Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Hall of Strangeness Part V

Branded to Kill – (Seijun Suzuki) After years of churning out cheap Japanese studio fare in the 60’s (read: gangster films and softcore porn) iconoclastic director Suzuki started getting… weird. Leaving the script to drift in lower orbit, Suzuki tells the story of “Number 3 Killa,” an assassin with a rice fetish. After a butterfly lands in front of his sniper scope during the crucial moment of an important hit, he finds himself haunted by butterflies and stalked by the mythical “Number 1 Killa” in the ultimate game of cat-and-mouse.
Artistry: **** Fun: *** Strangeness: ****

Brazil – (Terry Gilliam) Easily Gilliam’s best work to date, Brazil is a comic 1984-esque vision of the dystopic future. A computing error leads to the death of the wrong man (it was supposed to be vigilante plumber, Harry Tuttle) and Sam Lowrey is in charge of the paperwork. Unsure of whether he’s working for the big-brother government or a terrorist organization, Lowrey’s life soon spins out of control.
Artistry: ***** Fun: ***** Strangeness: ****

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia - (Sam Peckinpah) Only once in his entire life was Peckinpah given full creative control and final cut on a film project. He makes the most of it in this dark twisted film about a Bennie, a loser who agrees to retrieve the head of a former nemesis for a pair of gay bounty hunters. The task should be easy considering that Garcia is already dead, but the ensuing bloodshed proves him very, very wrong.
Artistry: ** Fun: ** Strangeness: ***

Bubba Ho-Tep – (Don Coscarelli) Bruce Campbell plays Elvis Presley, long since escaped from the limelight and now pathetically fading in a southern retirement home. His spirits are revived when mysterious scarab-related deaths point towards a possible mummy. He teams up with the black JFK (the CIA altered his melanin so that no one would believe his identity) to send the foul creature back to the netherworld.
Artistry: ** Fun: ***** Strangeness: ****

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari – (Robert Wiene) A classic of German Expressionism, this silent film follows an evil hypnotist who uses a sleepwalker to carry out his murders. The director inventively chose to avoid using highly overrated 90 degree angles.
Artistry: **** Fun: *** Strangeness: ***


Mad Dog said...

Hopefully I can show you The Red Spectacles when next we meet. I feel it treads the same ground as Branded to Kill, but ends up being a more watchable, comprehensible movie. Or not. But I still liked it more.

magusart said...

Branded to Kill is fine and all but there's something in me that prefers Tokyo Drifter. Maybe it's the color, the music or that special Japanese flavor of homoeroticism.

FilmWalrus said...

"Branded to Kill" is my favorite Suzuki but "Tokyo Drifter" does have the qualities you mentioned plus an amazing pop-art-meets-art-deco finale and an amusing score too. So many of his films have something to recommend. The sleazily-titled "Gate of Flesh" has color-coded prostitutes slaughtering a cow. "Fighting Elegy" rather seriously shows the dangerous mounting nationalism and militarism and might be his best thematically. "Youth of the Beast" is full of delicious weirdness like an insidious "den of knitting" and a gangster who is insanely defensive about his mother. "Zigeunerweisen" may be an hour too long and a half-Lynch too confusing, but it does have crabs that are emitted from the genital region of blind beggar corpses. Strangest of all is "Pistol Opera" the impossibly trippy color remake of "Branded to Kill" (with the lead's gender reversed) from 2002. I'm still looking forward to the tacky extravaganza that "Princess Raccoon" is proported to be but I've yet to find a copy.