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Sleepless

Year: 2001
Director: Dario Argento
Writer: Dario Argento
Cast: Max von Sydow
This film looked like it was going to be for Dario Argento what A Simple Plan or even Spider Man was for Sam Raimi. Like Argento, Raimi had begun in the hallowed DIY film movement where the special effects budget amount to a couple of bottle of tomato sauce and cast-off prosthetic limbs Evil Dead . Argento had started from a similar place, where bad editing, dubious moral and sexual politics and cheesy early 80s-era electronic rock music were the hallmarks of a movement, however intentional.

And where Raimi was given control of more money and a bigger creative arsenal, Sleepless looked like someone had granted Argento the same freedom. Even the film stock looked better.

But as the saying goes, you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, and maybe where Raimi had that potential in him, Argento was never going to rise above the constraints of his own lack of finesse (or his distinctive storytelling and filmmaking aesthetic, depending on your tastes).

Some people will be relieved he's lost none of the cult trappings that made him a one-man moviemaking institution, to me they're just shortcomings, so after watching a couple of scantily clad and beautiful young prostitutes offed by an unseen killer, I realised I was watching more of the same.

Somehow Max von Sydow was convinced to appear as a former police investigator who bought down a similar psycho a generation before, and to whom the police now turn for help. Seeing his authoritative presence in such dross is like buying a bag of cheap lollies and finding a valuable gemstone in it. That's not to say it's a good thing mind you - just badly out of place.

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