Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Hall of Strangeness Part XVI

Kind Hearts and Coronets – (Robert Hamer) Often considered the finest dark comedy of the 1940’s, “Kind Hearts and Coronets” has since gained a devoted cult following. To satisfy his lust for respect and power, Louis Mazzini must murder the eight distant members of his family (all played by Alec Guiness… even the women) in line for succession to a dukedom. The British Ealing Studio put out this dry regicide comedy that showed cultured morbidity for ahead of its time.
Artistry: **** Fun: **** Strangeness: **

Kontroll – (Nimrod Antal) Hip and dark, Kontroll is a Hungarian thriller in the breathless vein of Run Lola Run that’s set entirely within the claustrophobic confines of the Budapest subway system. The protagonists are a small band of eccentric losers who work as thankless ticket checkers that randomly sample subway passengers and deal with everything from juvenile pranksters to thuggish pimps. The leader, Bulcsu, harbors a mysterious past and may or may not be the serial killer that he glimpses out of the corner of his eye when alone. The chance for redemption appears in the guise of a stoic love interest in a bear costume. A vigorous techno score and sharp cinematography generate a stylish superficial sheen while the metaphoric implications allow for deeper engagement.
Artistry: **** Fun: ***** Strangeness: ***

Koyaanisqatsi – (Godfrey Reggio) Filmed over the course of several years, Godfrey Reggio creates a transcendent commentary on the clash between nature and civilization. Without characters, plot or narration, the film glides effortlessly between awe-inspiring time-lapse sequences showing canyons, mountains, cities, factories and people. A deft and intelligent example of how to make a message film. Two sequels followed as well as “Baraka” a similar film done by the former cinematographer.
Artistry: ***** Fun: * Strangeness: ****

Lady Terminator – (H Tjut Djalil) Indonesia made a bid at the international market with this exploitive rip-off of Terminator. The lady in question is the Queen of the South Sea, a sexually irrepressible witch with a penchant for killing her mates. Her weapon of choice is an eel that she sheathed in a remarkably uncomfortable place. 100 years after her eel is turned into a dagger (don’t ask) she’s back for revenge and nothing (from bullets to 80’s music videos) will stop her. Nudity abound.
Artistry: * Fun: *** Strangeness: ***

Last Year in Marienbad – (Alain Resnais) This influential French art film exposed the infinite possibilities of ethereal ambiguity in an attractively filmed package. A male guest at a luxurious hotel tries to convince a skeptical woman that they had an affair one year earlier… perhaps at Marienbad. A stunning, though often pretentious, meditation on memory. The sharp, formalist camerawork is provided by Sacha Vierny, one of my all time favorite cinematographers.
Artistry: ***** Fun: ** Strangeness: ****

2 comments:

Patrick said...

I've seen four of these five. That must be a record for me.

Kathryn said...

Go for five, Pat! Let's rent whichever one is left. YOU CAN DO IT; I BELIEVE IN YOU!!!!!1