Quantcast

Mandy (Blu-ray Review)

We have the making of a bit of a modern cult classic going right now in that of director Panos Cosmatos follow up to Beyond the Black Rainbow. Its Mandy, the movie with Nicholas Cage that had the crazy ass trailer making people saying “I’ve got to see this!” And many are. The film’s plan was to play some festivals and have a little theatrical run, with it being moreso pushed on the digital/streaming platforms. Mandy has done so well in its little run that its expanded and may have been in need of going much wider than it was anticipated. The cool fact of this ordeal is that the movie is succeed while it is able to be watched to rent or purchase via streaming. And the Blu-ray I am reviewing here is coming out next week (October 30th). If a film is something people WANT to see in theaters, they will show up. Plus, the word of mouth on this one has been quite good. I wish I’d have the opportunity to see it theatrically, but alas, its not shown up in my neighborhood yet. But, with its popularity being compared to that of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, maybe I’ll be able to catch it on a revival screening!

In the Pacific Northwest in 1983, outsiders Red Miller and Mandy Bloom lead a loving and peaceful existence. When their pine-scented haven is savagely destroyed by a cult led by the sadistic Jeremiah Sand, Red is catapulted into a phantasmagoric journey filled with bloody vengeance and laced with deadly fire.

We are doing something unique for this review. Mandy is a very special kind of movie. The film is extremely avante garde, but is attracting so much buzz that people who don’t typically care for or seek out arthouse films may find themselves “trapped” in. I’m not saying Why So Blu el jefe Brian is of that ilk. But, what I found would be interesting and maybe helpful for some is two separate bits of thoughts on the film. AKA – Brandon LOVED it and Brian HATED it. Brian wasn’t going to write the review and toss it to one of us other writers to do it, but I asked that he please share at least a short review of his thoughts on the film. As much crap as he could potentially be given for it, there are some (Possible even many) that probably share it or others that might see it and realize its not their time of film.

-Brandon’s Take-

No surprise to any of you who have been reading my dribble for years or know me, but I dig me some weird. Strange movies, experimental movies, noble failures are all stuff that tends to fascinate me. Mandy falls into the strange and experimental side for me. I really liked Beyond the Black Rainbow a few years back, but this film, Panos Cosmatos channels some of that but also brings some wickedly unique unlike we’ve ever seen before with a tale of bitter revenge.

There is something important to realize or understand when entering into or watching Mandy. Some viewers enjoy this type of filmwatching, others hate or don’t understand it. Perfectly stated by Panos Cosmatos on the bonus features, he says “Its not about what the story of Mandy is about, its about how its being told.” He’s rather bored with the script/plot/etc and is more focused on the experience with watching  it. The director has purposely crafted an overly simple narrative and story arc, only to form his complexities in the details, actor choices, and strange undefined ideas, places, creatures and levels of consciousness left intentionally ambiguous. In otherwords, if you’re looking for a clean, cut dry revenge film, its here. But, if you’re wanting the spoonfed character relations, motivations and exposition heavy dialogue lines on things you may not understand…its going to drive you nuts.

In order to succeed with Mandy as a viewer, you have to just immediately surrender yourself to the film (Something everyone should do for any film, honestly) and just soak it in and play by its own rules as long as its not breaking what its laid out. Mandy is a “feels” film. Its successes coming with how wells it effectively gives you mood, surprises and disturbs you. The film is pure visual and audio bliss. Soundscapes mixed with really bold framing and lighting devices. I hate to keep throwing the word “mood” out there, but its very important to the success of Mandy. Especially the film’s first hour.

Mandy’s first half is all about just drowning in this normal world with a weird intervention of a cult. It seemingly takes on the personality of the film’s cult leader Jeremiah Sand. There is a very supernatural tone to it, despite the demonic, monstrous biker gang. The whole thing is almost a chill acid trip, even at its most vile. When we get to the second, revenge-laden half, that’s when things crank up to extremes. The film’s tones flips as would the character of Red’s would when his world is so viciously and literally burned to the ground before his eyes. Things are kinda dreamy and nice, but then it all gets brutalized and destroyed before him, leading a charge of angry depression and rage that fuels a machine, a person built only having revenge left in their life.

