Sunday, December 16, 2007

Hall of Strangeness Part XXIII

Primer – (Shane Carruth) A masterpiece of low-budget digital filmmaking, Primer uses a combination of mind-bending science fiction and elaborate paranoid interrelations to stretch their budget-to-quality ratio to the limit. Aaron and Abe are two friends who just may have invented a time-machine, but using the device may tear their friendship, and the world, apart. Though the film starts out in familiar time-travel territory, the inherit complexities of the fourth dimension take their toll on the protagonists and make shake loose casual viewers.
Artistry: ** Fun: **** Strangeness: **

Prospero’s Books – (Peter Greenaway) This insanely freestyle experimental adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest is probably the most visually radical, but least enjoyable, of Greenaway’s work. Organized around Prospero’s library of magical books that cover all the world’s knowledge, the audience is subjected to busy arrangements of performance art, dramatic sets, outrageous costumes and digital effects in lieu of straightforward narrative delivery.
Artistry: **** Fun: * Strangeness: *****

Ridicule – (Patrice Leconte) In the royal courts of 18th century France, wit was king (but also Louis XVI) and pithy banter was a treasured backdoor to political power. A well-meaning baron out to save his farming community must enter into the brutal arena of wordplay where careers can be made or unmade by a single devastating turn of phrase. Crisply shot and snappily penned, Ridicule is a period piece with a unique edge. Also there are mountainous wigs.
Artistry: **** Fun: **** Strangeness: **

River’s Edge – (Tim Hunter) A high school student apathetically kills his girlfriend and takes his classmates to see the body in this dark satire of the slacker generation based on a true story. Their reactions include zombie-like indifference, militant support and vague attempts at the shock and outrage they know they should be feeling. With biting, effective wit, Hunter captures the aimless drifting of the sex-drugs-and-violence immunized generation raised on TV and weed.
Artistry: **** Fun: **** Strangeness: *

Robot Monster – (Phil Tucker) Possibly the lowest production values of all time mark Robot Monster as a classic of 1950’s C-movie sci-fi. Ro-Man (a robot represented by a man in scuba gear and a gorilla suit borrowed from another film) has managed to exterminate all life on earth except for a benevolent scientist (insert atrocious Russian accent), his family and assistant. When Ro-man experiences his first disorientating notions of love (and lust) after sighting the scientist’s daughter, he questions whether his mantra to “correlate, deduce, reduce error” is really the pinnacle of civilization. Features wooden computer monitors, inexplicable dinosaur stock footage, intergalactic radios that spout soap bubbles and more photo-negative flashes than you can shake a death-ray at.
Artistry: * Fun: ***** Strangeness: **

2 comments:

Mad Dog said...

I must see Ridicule now.

Walrus said...

I'm a big fan of Ridicule and pretty much all the films of Patrice Leconte. I think Leconte is one of the most underrated directors working today, but not everyone agrees. Katie doesn't like "Ridicule" and my favorite film professor once told me he was said to hear me praise "The Widow of St. Pierre." Most critics did acknowledge his masterpeice, "Monsieur Hire," so that might be another one to look into.