Archive for June 2010

Taxidermia (Gyorgy Palfi, 2006)


Move over Gasper Noe, hello Gyorgy Palfi.  I don’t remember reacting so viscerally to a film since Requiem for a Dream.  I read somewhere that the film was a metaphor for post-war Hungary.  I won’t even try to figure that one out.  The three part film covers three generations of Hungarian male protagonists: 1) a hair-lipped military orderly from WWII times that has a sexual fetish for eating fire and masturbating in the most unique ways, 2) his son a champion speed eater, the competitions of which are the cornerstone of the film and 3) a desperately lonely taxidermist that is also the caregiver of his now comically obese champion speed eating father.  I watched the entire film with my mouth agape not quite believing what I was seeing.  Among other things:  1) watch large speed eaters compete then group vomit in very prolonged scenes, 2) watch a drop of sweat from an obese woman’s hairy armpit drip onto her husband’s face while he licks it up and 3) watch the first time in film that a rooster pecks a cock (not another bird mind you).  All this being said there are amazing visual sequences throughout and extraordinary things that happen under the most astonishing cinematography – mostly extremely grotesque.  Furthermore, the romance between the speed eater and his wife is surprisingly sweet and funny.  But unless you have sat through, liked and/or tolerated extreme films like Gasper Noe’s Irreversible, Takashi Miike’s Audition or more recently Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist, DO NOT watch this film.  It is extremely disturbing and the 3rd and final act is indescribably repulsive.  But given its stunning originality and its ability to pull off the darkest of comedy I otherwise recommend the film.

**** / *****

Surrogates (Jonathan Mostow, 2009)


Surrogates presents some good ideas surrounding the concept of culture’s continuing interest in anonymity through technological advances in alter egos sans Facebook, Twitter, Chatroulette, etal.  A surrogate is a beautiful “robot” that takes the place of the real human and lives his life with the supposed benefits of being young and attractive.  Unfortunately the film is bogged down in its genre’s most annoying cliches.  As an example ONE fat guy / uber geek non surrogate (whose is of course, proud of his overweight, real presence) singularly controls surrogate surrvellience for the entire city of New York.  Make sense?  No.  Then we are lead to believe that the makers of this technology have advanced it to the point where the entire developed world is dominated by these alter egos whilest the owners of the surrogates sit in futuristic portal chairs in their dirty and unkept apartments and pop psychotropic pills during those unfortunate times that they exist without their golden doubles.  Ill equipped rebel groups (living in ridiculously conceived “ghettos” in the middle of New York) exist that may or may not want to bring the surrogates down in place of their better selves.   In better hands (perhaps Kubrick, who’s ideas from A. I. permeate ham handedly throughout), the cliches could have been avoided.  The redeeming factor in this movie is Bruce Willis and his very understated and believable performance.   Add to the performance list Rosamund Pike (Willis’ wife also seen in the excellent An Education) in another impressive performance who inhabits her surrogate with a complexity not found elsewhere in the film.

** / *****

The Ten (David Wain, 2007)


My god, this is one of the worst most unwatchable films I have ever not finished.  On paper and in casting, something must have looked good esp the acting talent but this is one big pile of dung.  I assume that Messers Paul Rudd and Ken Marino and other really talented people got this through the starting gate and finish line but it will haunt them forever.

* / *****