how he tackles an investigation into this real life crime.

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Cronenfly
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Re: Devil's Knot (Atom Egoyan, 2013)

#4 Post by Cronenfly » Wed Nov 20, 2013 1:24 am

Reviews out of TIFF were truly abysmal (this and Matthew Weiner's You Are Here were the highest profile flops of the fest), lots of unflattering TV movie of the week comparisons from what I can recall. Not to count it out entirely, but I'm pretty sure Egoyan himself said in introducing one of the screenings that this was, of the films he's made so far, the one he's put the least of his own personality into, and that's saying something given a lot of his recent work.

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warren oates
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Re: Devil's Knot (Atom Egoyan, 2013)

#5 Post by warren oates » Wed Nov 20, 2013 1:39 am

I'll remain cautiously optimistic for now. Where the Truth Lies is, for me, Egoyan's only truly awful film. Even though Adoration and Chloe feel more like re-imaginings of his earlier features than advances in his body of work, both films were much better than their reviews let on.

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Cronenfly
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Re: Devil's Knot (Atom Egoyan, 2013)

#6 Post by Cronenfly » Wed Nov 20, 2013 2:23 am

Adoration was pretty decent, I thought, never did see Chloe, and Where the Truth Lies is indeed pretty embarassing. Just seems like he's been steadily moving towards being a director-for-hire, even on projects he has a hand in writing/producing/otherwise initiating himself: it's a little worrying that his next project is a Ryan Reynolds-Scott Speedman thriller. Maybe this more generic/commercial turn will pay off somewhere down the line, but for now I miss the Egoyan of old.

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flyonthewall2983
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Re: Devil's Knot (Atom Egoyan, 2013)

#7 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Wed Nov 20, 2013 2:33 am

I'll admit I'm not as well-versed on the whole WM3 saga (and I only watched the last HBO doc) as a lot of people, but to try and bottle it up as a Reese Witherspoon dramatic vehicle does not do what really happened justice. Trying to dramatize the events period might not do it justice, unless it's given as much care as something like what Fincher (and the producers and screenwriter) did with Zodiac.

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Re: Devil's Knot (Atom Egoyan, 2013)

#8 Post by John Cope » Wed Nov 20, 2013 2:51 am

I know the film was met with a less than enthusiastic reception but I want to single out this specific review as a reason why I'm not persuaded by that. There's much here that seems way off to me even with the film itself sight unseen. Foundas is apparently puzzled by a number of things that seem pretty self-evident. He wonders why Egoyan would even bother with such familiar material, apparently believing he brings nothing new to our understanding of it, and notes that the film "only covers events up through the two 1994 trials" as though that were evidence enough of its insufficiency. For me that decision (and the shift of emphasis to Pam Hobbs and especially the fact that the West Memphis Three figure as only "fleeting supporting characters") suggests an entire other concentration of focus than that which occupied the documentaries. It sounds to me like Egoyan characteristically has avoided the flamboyant, even theatrical possibilities inherent in this material for a more nuanced, elusive portrait, presumably emphasizing the devastating uncertainty of the mystery. That makes sense to me and fits what I expected all along. How is playing to his strengths a bad idea?

There is indication enough that Foundas isn't paying strict enough attention in his assertion that Sweet Hereafter was about a tight-knit community when in fact (with the exception of the incest angle which was about a "tight-knot community" poisoned from within) it was wholly the opposite. It's the fact that they are not tight-knit which threatens to unravel and destroy them. Also, the idea that a "trance-like" score from Danna could ever be anything other than a good idea is beyond me. I'm pre-ordering the soundtrack now.

I'm sure that to a certain degree this was intended partially to reach audiences who may not have otherwise viewed the docs on the subject but to then assume Egoyan has just shrugged and made a Lifetime movie is unjustified to say the least. Certainly Egoyan has failed before and made "bad" films before: I think Where the Truth Lies is pretty bad, same for Felicia's Journey. But they've never been intellectually lazy as this review would seem to indicate this is and there's no reason to assume they would become as much now.

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zedz
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Re: Devil's Knot (Atom Egoyan, 2013)

#9 Post by zedz » Wed Nov 20, 2013 4:06 pm

So far, the only guardedly positive reports I've heard of this film are from people who haven't seen it. Everyone who has seen it seems to agree that it's embarrassingly bad. I'm still curious to see it, but I haven't really liked any of Egoyan's films since Sarabande.

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warren oates
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Re: Devil's Knot (Atom Egoyan, 2013)

#10 Post by warren oates » Wed Nov 20, 2013 4:26 pm

Peter Jackson wrote:Without John Douglas’s work on the West Memphis Three case, it is doubtful that three men who were wrongfully imprisoned for eighteen years would now be free.
To anyone who cares, the most interesting account I've encountered yet of how and why the wrong suspects ended up charged and convicted appears in John Douglas' recent book Law & Disorder. The former FBI profiler was the model for Scott Glenn's character in The Silence of the Lambs and now consults on cold cases and other miscarriages of justice. Heck, his latest blog post is about a much less well-known case of "Satanic panic."

As for Egoyan, I'll stand up for Felicia's Journey too, for the Antonioni-esque sense of landscape and architecture alone.

