Reviews written by registered user
|134 reviews in total|
In "Vera", a rural Mexican farmer gets trapped in a cave after rocks fall on him. Then starts his spiritual and hallucinatory journey into the unknown. He seems to go through many different stages of transformation, and gets stuck in strange unknown places. He meets an alien and is later guided by a a blue women. To be honest, I didn't quite understand the film because of its confusing mystical imagery. If I were of Latin descent, I maybe would of understood the films religious aspect better. But all things aside, this movie rocked. Even if you can't understand the images, you can still appreciate them. I mean, how can you forget the scene where the blue lady and CGI skeleton try to out dance each other? "You got Served Mr. Skeleton", was my initial reaction. Although the film is in Spanish, there is hardly any dialog. "Vera" is a great experience, unfortunately the DVD could use some improvements. This motion picture could very well become the "El Topo" or "Eraserhead" of the new millennium.
"The Fruit of Paradise" is a breathtaking experimental film from Vera Chytilova. Well known for her surreal feminist comedy "Daisies" (1966), Chytlova uses many of the same hallucinatory camera tricks for "The Fruit of Paradise". I used to think that the film "Begotten" was original until I saw the "Fruit of Paradise". The film's first 15 minutes is highly psychedelic as it tells the story of creation. There are layers of image on top of image with fast camera cuts. The film almost made my head spin with it's fast pace, use of color and bizarre experimental sound effects. Then it breaks out into a song about Adam & Eve, which is hauntingly catchy. Now if only I could learn Czech. Then the story of Adam and Eve goes to a modern setting. The devil is portrayed as creepy man of middle age; a persistent stalker and serial killer of women. Eva and her boyfriend go on vacation to a health spa, where they encounter temptation. The devil gets Eva to eat the forbidden fruit. Then the film becomes very comical throughout, as the Devil chases adorable Eva everywhere she goes. Very deep, surreal and philosophical, "The Fruit of Paradise" is another underrated masterpiece to Czech out! This lost classic is finally available at www.facets.org or Amazon.com if you want to save money.
In "Jubilee" an angel takes Queen Elizebeth of England 400 years into the future. What remains left is a bleak punk rock waste land, where rebellious punk rock girls kill for kicks and violence is an everyday part of life. A future where one man, Borgia Gins owns all the media including the record labels in which punk rock artists are signed to. A future where sex is meaningless and survival is a hardship. Decadent clubs of surreal blasphemy and gay orgies. Endless war in a police state environment. Not to mention a very young Adam Ant who signs his talent away for Thatcher-Tarian like luxury (How Ironic) "Jubilee" is one amazing, angry, poetic in your face film with great punk rock music and strong imagery. Derek Jarman's dark view of the future is more relevant today then it was 30 years ago. Substitute the words punk with Emo, Borgia Gins with Rupert Murdoch and England with the US; and Jubilee is almost like a prophecy. It's like "A Clockwork Orange" for punks. For some reason this film receives little attention. Thank God for Criterion's beautiful DVD release.
"Firecracker" is a film that I can't stop thinking about. Maybe I'm
over analyzing it. The film is based on true events of a murder that
took place in Kansas in the early 1960's. Jimmy is a shy and sensitive
musician who is constantly abused by his older alcoholic brother and
misunderstood by his religious fanatic mother. He meets a carnival
singer, Sandra who also faces sexual abuse by Frank,the leader of the
carnival freak show. After Jimmy commits a murder, which is more of an
act of self defense; he dreams of running away to join the carnival
with Sandra. Jimmy's world is filmed in black and white and Sandra's in
eye-popping "Wizard of Oz" like color. Actress Karen Black gives an
amazing performance as both Sandra and Jimmy's mom. Mike Patton of the
band "Faith no More" plays both Jimmy's abusive brother David and the
villainous carnival leader. Since Mike Patton plays the abuser in both
roles, Jimmy and Sandra's lives are a mirror reflection of each other.
Both Jimmy and Sandra dream of escaping their own personal prison.
Jimmy dreams of the carnival and Sandra dreams of regular society.
There is no escape for either of them, since both environments are as
equally cruel. They feel trapped, and their lives seem to be a metaphor
for sexual abuse.
Some parts of the film are left unexplained. Example is the mysterious schizophrenic girl who lives under a tree with glass bottles that hang from the branches. She seems to be a psychic in some manners. I've never seen a bottle tree in an American film before, it looks like something straight out of a Czech film or Easter European magic realist drama. Although some very small flaws, the film still works as a bleak and haunting surrealist portrait of middle America, Not to mention all the cool circus freaks like "the Enigma", with his body covered in blue tattooed puzzle pieces. This is definitely not a film for everyone, but for those who enjoy bizarre and challenging directors like David Lynch, Todd Solondz, Fellini and Jodorowsky. Even if you can't get into the sad story, it's still visually breathtaking. Just don't forget to have a box of tissues ready for this film to help soak up all the tears. I'm still haunted by the films strong and sometimes disturbing imagery.
