Reviews written by registered user
|3 reviews in total|
At the outset I have to say that Leos Carax made 2 of my 10 favorite
films (LES AMANTS DU PONT-NEUF and POLA X) so he's the primary reason I
went to see TOKYO! I always try to avoid reading reviews before I see
any film, but somewhere along the line (it has taken forever for TOKYO!
to get an American release) I somehow managed to learn the bare bones
plot line of Carax's MERDE contribution to TOKYO! beforehand. I wish I
hadn't, as it definitely detracted from my overall enjoyment of the
piece, but Carax's film sense -- which to me is one of the purest, most
thrilling and most soaring in all of cinema -- still kept me
enthralled. I found myself smiling throughout most of MERDE -- not just
because of its humorous aspects, but with sheer joy at Carax's (as
usual) often breathtaking visuals and the satisfaction felt in letting
myself go along with a real artist's vision no matter where it takes
me. On first viewing I'd say that MERDE could benefit from some slight
pruning, and I wish the budget had been higher to enable Carax to go
all out in MERDE's principal set piece (anyone who has seen MERDE will
know the part I'm talking about). Lest you think, as some reviewers
here have said, that MERDE is slight and one-note, rest assured there
is plenty to chew on in the way of interpreting what MERDE has to say
about the world today. And, needless to say, it is my favorite segment
Michel Gondry's INTERIOR DESIGN comes in second. I have never seen any of Gondry's other films, and I'm glad that I didn't know anything about INTERIOR DESIGN before I saw it. The film veers sharply into a strange and melancholy place at one point and the less you know about it the better off you will be. And I pray you will be spared the presence of a "hip" audience member like we had to endure tonight at the film's NYC premiere at the Alliance Francaise who laughed uproariously at the segment's sharp left turn and nearly succeeded in ruining it for us.
Joon-ho-Bong's SHAKING TOKYO ends the film and is the weakest segment by far. This supposedly tender tale is overblown and overstated in just about every way and I couldn't wait for it to end. When the hero (quite literally) pushes the heroine's buttons, I wanted to gag at the heavy-handed symbolism which all but destroys whatever legitimate point about alienation that the segment seems to be trying to make.
At long last I was able to see this film last night as part of a(n)
(incomplete) Carlos Saura retrospective sponsored by the Film Society
of Lincoln Center in New York City. Having been a big fan of the
director's CRIA CUERVOS (1976) and ELISA, VIDA MIA (1977), both of
which were shown commercially in the United States and warmly received,
I was dismayed when LOS OJOS VENDADOS (1978) received no theatrical
release and never turned up as part of previous Carlos Saura
retrospectives in NYC.
Saura's collaborations with Geraldine Chaplin are the shining lights of his career and LOS OJOS VENDADOS is no exception. Her presence in this film is indispensable to its success, and she is never less than mesmerizing. I would need at least another viewing to begin to appreciate fully the film's layers and nuances -- the ways it links falling in love with the disintegration of existing relationships; persistence of memories with dreams and nightmares; persecution by self, others and society with political terrorism.
The film is filled with unforgettable imagery and haunting moments. Except for two overlong and overdone sequences (ironically, one of which is a dance scene given that Saura's reputation today rests mostly on his dance films), LOS OJOS VENDADOS is one of Saura's strongest films. The final 5 minutes are unforgettable.
By the time he made LOS OJOS VENDADOS, Saura had definitely developed an identifiable style of his own, and it is a pity that his 1970s films are largely ignored and/or unavailable today. Unseen in New York for 28 years, LOS OJOS VENDADOS drew only a handful of viewers at the showing I saw. The film cries out for restoration (the print the Film Society managed to unearth was faded pink and had a botched subtitling job). It is perhaps an even more relevant and powerful film now than it was in 1978.
I just came back from a second viewing of this movie. I saw it for the first time a few months ago and it has stayed with me as few films do. When I first saw it I went to see it "cold" -- I hadn't read anything at all about it, I only knew that it was the new film by Bruno Dumont. I recommend all potential viewers do the same. Even the barest bone "plot descriptions" of this movie will spoil it. It needs to be experienced fresh and with an open mind and hopefully with an audience willing to go along with the film's flow and not laugh at it just because it makes them uncomfortable. The first time I saw the movie Bruno Dumont was in the audience and answered questions afterward. Perhaps because of his presence even the dissenters were relatively well-behaved. But tonight's "sophisticated" New York City audience behaved idiotically. I for one will look forward to seeing the film again when it is on DVD and with an audience in my home that I know will meet the film honestly and give it the chance it deserves. It is a remarkable achievement.