Berberian Sound Studio Screen 27 articles

Berberian Sound Studio


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  • Ever the observer, rarely a participant, Gilderoy is laconic and passive to the point of almost willful subservience. As Strickland reinforces early and often, what few words the man offers are both a defense mechanism and symptoms of a larger problem. “The less said the better,” the Fulci/Argento composite helming The Equestrian Vortex (quite possibly the best title for a film-within-a-film ever) says, and it's true: speaking most often leads to miscommunication and confusion here.

  • Impossible to watch this without thinking constantly of Blow Out, and it nicks ideas from other films as well, most notably Tscherkassky's "Outer Space." Even with that help, it barely limps to feature length, repeating the same anti-diagetic tricks over and over.

  • Runs out of steam, and the final gear-shift just seems inadequate - then again you can't go seriously wrong with lines like "Be careful with that girl. There's poison in those tits of hers", or a mention of a "dangerously aroused goblin", or the whole Euro-sleaze, horror/exploitation 70s vibe (the film-within-a-film sounds a bit like Mark of the Devil). Not good, and also irresistible.

  • [It] at once celebrates giallo and takes it apart, disassembling it like Derren Brown explaining an illusion. The more naturalistic, bloodless narrative, in which Gilderoy breaks up as a person, isn’t carried through to the extreme a giallo-inspired film would seem to demand. Strickland’s film is perhaps more Gilderoy-like than he realises: approaching this genre in polite tribute but too reserved to follow it behind the bloody curtain into the desecrated crypt.

  • Nothing aural in Berberian Sound Studio is left to chance. It’s a film which might feel at times like a patchwork of dozens of others, but has a singular quality which transcends almost any comparison: it is built of sound.

  • As in identity transference films like Polanski's The Tenant and Lynch's Lost Highway, the mysteriousness is what matters—heightened to a sometimes unbearable pitch of sensory overload.

  • Berberian Sound Studio manages to be both a parodic celebration of the endless innovation and almost goofy conviction of Italian horror as well as a critical commentary on not only this particular genre but all works of art and cinema that, in aiming for so-called “brutal honesty,” end up merely perpetuating dominant and wrongheaded attitudes.

  • The veneer of sub-Lynchian intrigue is duly seductive, which isn't even a backhanded compliment; its command of tone alone makes this a better imitator of intellectual horrors past than the bulk of its contemporaries. But its particular kind of formal rigor—the restraint it shows in not cutting to the film-within-a-film, especially—frustrates without evident purpose...

  • What an eerie oddity. It’s inscrutable at times, but it’s made with clear skill. The film as a whole is deeply affective, partially because it denies us the images that its sounds imply. The way that it cleverly reveals The Equestrian Vortex, the film within the film, through dialogue reminds us of the power of any film’s soundtrack.

  • Mr. Strickland’s movie becomes a bit of a vortex at the beginning, though its milieu is too engagingly recreated to dismiss. Ultimately it’s not unlike many of Mr. Strickland’s beloved Italian films, which could be superb exercises in cinematic style and atmosphere while remaining imperfect.

  • ...Peter Strickland’s peculiar and powerful movie-geek head trip “Berberian Sound Studio” is a tribute to the gothic and grotesque Italian horror-thriller genre of the ‘70s and ‘80s often called “giallo...” But anybody hoping to watch such a film will be disappointed by “Berberian Sound Studio,” which has no actual violence or sex and is better described as a half-experimental mixture of dark movie-movie comedy, disorienting soundscape and inquiry into the boundaries of identity.

  • Its leap from rationality to madness may lack the brilliance of David Lynch’s Mulholland Dr. (2001), but Berberian Sound Studio is admirable for its pedagogical aspect, and its respect for the profession of sound engineering. To view the film demands that we first discover the fundamental sonic elements of the genre, and verify the efficacy of these resources that arise when fiction becomes the goal of a horror movie a la italiana.

  • ‘Berberian Sound Studio’ is a stylistically ambitious, morally radical, thematically complex work. There are scenes, sensations and (especially) sounds here that feel altogether new, strange and exciting. So if the film doesn’t quite scale the lofty peaks that writer-director Peter Strickland has set his sights on, it’s easy to forgive. It’s always better to aim high and fall short.

