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|134 reviews in total|
"Can Hieronymous Merkin ever forget Merci Humppe and find true Happiness?" has to win an award for being the strangest title for a film ever. Partially semi autobiographical comedy in the vein of Fellini and Woody Allen. "Hieronymous Merkin" throws away conventional narrative to tell the story of a director making a film about his life; not to mention it's also a musical. Some parts are dated and hard to follow. Director Anthony Newly was married to Joan Collins. Collins also appears in the film. Collins has a certain expression like, how did I end up in this film? All criticism aside, "Hieronymous Merkin" is quite funny and breathtaking with it's amazing surrealist imagery. If Woody Allen, Fellini and Jodorowsky were to of collaborated on a musical with Jacques Demi, it may be something like this film. Newly can get annoying at times with his inflated ego and sex drive. He tells about marriage, infidelity, having kids, being in show business and his various sex-capades. Memorable dream like images include the Merry go round sequence, Merkin as a string puppet, his bed which lies in the ocean on the beach side and a crazy sequence with a nude girl who is a human wind up toy like object. I sure wish they would release this film on DVD. There are not many films like it. Love it or hate it, it's completely original; especially the super catchy song "Picadilly Lilly". Must be seen to be believed.
Detective fisher is an exiled cop who has lost his memory. In the film's beginning, an Egyptian psychiatrist puts him under hypnosis. Then his story is told. We are taken to a futuristic film noir style Germany. Fisher is trying to catch a serial killer who preys on young girls. Along the way he develops a strange relationship with a prostitute. Lars Von Trier's debut "The Element of Crime" is similar to his "Zentropa", except it takes place in a bleak post apocalyptic future. Shot in brown sepia with occasional tints and splashes of color, at times I was reminded of "Sin City". But it's vision of the future closely resembles Jeunet and Caro's "Delicatessen" and "City of Lost Children". Also it recalls the work of Russian director Tarkovsky. "The Element of Crime" moves slow at times and is somewhat confusing. Even with its slight flaws, It's still a stunning and surreal cinematic experience that you'll probably have to watch more than once.
French director Casper Noe's "Irreversible" may be one of the most unsettling rape revenge films ever made. The story is told backwards like the film "Momento". The film may cause viewers to get motion sickness from the crazy non stop movement of the camera. The main characters Alex, Marcus and Pierre are 3 friends whose story is told over the period of one day. Her ex boyfriend Pierre is sort of the voice of reason, although violent if put in the right situation. The brutal revenge takes place at a gay S&M club. After Marcus is in danger, shy Pierre steps in beating the wrong man to death with a fire extinguisher. This scene is disgusting and realistic showing every detail of the skull crush. Before this happened 2 gang members offer Marcus a chance for revenge, saying they can track down the guy who raped his girlfriend Alex. Then the film continues to work its way back to the beginning. The most unsettling part of "Irreversible" is when Alex (Monica Belluci) gets brutally anal raped. This seen goes on for about 8 minutes. She goes out alone after a party wearing a sexy outfit, not knowing what fate awaits her. During the rape scene the camera stays in one place and focuses mostly on Alex's face and screams. It's sad, brutal and hard to watch. You want to look away, but you can't. It seems Casper Noe wanted the viewer to feel the Traumatic pain that Belluici's character felt. After that, the film becomes normal going back in time to the beginning of a peaceful day. The only other 2 films that I can think of with rape scenes as horrific are the cult classics "I Spit on your Grave" and the Hong Kong film "Red to Kill". The only problem is that these 2 films are too exploitative so the message is lost in the execution. What I like about "Irreversible" is it shows how ugly violence and rape are. It doesn't exploit women or glamorize brutality. If the film were to be told in a regular order, it might of made revenge a justifiable act. But by Noe showing the revenge first, it shows the animal like rage of the human condition. If put in the right situation who knows what horrible things we're capable of? "Irreversible" is very graphic in its sexual and violent content. It is very challenging to get through the whole film. It's very sad and devastating as it grabs your emotions and beats you relentlessly in the back of the skull.