Did I watch this film or did I dream it. This may be your initial response after watching "the Hourglass Sanatorium". Those who are fans of Fellini, Jodorowsky, Peter Greenaway and Andrej Zulawski will feel right at home. Originally the film was based on a novel, and the story deals with a man who takes a train to see his sick father at a sanatorium. The sanatorium feels Gothic and abandoned. Time seems to be non existent there. Since time has slowed down the father goes on living and the son gets lost in the many rooms of the sanatorium. His journey is as comical as it is frightening. Memories and history become reality and the main character walks throughout many strange scenarios from the past and from his childhood. A simple action like crawling under a bed, can transfer him to a different time and place. Among the strange images in the film which are the most breathtaking are, the Jewish Rabbis breaking out into a song number, people who are part human and part wax figures, dead zombie like soldiers, people in strange bird masks, elephants, and odd philosophical discussions. This is one movie that is so complex and confusing that if you miss 1 minute (or even if you don't miss anything) you'll feel lost. After the film was over, I was left scratching my head; it was like I had just woken up from a bizarre dream. This is one of the most breathtakingly surreal film experiences I have ever had. Film is a visual art, so words can't come close to describing "the Hourglass Sanitorium". You have to see it for yourself!
WR: Mysteries of the Organism, is one unique if not messed up viewing experience. Part documentary and part fictional surrealist philosophical sex comedy, Serbo-Croatian director Dusan Makavejev assaults the viewers senses with imagery, music, politics and satire. "Mysteries of the Organism" is on many top 1000 film lists, but for some odd reason it is nearly impossible to track down. Just like Makavejev's other film "Sweet Movie", I was put on a several month waiting list on Amazon. Thank god for ebay! This is a film that screams for a DVD release, but I don't think many distributors want to touch it due to it's explicit sexuality and subversive elements. The film starts off as a documentary on Wilhelm Reich, a scientist who studied the orgon and used the human orgasm as a method for healing. Of course, similar to the scientist Tesla; his books were seized and burned by the U.S. government and FDA. Then the second part of the film deals with Milena, a sexually liberated Yugoslavian girl who makes revolutionary speeches on her apartment balcony. She says "The October Revolution failed by not excepting free love". Later she falls in love with a Soviet figure skater who's afraid to express his sexual feelings. So this film is a comedy, based on the politics of human sexuality. It mocks capitalism and communism for suppressing people's sexual desires. Now if only I could find the soundtrack. My rating is 10/10, which means I'll watch it again!
"2 Eggs; to break, broke, broken", the only English phrase spoken and theme song in Tinto Brass' "L'Urlo". What a film! The only available version of this film I could find had no subtitles. Either way it doesn't matter since it is very visual. When most people here the name Tinto Brass, right away they think of the horrid sleaze epic "Caligula", or some might name "Salon Kitty". If your lucky, you'll here of some who have seen his fun slapstick sex comedies from Italy like "Miranda" and "All Ladies Do it". Known mainly for his lighthearted sex romps with curvy women, Tinto Brass' earliest experimental films were much different. Heres a recipe for a film like "L'Urlo". Take some Fellini, add some Jodorowsky/Arrabal and a little table spoon of Godard for extra kick, stir and you got yourself "L'Urlo". One crazy psychedelic, surrealist anti-war art orgy. A bus is lit on fire! Hippies are chased by riot cops. There's stock footage of Vietnam and other wars with a machine gun showdown! S&M, slapstick sexuality, a man's pursuit of a beautiful lady... abstract art and nudity galore! Most memorable is a man in a gas mask jumping around with nude people while goose feather's fill the air! One amazing experimental protest movie! Rebel art at its finest! The films music and images are amazing! This is one film that screams for a DVD release, not to mention a soundtrack. The one song during the burning bus scene sounded like the punk band "Dead Kennedys", almost 10 years before they were around. This film is pure punk rock, before punk even existed. Who says that political, subversive films can't be fun? This ones a must see!
