Tag Archives: desert

A Thought of Ecstasy

Director: Rolf Peter Kahl,
Starring: Rolf Peter Kahl, Ava Verne, Deborah Kara Unger, Lena Morris. Germany/USA. 1h 30m

This gentle murmur of a movie is half waking dream and half private investigation but the apparent nightmare that runs throughout its winding narrative is hidden behind a psychosexual noir.

A majority of the movie follows a bemused love sick German trailing around the American desert, in search for his estranged lover. With long sun bleached shots of the desert where naked bodies writhe together, mixed with elaborate sexual encounters set to pounding electronic soundtracks, the movie feels like a series of naughty dreams, but it’s easily missed quirk, is that the movie is strangely set in the near future, in an America going through a unusual heat wave and kind of political turmoil, this erotic thriller is science fiction as much as it’s art house, but the blend, while unusual is pretty captivating.

After finding a random book that reminds him of a heated love affair he had 20 years previous with a woman named Marie, Frank (Kahl) is spurred on by the reminder of their dark sexy fuelled romps, and immediately heads out to the USA to investigate the author. Her literary agent Liz (Unger) confirms the author is the same Marie, but has no contact details for her. Frank hangs around and meets a sex worker named Nina who sets up sophisticated scenarios with her colleague ?? and the pair record the sessions, Frank can’t help notice the similarity of Nina in both the women and becomes their cameraman in order to be closer to them, as he continues to read the book/journal about the mysterious Marie who he thought he knew but is only now discovering.

This is one of those movies where the journey is the movie, the destination is something you work out after the film had ended and that’s pretty unusual, but there’s a beautiful meandering sequence of sets and encounters to experience instead of gripping hold of a solid narrative and trying to mentally rip it apart, A Thought of Ecstasy forces it’s audience to sit back and feel and experience the delirium along with Frank.

Love is immortal. Seduction is Inevitable. Revenge is irresistible.

In-between scenes of Frank driving around the desert, reading Marie’s book, which runs like a journal of her time in the desert, his time alone is pretty dry, but once he’s with Nina and co, while she is a sex worker the movie slides into soft core porn, there’s plenty of nudity and sex, which I a lot of people were willing to trash it because of this, but accepting that it’s part of adult life the movie’s ability to shift totally is really impressive. Time seems to slow down, movements become like chorographical dance, is washed out sunny USA becomes soft and luxurious and very dark both in lighting and mood, this nightlife is very different and very seductive. You can see why Frank wants to be there, but the nagging feeling is that someone wants Frank to want to be there, and this is the big mystery which slowly unfolds to it’s resolute climax.

Rolf Peter Kahl, is the holy trinity of this project, director, writer and star, so while this is his all about him, you can only assume that the film is a perfect rendition of his original concept. It’s pretty easy to sit back and enjoy what’s put before you, it’s also impossible to just ignore that there is a bigger picture within a narrative that’s filled with naked bodies to move your attention away from the nitty gritty, or at least that’s how I felt about it.

On the surface it’s an attractive movie, but underneath all the softcore it’s a well of dark desires, death, a very distressing ending which is somewhat glazed over, but once you get it, it’s bloody brilliant if you can get through all the tits and art house it’s fully rewarding.

Rating 6/10

R: Amer (2009)
L: Desert Trip

Post Discussion

Jauja (2014)

Director: Lisandro Alonso
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Ghita Nørby, Viilbjørk Malling Agger. UK. 1h 49m

Sometimes I watch a movie and I’m left with a feeling of nostalgia hinted with the question of did I really just watch a dream come to life on screen? There’s a rare select group of directors who can achieve this unique atmosphere but the determined efforts of Lisandro Alonso and Viggo Mortensen have made a movie which starts out quite straight forwards eventually boils down to a crazy trip in the desert, akin to any modern classic but it’s set in the past and it almost fools you into thinking that such a step into the unknown is not plausible. Continue reading Jauja (2014)

Sand Serpents (2009)

Director: Jeff Renfroe
Starring:Jason Gedrick, Tamara Hope, Elias Toufexi, Sebastian Knapp, Chris Jarman. Canada. 1h 30m

Like a strange warped version of Monsters: Dark Continent (2014), blended with Jarhead (2005)and Tremors (1990), Sand Serpents doesn’t really feature a nest of deadly vipers as I expected instead the foes are more like miniature versions of the adorable Dune (1984) like sand worms but with a blood thirsty taste for human flesh.

A small group of US Army Soldiers become stranded in the remote Afghan desert, but against all odds and while teaming up with a father and daughter team from the local region they battle the Taliban and the epic worm like creatures from an unknown source, not something covered in basic training. Continue reading Sand Serpents (2009)

Vanishing Point (1971)

Director: Richard C. Sarafian.
Starring. Barry Newman, Cleavon Little, Dean Jagger USA. 1h 38m.

I have some vague recollections of watching this film as a kid, which prompted me to revisit many years ago and I totally fell in love with Kowalski his amphetamine fueled ride through the desert, in one of my all time favourite cars, a gorgeous Dodge Challenger RT 440 Magnum; taking grindhouse to the brink with some strong biblical and mythical undertones, accompanied over the radio by a blind messiah and awesome rock music, for me it’s the perfect combination. Most movie lovers will cite Steve McQueens Bullit (1968) as being one of the best car chase movies, and while I can’t disagree I think this film is brilliant contender for the top spot.

