Thursday, December 6, 2007

Hall of Strangeness Part XXII

Pillowbook – (Peter Greenaway) Nagiko is a petulant Japanese model who only takes lovers that are adept at painting calligraphy onto her naked body, a ritual that extends back to her childhood birthdays. When the chance comes to exact revenge on the homosexual publisher who blackmailed her father, she takes the opportunity to send him 13 “books,” all written in exquisite detail upon the flesh of naked men. Each text has it’s own twist culminating in a deadly dénouement. Uses digital paintboxing, a multiple-image technique pioneered by Greenaway.
Artistry: **** Fun: *** Strangeness: *****

Pistol Opera – (Seijun Suzuki) In 2001, Seijun Suzuki remade his classic Branded to Kill with a female lead, a ridiculously flamboyant color scheme and several degrees of magnitude more weirdness. A series of unhinged duels between pseudo-supernatural foes are expressed in splatters of post-modern imagery during the struggle for the illusory rank of the number one assassin. It plays out like an interpretive dance gun battle designed by John Woo and Andy Warhol.
Artistry: **** Fun: ** Strangeness: *****

Point Blank – (John Boorman) Point Blank, an icy cold tale of soulless revenge, is the birthplace of mainstream cinema’s affair with existential violence. Lee Marvin plays Walker, a gangster who rendezvous at Alcatraz to split the spoils of a heist with his partner, Mal. Mal callously executes Walker for his $93,000 cut and proceeds to build up a cozy criminal empire over the next several years. Inexplicably back from the grave, Walker returns to collect the original sum he was due, no longer burdened by emotions or fears but plagued by experimentally intercut flashes from his past.
Artistry: *** Fun: ** Strangeness: **

The Pornographers – (Shohei Imamura) This Japanese social satire from the 1960’s finds comedy and pathos in the most abhorrent cesspools of humanity. Subu is a barber and part-time pornographer who is having trouble with his dysfunctional family, his finances, the local crime syndicate, a reincarnating fish and his own personal sexual crises. A well-crafted, nihilistic exploration of society’s underbelly that makes you smile as much as squirm.
Artistry: ***** Fun: *** Strangeness: ****

Possession – (Andrzej Zulawski) Simular to the twisted offspring likely to result from a West German honeymoon between Argento and Cronenberg, Possession is the relentless tale of a tattered marriage and its disturbing fallout. Isabella Adjani plays a manic-depressive woman who leaves her husband (Sam Niell) and eccentric lover for an alarming relationship with an unusual alternative. Adjani gives one of the world’s most intense and most gutsy performances (surpassing Nicholson’s in “The Shining”) in a film whose entire cast has very little use for sanity.
Artistry: **** Fun: **** Strangeness: *****


Mad Dog said...

I have been waiting for this entry since literally you started this blog.

FilmWalrus said...

That excited for "The Pornographers?" But seriously, Possession easily ranks in my top ten of the most effective examples of "alternative" cinema. It also supports my belief that the best films are combinations of genre and art-house filmmaking.