Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Hall of Strangeness Part XII

Even Dwarfs Started Small – (Werner Herzog) Inmates take over the asylum in this all-midget nightmare vision (the first all-midget flick since the musical western The Terror of Tiny Town). The destructive dwarfs set fire to whatever they can, torture their blind members and rig a van to spin in endless circles. Arty and often difficult to finish.
Artistry: *** Fun: * Strangeness: *****

Eyes without a Face – (Georges Franju) Driven by guilt after a car crash, a megalomaniacal plastic surgeon attempts to restore his daughters face by capturing young women and removing their skin. Needless to say, the daughter’s trauma is only compounded and the grafts don’t even take. Franju treats his pulpy source material as artistic ingredients allowing for unexpected moments of quiet beauty.
Artistry: *** Fun: *** Strangeness: *

Fallen Angel – (Wong Kar Wai) A sequel of sorts to Chungking Express, Fallen Angels matches the mood of the first film with two new stories of unrequited love. In one loosely-sewn plot thread a jaded assassin and his clean-up agent fall in love without having ever met (he intentionally leaves clues for her to find). Meanwhile an energetic entrepreneur aggressively runs other people’s stores during the dead of night (without the owner’s consent) and falls in love with a mysterious woman.
Artistry: **** Fun: **** Strangeness: **

Family Viewing – (Atom Egoyan) In a bleak suburban landscape dominated by the television (and occasionally shot in the same style) a dysfunctional family attempts to cope with each other and the apparent lack of meaning in their lives. With deadpan, often hilarious, dialogue and disturbing insights into sex, connectivity and the viewing experience, Egoyan creates a masterpiece of arty tragicomedy.
Artistry: **** Fun: *** Strangeness: ****

Faust (1994) – (Jan Svankmejer) Svankmejer’s adaptation of the classic Faust story strays far enough from the source to give even long-time fans a new take. Live action, claymation and puppetry are blended as a dazed man follows a mysterious map into an abandoned cathedral/theater compound and half-witnesses/half-participates in the Faust legend. Much of the seemingly random surreal imagery and events are “explained” in the clever, cyclical conclusion.
Artistry: **** Fun: **** Strangeness: ****

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