"the Passion of Darkly Noon" has to be one of the most bleak and emotional films I have seen. It's even more depressing than Philip Ridley's other film, "The Reflecting Skin". Believe it or not, Philip Ridley is not only a writer of plays but of children's books. "The Passion of Darkly Noon" is a beautiful, disturbing and surreal psychological drama in the vein of "Blue Velvet", "Santa Sangre", "Donnie Darko" and "I Stand Alone". Brandon Fraiser gives an amazing and overlooked performance as Darkly Noon; a naive young Christian man who's just escaped a waco like religious cult. He witnessed his parents and other members shot down by police. Darkly is found injured in the woods and stays with Callie (Ashley Judd), who takes care of Darkly till he's better. Ashley Judd's Character is a nature loving feminist beauty. (Check out the close up of her arm pit hair.) Callie start's to fall for Darkly. Her mute boyfriend is played by Viggo Mortenson. Since Darkly has lived a secluded life with not much contact of the outside world, he doesn't know how to deal with his sexual feelings for Callie. Out of guilt he prays for forgiveness and mutilates himself with barb wire. His religious beliefs cause him to slowly loose his sanity and see visions of his dead parents. He feels it's God's mission for him to kill. The film builds up unbearable tension as it goes along. Ashley Judd is amazing with a performance so good, it's as if she's having a real nervous breakdown. Brandon Fraiser gives the best performance of his career. His character is down right scary, especially compared to his usual roles in family films. Their are certain images in this film that are very confusing. One being the giant silver shoe floating in the pond. "The Passion of Darkly Noon" is somewhat of a puzzle and may require a second viewing. Either way it has my highest recommendation.
There's one film that sends shivers up my spine just with it's mere title and that's Bela Tarr's "the Werckmeister Harmonies". It's one of those films that may infuriate some viewers meanwhile leaving others awestruck. The story concerns a very cold winter in a small Hungarian town. The camera follows a man Janos in his various everyday events. We know that this is no ordinary film during the poetic intro in the bar, where the various customers act out different parts of the solar system in rotation. The peaceful order of the village is disturbed, when a traveling circus comes to town. The circus has a stuffed whale carcass on display and abnormalities in jars. A man known as the prince who runs the circus remains in hiding. The stuffed whale seems to have a mystical power. These and other small events which are not fully explained lead the town's people to go crazy and eventually turn violent. This film is very slow, at some times unbearable. Certain events are filmed in real time. Similar film's that come to mind are Antonioni's "Avventura,L" and Heneke's "Code Unknown" Although this film is super slow at times, I loved it. There is something that is gripping about it. It is very surreal and emotional. The scene where the villagers go crazy and raid a nursing home almost brought me to tears. The films musical score is so haunting, it will stay in your mind forever. Also director Gus Van Sant is highly influenced by the films of Bela Tarr and it's apparent in his more recent work like "Gerry" and "Elephant". "The Werckmeister Harmonies" is a masterpiece that's not for everyone. I recommend it for viewers who are extremely patient and are looking for something different.
Fernando Arrabal's films are not for everyone. But, if you enjoy Bunuel and Jodorowsky you must check out his movies. In fact Arrabal was part of the Panic theater movement with Jodorowsky. The events of Franco's rule over Spain during WW II had a great effect on Arrabal's childhood. "The Tree of Guernica" is not nearly as disturbing as "Viva la Muerte and "I will walk like a crazy Horse", but be warned it's still quite graphic. The film takes place during the Spanish Civil War in a small village in Spain, the Villa Romero. Franco's rise to power causes the town to unite and try to fight the fascist army. The horrible events during this era where what inspired Picasso's painting Guernica. The towns land baron has 4 sons, 3 are brutal and help pillage the town. The fourth brother Goya is an artist who is the opposite of his brothers. Goya challenges the church and state and thrives for social justice. Of course, like before Arrabal uses strong surreal imagery to shock the viewer into political awareness. Many might find the scenes of the villagers desecrating religious statues shocking. A large crucifix is blown into pieces, a man urinates on a statue of Jesus, and a midget masturbates on a statue of the virgin Mary. Also the film tells the story of Goya's romance with a lady Vandale, who's a local witch. "Guernica" contains many disturbing and memorable images which stay with you long after the films over. Arrabal's Swiftian like obsession with dwarfs to represent the oppressed and under class tint the film with a dark satirical edge of uneasy laughter. Midgets fight along side the town people with large shotguns. Some of the dwarfs are killed in a bullfight and others are crucified. Another scene that still stays with me is when the bombs drop on the village and stock footage is used. The beautiful Vandale carries a dead child in her arms, in a scene that shows the devastating effect of war. The film contains some very unique experimental sounds and music that create an even more surreal effect. "The Tree of Guernica" is a little seen masterpiece that only a artist like Arrabal could create. Do watch!
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