Tag Archives: surreal

Wounds (2019)

Director: Babak Anvari .
Starring. Armie Hammer, Dakota Johnson, Zazie Beetz. USA. 1h 34m.

This strange and dutifully tragic movie owes a lot to Cronenberg and H.P Lovecraft despite opening with a quote from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, that ends with “it echoed loudly within him because he was hollow at the core”. It’s hard to recognise the significance at this early stage of the movie but recalling back to the character it’s now easy to see how the main characters overall weakness as a human being made him so vulnerable for the nightmare that is about to unfold before his eyes. Continue reading Wounds (2019)

Kuso (2017)

Director: Flying Lotus.
Starring. David Firth, George Clinton, USA. 1h 45m.

I have to be totally honest when I say that I really don’t know how to describe or classify this movie, which makes it way more interesting for me I’ve watched it twice know and while I’m morbidly obsessed with it, there’s so much I can’t deal with while watching it.

If I had known that the movie was made by Flying Lotus with David Firth as back up I could have been properly prepared, but I chanced upon this by total accident. The film has a loose wrap around plot to which 5 stories are attached, split up into small segments and clouded with experts only suitable for a deranged subculture on the edge. Continue reading Kuso (2017)

Amer (2009)

Director: Helene Cattet, Bruno Forzani.
Starring: Charlotte Eugene-Guibbaud, Cassandra Foret, Marie Bos, Bianca, Maria D’Amato, Harry Cleven, Delphine Crual Belgium/France. 1h 30m.

There has been a lot of talk about this being the beginning of a new wave of Giallo, for a lover of the macabre like myself this was immensely exciting news. I have been into Giallo for a long time now, and while I find new oddities from time to time, it’s getting rarer so to experience new films from the eccentric genre, I eagerly sought out these new wave films.

I was pleasantly surprised not only does the movie has heavy Giallo imagery the story is somewhat diverse, more experimental and a feast of the senses but not entirely Giallie, but something more avant garde that i found myself submerged in. The story is all about Ana and her development from a curious youngster who blossoms into a stunning temptress with dark secrets.

The film is cleverly divided between three distinct sections, the first shows Ana as a plucky little tyke, played by Cassandra Forêt, she crept around the dark mansion, a shadowy figure, possibly her grandmother skulks around with a heavy mantilla layered with black lace, awaiting the death of her husband who’s resting in one of the many bedrooms. the chapter is presented in extremely dark primary colours, flashing light to dark and contrasted to the highest levels, eyes are key here, they are staring from every corner, constantly watching the girl.. Ana is after his pocket watch and fully aware that the shadowy figure is keeping a close eye on her, rooms are locked with heavy keys and eyes are often staring through keyholes, but she managed to get her hands on his watch by using a gold cross to break his post mortem, arthritic hands and is then attacked by the dark covered hands of her grandmother, while running away she bursts in on her parents having some pretty rough sex, and is obviously affected for life.

During the brighter second chapter Ana is now older, a teenager who is beginning to realise that she’s desired.. while accompanying her mother to the hair salon in the local village, the sun shines on them, and through the active camera and vivid sounds again the senses are alive with motion, sounds so crisp and loud that the force all of the senses into action Ana is painfully aware of her mother’s aging, she slips while walking in her heels, isn’t her hair a little greyer? Ana, now played by Charlotte Eugène Guibeaud notices people lurking in the shadows, watching her, when asked to wait outside with the other children she stumbles on a group of bikers and begins to parade herself in front of them when she’s slapped into reality by her mother and they return home, but it’s clear to see that she likes the bad boy influence.

In the final chapter, the now adult Ana has morphed into Marie Bos and is taking the arduous trip back to her now dilapidated family home, the taxi driver dons his black leather gloves and switches on a tiny fan, the seat burns her legs and she opens the window while noticing that the driver is eye banging her. While making herself at home she notices that the taxi driver has returned and another dark figure with black gloves and a razorblade. This final throw of the movie is the closest to the Giallo flavour which the film is famed for having the night scenes look as if they have fallen straight out of the heights of Gialloism. If you give the movie a chance and feel it as much as watching it, there’s a chance you’ll get a taste for it’s deep psycho sexual flavours and deep terrifying puzzles. Amer is a prolonged tease, certainly something to get fully immersed into and not to be taken lightly.

It’s strange and disturbing, a total tantalizing for all the sense, an experience more than a movie, clearly crafted in highly unique chapters by Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani, a pair of directors who cut no corners and went full throttle into this deep mystery. But this was only their first step into the strange unknown, they later went onto create something a step closer away from a narrative in The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears in 2013 and then Let the Corpses Tan in 2017.

