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|134 reviews in total|
"Pink Flamingos" was revolutionary for its time, and even today it's still hard to watch. Not that I didn't enjoy the film, it's hilarious; but it's very repulsive and Jonh Waters pushes the envelope as far as it can go. The story concerns Babs Johnson (Devine), she's the filthiest women alive. She lives in a trailer with her son Crackers and daughter Cotton. Not to mention the overweight Edie who's obsessed with eggs and sleeps in a crib. Then there's Connie and Raymond Marble, two filthy perverts who are jealous of Babs. They long to outdo her in being the filthiest person alive. This means having their janitor impregnate kidnapped women and selling the babies to lesbian couples, flashing people in public, and even sending Babs a turd in the mail. Babs fights back to prove she's the most deranged person alive. Which even includes incest, murder and eating dog crap and other sick sexual acts. It's a film that's fun for the whole family. (well depending on where you live?) Watch "Pink Flamingos", but don't forget your barf bag. For more perverse, weird sex and bodily functions also see "Sweet Movie".
Many people watch "Battle Royale" to see teen actors kill each other and for it's splatter violence. I enjoyed "Battle Royale" for its powerful story and satirical wit. Director Kinji Fukasaku's goal was to show how war effects children, also to show the generation gap in Japan between adults and teens. In the future, Japan has a problem with the rate of teen crime, so the government passes the battle royale act. In a "Survivor" like fashion 42 teens are chosen at random and put on an island. They have to kill one another until one person is left. This includes shooting, stabbing, decapitating or whatever means necessary. To make matters worse, they all are forced to wear tracking device collars that will explode if they refuse to cooperate. Our main character Shuya comes home and finds that his father has killed himself. Takeshi Kitano plays Mr. Kitano the teacher. After getting stabbed by a juvenile student, Kitano submits the names of his whole class for Battle Royale. All the students think that they are going on a field trip, little do they know that it's their turn for "Battle Royale"! What makes the film horrifying, is to put yourself in the situation. Imagine being forced to kill people who are your friends and that you have known all your life. The two protagonists Shuya and Noriko form a bond and fight to survive. (together if possible) Also there's the killing crazed femme fatal, Mitsuko. She seems to be a loner who kills for fun. Also, director Quinten Tarantino loved "Battle Royale" so much that he even casted one of the actresses Chiaki Kuriyama in "Kill Bill: Volume 1". Tarentino also appeared in the Battle Royale: Special Edition movie trailer. I highly recommend the Special Edition director's cut since it has flashbacks and extra character development. It makes the film sad and emotional, because you really get to know the students. Even Metsuko has her reason for acting the way she does. So if you like violent action films that also have a hidden message, you should definitely see "Battle Royale". Be warned, it may be too disturbing for some viewers.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Muholland Drive" is definitely a puzzle. Although I understood the basic plot twist during my second viewing, I still watched it again and the minor details made so much more sense. The beginning of the film deals with a girl with amnesia. After a car accident, she can't remember who she is. She stays with the sweet and naive Betty and names herself Rita. Betty, played by the gorgeous Naomi Watts, is an actress who has just moved to Hollywood for a big break. She tries to help Rita find out who she really is. Along the way we meet a ruthless producer, and witness many various strange nonsense like situations. All feel like a disjointed dream. Who can forget that creepy bum behind the restaurant dumpster holding a sort of Pandora's's box? Then the film becomes very confusing towards the end with a flashback and out of sequence style. I won't ruin the surprise, but I'll give you a couple of hints for the latter parts of the film. (WARNING, STOP READING IF YOU HAVEN"T SEEN THE FILM YET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) (SPOILER ALERT, STOP READING, if you want to figure it out on your own) 1.) Think, is everyone the same person throughout the whole film? 2.) Think about the scene where the cowboy walks in Diane's house and tells her to "wake up". 3.) Now, think about the films tag-line describing Hollywood. 4.)Also pay attention to Diane's coffee mug and robe before the on the couch sex scene with her and Camela. These 4 things are very important for you the viewer or detective trying to unlock the mystery. (OK IT'S SAFE TO READ NOW FOR NEW VIEWERS!) David Lynch has not only created a flawless surreal masterpiece of mystery. In a Kenneth Anger like fashion, Lynch also creates a satire that makes fun of Hollywood. You got to respect a director like David Lynch who screws with the viewer's mind, mocks Hollywood and still gets nominated for an academy award. I don't think anyone else could do that? And so well too! Even after unlocking the films mystery, there is still many things left unexplained. This opens the door to subconscious thought and leaves viewers to explore different interpretations. "Muholland Drive" is a great film that provokes much discussion.
