Friday, June 13, 2008

Hall of Strangeness Part XXIX

Tom, Tom, The Piper’s Son – (Ken Jacobs) Jacobs’s deconstructionist experiment repeats a scratchy 1905 short three times. The first and last runs are shown without interference, but for 107 minutes in-between Jacobs changed the way audiences look at film, zooming in, freeze-framing, reversing and slowing things down until he had reduced cinema to the interplay of black and white grains. It’s 9 parts boredom per 1 part revelation, but every bit ahead of its time. Decades after its 1969 screening, the digital revolution kept the promise Jacobs made.
Artistry: ** Fun: * Strangeness: ***

The Trial (1963) – (Orson Welles) One of the most derided of Welles’s directorial efforts, this adaptation of Kafka’s story is actually the closest in tone to the book. Joseph K finds himself on trial without any crime, evidence or witnesses. No one will come to his aid and he remains lost in a sea of bureaucracy. Welles composes the film as a series of immaculate B/W images in magnificent sets that take precedence over narrative coherence.
Artistry: ***** Fun: ** Strangeness: ****

Tropical Malady – (Apichatpong Weerasethakul) Thailand’s most acclaimed and hardest to pronounce director confused audiences the world over with this experimental hybrid of myth and modernity. A kindly soldier named Keng meets and falls in love with a local named Tong who lives on a farm in the jungle. Their quiet, caring relationship treads familiar ground for Queer Asian Cinema, but halfway through the film Weerasethakul shatters everything. One night, Tong wanders into the woods and disappears. Soon after, Keng pursues, gradually becoming aware that Tong is a shapeshifting jungle demon, but still willing to hunt and be hunted for his love.
Artistry: **** Fun: * Strangeness: ****

Valerie and Her Week of Wonders – (Jaromil Jires) This Czech New Wave fantasy-horror film allegorically explores the phantasmagorical borderline between the civilities of Christianity and the excesses of paganism. Valerie is a young girl on the edge of sexual awakening, beset by familial, societal and religious repressions and haunted by vampires. Adrift within an over-exposed dreamscape of symbolism and ambiguity, Valerie finds that a magical pair of earrings may be her only protection.
Artistry: **** Fun: *** Strangeness: ****

Veronica Voss – (Rainer Werner Fassbinder) Veronica Voss is the drug-addicted former actress that once rocketed to success during the Nazi regime. She is now under the dubious care of Doctor Feelgood, and only love-struck sports writer Robert dares to rescue her. Fassbinder paints many of the most powerful scenes in a blinding blanket of searing white.
Artistry: ***** Fun: *** Strangeness: ***


Mad Dog said...

Such a low rating on Valerie for fun? I'd have thought the chime would've netted this one an easy three stars.

FilmWalrus said...

No, your right. I probably had 4/5 worth of funness on this one personally, but I guess I was trying to adjust it for non-vampire-loving, non-Czech-obsessessed people. Especially next to Tom, Tom the Piper's Son, though, it is a charming little flick.

I'd be really curious to hear your thoughts on Tropical Malady some day. I watched it alone and haven't met anyone who's seen it and I disagree with many of the interpretations in other reviews. It has great mood and a real fascinating hairpin turn.

Mad Dog said...

Queued it.