Shell Beach

Up until a few weeks ago, I had never seen Rufus Sewell in a movie or TV show. Matter of fact, I had never heard of him. Since I watched him in Alex Proyas's Dark City, his face has popped up randomly in various spots and at random times. Not only is he in a new CBS TV show called Eleventh Hour, he was in a movie I'm sure would not be mentioned in his bio if he was a guest on Dinner for Five: Extreme Ops.

CBS has been running a lot of spots for Eleventh Hour in the last few months, but I never took note of its lead. I never took note of Extreme Ops other than the fact that it was critically-massacred and it had Pete Sampras's wife in it. While reading an old issue of Rolling Stone at my parents' house over the weekend, I see a small ad for the movie, and there's Rufus.

In some ways, this feels like what his character in Dark City thinks throughout the film: what's going on here?

If you haven't seen the movie, I won't spoil the plot, but I'll say this: a man wakes up in a hotel and realizes mysterious people are out to get him. Since I only watched the Director's Cut, all I can say that the rest of the film is him trying to understand why he's on the run, why his memory has been tampered with, and why there is all this crazy stuff going on with the city itself.

The film is quite visceral, with a incredibly distinctly black, brown, and green look akin to Blade Runner. Despite a poor showing at the box office, it has a very dedicated following on DVD. Plus, Roger Ebert has been a major fan of it since its release. I believe the first DVD commentary he ever recorded was for the film's theatrical version. (He recorded some new comments for the new edition of the film as well.)

For the longest time, I knew Jennifer Connelly was in it (it was the other movie, next to Requiem for a Dream, where a long pier in the sun was used as a motif), as was Kiefer Sutherland. Sewell didn't have the kind of marquee value, so I'm not surprised he didn't get the highest of top billing. No matter; now I know who he is.

As I watched Dark City and kept watching Sewell, I could help but think of Jon Finch in Frenzy. Something about the "what's going on here?" facial expressions, along with a plot that doesn't finally click until the final scenes, I thought Sewell was a pretty correct casting choice.

All I'm saying is, it's strange how actors and actresses you've never heard of suddenly seem everywhere you look. Or maybe it's the lasting effect of Dark City itself.