To pin down the film will only do it injustice as conjure a rare fantasy world and phantoms which cannot be described but picked out from between the fabric of the movie itself.

The film is simply another wild ride of the new wave of Giallo which will hopefully start to pick up pace or at least be propped up by many more titles from this fearless duo.

Rating 8/10

RThe strange colours of your body’s tears (2013), Tulpa (2012), Let the Corpses Tan (2017)
L – New Wave of Giallo

Post Discussion

Eraserhead (1977)

Director: David Lynch
Starring: John Nance, Charlotte Stewart, Judith Anna Roberts. USA . 1h 49m

A cult classic surreal black and white masterpiece… to some.. But not for me! I’m not going to bullshit, I’ve never been really into Eraserhead, I adore black and white movies and I really love surreal art (something I paint myself) and films. I’ve never been heavily into Lynch and for me this film is creepy, unusual but nothing all that special. I feel that there are two types of surreal movies, the first is a movie which is all out surreal, no easy to follow story line and completely wacky, for argument sake Dali’s Un Chien Andalou (1929), and there are other films which have a pretty liner storyline but just go about it in random ways.. Much like this one. Continue reading Eraserhead (1977)

Naked Lunch (1991)

Director: David Cronenberg
Based on – Naked Lunch by William S Burroughs
Starring: Peter Welller, Judy Davis, Ian Holm, Julian Sands, Roy Scheider. Canada, Japan, UK. 1h 55m

This bold, Kafkaesque putrid remake of the legendary novel by William S Burroughs, is possibly as vivid and imaginative as the original book, but if you’ve read the book you’ll realise that no film could ever really be a true adaptation, so the screenplay is a metatextual adaption. Detailing characters and scenes from a complex novel and other works from Burroughs, both fictional and from his journal and the events which lead to the 1951 death of Joan Vollmer, Burroughs’s common law wife.  So while it’s not entirely Naked Lunch, it should at least FEEL like Naked lunch and at times it feels a lot like Burroughs but slightly more coherent.

As a surreal autobiographic piece the film follows the life of William Lee, who is basically Burroughs, a bug exterminator who discovers his wife is stealing his insecticide and using it to get high. Lee is arrested and starts hallucinating because of his exposure to the powder. Believing that he’s a secret agent  he beings a strange relationship with two handlers, one is a insect typewriter and an alien “Mugwump“. The typewriter assigns him a mission of killing Joan, she’s allegedly an agent of an organization called “Interzone”, Lee dismisses this notion but on returning home he finds Joan having sex with a friend and kills her, inadvertently carrying out the mission, he flees to interzone, a city in North Africa where he spends his time writing reports to his handlers, this slowly becomes the Naked Lunch book and after taking more mind altering drugs and getting a new typewriter, a Clark Nova, this insect  stresses that he needs to find Dr Benway by seducing Joan Frost who’s a doppelganger of his dead wife and then things get really weird, and with the addition of a drug that is made from a centipede. Continue reading Naked Lunch (1991)

Alps (2012)

Director: Giorgos Lanthimos.

Starring.  Aggeliki Papoulia, Aris Servetalis, Johnny Verkis, Ariane Labed, Maria Kirozi. Greece. 1h 33m.

After the amazing Dogtooth (2009) project, Lanthimos was a closely watched director, but his next project seemed like an amazing idea on paper but even with his surreal approach to film, personally I felt as if he missed his own target by being too realistic and not fantastical enough, or maybe the hype train mutated my anticipations to a level that not even a great director could reach.

ALPS is part is about a group of therapists who set up a business to allow families to get through the grieving process by supplying them with “trained” actors to play the roles of their loved ones, so they can have those precious last moments with them, say goodbye or to just have the feeling that they are still around for a few days. The drawbacks are that the actors don’t look like the people they are impersonating and they have to improvise on details the families give to them, hand written scripts and a few left over clothes but they make do, as method actors are especially adapted to do. Continue reading Alps (2012)

Hong Fen Bing Tuan / Golden Queen Commando (1982)

Director: Kevin Chu.
Starring. Brigitte Lin, Sally Yeh, Loretta Yang, Teresa Tsui, Sylvia Peng  Taiwan. 1h 30m.

I’m not sure which came first, Golden Queen or Pink Force as they were both made in 1982(?) but these explosive action adventure Commando movies often have each other’s scenes spliced into one another. Personally I found Pink Force to be way more thrilling with its stronger western themes and total kookiness, but that doesn’t mean that this prison based flick is worse, but it has very different themes with an almost identical cast.