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Re: Devil's Knot (Atom Egoyan, 2013)

#11 Post by MacktheFinger » Wed Nov 20, 2013 4:31 pm

I read the script a few months back and that was enough to convince me to avoid the film. While it features many of Egoyan's best qualities, including the detective story at the center, it felt extremely problematic in other areas. For starters, it focuses on Reese Witherspoon's character (the mother of one of the victims), and seeks to make her into a weird triumphant disbeliever, who was able to exist outside of the mob rule/witch-hunt that Berlinger exposed in his docs. It is also filled with these cloying, pandering scenes that I could never imagine working. I can imagine that some Egoyan-philes might find a bit more to love, but even the way it handled the depiction of the accused were bordering on reprehensible.
SpoilerShow
Specifically, there are some scenes where the script depicts Echols participating in black magic rituals.

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warren oates
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Re: Devil's Knot (Atom Egoyan, 2013)

#12 Post by warren oates » Sat May 10, 2014 10:01 pm

I'm probably the biggest Egoyan fan around here, but, man, was this unbearably tedious. One of the worst courtroom dramas I've ever seen, one of the worst true crime films I've ever seen. A completely unnecessary fictional dramatization of a story better told already in at least four documentaries and numerous nonfiction books.

It's hard to sort out the blame for this. Obviously most of it is on Egoyan, but it really feels like the biggest problem was his initial choice of the material, the book on which this is based, and his refusal to throw out the existing adaptation and write something more in line with his interests -- or maybe just his decision to make this at all. There's so much in terms of theme, character and drama that ought to interest him here, but it's all told so badly. The structure is haphazard to the point of feeling arbitrary. There are time and date stamps on many scenes, but no clear feeling of progression. If I didn't already know this story pretty well I think I'd feel hopelessly lost. And there's certainly no room to breathe and none of the kinds of subtle psychological insights that Egoyan's so good at in his Canadian films.

There are maybe a dozen fleeting moments/images that contain the promise of what that film might have been. And one indelible scene where
SpoilerShow
one of the murdered boy's mothers, played by Reese Witherspoon, returns to his grade school classroom with a months-late assignment of his final homework because she wants the teacher to grade it.
Reese Witherspoon is the biggest surprise, for how homely she's willing to let herself look, for how credibly she comes off as an ordinary working class mom. She's good in all her scenes, but suffers the same as everyone else with almost nothing interesting to do on account of the horrible script.

Unless I'm on crack, though, some of MacktheFinger's scripted scenes didn't make it into the movie and/or were totally rewritten because it seemed to me that those so-called black magic scenes in the finished film are
SpoilerShow
expressly implied to be half-baked fantasies based on B-movies an unreliable witness has seen.

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Re: Devil's Knot (Atom Egoyan, 2013)

#13 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Sat May 10, 2014 10:19 pm

So much for cautious optimism then.

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warren oates
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Re: Devil's Knot (Atom Egoyan, 2013)

#14 Post by warren oates » Sat May 10, 2014 10:29 pm

I saw this on iTunes, but, you know, I'm always skeptical when the work of a major international art film director like Egoyan gets summarily dumped like this (in, as far as I can tell, just one crappy theater in the greater Los Angeles area, which is the same ignominious fate I remember that Wim Wenders' Million Dollar Hotel once suffered), but in this case the distributors couldn't have been more correct in their assessment of the film they had and the release it deserved.

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zedz
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Re: Devil's Knot (Atom Egoyan, 2013)

#15 Post by zedz » Mon May 12, 2014 3:45 pm

warren oates wrote:Wim Wenders' Million Dollar Hotel
Now that's a film I'd completely forgotten even existed.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: Devil's Knot (Atom Egoyan, 2013)

#16 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon May 12, 2014 4:13 pm

zedz wrote:
warren oates wrote:Wim Wenders' Million Dollar Hotel
Now that's a film I'd completely forgotten even existed.
Lucky you. That film was single-handedly responsible for my decision to avoid seeing a second Wenders film for 12 years. I've never been able to forget it.

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warren oates
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Re: Devil's Knot (Atom Egoyan, 2013)

#17 Post by warren oates » Mon May 12, 2014 4:32 pm

Maybe I should have called it Bono's Million Dollar Hotelas directed by Wim Wenders. Anyway, it's always too bad when you start with exactly the wrong film. The End of Violence or The Scarlet Letter would have had the same effect on me too.

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Re: Devil's Knot (Atom Egoyan, 2013)

#18 Post by colinr0380 » Mon May 12, 2014 5:07 pm

My first Wenders was Until The End Of The World! :P (I think I would certainly defend both that and The End of Violence. Million Dollar Hotel less so, though I did wonder whether Wong Kar-Wai's 2046 stole a couple of ideas, or at least images, from it!)

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swo17
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Re: Devil's Knot (Atom Egoyan, 2013)

#19 Post by swo17 » Mon May 12, 2014 5:16 pm

Careful guys, you're getting dangerously close to a Million Dollar Hotel thread split.

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Dr Amicus
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Re: Devil's Knot (Atom Egoyan, 2013)

#20 Post by Dr Amicus » Fri May 16, 2014 8:02 am

My local cinema is advertising this as upcoming in a month's time. Now, Guernsey is a small island of 65,000 people with one small 4 screen cinema (and a film society) - we're part of the UK for film distribution puprposes - and it will be the middle of the summer blockbuster season.

Is this getting a big UK release? Is Colin Firth really such a big draw IN HIS OWN RIGHT to make this happen rather than a limited run? Now it wouldn't be the first time our cinema has shown something really leftfield - but it is rare. Less rare is a film being advertised and then not turning up...

Incidentally, it's the first Egoyan film to be screened over here and, although I haven't seen any of his films since Felicia's Journey, I really liked that and his earlier films, so I'm going to risk it.

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