Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Hall of Strangeness Part XVII

Little Otik – (Jan Svankmejer) In this adaptation of a Czech fairy tale Karel plays a frustrated man whose wife is unable to bear the children she so desperately wants. In a dubious attempt to soothe her, he digs up a child-shaped tree stump and presents it to his wife. She so obsessively treats it as alive that her wish comes true… and an insatiably hungry monster is unleashed. Mixes stop-start animation with live action.
Artistry: *** Fun: *** Strangeness: ****

Lost Highway – (David Lynch) Though not well-received during its initial release, Lynch’s elliptical horror-thriller is a worthwhile journey. Fred Madison begins receiving invasive videotapes of himself asleep in his own coldly modernist house. Understandably unsettled he commits a major crime, only to transform into another man during his first night in prison. The police are forced to release him and he continues to live out his second life until further complications lead to a chilling climax.
Artistry: *** Fun: *** Strangeness: ****

The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra – (Larry Blamire) With an invisible budget, some bad costumes, a lot of foil and access to Monument Valley, Lost Skeleton has all the authentic criteria to parody classic monster movies. A good scientist is looking for a meteor site not too far from where an evil scientist is trying to revive an evil skeleton. Throw in a couple of aliens and an animal-woman and you have a comic gem. Filled with impossible coincidences and quotable dialogue.
Artistry: * Fun: ***** Strangeness: ***

Lunacy – (Jan Svankmejer) Although hardly a hit with critics or audiences, this may be Jan Svankmajer’s best provocation (it certainly is his most blasphemous). Very loosely adapted from short stories by Edgar Allen Poe and the Marquis de Sade, Lunacy is the sly tale of a naïve man’s encounter with a black mass and an experimental asylum. Svankmajer throws enough heretical, shocking or openly revolting imagery on the screen to make even the tolerant viewer squeamish, but does so without sacrificing his talent or his message. Essentially the film is about the delicate balance of freedom and security in our society and the need to avoid extremes; Svankmajer comes out beforehand, however, to personally assert that the film has no redeeming value. The rest of the plot is paralleled by interspersed vignettes of raw meat crawling around (in stop-motion) and making witty references to the film at large.
Artistry: ***** Fun: *** Strangeness: *****

Man Bites Dog – (Remy Belvaux) In this cynical Belgium satire of mass media, a film crew documents the life of morally bankrupt serial killer. While purportedly staying objective, the crew has trouble remaining neutral and soon steps over an ethical boundary or two. When the documentary runs out of funding, the killer offers to pick up the tab as a sort of vanity project. Agreeing to such a pact gets the crew into far more dire straits than legal trouble. An example of the type of morbid vignettes frequent in this mockumentary is a discussion of how much weight is needed to sink the corpse of a man, woman, child, old person and midget respectively.
Artistry: *** Fun: *** Strangeness: **

4 comments:

Patrick said...

Part 17 and you just reached the Ms. Awesome.

Patrick said...

That is to say, the letter 'm'. Not 'Miss Awesome'.

Walrus said...

Ms. Awesome would also be accepted, assuming that you were refering to "Ms. 45" which won't be reviewed until Part XIX.

Mad Dog said...

No, there should be a movie called Ms. Awesome. And we should make it.