Nicholas Cage is in top form here and giving one his most unique and best performances of his career in Mandy. I’ve long said, every 5-7 crummy films he does, he sneaks a great one in. That I can recall, I think Joe was the last good one he gave us a few years back. EVERYTHING you love about any Cage performance comes out here. His wonderful dramatics, his silly little weirder quieter bits that feel real, his over the top craziness and his Cage going full Cage (“You ripped my shirt!”). But, what remains through all that, which I’ve found he’s unmatched at, is his level of commitment to ANY part. And its here and its amazing. There a little ticks and tacks that you just know he added and it fuels the strange and compliments the work that Cosmatos is doing. Watching this, I can only dream that Cage and Cosmatos will continue to work together.

I’ve seen Mandy twice now, and I’m still soaking it in. My brain is still wrapping around it and forming ideas, leads and reads on the film. Its beautiful and one I hope continues to be in the conversation and modern film study for many years to come. I honestly felt I wasn’t ready to write about the film just yet as my thoughts I didn’t think had fully been formed had matured appropriately. Mandy is one of my favorite films of the year because of how rich it is and that I am eager to continue watching it over and over. I like how it feels, I like seeing new things, finding different characters to figure out and seeking a different perspective on the film’s exchanges and visuals. Panos Cosmatos has tapped into a wonderful approach with his filmmaking that doesn’t suit everyone unfortunately, but really works for those who it does and give us something to continually devour and discuss for a long time.

-Brian’s Take –

Everyone says I look like Nicolas Cage.  I dunno.  Sometimes I do see it and sometimes I don’t.  I think it’s my dreamy blue eyes, ugly receding hairline and/or goofy smile.  It may also be my wicked sense of humor too.  I’m told many people can’t appreciate it or even get it.  I also feel like that sentiment applies to the career of Nic Cage.  He has done some really great things, but on the flip side he has made some bizarre choices too.  I can appreciate that and I’m sure the same could be said for most of us.  While there are diehard Nicholas Cage fans out there who see every single B-movie he’s in I would err on the side of caution here.  I’d say most of us only know the man from cheap Netflix flicks nowadays.  I mean the legendary ones like Face/Off, Con Air, The Family Man, The Rock, Leaving Las Vegas and more seem so very long ago.  That’s where I was hoping that maybe…just maybe…Mandy would put Nic Cage back on the map as a major player.  After all, who can dispute not wanting to see a movie containing a chainsaw fight?  I know!  Right!

Truth be told, I could not even bring myself to write in depth about this title.  It has to be one of the worst films I have seen in quite awhile.  It made me cringe in all very bad ways.  My heart goes out to all the screenwriters and whatnot who never get their story told on the big screen only to see turds like this get not only a small theatrical release, but praise too.  I seriously don’t get it.  I mean understand the premise and the drug induced actions of our protagonist here, but I don’t get all the praise.  I don’t even consider this a B-movie.  How about a C-movie?  And the fact that people rave about Nic Cage’s performance here.  Grr.  Don’t even get me started.  His acting is not a stretch by any means.  I can scream in a bathroom in my tighty-whities just as effectively.  In fact who knows if Nic wasn’t under the influence of hallucinogens throughout here.  Wouldn’t you have to be to make it through the filming of this?  I would think so.

