I thought it was about time for a strange film. Well, this is a strange film, even more so than I expected.
“The Strange Color Of Your Body’s Tears” is an extremely experimental film with caleidoscopic scenes, picture-in-picture montage, weird scenes, not much of a story, S&M, … Actually, it reminds of the previous full-length of Cattet/Forzani Amer!
A man comes home to find out that is wife is lost. He starts to wander through his appartment building looking for his life. He meets strange neighbours in his hallucinating journey, hearing their dark stories and the disturbing past of the builing.
This film sure is not an easy watch. It is a film to watch when you are in the mood for something completely different. I have better memories about Amer though.
A Dutch director made an Australian film. It was not easy to see “Bad Boy Bubby”, I guess it is not a very famous film. It is not a very easy film either. It starts with Bubby living in some cellar under a factory with his mother. It looks like Bubby has not been out of this cellar since he was born, while he has reached the age of 35. This first part is a bit of a mix between Scandinavian absurdity and an “Eraserhead” bleak atmosphere (but not that industrial). When Bubby gets out of the cellar, he sets out to discover the world. As strange as Bubby is, as strange the world is to him. Still he mostly runs into people who are friendly to him, but not always.
“Bad Boy Bubby” is slow, minimalistic and weird and may therefor not be for everybody. If you like this type of film and you have not yet seen it, “Bad Boy Bubby” maybe an oldie to look out for.
At the DVD rental my eye fell on another Grandrieux. Strange that they do not have “La Vie Nouvelle“, the (I think) better (known) film of Grandrieux. “Un Lac” is by far no “La Vie Nouvelle” or “Sombre“. It is a very minimalistic and slow film, but not dark or disturbing. “Un Lac” reminds more of “Winterstilte” or perhaps of some scenes of “Calvaire“.
A family lives in a remote house in a wintery mountain landscape, near a lake and a forest. The only occupation of Alexi (the ‘main character’) seems to be cutting trees. Alexi suffers a rising number of epileptic seizures. Slowly we get to know other family members. There are hardly any conversations, the filming is of the shaky handheld kind, nothing much happens and Grandrieux uses very long shots. When a stranger arrives, something of a story unfolds.
Yep, this is one of those films only for people who enjoy slow, experimental dramas without much of a story. The atmosphere is alright, but I personally prefer Grandrieux’ darker films.
This film has been on my wishlist for a while, but I did not know (or realise) that it is of the same director as “La Vie Nouvelle”. Knowing that, I can say that the films are quite similar. Dark, shaky handheld filming, underlighted and out-of-focus images, sex and violence. Yep, also “Sombre” is a dark, filmographic experience, my kind of film. It might not be brilliant, but there are not a whole lot of such films available (perhaps for the better too), so it is alway nice to run into one. We follow Jean, a puppeteer (the film opens with an extremely dark Lynchian scene with children watching his show) who follows the route of the Tour de France during which he picks up hitchhikers, but more often prostitutes, to live out his weird sexual preferences. The women usually end up dead. Then Jean meets the sisters Claire (an introvert virgin) and Christine (quite the opposite) and for a while Jean’s good side seems to take over. A roadtrip starts that can only end in one way, or not?
Another very strange, Jodorowsky film in which he again seems to do his utmost to shock/provoke. The film is presented as a spiritual journey with a mishmash of alchemical, Kabbalistic, Eastern (Tantric?) and astrological symbolism, sexuality and taboos and with a relatively large role for Gurdjieff’s enneagram (the film appears to be based on a book of a student of Gurdjieff). Jodorowsky created some elaborate stages with rotating rooms with surrealistic, spiritual imaginary. The constant referral to yet another spiritual system tends to become weary after a while, but especially the Kabbalah part looks nice. In the beginning of the film, we are presented with Christ-like figure. Later he appears to be one of nine persons (the others are introduced in a shorter way) who are recruited by “the alchemist” (played by Jodorowsky himself) for a journey to the holy mountain where the nine immortals live. Again there is a massive amount of scenes that do or do not seem to have much to do with eachother and one scene is even weirder than the next. “The Holy Mountain” is another weird trip, interesting, especially for its time, and more enjoyable than “Sante Sangre” in my opinion.
I have been looking for a film like this and now I run into one accidentally. The box made it appear as if “Amer” is some kind of psychological thriller, which would have been enough for a quick-choice. On the contrary, “Amer” is a very strange, experimental and dark film. It brings memories of ‘that other weird French film’ “La Vie Nouvelle“. “Amer” does not seem to have much of a story. We see Ana in three phases in her life; as a child, as an adolescent and as an adult. The the first third Ana lives with her parents in a gigantic house and she is haunted by her dead (?) grandparents, or is Ana the ‘haunter’? This part is very dark and the directors use unconventional camera work, cut-up images, out-of-focus images, colour filters and a minimalistic, threating soundtrack. It does not get really clear what is going on exactly and the viewer is kept pretty much in the dark. Suddenly the tone seems to lighten up and we see Ana in a light summer dress walking near the coast with her mother. Mother has her hair done and Ana wanders off in the tiny village. Inspite of the bright sunlight and Ana’s summer-look, the directors managed to give this part a dark undertone that suddenly ends. The last part Ana has grown up and she returns to the house of her childhood. The house is in an advanced state of decay and as soon as she walk in, Ana feels a presence. This last part gets more of a thriller twist with Saw-like elements.
