Saturday, October 20, 2007

Hall of Strangeness Part XXI

Sorry about the scant postings! I've been a bit busy with all sorts of stuff (mostly fun). Though I've primarily been working and seeing more films, I've also been developing a new board game and enjoying a fairly new Wii. Two large movie projects have been slowing my regular output, but they are approaching completion.

In the near future, I'll be launching a special horror series for the week leading up to Halloween. There will be several reviews per day for seven days on a special theme. I hope you'll all enjoy.

The second project is the ultimate indulgence of my list-compiling obsession. I'm putting together a master list to track many of the awards and greatest/best/most-important/favorite lists that I follow. The composite already includes more than 2000 entries (a very time-consuming entry process) and the result will be nice spreadsheet that users can check off as they view films. Expect plenty of statistical data for nerds like myself.

Anyway, now for a Hall of Strangeness:

Persona – (Ingmar Bergman) After a series of non-narrative images, the film tells the classical art-house tale of a despondent psychiatric ward tenant and her nurse as the two blend, blur and reverse personalities. Alone in a house to relax and recuperate, the nurse begins to speak to the patient (initially just to fill the silence) and soon the patient/doctor status is only the first barrier to collapse.
Artistry: ***** Fun: * Strangeness: ****

Phantom of Liberty – (Luis Bunuel) Another high-water mark from surrealist master, Bunuel, Phantom of Liberty satirizes the conventions and taboos of the western world. Parents confiscate “pornographic” photos (of landscapes) from their child, exotic birds wander aimlessly through bedrooms and a family sits around a table on toilets and excuses themselves to eat in small secluded chambers.
Artistry: *** Fun: * Strangeness: *****

Phenomena – (Dario Argento) A personal-favorite giallo about a young girl (Jennifer Connelly in her debut starring role) who telepathically communicates with insects to solve a murder mystery. A scientist in a wheelchair (Donald Pleasance), a monkey and a very creepy triple-ending are involved. Goblin, Iron Maiden, The Andy Sex Gang and several others provide the appropriately malevolent prog-rock/heavy-metal score.
Artistry: *** Fun: **** Strangeness: ****

Picnic at Hanging Rock – (Peter Weir) A group of girls from a boarding school take a field trip to Hanging Rock. Three of them are never heard from again. Set in the sunlit Australian countryside, the mood is somehow dominated by a dark, primal energy. The rock formations of the title become a brooding meditation on the gulf between repressive Victorian society and the seductive mysteries of the great unknown. Based on a true story.
Artistry: ***** Fun: *** Strangeness: ***

Pierrot Le Fou – (Jean-Luc Godard) The traditionally trashy lovers-on-the-run genre has never been this strange, before or since. Jean-Paul Belmondo and Anna Karina star in this stylish, free-style trot across France that bursts into musical numbers, directly addresses the audience, references obscure literature and generally breaks all the old cinematic rules. French New Wave artiness to the very core, this film nevertheless lives in a post-modern world of pop-culture celebration and colorful genre tributes. Notwithstanding that these opiates for the masses have been cut with intellectual philosophizing and abstract non-sequiturs.
Artistry: **** Fun: *** Strangeness: ****


Molly said...

Years after you originally recommended it, I FINALLY saw Phenomenon this summer. My computer refused to play it, so I carted it onto campus and watched it in an abandoned classroom in the dark. Well worth it - thanks!

FilmWalrus said...

Yay! That movie has definitely grown on me since I first saw it such that now I consider it a favorite. The film critic in me wants to point out the many flaws, but the film lover in me just gushes.