The Cool Surface

The Cool Surface ★★★★

Absolutely adore the style and art direction here, the dimmed colorgrade shades, the strange haze of burning passion and reality warping, fantasy dream sequences, red sweltering palm trees and pink sunsets, ominous guitar feedback, tribal drumming, jazz, synths, maddening tension and alienated midnight moodiness; it really captures what it's like to be lost with your thoughts late into the wee hours. Robert Patrick shows a bit of range, not the macho tough guy we're used to but rather an introspective and tortured writer marginalized by the system—not that he doesn't punch out a few dudes when necessary, don't get me wrong, at one point doing so while wearing an African mask even. This playwright don't play; sweating through a heat wave (an old movie trick when you want to make all the actors look angry and/or sexy), he obsesses over the femme next door while burning the mightnight oil on a script and breaking for 3AM jogging spells with a wild dog (symbolism, gotta love it). Layers of meta, you know the drill: the writing begins to blend with his life, actors start to become their roles, art imitates reality imitates art imitates a butterscotch sundae. Kind of Body Heat cut with some Barton Fink and a little Blue Velvet.

There's a small but perfect twist about 20 minutes in, one of the best I've seen, and the shock ending is a surprise given that it's not the way noir or writer stories usually tend to go. I liked the spooky song over the end credits and I'm just crazy about Teri Hatcher's outfits in this—pink bubblegum strapless gown with matching lipstick, black leather motorcycle jacket, blue satin dress with matching eyeshadow and long black femme fatale gloves, goddamn. I realize that this movie was placed on Earth solely for me to appreciate, but I implore you to at least watch with the sound off to see these dazzling sights, maybe while listening to some ambient music or have it playing the background at a party while you sip La Croix or whatever it is you people do.