Now that I’ve fetched a cup of steaming hot chocolate, I can look at my latest cinematic excursions.
House of Flying Daggers (2004)
aka Shi mian mai fu which could mean anything from ‘Artistic Kung Fu with a blur’ to ‘Rampaging Chinese Ninja Police’. But that’s just because I don’t speak Chinese. I like Chinese, though. Whatever.
I was told this movie was like a sequel to Hidden Dragon, Crouching tiger, a greatly appreciated new experience for many that also spawned some interesting pornography titles, but I’m glad that it wasn’t. If it had been, it would’ve been a sequel that didn’t continue from the prequel. So it’s a stand-alone.
It’s a great movie, though. It’s got some fascinating scenery innit, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. I love the way the colors have been sharply enhanced to create some sort of fantasy or anime-like atmosphere to the dramatic love story.
The story itself is good too, and actually surprised me at least once.
Oh, and there is no House of Flying Daggers, just so you don’t get disappointed.
I did. I really wanted to see the house.
Bad Guy (2001)
aka Nabbeun namja, which could mean ‘Nipple lover’ if I’m not mistaken.
Bad guy starts off as an off-beat psychological screening of a man falling in love with a young girl and tries to kiss her. This, the very first scene, is brilliantly made and lingers throughout the film as its main point.
The girl becomes a prostitute for the man, the bad guy, and through a one-way mirror he watches her with a kind of sickly interest – not just vouyeristic and not ALL revenge but also compassion – as she looses her virginity and grows more and more accustomed to being a sales item. Some of the shots where he’s looking at her through the mirror, is so artistic they should be printed out in color and nailed to the wall at an art gallery somewhere.
Throughout the movie you wonder not only how it will end, but when. The narrative story which lets you closer into more than just the two characeters on the cover, makes for several strange jumps that you would never have foreseen and usually wouldn’t see in a superficially "straight forward" story. This movie is pretty psychological, and as most Japanese films its action is sublime and uttered in few words. Great movie.
Note: Contains some nudity and violence.
Das Boot (1981)
I saw this a couple of weeks ago, and when I discovered that it was made in 1981 today, I almost sprayed my keyboard full of coffee through my nose. I thought it was something brand new, released in the aftermath of all the later Hitler movies and whatnot.
I have seen quite alot of submarine films, and I like most of ’em.
But I have a tendency to forget what their names are, all having titles like code names.
That’s not the case with this movie. Whenever I think about this movie, I feel like singing its name. Like:
Das Boot, Das Boot (Das-Boot-Das-Boot-Das-Boot)
Das Boot. (Daaas Booot Daaas Booot Daaaas Boooot)
Das Boot-Das Boot-Das Boot-Das Boot-Das Boot (etc.)
But that’s just me.
As for the film it is, simply put, the most brilliant submarine film ever made!
Last Man Standing (1996)
I have seen this so much that my VCR can hardly play the tape. I had to jump-start it five minutes into the film to make it work with sound. So, I bet this was the 20th time around I saw it. About time I wrote something about it, then.
If you’ve seen a Bruce Willis film from the Depression times where he drives around in the desert and shoots with two guns John Woo style, this is it. But it’s more than just your "average" Die Hard movie. This movie’s got style.
In addition to the convincing dust town Jericho, near the border of Mexico, you’ve got Willis’ own voice-over that sounds like it could need a drink. I almost get a bit thirsty when I see this movie, water or spirit, bring it on.
The kind of romantic cynicism throughout the script, reminds you of Sin City:
Her name was Wanda.
Crossing me was nothing personal.
She was just trying to make a living..
in a world where big fish eat little fish.
The whiskey helped, but I didn’t want to get sloppy…
so I switched to beer.
Christopher Walken does a dry voice too, and plays the only real gangster from Chicago with the kind of self-conscious over-acting a character like Hicks needs.
The story is simple, but not dramatically unrealistic, just slightly heroic. Really good flick. It seems to be a try on film noir, although slightly more colourful, and with American values. It’s a good film.