Golden Queen Commando opens with some Visual Kei gang leader playing cards with some street gangster types when a fight breaks out despite her fast shooting the police crash the party and she’s sent to prison, other short vignettes for other criminal women (Black Fox, Clack Cat, Dynamite, Sugar Plum, Amazon, Brandy and Quick Silver (our stunning card shark)), each with their own special skill and extreme costume all end with them being sent to the same nazi war prison.

Things being to heat up when one of the women starts to antagonise the others while getting a feeling for their strengths and weaknesses. And they slowly hatch a plan to escape and to kill the vile fat nazi warden and his henchmen and then head out to destroy a WWII nazi chemical lab. But not before they being total chaos and mayhem with their unique fighting skills, and all looking totally beautiful within the prison walls..

Control of tone is essential to any film but this is kicked into the wind and blasted to pieces, the film had no formula and that’s what makes it a marvellous and highly entertaining bonkers exploitations flick. The final act is highlighted with a soundtrack from Ennio Morricone which makes this a hash up of the Dirty Dozen (1967) / Magnificent 7 (1960)a la psychotronic style. Obviously there is a stunning finale and the scene which sees a spy outed is straight out of an X-Japan music video. All round fun and frolics that’s hard to ever forget.

Rating 5/10

RPink Force Commando (1982), Love Massacre (1981),
L – A-Z of Taiwan Cinema Vol 1.
A – Pink Cinema
Vs –  Pink Force Commando Vs Golden Queen Commando.

Post Discussion

 

06 (Creepy) Stop Motion Short Films

01.You Could Sunbathe In This Storm

D: Alice Dunseath

A deep exploration os you and i and we and us. Using the poem The Old Men Admiring Themselves In The Water – Poem by William Butler Yeats. The film is a very unique blend of stop motion, mostly made from what looks like clay objects rather than a softer molding material, and at one point it turns into a crystal growing project. It’s touching and emotive.

Continue reading 06 (Creepy) Stop Motion Short Films

Dr Tarr’s Torture Dungeon (1973)

AKA The Mansion of Madness

Director:Juan López Moctezuma .
Starring.Claudio Brook, Arthur Hansel, Ellen Sherman. Marin LaSalle. Susana Kamini. Mexico. 1h 39m.

The concept of this darkly macabre path into insanity is simple, the inmates have taken over the asylum. This  vision of madness come from the king of the unusual, the film is loosely based on Edgar Allan Poe’s The System of Dr Tarr and the Professor Feather.  A reporter (Brook) and his entourage have been invited to 19th century asylum hidden deep in the woods, their guide promises easy access but they are confronted by two armed guards, eventually they are let in and split up, the reporter takes one route while his beloved is chased through the woods and abused. After meeting various groups of people acting out wildly in the forest he meets the megalomaniac who’s running the whole affair and soon realises that the inmates have taken over and the prisoners are the redundant staff. In the absence of medical care they are left to their own crazy devices and act out their basest fantasies and have incredibly surreal urges. Continue reading Dr Tarr’s Torture Dungeon (1973)

Borgman (2013)

borgman

quickflick-1.jpg

Stunning, imaginative, steeped in folklore with dark sadistic tendencies. This film blew me away and back again.It’s a little hard to explain the story but the film kicks off with the Borgman being evicted by some locals headed by a priest, he’s living in an underground house, along with some buddies he flees and strangely attaches himself to a family and instantly starts to prey upon the woman of the household slowly manipulating her to bend to his will, he sits on her chest at night giving her nightmares that influences her daily activities.

Soon after he arrives a few of his accomplices start their own terror spree and eventually ties up with his actions at the home, and after killing and sinking some people with concrete hats they soon join him to put on a show and finalise their operations on the children at the household.

Darkly surreal and sinister, it will creep you out and puzzle you for days.

So while all of this is going on the film itself is is littered with surreal clips, very gritty drama and close ties in European folklore and struggles with linking all of this in with modern social issues. There is nothing solid about how the character, the Borgman was developed, to me he seemed to be similar to a German entity called an Alp, but not in the way that I know.

It’s curious and attentive to details, with the surreal additions it makes it even more curious, it’s lavish with details and stunning scenery and drama, It’s just plain bizarre but it really draws you in with a slight slip of the story like a magician revealing and hiding the trick, once you think you know  what’s going on it changes but keeps you fully involved along the way.

I instantly fell in love with film, in the same way as Dogtooth (2014), it has a similar quality to it in both atmosphere and style. a real but unreal movie, that’s totally bizarre but masqueraded as a “normal” film.

10/10

Full review and Post discussion coming soon.. because there is so many questions to address.