Out of all the Troma films that Lloyd Kaufman has directed, "The Toxic Avenger" seems to be his most well known. It's a crude, gross and hilarious horror/sci-fi comedy with subversive messages about the environment and the dangers of nuclear waste. Little Melvin is a janitor. He is a scrawny, nerdy weakling who is constantly picked on by the popular snobs at the fitness club where he works. The beautiful but cruel Julie pretends to like Melivin. But this is only a prank to get him to wear a too-too and trick him into kissing a goat. The situation backfires and Melvin jumps out the window landing in a barrel of nuclear waste. He transforms into the Toxic Avenger, a hideously deformed creature of super human size and strength. He becomes an arm ripping, head smashing superhero who keeps the town of Tromaville safe from criminals. He still finds time to fall in love with a blind girl, Sara. This film is filled with sex and boobs; not to mention graphic Troma violence which includes a kid on a bike getting his head ran over by a car, and a dog getting shot. Wow, Tromaville really does need the Toxic Avenger to protect them from harm! And that he does, because he's a monster with heart. "The Toxic Avenger" is a fun splatter comedy that delivers plenty of gore and laughs.
Another great Czech new wave film that is both haunting and beautiful is "Valerie and her Week of Wonders" (what a week... drip drip drip) The story concerns a girl's surreal journey into womanhood. Things aren't what they appear to be for Valerie. When she gets a magical pair of earrings, she discovers strange secrets. Her peaceful village is really a town of sex crazed vampires. Poor Valerie, of all of the times to get your period. To top it off, her grandmother is evil too. She's not even safe from the town priest.(surprise surprise) The film contains beautiful religious images, strange sexuality, incest, nudity and other crazy assorted weirdness. Sometimes it's hard to tell if the events are happening or if Valerie is dreaming. Director Jaromi Jires also used the story as symbolism for that political era in Czechoslovakia. One things for certain, they don't make fairy tales like this in the US. So if you enjoy films by Bergman, Fellini, Bunuel and Jodorowsky you'll enjoy "Valerie and her Week of Wonders". Except for Cissy Spacek, I don't think I've seen anyone suffer with a more horrifying time of the month in cinema!
That Luis Bunuel was a sarcastic madman. That is why I love his films so much!!! "Simon of the Desert" was filmed in Mexico and is in Spanish. The film concerns a sort of spiritual prophet named Simon. He could be symbolic of Christ, except for the fact he's very prideful. He stands on a tower in the desert, and people come to worship him and follow his every word. Too bad Simon doesn't follow his own teachings. In one scene when he's supposed to be fasting, he secretly eats some food. Bad Simon! Then the film becomes comical as a female devil comes in disguise to tempt Simon. She takes on various forms, including a little girl who sings songs mocking him. Later she wants to show him the sin of man. Which is a NYC music club with rock & roll and dancing. (that's not sinful) The film is very short at about a 50 minute running time. So if your into surrealism or satire, "Simon of the Desert" is a film you should definitely see. You can definitely see it's influence on Monty Python's "the Life of Brian" and "El Topo".
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Jean Cocteau's "the Blood of a Poet" is a very strange film. Even by todays standards, but I can't imagine the response in 1930. The film was funded by the same producer of Bunuel/Dali's "L Age D Or"(1930). Cocteau considered the film expressionism even though it feels like surrealism. His goal was to film a poem. In the beginning of the film we witness a chimney collapse. Then we are introduced to an artist. He is doing a sketch and erases the mouth. The mouth appears on his hand and starts to talk. Then when his hand touches the statue, it comes to life. He enters the mirror and it takes him to a strange hotel, behind each door is something bizarre happening. One room a boy is trying to fly, another room there's a strange man with a spiral. Then the artist goes crazy and shoots himself. Then the film goes on to a dreamlike violent snowball fight and game of cards, and another suicide attempt. Very unique, highly surreal with slight homo-erotic overtones; "The Blood of a Poet" feels like waking up from a crazy dream!
