Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Hall of Strangeness Part XI

The Draughtsman’s Contract – (Peter Greenaway) A multifaceted riddle, The Draughtsman’s Contract challenges viewers to solve a mystery whose clues are hidden in the landscapes being drawn by an upstart artist. Uncovering the twisted agendas of all the players (including a suspiciously active statue) reveals an intricate web unlike any spun before.
Artistry: ***** Fun: ** Strangeness: ***

Drowning by Numbers – (Peter Greenaway) Three generations of women named Cissie drown their husbands. They sequentially offer the coroner sexual favors to cover their tracks while the surrounding community becomes increasingly suspicious. Throughout the film a variety of original, obscure games (my favorite is “Sheep and Tides” but “Hangman’s Cricket” is easily the most complicated) are played and attentive audiences can spend multiple viewing finding the consecutive numbers 1 through 100 hidden throughout the scenes.
Artistry: *** Fun: *** Strangeness: ****

El Topo (The Mole) – (Alejandro Jodorowsky) A lone gunman forces his nude son to bury his teddy bear and a picture of his mother in the desert. When they return to their village they find it wiped out and vow to eliminate the fetish-ridden banditos who did the deed. Trading his son to Franciscan monks for a woman, El Topo is seduced into searching out and dueling the four great gun masters, a surreal adventure that spans several years. After being betrayed by lesbians, El Topo is rescued by a clan of deformed mountain-dwellers who incorporate him into their messiah mythology during his multi-decade slumber. Upon awakening he fulfills his prophetic duty only to bear witness to terrible tragedy. Origination of the midnight movie and still one of the best cult films after more than 35 years.
Artistry: ***** Fun: **** Strangeness: *****

Elements of Crime – (Lars Von Trier) A hypnotized detective recalls his disturbing investigation of murdered lotto ticket salesgirls in a German-esque post-war Europe. Wading through a thick atmosphere of orange and turquoise, the detective finds that his method of getting into the killer’s head may be self-destructive for both himself and his blind, discredited mentor. Just about the densest mise-en-scene ever arranged and some of the most profound Boschian imagery committed to celluloid make Elements of Crime a visual masterpiece, despite its pessimism, sexism, nihilism and suffocating mood of spiritual/physical decay.
Artistry: ***** Fun: * Strangeness: *****

Eraserhead – (David Lynch) Lynch’s first film remains a landmark of avant-garde experimentation. Henry Spencer is a timid man in an eerie minimalist nightmare filled with ambient noise, stark landscapes and inscrutable symbolism. When his unwanted child turns out to be an inhuman monstrosity, his life goes into freefall. Beautiful in its B/W photography and industrial wasteland set pieces, Lynch manages to turn the psyche inside out and create a world where everything from identity crisis to sexual insecurities to half-forgotten dream imagery takes physical form and lingers in the crackling darkness to haunt our lives. Ambiguous to the core, Eraserhead us to decide such existential queries as whether a deformed, diminutive singer living inside a radiator foretells redemption or insanity?
Artistry: ***** Fun: *** Strangeness: *****


The-Iron-Inspector said...

Hi Keith, Great to see you doing a review of 'El Topo'. Jodorowsky is an incredible writer/director. Holy Mountain is a joy to watch. I would have loved to see his interpretation of 'Dune', although we certainly get to see some of the ideas and visuals he would have used in his comics-'The Metabarons' Anyway, heres hoping Jodorowsky makes 'Sons of El Topo'

FilmWalrus said...

Hey Iron, I'm glad to hear you share the Jodorowsky love. I've never read any of his comics by I used to see some pass through a library where I worked a while back. I'll have to indulge myself sometime and check one out.

As a side note, my name is not Keith, but Brian (although Film Walrus works as an alias too). Now we've been formally introduced!

The-Iron-Inspector said...

S**T, sorry Brian, Whats worse than people getting your name wrong?!? Sorry again!