It’s true what others say.  You have to give this one about 45 minutes to completely engage and understand it’s mostly a big acid trip.  That much even I can’t deny.  The plot, on the other hand, feels like it is stitched together like a 4-year old learning how to crochet.  There are holes everywhere and its very much insulting to my intelligence as limited as that is.  You see I’m not saying I’m right as we all have our opinions.  All I’m saying is this in conclusion of my rant.  I was on the fence of a film score between 2 to 2.5.  However, once I witnessed how the film’s third act played out not to mention how the villain was ultimately disposed my score fell below a 1 and my care meter was literally filled with unfiltered hate.  I have not been this pissed off at a “film” in a long time.  I used quotes around the word film too as I’m referring to Mandy as that loosely.  I’d rather call it the turd it is.  It’s like that one you have to push out because you feel there’s something still there and you don’t want to wipe your butt and push it back in.  That is all!

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail:  Mandy was shot digitally and finished with a 2K digital intermediate. Panos Cosmatos film is highly stylized, which makes it a little difficult in trying to judge the overall appearance and transfer over to the 1080p Blu-ray format. The film has what looks like a heavy grain or could be some noise. Overall, its pretty well detailed and a hair soft. Its not a clean looking or performing film and it was never supposed to be. However, in terms of being effective and delivering what its supposed to, I think Mandy does very well.

Depth:  Because of a lot of the grainy/noisey look to things you can really discern good spacing between the characters and within the environment. Movements are very cinematic and don’t contain much in the way of chaotic jitter problems or anything.

Black Levels:  Blacks are very deep here and consume many of the scenes, with details being harder to make out. Like a lot of this film, its by design. Cosmatos mentioned that darkness helped him to hide many shortcomings to make this story coming to life possible. This is no AVP:R where its hard to see things, however, it works for the film and dials in with the style.

Color Reproduction:  Reddy purple…is that the color that the heavy filtering seems to be? Its delicious looking here in the image. A bit bleedy, but I feel that’s very much by design. When things look more naturalistic with some grit to the tone, colors feel very well rounded and the blood does stick out quite well.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones have a grime grit to them or are heavily filtered throughout the film. Dried blood, stubble, stitching, bruising and more come through quite clearly in most medium shots and close ups.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics:  Mandy comes with a rock solid 5.1 mix to channel into the movies moody moments and the outright batshit crazy ones. The movie plays with sound effects, vocals and the like with many distortions in the mix that picks up many good nuances and layering and translates it very well here. Alltogether it gets the job done and then some. And for a film of this type with the kind of low budget production it is, you couldn’t really ask for better in terms of surround audio.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  Rumbling chainsaws, crashing destructive fighting and the soundscapes in the score all utilized the vibrating pulse of the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Mandy does feel front heavy, but the rear channels do get to do their own thing here an there. Motion is solid and accurate. What I enjoyed most is the low eerie luminous stuff going on and also the rather good big uncomfortable loud builds.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisply discernible from the whispering of some bedroom banter to “YOU RIPPED MY SHIRT!” its all finely tuned and present in the mix.

Extras 

Mandy comes with a reversible cover feature an alternate theatrical poster design.

Behind The Scenes (HD, 22:03) – Scenes of shooting the film plays as audio-only interviews play over them. Many people from director Panos Cosmatos, Linus Roache and Andrea Riseborough to producer Elijah Wood discuss the film’s vision. Unfortunately Nic Cage doesn’t appear, but they really paint a good picture of his take and preparations for it. Also, notable is that they courted him for Linus Roache’s role in the film, but he convinced them he was closer to Red.

Deleted & Extended Scenes (HD, 13:58)

Summary 

Mandy is a fantastic unreal “experience” to partake. A true midnight movie and one for the cult crowds to share in. As brought to attention in this review, you can see its not for everyone. Many of people in my circle I’ve talked to LOVE it. Brian is so far the only one who hasn’t. But, I also right away know exactly those of my friends and I would never recommend it to. This is truly a niche film as anyone can see from viewing even a short segment of it. This Blu-ray features a solid presentation and while light on the extras, the Behind The Scenes one is pretty intricate and informative on the making of the film. A high recommendation for those who fancy films of this ilk and open to rather experimental craft.

Share

Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

  1. No Comments