In 1984, British journalist Arthur Stuart investigates the career of 1970s glam superstar Brian Slade, who was heavily influenced in his early years by hard-living and rebellious American singer Curt Wild.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers,
Three intercut stories about outsiders, sex and violence. In "Hero," Richie, at age 7, kills his father and flies away. After the event, a documentary in cheesy lurid colors asks what Richie was like and what led up to the shooting. In the black and white "Horror," a scientist isolates the elixir of human sexuality, drinks it, and becomes a festering, contagious murderer; a female colleague who loves him tries to help, to her peril. In "Homo," a prisoner in Fontenal prison is drawn to an inmate whom he knew some years before, at Baton juvenile institute, and whose humiliations he witnessed. This story is told in dim light, except for the bright flashbacks.Written by
The three episodes are set in 1944 ("Homo"), 1985 ("Hero") and probably the 1950s ("Horror") and their stories are not connected in a conventional sense: "The film's three strands are stylistically distinct - a newsmagazine-style account of a suburban boy who killed his abusive father, a black-and-white B-movie about a scientist turned leprous outcast, a rough-trade romance set in a Genet-like prison - and it cuts among them to create a web of unsettling correlations and an echo-chamber effect." [Dennis Lim, N.Y. Times, 2010] See more »
Richie was a complicated boy. On the one hand, very intelligent. But at the same time... withdrawn. It was really strange though, the amount of animosity that he would induce in the other children out of nowhere.
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When first released on video in the US by Fox Lorber, three versions were offered. The director's cut was released as the NC-17 version; an "unrated" version was released which was essentially the same, minus a brief shot of an erect penis sticking out of a man's shorts; and finally an R rated version was sold, one which was cut in several places to placate the MPAA. See more »
Well, this is indeed a pretty weird mix of three seemingly unrelated stories, the debut feature film by Todd Haynes. I had seen nothing by him before, but I've been interested in seeing 'Safe' (1995) for a while now. And his recent film 'Carol' really seems worth a watch as well. I have 'Velvet goldmine' on DVD as well, but I'm not sure about that one, for more personal - rather inexplicable - reasons, I suppose.
Back to 'Poison'. I found the whole thing to be pretty intriguing, though I'm not sure how it should all relate (other than the obvious human state of misery). A quote from the film, a certain statement about something being a lie and the truth at the same time, struck a cord with me; the film seems to be the director's attempt to put something really personal out there, but at the same time he hopes it pertains to something essential. A bit vague, I'll admit, but I'll comfortably leave it at that: I liked it quite a bit, even if things (altogether) didn't make sense, completely.
The individual stories, about a boy killing his father, a man in prison meeting an 'old' friend and a scientist who simply makes a big mistake, somehow blended together well enough, reminding me of several other directors' films, such as Guy Maddin (haven't seen much of him - shame on me), Tom Kalin^ and John Paizs.
So... a fine little gem it is: 8 out of 10.
^ Strangely enough, Kalin made a rather cult-ish debut film a few years before Haynes did, then Haynes did a much more straightforward (but certainly not mainstream, either) follow-up drama with Julianne Moore in the lead, and then - guess what - years later Kalin did the just the same...
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