Sunday, September 16, 2007

Hall of Strangeness Part XX

The Night Porter – (Liliani Cavani) Max (Dirk Bogarde) leads a dull but manageable existence as a 50’s-era hotel clerk who occasionally satisfies the needs of rich female clients. His long-hidden past as an SS officer for the Nazis is suddenly revisited when he runs into a woman he sexually tortured at a concentration camp, now married to a famous composer. Pressured by an ex-Nazi conspiracy to kill all witnesses to their former crimes, he confronts the woman. Against all logic they find themselves insatiably drawn into their former relationship. An intriguing, intelligent and surprisingly non-exploitive film about sadomasochism that was despised by most Western critics but embraced abroad.
Artistry: *** Fun: * Strangeness: ***

Nocturne – (Edwin L. Marin) This classic era film noir was a hit in 1946, but hardly gets talked about or noticed anymore. Its strange little eccentricities make it interesting enough to be more than a historical footnote. Lt. Joe Warner (George Raft) is investigating the suicide a pianist, but comes to believe that it was murder. The weird part is that there are ten suspects… all named Delores! Joe lives with his mom, who takes a surprising obsession in his work and can often be heard explaining police forensics to her garden club. Joe gets suspended for relatively mild tactics and ends up falling in love with his prime suspect before getting to the twisty truth. Artistry: ** Fun: *** Strangeness: ***

On the Silver Globe – (Andrzej Zulawski) In 1976, Polish mad-genius Zulawski attempted to film a four hour adaptation of his grand-uncle’s “Lunar Trilogy,” widely regarded as the greatest work of science fiction never translated into English. After shooting for two years, the footage was seized by the communist authorities and Zulawski went into exile. A decade later, he recovered the surviving 166 minutes of film and edited them into a semblance of his original vision. The result is a multi-generation mythical messiah epic of unrivaled ambition (the scope of “2001” and “The Lord of the Rings” pale in comparison) wherein the stranded lunar astronauts of the opening scenes have become revered gods by the warring religious sects of the civilizations they birthed… within the first third of the story. At once incomprehensible and incandescent, “On the Silver Globe” make’s Zulawski’s other masterpiece, “Possession” (1981), seem like a concession to mainstream genre cinema.
Artistry: **** Fun: ** Strangeness: *****

Orpheus (1950) – (Jean Cocteau) French director Cocteau melds poetry and cinema is the bizarre 1950’s retelling of Orpheus. When Orpheus’ friend Cegeste is killed in a motorcycle assassination, he is lead through a mirror into the afterlife where he transmits obscure poetic insights to Orpheus through the radio of his Rolls Royce, now chauffeured by a friendly ghost. It gets weirder from there.
Artistry: **** Fun: * Strangeness: *****

Paperhouse – (Bernard Rose) Anna Madden is an introspective young girl who withdraws into her dreams to escape her loneliness. One day she draws a house in her notebook only to encounter a life-size simulacrum in her next dream. She soon realizes that any details she adds to the picture while awake, like trees and toys, await her when she sleeps. The consequences can vary however, as when she draws a companion in one of the upper windows and finds that by failing to depict his legs, the boy materializes as a bitter cripple. Things take a turn for the wicked worst when she attempts to draw her ever-absent father and, unable to capture the nuances of his face, she rashly scribbles out his head. The off-kilter set-design beautifully captures the disproportioned, oblique art and psychologically ruptured mind of the naïve child
Artistry: **** Fun: **** Strangeness: ****


Mad Dog said...

...But is it more epic than Xenogears?

FilmWalrus said...

In its surviving version I'd have to say no. Especially if you take Xenogears as its full 6 volume mass.