The directors casted some beautiful actresses for Ana and her mother. They use a lot of extreme close ups; many of eyes, but also of different body parts; a part of an arm or a leg, an ear, the pubic area that is exposed when the skirt is lifted by the wind, a breast, etc. The slow and minimalistic filming with these close-ups give “Amer” a sensual atmosphere. Indeed, “Amer” definately is an interesting watch. When you like “La Vie Nouvelle” you will here find something of about the same breed. If you like David Lynch’s darker films, you want to watch both these French films too. Like I wrote in my review of “La Vie Nouvelle”: “not as good as Lynch, but a nice film to search for of you like this style.” I find “Amer” better than “La Vie Nouvelle” though.
The new Jarmusch is a very slow, minimalistic film in which we follow a pokerface “lone man” who is sent back and forth through Spain receiving all kinds of instructions, the purpose of which eludes the viewer. The “lone man” meets a range of strange people starting (semi-)intellectual monologues about a variety of subjects. These short talks are about the only talking you will hear in this film. The “lone man” seems to have his way to work out the clues he gets, but also here the viewer remains in the dark. You get it, “The Limits Of Control” is not your average film. Much in it does not seem to make any sense and until the end it is completely unclear what the goal of it all is. Jarmusch uses some quite obvious symbolism to give more (non-)clues, perhaps only to further confuse you. All in all an interesting film, with a typical ‘guitarscapes’ soundtrack, but not really a great one.
The first time I heard of this film I asumed that it would be yet another Viking spectacle with a thin story making a bad history lesson. Later I heard that this is not the case. Indeed, “Valhalla Rising” is far from being a Viking epic, in fact, I wonder why this film is so well-known. Is it because the director (Nicholas “Bronson” Refn) or did the director manage to get a big promotion budget or a large distributor? In any case, “Valhalla Rising” is an extremely slow, very minimalistic and a pretty dark film. There are almost no conversations, nothing much really happens, but when something does happen, Refn created pretty damn violent (but not very explicit) scenes. Especially the first chapter may cause some people to refrain from continue to watch. We follow a one-eyed traveller (a reference to Odin?) who eventually sets out with a group of Christian converts to find the Holy Land. Some overly popular ideas about Vikings (actually the people concerned seem to have been Saxons, or at least, inhabitents of the British isle) and whatever there is of a story is not too strong, but the film has a nice, dark atmosphere. Unfortunately also in that perspective it is not entirely convincing which overall makes the film just nice. Something different for sure, especially when you (also) expect a Viking spectacle.
In the local Mediamarkt I ran into a box with “Aaltra“, “Calvaire” and “Tarnation”. Three cult-films for 6 euros! “Calvaire” is great, “Aaltra” very amusing and “Tarnation” is a strange experiment of a young director. His first full-length is an extremely personal autobiography (though told in the “he” form) about his troubled youth. Caouette’s mother (to whom this film is an ode) was mentally wrecked by an accident and many shock-therapies after that. She was in and out mental hospitals for the rest of her life. Caouette spent time in many foster families, was abused and in the end put under the care of his grandparents who were even crazier than his mother. As an outlet Caouette started to run around with filmcameras from an early age. His epileptic montage suggests that he used much of that old material in his documentary. Experimentating to the extremes of filmographic possibilities, the film goes well together with “Calvaire” (the last part) or perhaps even comparisons with Gaspar Noë are not completely strange. The film is definately interesting and weird. Some of the biographic parts take a bit too long, but overall this film is definately worth watching.