In the 1950's era, Seth Dove, a young seven year old deals with his highly dysfunctional family. The film takes place in the farmlands of Idaho. The strange neighbor women Dolphin Blue lives close to Seth. He's convinced that she is a vampire. Mainly because Seth reads to many comics and has a wild imagination. When Seth and his friends blow up a frog and it explodes on Dolphin, his mother forces him to go to her house and apologize. Dolphin is very strange and constantly talks of her dead husband. Meanwhile a serial killer is on the loose killing the towns children. Seth's dad is accused. To prove his innocents in a manic depressive way, he drinks gasoline and lights himself on fire. This scene kind of reminded me of Jodorowsky's "Santa Sangre". After the father's death, Seth's brother returns from the military and starts dating Dolphin. Seth is afraid that she wants to suck the life out of him. Seth also finds a dead baby in a pile of hay. He keeps it under his bed convinced it's an angel of his dead friend. British playwright and author Philip Ridley's debut film "The Reflecting Skin" is very bleak and disturbing. At times reminiscent of David Lynch; it's a surreal coming of age drama that shows a kids perspective on tragedy. This is probably one of the most depressing films I've seen next to "Dancer in the Dark". Although very bleak it's still an excellent film. Also check out Ridley's other film "The Passion of Darkly Noon".
The classic tale of Faust, the man who sold his soul to the devil, is given a strange twist. In the film, an ordinary guy finds a map on a subway which leads him to an abandoned theater. He chants the phrases which cause the devil to appear. The devil offers him anything he wants in exchange for his soul. Then we are treated to creepy marionette puppets that act out the play. Czech animator Jan Svankmajer is most notorious for his nightmarish stop motion film "Alice"(1988). In "Faust" he also combines his usual elements of live actors, puppets and clay animation. Most memorable is the creepy baby made of clay. Svankmajer creates his own bizarre world that is creepy yet often humorous. So if you enjoy surrealism, stop motion animation or any film that is in a category of its own; you should definitely see Jan Svankmajer's unique vision of "Faust".
Director Tsui Hark is most well known for "Black Mask", "Zu Warriors" and "Once upon a time in China", but not too many have seen "Green Snake". "Green Snake" is one of the most breathtaking Hong Kong films next to "Hero". It has many similar elements to Zu Warriors, since so many of the characters can fly. The story is based on an ancient Chinese folk tale. Two sisters are snakes, but they disguise themselves as humans, since snakes are looked down upon. A master monk is out to destroy the sisters fearing that they're a threat. White snake wants to be normal, she marries a clumsy monk who has no idea she's a snake. Green Snake is the wild sister, who enjoys morphing from snake to human form. Although the film's giant snake looks kind of fake, the film makes up for it with creativity. Bright colors, surreal dreamlike landscapes and martial arts magic are all part of "Tsui Hark's "Green Snake". It's also very trippy, like "Fellini Satyricon". "Green Snake" is an amazing film that needs to be seen!
"The Alphabet" is a really bizarre experimental film short from David Lynch. It contains images that nightmares are made of. Many strange and abstract objects give birth to the letters of the alphabet. There is many creepy sound effects that give this little short film's imagery a strange hallucinatory and hypnotic feel. I could definitely see a Salvadore Dali influence during the film's animated scenes. David Lynch's former wife Peggy than sings the alphabet song against a black background. Wow, the alphabet song has never sounded more horrifying! It's like a preschooler's worst fears caught on film. If you can find a copy of David Lynch's short films, you won't be disappointed. There's no doubt about it, David Lynch is an artist who comes up with some of the most amazing nightmarish imagery.
