Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Hall of Strangeness Part XV

The Incubus – (Leslie Stevens) Sex, horror, William Shatner (pre-Star Trek fame) and Esperanto. This movie has it all! The cocky tagline declares that “Time can not fade the brilliance that is… THE INCUBUS!!!” The ambition is matched by the director’s attempt to do for Esperanto what The Jazz Singer did for sound and The Wizard of Oz did for color. The only problem is that the so-called “universal language” thing never caught on, and neither did the movie. Earnestly tries to borrow from Ingmar Bergman to hilarious and awkwardly mixed results. Creepy goat thrown in for free.
Artistry: *** Fun: *** Strangeness: ****

Irma Vep – (Olivier Assayas) Irma Vep (anagram alert) is the story of a French director intent on remaking a Les Vampires, a silent 7-hour vampire jewel-thief film (it’s a real movie) with Hong Kong martial artist Maggie Cheung as the lead. Cheung agrees and although she is initially unsure of whether she shares the director’s vision (which includes donning a skin-tight leather outfit and moving like a cat) she begins to hypnotically incorporate the character’s larcenous behavior into her real life. The cast and crew suffer from the usual plague of backstage difficulties, but when the director’s rushes are finally revealed, everyone is in for a surprise. Cheung is superb and the final five minutes are divine.
Artistry: **** Fun: **** Strangeness: ***

The Isle – (Kim Ki-Duk) A mute woman rents out color-coded boathouses to fishermen and prostitutes. When a murderer on the lam hides out in one of the boats, she falls in love… sort of. One of the most stomach-churning love stories ever told. The simple image of a two fishhook making a heart shape stays with the viewer for an uncomfortably long time.
Artistry: **** Fun: * Strangeness: ****

Johnny Guitar – (Nicholas Ray) This 1954 Joan Crawford/Sterling Hayden western was several decades ahead of its time in sheer weirdness and guts. The main plot concerns the bitter rivalry between saloon owner Vienna and cattle rancher Emma. Vienna has hired eccentric bodyguard Johnny Guitar to help her but most of the men in the film are so weak and indecisive that they take a backseat to the women’s formidable performances. Vienna’s outfit served as the blueprint (redprint?) for James Dean’s in Rebel without a Cause.
Artistry: *** Fun: *** Strangeness: ***

Kamikaze Girls – (Tetsuya Nakashima) This absurdist female buddy-film became a surprise Japanese hit upon its release. Our narrator is the emotionally detached Momoko (“I felt like crying when I saw her delight. I, who coldly watched wild animals die. Was it lack of sleep?”) who flaunts her obsession with the rococo era by wearing frilly custom-designed dresses and avoiding anything resembling work. She meets Ichigo, a talkative head-butting member of a motorcycle gang and the two form an unlikely friendship. Funny, fashionable and almost touching.
Artistry: **** Fun: ***** Strangeness: ****


Mad Dog said...

First Film Walrus mention of a Yoko Kanno film!

Who cares if she's not a director.

Unknown said...

I thought that Kamikaze girls could not live up to its cult fandom acclaim, but it totally did.