A strange film employing old home movies and newly shot footage in an effort to expose one Hungarian family and their mutiple problems from the 1940s to current. Narrated by James Ellroy, ...
See full summary »
A strange film employing old home movies and newly shot footage in an effort to expose one Hungarian family and their mutiple problems from the 1940s to current. Narrated by James Ellroy, Stan Brakhage, and Dr. Roy Menninger.Written by
The dark heart of Benjamin Meade's "Vakvagany" consists of creepy home movies, filmed sometime between 1948 and 1964, purportedly stolen from a filthy house in Hungary that was said to be crawling with cats.
"Vakvagany" zig-zags through time, sampling the stolen family films, juxtaposing them with newly-filmed footage of the old movies' still-living participants, and interviews with three spirit guides who offer their take on lurid life with the family depicted in the old and new footage: crime novelist James Ellroy (of "L.A. Confidential" fame) , psychiatrist Dr. Roy Menninger and filmmaker Stan Brakhage.
The vintage films focus on life with the Locsei family, a Hungarian couple fond of filming one another and their eventual, ill-fated offspring.
The setting for the `found' film is demolished, post-World War II Europe (much of the footage depicts damage done to cities during the war).
The usual family moments are captured in the old family films, such as giving the new baby in the house a bath.
But the camera lingers lasciviously long on naked son Erno, a cause for concern for `expert witness,' Dr. Roy Menninger, who seems increasingly to be wincing as the film (and the old family footage) unfolds. There are moments in Vakvagany - old and new - that are apt to make virtually any viewer, even the most jaded, wince, as well.
Benjamin Meade's "Vakvagany" (or, variously, "Dead End") is eighty-plus minutes of very strange cinema. Love it or hate it, it is something new, and it feels dangerous and important.
Meade has said he became enthralled with the vintage home movies and their potentially sinister subject matter: in particular, father Locsei's never clearly defined role in allegedly `helping' the European Jews fleeing Nazi Germany. The form this `help' takes is sufficiently vague to leave room for some very dark deductions regarding what exactly Papa Locsei does for a living that could be construed as `help' for potential Nazi victims.
Director Benjamin Meade lets the viewer, and his three `experts,' attempt to decide (You know you're along for a strange, strange ride when noir novelist James Ellroy, notorious for his wild stage presence and book readings, tends toward the most mundane explanations for some very, very strange behavior.)
The Alloy Orchestra, famed for its wonderful scores for vintage silent films, provides a haunting, beautiful soundtrack for "Vakvagany."
While a sometimes disturbing view, Meade's film is a rewarding ride that can't be forgotten.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this