  • A moody, darkly funny chamber play with themes of alienation and exploitative working conditions (feeling surprising contemporary) bubbling under a sly genre veneer, Berberian Sound Studio is also a remarkable experiment in displacement, deliberately delving into paradox.

  • The movie—a distinctly solid, analog-era piece of craft—subtly takes [Gilderoy's] side, even as the screaming gets into the poor guy's head. When a fissure finally widens, Strickland's footage and sound violently rip a hole in the filmic universe. I've never seen anything quite like it and need to watch it again soon.

  • This may sound a bit dry, but the texture of the film is almost wholly devoted to the deeply pleasurable visual-aural texture of the dreamlike segues between the mixer's work, his mindstate, the creation of his mix, and his mixed elements. All blend together to nearly obliterate forward momentum, but instead, as in The Equestrian Vortex's nun's voiceovers appealing to God, asks where morality lays in the cinema.

  • It's a parade of brutality that's made all the stronger by finding the ways in which sound more clearly activates the imagination than anything we could see on the screen. The conceit marvelously complements Jones's performance, and work like this really should push his public persona beyond that of second banana in also-ran biopics.

  • Berberian isn’t some worthy exercise in cultural contraband, smuggling in high culture under the guise of low. It’s funny, disturbing, and enjoyably puzzling, and its structure—a film (that we don’t see) within a film (in which we hear it)—allows Strickland to play an unsettling game with cinematic space.

  • Like [Blow Out and Skolimowski's The Scream], Berberian Sound Studio is a narrative wrapped around the process of building soundscapes. But this is no mere piece of retro-hound crate-digging; as De Palma did, Strickland uses his backstage premise to reveal the real reptilian appetites and psychic wounds that lie beneath the surface of easily dismissed trash-horror.

  • Giallo fans will be primed for the witches' literal emergence, but Strickland never quite goes there, as he hauntingly forces you to create a profoundly frightening horror film in your mind with the rich tapestry of sound effects. The director astutely plants certain telling visual details and puns... but he leaves you largely stuck on the outside looking in as Gilderoy either discovers a real evil or shambles irrevocably off into a realm fashioned by an increasingly addled mind.

  • The creepiness builds with symphonic precision until reality truly is indistinguishable from fantasy. A muted climax may be disappointing to those hoping the film goes full giallo, but it’s perfectly in keeping with the fear-inducing Rorschach effect. Like Gilderoy, each of us sees, hears and experiences what our skittish subconscious dictates.

  • Even watched with eyes closed, the film would be a delight; it’s deeply pleasurable listening to sound reels being abruptly stopped on a deck, or the whirr of tape being rewound at great speed. If it’s about anything, it’s about the transformative effect not just of film but of filmmaking. Like giallos, it casts a sinister spell that, if you’re caught up in it, short-circuits the need for something more rational.

  • Berberian may sound like it's more fun to pick over afterward than watch, but it's also masterfully crafted; as you'd hope, every shot and blip of soundtrack noise counts. Strickland has conjured so much with so little—which sounds like a definition of the artifice of movies.

  • The film is bound to frustrate horror fans and anyone not interested in the painstakingly designed, brilliantly realized recording studio of the film's title. However, anyone willing to peer beneath Jones's stunningly internalized performance and brave Strickland's gleeful defiance of audience expectations will find that BERBERIAN is one of the best films about making films in recent memory.

  • Strickland never shows us the violence on the imaginary movie screen. Rather, he shows us the “violence” of the sound being created: He zooms in, for example, on a line in a sound sheet that says “Monica falls” and then we cut to a pile of smashed vegetables shot like an exploded brain. A black-gloved hand fiddling with a projector knob feels like it could just as easily be wringing someone’s neck.

  • Berberian Sound Studio is a display of dazzling technique attached to a mysterious-feeling, ultimately interior tale of a solitary man’s mental disintegration, or possible transcendence, conveyed through the methods of his own craft.

  • Like Tscherkassky, Strickland creates sequences in a similar manner that recalls a film reel unspooling and then burning from the nitrate, even implicating the same reflexive idea that abounds throughout Outer Space... Strickland manages to appropriate Berberian Sound Studio as both a deeply unsettling character study that attacks our perception of the "hero" while still maintaining the illusion that everything is just a movie.

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