The latest film of Noë is pretty hard work to watch! The beginning is great with the most insane opening titles I ever saw and then there is a scene with Oscar smoking something, having a psychedelic trip, which is wonderfully done. Pretty soon it becomes clear, though, that Noë uses constantly moving cameras, from handycam views, so high-and-low flying twisting and turning stretched shots (towards the end even with effects). After about 5 minutes my stomach was upside down and I developped a pounding headache and that did not go away (it still did not!). With such a tiring view, 2,5 hours is way too long. Moreover, the visual spectacle completely overrides the drama in the film, even two extremely devastating scenes towards the end had no effect on me whatsover. Besides the sickening camera work, Noë stuffed his film with filmographic experimentations. Extremely bright and extremely much neon, computerised drug-tripping scenes, Lynch-like light-and-dark and close-ups, out-of-focus shots and almost no music, but just Throbbing Gristle and Coil’s constant rumbling. The story is of a brother and sister living in Tokyo flushing down the drain of the sex and drug scene. A heavy story that is ingeniously told in flashbacks interwoven with the present and with dreams. Paz de la Huerta gives all playing Linda; a fragile part that goes from sexy shots in the appartment to stripclub-, sex- and even an abortion scene. The story is not too original, but well-told, the experimental montage is very interesting, but the unsteady camera makes me to discourage you to watch this film on the big screen. A very interesting film, but I do not like the physical reactions…
I accidentally ran into a cult classic! I am reading a book with texts of John Dee (reviewed soon) and the compiler in passing mentioned that Dee is portrayed in this film. My regular rental proved to have this oldie. The box announces it as “Brittains first punk film”. That is nothing like the Medieval setting that I expected! That is to say, “Jubilee” opens with the historically incorrect scene in which John Dee and queen Elizabeth I conjur angel Ariel who shows them a glimpse of the future. This future is some sort of punk version of “A Clockwork Orange”. With weird music (punk opera?) and strange characters, Jarman obviously tried to push the limits of the permissible in his days. Nudity, sex, strong language and useless violence are the elements that make up the story. Some other controversies are added. Overall, “Jubilee” strongly reminds of “A Clockwork Orange”, but then with a punk(-like) attitude.
We follow Jesco White, a trouble-kid who has been sniffing (lighter) gas since the age of 6. Frequently sent to reform school and even an asylum of the insane he grows up with “bad thoughts” and “evil in [his] blood”. He tries to be good, but keeps getting problems with what is going on in his head and that usually results in violent outbursts, both to himself and to others. He has a few periods of “good times” such as when he runs into Cilla, but in the end, no good time lasts. Murphey has his film grow darker and darker when Jesco becomes more violent, resulting in disturbing and very vague scenes. There is a thick religious overtone with preachers that interupt the film and Jesco’s turn towards the faith at the end. Jesco’s father was a dancer and he taught it to Jesco too to keep him on the straight path. That dance is some kind of hillbilly-version of tap dancing, so the soundtrack is made with the all-American hillbilly music, but also here Murphey managed to get it pretty dark.
“White Lightnin'” is not an overly weird film, but sure has some moments that many viewers might not enjoy. I found the end quite impressive myself.
“Calvaire” (or “the Ordeal” as the international title goes) starts as a ‘normal’ film in which an artist gets stuck somewhere in the Ardennen (the Belgian mountainous area). His path leads to a remote inn where Marc is taken in friendly by Bartel, the owner. It is a strange character (Boris) who leads him there, but Marc does not think much of that yet. Bartel gives Marc shelter, breakfast and offers to fix his truck. Meanwhile Marc takes a walk, stumbles upon a near village where he witnesses a strange excess of the local population. Returning to the inn, not only Bartel, but also the film gets stranger and stranger. “Calvaire” brilliantly derails with incomprehensible characters, violence and nightmarish scenes. Nothing much can be made of the characters after a while and the film suddenly ends. Indeed, this film is pretty disturbing and pretty good. “Calvaire” reminds me a bit of “Mørke“, but where “Mørke” remains a drama, “Calvaire” is closer to horror. For the lovers of the weird stuff.
“La Vie Nouvelle” is somewhat of a cultfilm. It is almost impossible to find outside French-speaking countries and there seems to be no version with subtitles, not even French for the parts that are spoken in (I think) Bulgarian. There is not that much talking in the film, but it would have been nice to know what the Bulgarians say and the French parts are not very easy to follow either. In a David Lynch style and with quite a few ‘Lynchian’ elements, “La Vie Nouvelle” seems to give fragments of a story that plays in the dark underworld of Bulgarian organised crime. Out-of-focus and shaky camera work for the more shocking parts, a very minimalistic style with a dark rumbling soundtrack for most of the other. Grandrieux has created an interesting film that will mostly appeal to people who like David Lynch and not to people who enjoy a straightforward story and flashy action scenes. The film is dark, sometimes disturbing, but not really as shocking as some seem to find this film. The term “drame sentimental” that appears on the back of the box is a vast underrating too of course. There is some violence, a lot of nudity, beautiful images and strange camera and montage experimentations; not as good as Lynch, but a nice film to search for of you like this style. Try French and for example Canadian sources to find this film.
It does not happen often that I turn off a film, but this was not the right film for a hot summer night. The director of depressive teen-films seemingly wanted to make a peek into the head of a schizophrenic young woman. Since the very first second a woman’s voice is constantly rattling incoherently and with a soft, almost whispering voice. I had an import version without subtitles, not even English (the film is spoken in English) and with outside sounds of neighbours, etc. this was way too hard to follow. What the woman whispers is shown in weird and disturbing black and white images with strange effects and montage. Normally I like the weird and experimental kind of filming, but the incomprehensible voice started to work on my nerves. I think I need to see this film again some winter night, at the moment I will not rate it.