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Daft is deft
If you're a fan of Daft Punk you aren't automatically going to like this movie. And if you're not a fan of Daft Punk you aren't automatically going to dislike it. No music by Daft Punk. No dialog or flashing helmet text. Ambient sound. And Curtis Mayfield.
Electroma plays like a festival art film, yet it's more accessible to the audience than the "Cremaster" movies and more thoughtful and varied than "Zidane". In essence, the movie comprises five set pieces. It opens with a drive through the desert, then a town. The second set involves becoming human. They then re-enter the robot world in a Frankenstein-esquire reversal, playing off of Icarus. The fourth part brings the sad realization of returning to robotic roots. Fifth, they walk through a desert, which comprises the longest part of the film.
I recommend it for the art-house/festival crowd. No dialog, an atypical plot-line, and lengthy sweeping pans will certainly turn away some fans. It is pretentious to a degree, I won't deny it, but compared to Cremaster (an unfair comparison, yes, but it's the most widely seen), Electroma doesn't require pre-emptive knowledge for the deciphering of the symbols, which tells you what you're watching. You can absorb it without extreme cerebral input.
It's slow. Like Tarkovsky or Herzog. Don't expect hyperactive techno robots.
You'll be hard-pressed to find this film, as Daft Punk does not intend to ever release this film on DVD. See it at a festival or snag a bootleg. It's worth the time.
Maniac Nurses (1990)
Maniac Nurses, the truest meta-narrative on film
So this movie is one of my favorites, along with City Lights, Vertigo, and Little Dieter Needs to Fly. It's a perverse amalgam of a rumored Hungarian porn film, set up by Troma to act as an inane and confusing trifle regarding nurses in a random clinic finding random people on random abandoned roads and then randomly torturing them. Of course the acting is non-existent; the movie has no real linear direction; the music is from a low budget box; the dialogue insane and murky.
Yet through the narrator's non-stop ramblings, the viewer can find a sense of amusement resulting from what they experience. Troma didn't alter this in order to add it to their own library as a mounted and highlighting piece. Rather, the studio took Woody Allen's "What's New Tiger Lily?" and played around with the concept, experimenting the same way teenagers would after receiving editing and dubbing equipment.
The aforementioned narrator tries to connect and explain what we see on screen. The problem is, he's watching a different movie. He claims these nurses are sick and twisted, beyond reproach. But in that dour sense, he's wrong. Nurses, /people/, who reach this level of absurdity are going to be kept in an abandoned, desolate "clinic". They're not sick, twisted white trash. They're hyperbolic heroines who are stuck with a bad plot.
For whatever reason, the gardener sees the nurses as bizarre, yet works at the clinic in the middle of nowhere. The true purpose of the gardener in the movie is beyond the scope of this exploratory exercise. Overall he isn't a non-sequitor. His role isn't as philosophical as the Plate O'Shrimp from Repo Man, but it isn't just a reason to cut to randomness. The gardener doesn't provide a moral view, he's in this just as much as the nurses. At least the narrator is an intentional ruse who tries to solemnly explain to the viewer what isn't explained on screen.
As for the post-editing touches such as the swirl, the flashing names, and the score card, Troma includes this only to further push the outlandishness of the movie. Afterall, Sabrina stands in her room with a gun and shoots in a 180 arc, making soft gun noises. The movie was already mind-boggling. As with Terror Firmer: if you're going to try something, why not go all out?
The point is: there is no point. It's a nihilistic take on film, not on "sex-u-ality". Troma steps up to the plate, looks at the critics who say their feature films have no substance, and then swings for the fences with this movie. But it turns out to be a foul ball on a full count. It accounts for nothing in the long run while managing to anabolically load Troma's other films by allowing them to say "Hey, at least it isn't Maniac Nurses"
See this movie. You'll have to get it through an online rental place. Watch it with at least two other people. Only then will you realize that it's a joke by Troma. It's an attempt to show that we all live in a meta-narrative, and the post-modern approach of satirizing film with film exemplifies the point of no return which our modern collective has reached.
The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)
Not his all-time best, but flawlessly close
Many here are saying that this is his best. Crimes and Misdemeanors is his best, and the love it or hate it Stardust Memories. This is one of his top 5, though. An unconventional device of a movie within a movie, with parallels to real life, philosophy regarding what happens in movies, and what can't happen in the characters' real life, because "this isn't the movies". If that last sentence was confusing enough, that's how deep this one can go. You can vortexionally drive yourself into oblivion thinking about it. There's always an extra layer to the film.
Enjoyable, yes. "Classic", yes. Flawless? Yes. His best? Would be, but I like the other two aforementioned more.
Looking for a creepy movie on Halloween night, I checked this out, courtesy of Losman's webpage review. I wanted a surreal movie that had a bit of a horror edge.
As a fan of all things weird, I wanted to watch this immediately. Well, the first five minutes are definitely interesting. A guy hacks himself up, followed by some eye opening sexual acts. However, the movie then drags on. and on. and on. Boring? Yeah. Watchable? meh, if you put your dvd player on double speed. Be prepared for a slightly boring ride. It doesn't help that the grainy quality limits what you can see on the screen, but that's part of the maker's image.
If you want a surreal black and white nightmare movie like Eraserhead, this is not too similar. Like Un Chien Andalusia? No. This doesn't have the appeal or the random jumps. Un Chien succeeds at keeping the viewer interested. Begotten repeats the same idea over and over You could find many better nightmarish movies. This is a pretty graphic movie. If you've seen Pete Jackson's splatoons, don't worry then. But prepared to have the most incredible desire to watch this movie, other wise you're wasting your time.