And now for the latest treat.
Thriller: a cruel picture (uncut) (1974)
It was banned in Sweden, Finland and the heavily cut version was Restricted in most other countries when it came out. Quentin Tarantino had the move poster with him when he wrote the screenplay for Kill Bill. Not strange at all.
It’s the mother of all revenge movies.
I bought this movie like I bought Bad Guy, A virgin among the living dead and other alternative films, and that is by pure chance. I have this DVD shop I stop by regularly every Saturday, and I always check out what new stuff they’ve placed under the Alternative, Creep and Bizarre collections. It was when I read the leaflet in the box at home, that I understood I’d come across a collector’s item. It’s a limited edition (25,000 copies) release by Synapse films who specializes in bringing long-gone horror and sci-fi movies back from the vaults. This edition has 20 minutes that was cut from the US release called: One Eye (click for poster).
Before I turned it on I hadn’t really read anything about it, except from skirmishing through the plot written on the backside:
Growing up mute after a childhood sexual assault, a young girl (played by beautiful cult starlet Christina Lindberg) spends years working on a remote farm. After missing the bus one day, she is picked up by a suave young man who takes her out to dinner, drugs her and forces her into a life of drug addiction and prostitution.
That means that I didn’t know it was Swedish. It was only after the first five minutes I realized the movie was dubbed, and lo and behold! they had kept the Swedish audio.
It’s a mother of a revenge movie, cult-wise, powerful and extremely worrying. It’s not of the Kill Bill kind mostly because its visual imagery switch between highly artistic – almost surrealist – and to the most extreme realism. The fighting scenes alone makes this a classic, and you wonder whether the scenes from the Matrix was inspired by it. The uneasy pace of the movie’s story makes you glued to the screen too, since there is no anticipating the action, and you’re thrown between waves of realistic abuse and Madeleine’s emotional life. I had to turn it off every time I was going outside for a cigarette, normally I let it play and watch it through the window, but this time I didn’t want to miss any thing at all. Brilliant.
The rape scenes, which are real hard-core pornography done by Christina Lindberg herself, did surprise me.
[Thriller] is revered as a predecessor to nihilistic rape-revenge films such as Baise-Moi for its use of hardcore during the rape sequences.
It’s not that I have anything against nudity or sexual content in film, but in most cases it is shot in a way that makes it uncalled for and even unnecessary, since it only creates an eventless gap between the steps of the story. In this movie, however, it does not interfere with the story of the film, it goes with it and all honour to director Vibenius for accomplishing that.
And it also makes you sick.
That’s also a great acchievement, since most sordid scenes have a tendency to be erotic when they shouldn’t be (take the 2nd version of Lolita, for example, which does no justice on Nabokov’s masterpiece nor Kubrick’s in-line interpretation).
I’ve read a few reviews on the net today, and some actually thinks the porn scenes didn’t match the movie. I disagree. In a movie where the main character, Madeleine, is unable to tell her story through words, it is vital that we at least get some hint at what she’s going through. And just leaving a few shots of her naked on the bed is not going to underline her trauma of prostitution. But let’s not get into a pseudo-ethical discussion now.
The story is very dark, as in cult, and contains some footage that justifies its ‘classics’ status. The deal with Madeleine’s parents, I tell you, if it had been a wee bit longer I would have began to cry. There’s also the sound effects or music, if you can call it that, that really keeps you in a limbo as to how to digest the images flowing in front of you. It’s not a superficial revenge movie, a description that would fit Kill Bill if you didn’t see the Kung Fu references, it’s rather a sinister realistic tale of what could actually happen. And, I’m afraid, what actually does happen.
And yes, this is the cult film in which they used a real corpse.
Just see the outtakes in the DVD, where you get the whole thing. Very modern art.
Big Thanks to Christina Lindberg for being one of the most drop dead gorgeous women on the planet.
I will check out some of her other flicks if I get the chance. Recommended.