Asphalto (1998) Poster


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Experimental motorist crash fantasy with an attitude
sbergo24 July 2002
As Ilppo Pohjolas Asphalto is an avant-garde movie, and a hard-core one at that, it demands some adjustment of the sensory and conceptual apparatus before watching. This experimental art flick is forty minutes worth of cars crashing, gas stations, Japanese noise music, sexy pin-up girls and asphalt, "asphalt up your ass". As you can imagine, this kind of audiovisual onslaught, without any conventional plot or guide lines will strain the viewer some what.

But if your up to this, Asphalto is a ride well worth taking. Because even in its own genre (which is avant-garde I suppose) it's exceptionally experimental, an impressively powerful blend of high brow ideals and pop trash culture. The collage-esque, but narrative visuals are stylishly teamed with loud electronic noise music, by (mainly) Japanese artist Merzbow, to produce the in-your-face aesthetics of the movie. The film is repetitive, but builds up the pace to a screeching crescendo in the end.

There is sort of a story; fragments include Peter Franzen and Irina Bjorklund (curious note: nowadays two of the most prolific actors in Finnish cinema) driving in a crash car race, and an introduction to 13 gas stations from the southernmost part of Finland to the northernmost, each with a sexy female representative, as in a beauty contest. I don't really feel the need to analyze these images too extensively, but if you'd want to, you'd sure enough stumble on sexual references and ironic commentaries on the motorist culture. The character Bjorklund plays is sensual, aggressive, an over the top tomboy, and the finale is almost orgasmic in its intensity. Some will undoubtedly compare this to David Cronenberg's Crash.

In all honesty I have to admit that although Asphalto is a good movie, it's not one that I enjoy watching over and over. As a one-off experience it's sure to stun. Maximum volume for full effect.
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