Overall: 1.5 out of 4 Zone out ability: 4 out of 4 (found myself staring at the movie and thinking about other things
A decent entertainment
Cocktail is an interesting movie, not because of what happens on screen, but what happens and happened off of it. This is essentially a Tom Cruise 'look cool' vehicle. Any other lead actor would have pushed the movie further into the forgotten movie vault. It has received mostly bad reviews over time, simply because it starts well, but ends in a typical fashion. However, the movie does have the ability to entertain, if one is able to sit through the movie, which could well be classified as a yuppie movie that won't prevail through time. Yet it will probably sell well in the home theater medium, due to the headline star and parents who would like to remember the 80's. Time can only help the movie. It can't hurt it any further.
Take Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, and place him into New York City, and you have a main idea of the protagonist. Cruise's character is a little more wide eyed than Mav, who is fresh out of the army and is in NYC looking for a job. After failing to land a white collar job due to his lack of credentials, Cruise finds Bryan Brown working in a TGI Friday's. Brown is a bartender, looking for another bartender. This introduces the best character in the movie, Coughlin (Brown), whose character is a redeeming factor of the film. Brown has one love: money. That is the only aspect of his character. Everything he does is pretty much for money. Coughlin seems to have started his own school of philosophy, helping Cruise learn the ways of a money-loving city dweller, through the sage like advice he gives under the pretense, "Coughlin's Law".
The film had started out with two lungs full of air, and deflated consistently with each passing minute. It was at about this point where the deflation was nearly complete, hence a new turn in the story. However, the movie never does inhale again. The main plot revolving around Shue and Cruise becomes uninteresting. Shue's father is rich, and thinks that Cruise is only after money in life. Cruise's intentions seem more genuine than that, although it is never really explored because of Shue's 'shocking' news. A short intake gasp happens when Brown re-emerges, for the second time. However, the movie started downhill from the beginning and never recovers.
Keep in mind that the Brown's comebacks only help the film. He is the only character worth remembering from the movie, so it's good that he shows up in every act. Without him, the movie would run out of steam half way through, and a waste of time would seem certain. See the movie if you're feeling nostalgic about times when... well, OK, see it if you feel like a mediocre but semi-entertaining movie, with a smart-alec co-star. See it with friends, it'll be better. Maybe.
You can thank the internet's "n99nyrwg" for getting this movie released to DVD. The studio had no plans of spending the money on a release until he started a campaign. He wrote enough letters and organized a movement to convince Paramount to get this thing onto digital discs.
Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)
Possible minor spoilers, but not likely.
Woody Allen displays an excellent narrative in this bilateral story. The movie is about the problems which two separated characters experience in their life. Martin Landau is a wealthy, popular doctor, well liked by all, including his wife. His character flaw resides in the fact that he has a mistress (Anjelica Huston), who is scheming to tell his wife of her husband's infidelity if their marriage is not broken up, as he had promised to her (Huston). Landau's story deals with morality. Not just the morality of having a mistress, but also the morality of his proposed way to quell the problems which she presents, followed by morality in the eyes of religion. This story is the brunt of the film, and Landau does a fantastic job acting.
The second story is funnier than the first story, which has no comedy. Although not as dark as the Landau part, this story is the sadder of the two. It involves Allen as a practically out of work documentary director/producer. His wife's brother is a hot-shot TV producer (Alan Alda) who enlists Allen as his personal film-biographer. Allen then falls for Mia Farrow, who somehow works with Alda. She is a producer as well, or some colleague on the production side of the media. However, Alda is also lusting for her, although Allen sees it as just lust, not love, and fears that she will choose Alda over him because of the former's looks, money, and power. Aside from a companion-less and love-lacking sister, Allen's biggest love is for his niece. He provides a father and brother role for her. This subplot was probably added in order to give his character some dimension. Allen's story is a complimentary opposite of Landau's dilemma. He wants Farrow to love him with the same intense love which he has for her. He realizes her passion for movies, which he also has, and her interest in a piece Allen is working on about a Jewish professor. Allen and Farrow watch clips of this professor, which feature relevant discussions on morality, life, and death.
The two stories intercede late in the film. Landau's dark story meets Allen's sad story. Yet in the end, both walk away with opposite reactions. Allen is downtrodden over failure, and his saddened and lonely future. The adage "Better to have love and lost than to have never loved at all" is thrashed. Landau has an inner demon which seems to be dying weaker and weaker everyday, with the possibility of happiness in the future. However, happiness in this sense is an interesting condition. Landau at the end of the film is happy. He admits it. However, his religion says that he should not be happy, and will not be happy. For eternity. Here, the proverb used in the movie "The eyes of God are on us always" is thrown to the floor, to be stepped on by Landau.
The movie is very interesting. These comments may be better read after seeing the movie, simply due to the inability for one to write down what happens on screen. Allen crafted this movie fantastically. The ending is its weakest part, albeit surprising, but it is how Allen wanted it. Originally, while editing, Allen wasn't happy with what he had, and put one third of what he had shot onto the cutting room floor. He then proceeded to shoot more footage, and the result is the final product.
This movie is very heavy, but is entertaining. It can be taken in upon first viewing, but a second viewing a few weeks after the initial may well better serve the curious and intellectual viewer. An interesting part is that there are no real noticeable flaws. Allen's sister's problems may be the closest thing to one, simply because these don't carry the story, change it, or accelerate it.
The film is a must for any movie enthusiast. To miss this is to miss a fascinating look at modern morality (and also a scene which is pure homage to Bergman). The subjects and themes in the movie aren't easy to write about, and Allen hit a bullseye with the screen play. There may be a happy ending, and there may not. And that goes for both protagonists.