Everything about the film is under the surface, but on the face of things, it’s just a guy who’s hired to get a car from point a to point b in the quickest possible time, after visiting his dealer, he fills up on Benzedrine pills and makes a bet to be there a day sooner, hops in a Dodge and heads out on a daring adventure filled with pretty unusual characters. Continue reading Vanishing Point (1971)

The Toybox (2018)

Director: Tom Nagel
Starring: Denise Richard, Mischa Barton, Jeff Barton Jeff Denton, Brian Nagel, Greg Cioland, Matt Mercer, Greg Violand. USA. 1h 35m.

There’s so much to like about the bare bones of this movie, a haunted RV with a dark past entwined with hints of a real serial killer, that takes a family hostage and starts killing them, you just can’t go wrong? Sadly something was definitely lost when translated to film, but I really enjoyed the film but find it hard to defend, yes it’s a BMovie, albeit slightly polished it creates a great grimey atmosphere and at times comes across as plausible but every now and again it just drops into the damned awful bin and struggles to get out.

A slightly more than average emaciated and botoxed Denise Richards heads up the estranged family heading out on their vacation in a second hand RV with a deadly past. The RV was purchased at a highly discounted price by Charles (Violand), as a promise to his now late wife, he wants to reconcile with his two sons and offers to take them and their families out on a road trip. Continue reading The Toybox (2018)

The Bunny Game (2011)

Director: Adam Rehmeier
Starring: Rodleen Getsic, Jeff F Renfro, USA. 1h  16m

Bunny Game is one of those movies I kept seeing when asking for a list of Disturbing movies but not one that anyone really rated. Supposedly based on a true story experienced by the leading lady Rodleen Getsic, who co wrote the story, there’s a harrowing experience laid out that I feel deserves a lot of credit.
The broad stroke of the  movie details a terrible event for a young prostitute looking for her next date and a hot meal. Bunny, as she’s later known, opens the film with a blowjob, it’s an actual blowjob which is probably the reason why this film is so unliked, there’s some real sex involved, something you’d expect from a movie about a prostitute right? But obviously not something film goers actually want to see?

Bunny is doing ok, scoring some dates and drugs, she take a break, has a snack and gets back to work, later on in the day she does a bit too much oh the ole white and is robbed, coming around she realises her last date took all her cash and stash. Devastated she sobers up a little and heads out to start all over again. But her luck has run out and she end up climbing into a van with Hog. At first he appears to be a an old trucker who might be interested in a bit of old relish but soon he’s huffing gas, and chasing Bunny through the desert wearing his leather pig mask. Continue reading The Bunny Game (2011)

Es ist nicht leicht ein Gott zu sein  / Hard to be a God (1989)

Director: Peter Fleischmann.
Original book same title by
Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
Starring. Alexander Philippenko, Edward Zentara, Werner Herzog. Russia/USSR/(West)Germany. 1h 59m.

While trying to get hold of the second remake of Hard to be a God (2013) I noticed a resurgence of the earlier remake from the 80’s and managed to watch them in chronological  order, not that it matters much as they are two extremely different movies which look at different fragments of a brilliant science fiction story, originally written by Arkand and Boris Strugatsky, this is a simplistic version of a deeper more complicated story but it’s easier to watch and at times stomach more than the 2013 version.

On another planet out in the vast universe a simple civilisation is going through their Medieval period and it’s quite similar to ours, this has sparked interest in the more advanced cultures, namely us! An employee of the institute of experimental history from Earth is sent to this planet disguised as a noble named Rumata of Estor and he’s tasked to observe the culture and find the previous person who was sent there to also observe, another spy who has perished while trying to raise an unlucky coup against the main palace and Rumata has to take his place as a resident. He soon discovers that many of the 30 others have also perished in this harsh society and is soon pulled into the next coup Soon he meets all the horrors of medieval society, war, palace coups, mass executions, peasantry and they prove to be too barbaric for scientist, and he’s disgusted to find out that people are slaughtered if they are considered to be too intellectual, and thus keeping the society in a permanent state of Medieval life. Continue reading Es ist nicht leicht ein Gott zu sein  / Hard to be a God (1989)

It stains the sands red (2016)

 

Day 6 – It Stains the Sands Red

Director: Colin Minihan
Starring: Brittany Allen, Juan Riedinger, Merwin Mondesir Canada. 1h 32m.

On days when I’m laid up with the flu I usually end up watching a terrible b movie while hallucinating on extreme flu remedies, it tends to make the film more enjoyable, that time I did this I watched Chemical Peel, this year I watched It Stains the Sands Red and I really enjoyed this offbeat zombie drama.
Molly, a powder sniffing pole dancer with a few daddy issues gets stranded in the desert while being hunted down by one lone unrelenting zombie. At first she enjoying keeping a few paces ahead of the foul smelling ghoul but soon she realises that the zombie doesn’t need to rest but strangely she forms a bond with it and the ordeal turns out to be therapy for the demons that have been chasing Molly all of her life. Continue reading It stains the sands red (2016)