Hose Mojica Marins is definitely a director whose films are many times overlooked. His character Coffin Joe is almost like the Freddy or Jason of Brazil. "This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse" is the second Coffin Joe film. After the evil undertaker has been cleared of his crimes, he's back to causing trouble yet again. He kidnaps beautiful women and looks to impregnate one of them to start a perfect race. After the ladies get tormented by spiders and snakes he kills them, leaving only one lady. What makes this scene horrifying is the 100 snakes and spiders that the actresses had to endure. The ghost of the one women vows to return from the dead and take vengeance on him, or is it just his imagination? It's never quite clear. Coffin Joe is an angry atheist who finally finds his evil mate which is the colonel's daughter. Even after him and his hunchback assistant smash her brother's head with a rock, she still likes him. She even skips her brother's funeral to get it on with him. The film's most memorable scene is it's surreal psychedelic ten minute Technicolor vision of hell. Death takes Coffin Joe to hell and he sees people scream in agony as they are whipped and tortured. In the scene fire, brimstone and snakes surround him wherever he goes. "This Night I'll Possess your Corpse" is chilling, gory, bizarre and subversive in it's religious and social themes. It's definitely a classic work of Brazialian cinema that deserves more attention.
"The Grandmother" has got to be one of the strangest works of David Lynch next to "Eraserhead". In order to get the film made, Lynch got a grant from the American Film Institute. Too bad AFI doesn't fund amazing films like this anymore. In some aspects the film looks like it had a huge influence on "Begotten" (1991), except "The Grandmother" is only about 34 minutes and never wears out it's welcome. The story concerns a boy, who has very mean and abusive parents. They act like animals and only talk in barks. The little boy is very pale and Gothic looking, and almost all the film's sets are painted pitch black in darkness. This causes images to pop right out. The boy plants seeds in his bed, a huge abstract stump like object grows and gives birth to an old lady. The old lady seems to give the boy peace of mind, like a grandmother would. It's really hard to tell the exact story, since the film feels like a surreal nightmare that leaves the viewer disoriented. The music and experimental sound mix sounded way ahead of 1970. This only added more impact to it's disturbing imagery. Not to mention, it had some weird animated scenes too. From all the movies I've seen, I'd have to say the best examples of surrealism in film have to be Bunuel and Dali's "Un Chien Andalou", Jodorowsky's "The Holy Mountain" (1973) and David Lynch's "The Grandmother". All three of these films have images that will probably haunt you for the rest of your life.
"Pillowbook" maybe one of Peter Greenaway's most amazing films next to "The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover". If you want to see Ewan McGregor completely naked for extended periods of time, now's your chance. I'd probably walk around nude too, if I was as well endowed as him! The "Pillowbook" concerns the character Nagiko, played by the sexy Vivian Wu. (She made me say Woooh!) Growing up Nagiko has fond memories of her father who was an author. He would paint calligraphy on her face. She also enjoyed the pillow-book that her aunt had read to her with it's sensual stories. One memory that troubles her was her father being blackmailed for sexual favors by a gay publisher. He did this to get his stories published. All grown up Nagiko develops a fetish to be written on with ink. She goes through many men, but has no luck. She also has the desire to create her own pillow-book of lists and obsessions. Then she meets Jerome (Ewan Mcgregor) an English translator, it's a strange love at first sight. The only problem is that he has sloppy handwriting. So Jerome offer's himself to be written on like the pages of the book. Little does she know that Jerome is bisexual and having relations with the same publisher that had blackmailed her father growing up. When she realizes this she uses Jerome to seduce the publisher with his written body. She wants to get her book published. Nagiko narrates the film saying, "If I couldn't seduce the publisher, I could at least seduce the publisher's lover." Talk about twisted! As the film moves along it becomes more strange and surreal, with frame within frame of words and images. The screen breaks down into boxes and into lists at points. It's easy to get confused during your first viewing, like Greenaway's other films. "The Pillowbook" is not your typical erotic film, it's also a story of betrayal and vengeance. One things for sure, Vivian Wu and Ewan McGregor have such great sexual chemistry together. This creates a hypnotic and beautiful effect on the viewer.
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