Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hall of Strangeness Part XXXI

This is the final installment of the original Hall of Strangeness series. Written around my sophomore year of college, it was my first real foray into film reviewing. I started scribbling blurbs for my friends and family to try and get them excited about the strange and wonderful films that seemed to suddenly pour from the sky when I first started looking past the studio blockbuster roster. Though my scribbles are not always well-written or insightful (even after revising), I'm always happy when I hear that they've accomplished their purpose: sharing my excitement for the possibilities of cinema.

As an alphabetic list, the Hall of Strangeness allowed for less and less expansion as I gobbled up the remaining letters. Most of the potential new additions amongst films I've seen in the last three years have gotten full reviews or been left by the wayside. The Hall of Strangeness is a project I do intend to come back to one day, but for now I plan to retire it. I will probably start up a replacement series (also in the short format) soon.

I want to thank all the readers who found something of interest in these capsules of weirdness, and especially those hardy few who made it through all 155.

Weekend – (Jean-Luc Godard) A married couple on their way to kill their parents, are caught in the world’s worst traffic jam. Mere frustration and boredom eventually leads to mob rioting, revolution and cannibalism. Fictional characters wander out of literature in a chaos that builds to such extremes that the film itself seems on the verge of implosion. This controversial film marked Godard’s turning point from his highly-praised art house period into his less popular political phase.
Artistry: *** Fun: ** Strangeness: *****

Wild Zero – (Tetsuro Takeuchi) Motorcycle greaser and rock-star wannabe Ace falls in love when he accidentally foils a gas station robbery. Unfortunately, alien-summoned zombies attack and Ace will need all the help he can get to survive and reunite with his love. Coming to his aid is a war profiteering femme-fatale and Jet Rock superhero Guitar Wolf, who has problems of his own in the form of an eccentric, lecherous record exec. Ace is pushed to the limit by some revelations about life and love, but it isn’t anything that martial arts, electric guitar picks, bazookas and a katana can’t handle. DVD includes its own drinking game.
Artistry: ** Fun: ***** Strangeness: *****

Zardoz – (John Boorman) Sci-fi and the 70’s collide in a grisly car-wreck, resulting in such unpleasantries as Sean Connery with a ponytail and some painfully lame costumes. Things start out well with a giant stone head named Zardoz preaching the evils of the male reproductive organ and vomiting copious amounts of firearms as its suggested substitute. One of the violent primitives amongst its flock boards the head and rides it through an invisible wall to an eroding utopia where no one can die. After more weird, allegorical adventures than there is room to recount, a final showdown occurs inside a crystal.
Artistry: ** Fun: ** Strangeness: *****

A Zed and Two Noughts – (Peter Greenaway) A pair of twin zoologists start studying the evolution of life and the time-lapsed process of decay after their wives are killed in a swan-related car accident. Set to a minimalist Michael Nyman score and preoccupied with the alphabet, paraplegics and black and white animals. One of Greenaway’s finest and a personal favorite.
Artistry: ***** Fun: *** Strangeness: *****

Zentropa – (Lars Von Trier) A timid youth is caught in a series of plots and intrigues after taking a job as a train conductor, in this hypnotic post-noir thriller. He finds himself falling for the dangerous daughter of the railroad’s owner, who is being investigated for former Nazi ties. Riddle with disorientating visual effects and decadent cinematography.
Artistry: **** Fun: ** Strangeness: ***

1 comment:

Mad Dog said...

Von Trier made something that can merit TWO Fun stars?! That itself is strange and unusual.