Monday, May 12, 2008

Overlooked DVD of the month - OFFICE KILER

Is it infidelity if you're involved with somebody on email?Still photographer Cindy Sherman is famous for photographing herself in poses taken from B-movies, horror movies and film noir. In 1997 she made a feature length film called OFFICE KILLER that has been described as a mix of all these genres. It's a story about a dowdy secretary who starts killing people in her office. While not short on gore, the movie singularly fails, however, to work either as horror movie or as noir.

In fact, the film only really works as an increasingly ridiculous and perhaps unintentionally funny spoof. Carol Kane is wickedly brilliant as the dowdy copy editor turned killer, with her high-pitched voice, frowsy costumes and nervous ticks. Molly Ringwald is cast against type as the office flirt and is clearly having a ball in her pastiche-50s outfits. Barbara Sukowa (of ZENTROPA fame) is ridiculous as the Joan Collins'-style magazine editor. All together, we have a pastiche of the way in which women have been represented film.

Apart from the unintentional laughter, what else can OFFICE KILLER offer a contemporary audience? Well, there is a hint of the middle-class neuroies that hit the US and UK when "off-shoring" and "down-sizing" became buzz-words. And the way in which the staff react to the introduction of email and laptops makes for fascinating social history. Finally, Cindy Sherman's use of colour is admirable. I particularly love the exterior shots of the office building - shaded purple - contrasted against the unhealthy acid yellow coming from the windows. Sherman also frames her shots particularly well - always looking through desk lamps, over in-trays, and through doors.

OFFICE KILLER played Toronto 1007 and was released in the US that year. It played the London Fashion in Film Festival 2008. It is available on DVD.

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