Although not as confusing as "Eraserhead" and "Muholland Drive", "Lost Highway" still manages to screw with your mind and make your head spin while trying to figure the film out. Of course like most of Lynch's work, "Lost Highway" has lots and lots of sex and violence. At times the material is such a hard R rating that it feels almost NC-17. It's like David Lych has taken someone's nightmare and filmed it. Bill Pullman plays Fred, a saxophone player who is constantly being stocked by the creepy Robert Blake. He receives a strange box on his porch, the box contains a video with footage of him and his wife (Rosanna Arquette) sleeping. The mysterious character (Blake) claims to know him. Ironically Fred's wife is murdered. (and no it wasn't Blake who did it)(well in the movie at least). All kidding aside, Fred is accused of the murder and put on death row. He has a blackout and wakes up as a completely different person, Peter. Peter is a young twenty something mechanic who has ties with the mob. In the film, the two characters morph back and forth into either Fred or Pete. Either way both guys are wanted by the law. So I felt that basically this guy is trapped in a parallel, switching back and forth into each body. It's like he's stuck on an endless highway, a hell that keeps going full force into nowhere. This is just my perspective. I could be way off. Oh hell, who am I kidding? I'll have to watch this film 3 more times. See what films like this do. They make me think too much. But sometimes thinking can be a lot of fun!
Yugoslavian director Emir Kusterica is most well known for his critically acclaimed international films like "Time of the Gypsies" and "Underground"(1995). He did one English language film in Ameica. The film "Arizona Dream" is a highly underrated film that people have seem to forgotten. Which is a shame, since it has an amazing cast of well known actors like Johnny Depp, Vincent Gallo, Faye Dunaway, Jerry Lewis and Lili Taylor. Jonny Depp plays Axel a young twenty something dreamer. In the beginning of the film he has a dream about an Eskimo family. He works at a dock cleaning fish and often drifts away from reality to dreams. Him and his friend Paul (Vincent Gallo) drive to Arizona to visit Axel's uncle Mr. Sweetie (Jerry Lewis)who's a car salesman. I must say Depp and Lewis make a great comic duo. Axel and Paul end up staying with the wealthy Elaine Stalker and her suicidal daughter Grace (Lili Taylor). Axel starts dating Mrs. Stalker, but at the same time has strange feelings for her daughter. The film is very surreal and dreamlike. Mrs. Stalker obsessively dreams of flying, so her and Axel build a flying machine that resembles a Right Brothers style airplane. It's hilarious when the plain repeatedly malfunctions. There's also a floating fish throughout the movie, turtles, an attempted pantie hose suicide and a weird sex scene where Jonny Depp crows like a rooster (must be seen to be believed). Warner Bros. felt that the film was too European. So the film collected dust on their shelf and had a poor limited release. The film does have a magic-realist tragi-comedy style like Emir Kusterica's other Eastern European films. Co writer David Atkins later went on to write the screenplay for Novacaine. Also producer Claudie Ossard has also helped produce other bizarre films like "City of Lost Children". "Arizona Dream" is a quirky and strange masterpiece. Track down a VHS copy, or better yet the 20 minute longer international version. It's quite a cult sensation in Europe.
"Wild at Heart" is one deranged and twisted road trip as only David Lynch could bring you. It's so dark but at times funny too. Lula (Laura Dern) and Sailor (Nicholas Cage)are in love, but Lula's mother played by Laura Dern's real life mother Diane Ladd is evil. She doesn't want to see them together. Because of a murder, Sailor is finally released from prison. Lula's mom hires people to kill sailor. So Lula and Sailor go on a crazy road trip with dark and fellini like characters. William Defoe is unforgettable as the creepy and perverted Bobby Peru. The film almost received an X/NC-17 rating. It's easy to see why, it has lots of disturbing sex and violence. But than again that's a David Lynch trademark. This film is probably on my list of favorite road trip movies, next to Godard's "Weekend" (1967), "Thelma & Louise" and "Natural Born Killers". Both Nicholas Cage and Laura Dern give amazing performances. Dern's character Lula is the complete opposite of Sandy in "Blue Velvet", cause she's so wild and sexual. But Lula still has a naive child like charm. It seems that actor Nicholas Cage was born to play Sailor, a charming Elvis like ex convict who wants to change his ways. Also check out Berry Gifford's sequel to Wild at Heart, "Perdita Durango" (aka. dance with the devil) These films are both Wild at Heart and weird on Top!
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