Saturday, February 24, 2007

Hall of Strangeness Part II

The Adjuster – (Atom Egoyan) Unsettling depiction of the world’s most sympathetic insurance claims adjuster and his wife, who classifies and rates hardcore pornography. In a tangential story, a rich woman molds a hobo into her plaything and uses him to infiltrate the adjuster’s home under the guise of scouting a film location. The often inscrutable motivations of the characters lead to a chilling and shocking, but satisfying, conclusion.
Artistry: **** Fun: *** Strangeness: ****

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen – (Terry Gilliam) The fanciful stories of the 18th century soldier Baron Munchausen are brought to life in one of Gilliam greatest masterpieces. An aging Munchausen discovers his stories being poorly plagiarized on the eve of a Turkish invasion and is convinced by a young girl to relive his glories by reassembling his eccentric band of friends from places as varied as a volcano, a whale’s belly and the moon.
Artistry: **** Fun: **** Strangeness: *****

The Adventures of Priscella: Queen of the Desert – (Stephan Elliott) Hugo Weaving, Terence Stamp and Guy Pearce play a trio of disco-lip-synching drag-queens who set out in a pink bus for a gig on the opposite end of the Australian outback. As they stylishly overcome a variety of obstacles they become closer friends and more flamboyant performers.
Artistry: *** Fun: **** Strangeness: ***

Aelita: The Queen of Mars – (Yakov Protazanov) Aelita is an ahead-of-its-time Soviet sci-fi from 1924 about a scientist who murders his wife and flees to mars in a spaceship he builds. While there he is caught between his love of the queen and the rebelling proletariats who are tired of living in caves and being "refrigerated." Flaws include the incredibly long exposition (about an hour) and the structurally unsound ending but the highlights (some outrageously awesome costumes and sets along with laughable attempts at propaganda) tend to outweigh the problems.
Artistry: *** Fun: *** Strangeness: ***

Alice – (Jan Svankmajer) This Czech stop-start animation version of Alice in Wonderland only loosely follows the plot of the Lewis Carroll books but captures the spirit more than any other adaptation. Alternatively surreal, awe-inspiring and nightmarish, Alice packs more fresh imagery into its short running time than any randomly selected dozen Hollywood films.
Artistry: ***** Fun: *** Strangeness: *****

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