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A brilliant idea marred by excess.
This film brought to my mind other films such as Uli Edel's Last Exit to Brooklyn and most of David Lynch's work. The aforementioned directors are talented people who get stuck in their childish crusade to enlighten through shocking their audience. Gasper Noe's film is shocking and beautiful. Too bad that the shock overshadows the beauty. The concept was brilliant. I "got" what he was trying to say. That is why I'm so disappointed by the excessive violence in the film's opening scenes. The beauty of the film's second half made the brutality of the opening sequences more irritating. Gasper Noe, the film's director is capable of telling a story that is thought-provoking and engaging as is evident in the scenes following the opening sequences. Film directors insult their audiences when they leave nothing to the viewer's imagination. When an artist says that they are showing us something that is supposed to disgust or disturb us, my intelligence is offended. Who does not think or know that mutilation and rape are bad? Why do modern directors (and other artist in other mediums) hate their audiences so much? Do they not appreciate that we are paying their rent with our hard-earned money and therefore desire something other than abuse and repulsion. This film fits into the same genre as tabloid news, Reality TV and most pop music. It is purposely unsatisfying and immature. Where are the real storytellers? Hitchcock could frighten and disgust by showing us the nothing but the face of the hero witnessing horror or maybe even the sound of the horror(birds pecking at flesh). Watching the violence in this film was like listening to a four year old learn to curse. It was fascinating for and few second and then turned quickly stupid and overly indulgent. I'm glad that I saw this film. I will not watch it again nor will I recommend it to anyone.
The Narrow Margin (1952)
"What kind of dame would marry a hood?"
This movie was mentioned in David Mamet's book, Bambi vs. Godzilla, as an excellent example of Film Noir or "Poverty Row" film. Like all good stories, this screenplay (by Felton) starts with a question. The question is then answered in ways that are surprising yet inevitable. I love this film in that it does what most modern gangster/crime dramas cannot. Without profanity, graphic sex or computer-generated-imagery it tell a very straight-forward, coherent tale that is excited, witty and sexy. The cast is awesome. Jacueline White, Marie Windsor, Peter Brocco, Peter Virgo and David Clarke are actors with a small 'A'. They do the job that needs to be done with just enough emotion and action to move the story along. There is none of the preachy, political correctness or ham-fisted, so-called style of recent crime drama. The heroes and villains of this well told tale are people doing 'business'. There is no justice just 'the deal'. The crooks make honest and reasonable propositions and the cops must decide how the be righteous in a world that is corrupt on many levels. There is violence present (one of the best fight scenes ever filmed is contained in this movie)but it's devoid of the splatter of the Sopranos or the dizzying camera movement of the Bourne/Bond ilk. The director(Fleischer) of this film makes good use of the narrow aisles of the train as well as the tight space of the sleeping compartments. I also love the use of black and white of that era in film because it forces the director to use light and shadow to show depth and have a dramatic on the viewer. Why is it that the filmmakers of this era are unable or unwilling to make films like these? I'm not proposing that these films be copied. Copying them would only result in a kind of amateurish parody. What I'm proposing is that today's filmmakers adapt the simple, unvarnished storytelling of the movies made before all of the so-called realism and technological innovation overwhelm the audiences of our generation.
The Fountainhead (1949)
Form over Function? : Maybe, Maybe not
I enjoyed watching director King Vidor's adaptation of Ayn Rand's novel, The Fountainhead. I've heard many people dismiss this film as "dated" and "stilted". These adjective are short-sighted. This film follows a tradition in theater that many are unaware of. The Russian had a style of art called Constructivism. It was a style that was very angular and sparse. It was extremely presentational and unemotional. I think that Vidor's background as a silent film direction enabled him to make beautiful pictures within the frame of his camera lens. Much like Alfred Hitchcock (who also started as a silent film director)Mr. Vidor valued "form" over "content". Hitchcock said (and I'm paraphrasing)that a film should be clearly understood with the sound turned down. What Mr. Vidor and Ms. Rand did was refuse to gave their characters internal dialogues. I think that this film is imperfect but it's imperfection is unique and deserves respect as sometime different. I would love to see this film remade by someone like David Mamet who, in a strange way, is a stylistic descendant of both Rand and Vidor. This is a good film. It's plain and simple. It's straight-forward and beautiful. It's much better than the majority of modern motion picture in that it's better to say too much than to say so very little.