Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Hall of Strangeness Part X

The Descent – (Neil Marshall) Nicknamed by the cast and crew as “Six Chicks with Picks,” The Descent is a harrowing horror flick about six women who go spelunking in an unexplored cave. Almost immediately sealed off by a cave-in the unfortunate sextet must contend with the absolute darkness and mind-tearing claustrophobia, both transmitted unmitigated to the audience. It doesn’t help that their supplies are dwindling, their interpersonal ties breaking down and their sanity questioned by movements deep within the abyss. Inspirational in its use of an all-female cast (similar to 8 Women but opposite in tone) and its pitiless atmosphere of terror despite average acting and some obvious plot holes.
Artistry: **** Fun: ***** Strangeness: *

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeois - (Luis Bunuel) This surreal, episodic glimpse into French mid-century social satire concerns a group of upper-class houseguests who perpetually fail to eat dinner. They’re cordial banquet is interrupted by a progressively stranger series of events including a funeral, sexual encounters, a military maneuver and the audience.
Artistry: *** Fun: ** Strangeness: *****

Dog Star Man – (Stan Brakhage) A 1960’s staple of avant-garde experimentation, Dog Star Man remains one the most difficult and demanding cult films, owing in no small part to its non-narrative structure, tedious pacing and needless repetition. Divided into four parts, Brakhage creates a work of video art that tells a fragmented creation myth by oscillating between the cosmological and the microscopic, stopping frequently in between to allow Brackage to walk his dog in the snow and battle with a tree. Discontent with traditional filmic techniques, Brakhage makes use of 5-layer super-impositions and elaborately scratches and paints-over the film emulsion itself. Not for all tastes.
Artistry: *** Fun: * Strangeness: *****

Dogville – (Lars Von Trier) The first of Trier’s American/Grace trilogy, Dogville tells the story of a big-city girl who hides out from gangsters in the small town of Dogville. Local humanist philosopher Tom immediately falls in love and helps convince the town to take her in… with unexpected results. Filmed on a single set with few props and no walls (chalk outlines and pantomime stand in wherever needed), Trier trenchantly provokes American audiences once again. Followed by Manderlay and Washington.
Artistry: **** Fun: * Strangeness: ***

Donkey Skin – (Jacques Demy) Catherine Deneuve stars in this fantasy musical that, while presumably aimed at children, will likely strike a note of uncertainty in most viewers. The blue king, distressed by the death of his beautiful wife, decides to marry his daughter and only her fairy aunt seems to think this is a major problem. After senselessly convincing the princess to demand impossible gowns (such as “weather” and “moon” colored dresses) she eventually demands the skin of the king’s jewel-excreting donkey. Using the carcass, she disguises herself as an ugly wench and soon falls in love with the red prince. The light and sugary pop songs cover such topics as incest and baking love cakes.
Artistry: *** Fun: **** Strangeness: ****

2 comments:

Mad Dog said...

From what I hear, Dogville should've just been three hours of Lars taking a giant crap on America.

Patrick said...

Jeez, Brian - I go to Germany for a weekend and come back to find ten posts on your blog.