* This post may contain spoilers *
Seeing this was totally incidental. Me and two friends had been out for dinner, celebrating our geniuses with a plate of beef and fried potato chips swimming in bernaise, when one of us had to leave. The other two, including yours truly, were up for more coffee and more action. Since this was yesterday, a regular Tuesday, we didn’t want to get drunk. We ended up going to the cinema, and among the films we could want to see was Taxidermia. It lived up to its expectations and more than that. To explicate? It is the only movie I’ve seen where the little girl from H.C. Andersen’s fairy tale The Little-Match Seller gives a pedo handjob. In other words, this is a very dark comedy.
The movie takes us through three generations of men, each with his own life-fulfilling obsession.The first one is the sexually frustrated Vendel, a Soviet soldier in Hungary who spends his time masturbating to mental images of his lieutenant’s wife and daughters. I was intruiged by the ingenuity of this character, and the photographer has done some brilliant shots with Vendel and his candle light. His frequent seed spillage spawns a bastard child in the lieutenant’s wife, whom is given the name Kálmán, born with a terrible appetite.
Kálmán’s obsession is food (but you could just as well say honour and fame). He’s a Hungerian champion in eating contests. This segment almost made me puke a couple of times. At the same time it was hilarous, underlining the insanity of civilization, and let’s not forget, fat kids are always funny. This part also had some touching moments, and was probably the "most normal" part of the entire film. Kálmán fathers a son named Lajos.
Lajos is not obsessed with eating. His obsession is taxidermia, stuffing dead animals with sand. As a son of the now mentally insane and grossly huge Kálmán, he grows a profound love for the eternal, the beautiful and classical, which brings him to widely drastic measures to keep himself eternal. A lot of people left during this part and it’s not for everyone to see. It was rated ‘adult’ (18 year old) and I agree with this rating. I must admit, however, that when we left the theatre I was hungry. It is recommended to those who love bizarre and dark movies. A great experience! And I congratulate on the brilliant, but down-played effects, and not to mention a great feat castingwise. There are some really convincing and strangely hugable people in this movie. They are, in their faults, so very human.
Oh, and if anyone can tell me the name of the actress playing the cashier in the third part, please do!
Having seen Thriller: A cruel picture I was obsessed for a little while with revenge movies. The next two films fall into that category and was bought exclusively because of their reputation.
Death Wish (1974)
This film wasn’t merely as psychologically driven as I had been hoping for. But given the time it was made I’d say it was quite a brutal film anyway, although poorly followed through in some respects. We follow Paul Kersey, an architect for a firm stationed in New York, a city of millions where crime rates are running wild. A gang of street freaks (one played by the very young Jeff Goldblum) robs, rapes and murders Kersey’s wife and daughter. The lack of emotional outlet those times, and Kersey’s wish to go on with his life, brings him for a while to Texas on a land assessment. Here he’s re-introduced to firearms, and is given one as a gift from the landowner. From this point on, Kersey begins his hidden life as a NY vigilante.
This movie is more action/thriller than revenge. Revenge movies from the 70’s and up till today mostly builds on the social connection between the violators and the revenger. Kersey, however, has no face to pin to the murderers of his wife and rapists of his daughter. This weakens the story a bit, and you don’t sympathize with the full aspect of his killing spree. But it’s still good entertainment.
Straw Dogs (1971)
Without going into any of the tell-tale details, this is the most eery revenge movie I’ve seen. And since I saw it the first time I’ve had a couple of more run-throughs, and it’s still eerie. Kudos to Dustin Hoffman and Susan George for their convincing play. This movie is so complicated in terms of emotional content, that you feel kind of dirty when it’s over. And for a while you don’t know who to sympathize with. The threatening country violence that plays the most important and at the same time invisible role in this flick, is staged by Sam Peckinpah who allegedly encouraged physical violence during and between shooting the movie. There were times where a few of the actors had genuine fear for their well-being. This is captured on screen. Compared to contemporary revenge movies like Old Boy, who’s pretty straight forward once the plot is laid out, Straw Dogs is deeper and darker. It’s not for the faint of heart.
And now for something completely different.
Mission: Impossible (1996)
I saw this not long after it got out on VHS. It’s a great action movie, and I saw it when it was aired last weekend. I expect you all know the plot, but I want to focus on the major differences between Mission Impossible and its talentless sequels. The original comes close to the same type of action movie that we saw in the mid nineties. That is: Quality action. It’s got all the nifty little things that you want (inherited from James Bond’s arsenal), a satisfying dose of action, a good, intricate plot that doesn’t reveal itself too soon and character interaction resembling that of Ronin. And it does not try to impress ticket money out of us, it stands in its own right, not in the right of special FX makers. Tom Cruise is good for the role, and he can act (although it’s often doubted) as confirmed by his performance in Eyes Wide Shut. But seeing later MI movies is just a major disappointment. That’s why I thought I’d nail it up here once and for all; good action makes for a good movie, but it requires more than whatever it is they try to fake nowadays. And it depends crucially on a good story and good actors, as demonstrated in this flick.
The other MI films (and later Cruise acting as well) simply sucks.
La Bête (1975)
The name Borowczyk (director) is often associated with off-beat cult movies oriented around sexual exploration and investigation of sexual dogma. This film, that I accidentally saw at Le Cinemateque here in Oslo one evening, is among the latter. You could say that it’s an exploitation of the Beauty and the Beast cliché, or concept if you will, but the movie also tries to be a humorous undressing of our social facades.
Here be the marriage of two young people, arranged by their posh families (one French and the other American), which requires the blessing of the cardinal, while the "innocent" are either dreaming intensely of sex or doing it in the free guest rooms, closets etc.
The acting is quite good, and I did enjoy the story. It’s set on the French countryside, mid-summer, and the movie sets off with several long shots of horses in copulation. From that point you’ve been warned of what’s coming.
Forgetting the time it was produced for a moment, the quote unquote erotic scenes starring Finnish (porn) actress Sirpa Lane and a beast with an enormous, dripping phallos seem like a badly produced 80’s porn flick. Except from the loud-playing baroque music, which takes them to a different level and makes it all worthwhile. Same scenes rose quite a stirr at the time they were made.
Borowczyk likes to play with symbolism, and this film is no exception. He’s also famous for his brilliant casting of really, awesomely, thrillingly beautiful girls, whom spend most of their time on the silver screen in the nude. Pascale Rivault reminded me of Anapola Mushkadiz (Ana picture) and Lisbeth Hummel played her role as the nymphomaniac bride-to-be brilliantly. I loved the rose scene. Great visuals and good fun!