Zigeunerweisen @ Blood Brothers!

Hey there, Emuls-a-weisen, I have a guest post up at Blood Brothers Reviews! They’re having a Seijin Suzuki month over there, so I contributed a review of the first film in Suzuki’s Taisho Trilogy: 1980’s Zigeunerweisen! Check it out here and enjoy!

And if you’re looking to watch Zigeunerweisen, it was recently released to Blu-ray/DVD in the Taisho Trilogy box set from the fine folks at Arrow Academy. You can find it at DiabolikDVD or Amazon.

House (1977)

house_6House [ハウス Hausu] (1977)

Starring Kimiko Ikegami, Miki Jinbo, Kumiko Ohba, Ai Matsubara, Mieko Sato, Eriko Tanaka, Masayo Miyako, Kiyohiko Ozaki, Saho Sasazawa, Asei Kobayashi

Directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi

Expectations: Very high. A foreign cult movie with a Criterion release? OK!

On the general scale:
threestar

On the WTF-movie scale:
fourstar


In the name of all that is right and good in the world, what did I just watch? Nobuhiko Obayashi’s House is a surreal masterpiece that is constantly taking you off-guard with odd juxtapositions and abstract composition. Not to mention all the nutso goings-on.  It’s got to be one of the most unusual horror movies ever made, so much so that it barely resembles a horror film most of the time. A near-complete subversion of the genre, House is definitely a film worthy of a look, especially for those that dig surreal cinema, Japanese WTF cinema, or white, fluffy cats.

At the base of all that surrealism is one of the most traditional horror stories in the book. Seven schoolgirls are off on summer vacation, and after their initial plans go awry, they all decide to visit Gorgeous’s aunt. Gorgeous’s mother died many years ago, and she hopes that by reconnecting with her aunt she can feel a bit closer to her. When the girls arrive in the hometown of Gorgeous’s mother, they find that their destination is a huge mansion on the top of a hill. And it’s a spooky looking mansion, too.

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Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

moonrise-kingdom-international-posterStarring Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Bob Balaban

Directed by Wes Anderson

Expectations: Moderately high. I’m not the biggest Wes Anderson fan.

threestar


Over the course of his small filmography, Wes Anderson has carefully honed his unique brand of sleek, hipster art design and Moonrise Kingdom may be the pinnacle of his ability to push the boundaries of the field. At least until his next film arrives. A Wes Anderson film is never mistaken for another filmmaker’s, each one bears the unmistakable attention to detail and meticulously constructed sets and visuals. So when you are somewhat indifferent to one of his films, that feeling kind of runs through all of his films. To be fair, I haven’t seen all of them (I’ve only missed The Darjeeling Limited), but I think it’s fair to assume that I’ll feel similarly about that one too.

Now having said all that, I think Moonrise Kingdom is easily one of Wes Anderson’s best films. But I still don’t really like it. It’s great, but it just ain’t my thing. For me it comes down to two things: the commendable, meticulous design and the pointed dialogue delivery his characters always use. While the perfect design is really cute and interesting to look at, I want to rebel against it. My gruff personality and my penchant for raw, ragged glory makes me want to jump into the movie and just muss everything up as much as possible. In my youth I never really understood why I felt indifferent to Wes Anderson’s movies, but this desire to destroy is definitely the main reason. It’s too perfect.

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The Acid House (1998)

Starring Stephen McCole, Maurice Roëves, Garry Sweeney, Jenny McCrindle, Simon Weir, Iain Andrew, Kevin McKidd, Michelle Gomez, Gary McCormack, Tam Dean Burn, Alison Peebles, Ewen Bremner, Martin Clunes, Jemma Redgrave, Arlene Cockburn, Jane Stabler

Directed by Paul McGuigan

Expectations: Moderate and curious.


I didn’t know much going into The Acid House, and that was perfect. All I knew was that it had an ugly cover on Netflix, and that the Scottish accents were supposedly so thick that in some screenings it ran with subtitles for those unable to decipher the “English” being spoken. And immediately upon starting The Acid House, I knew exactly what they were talking about. Not the characters mind you, the rumors about it being indecipherable. But like a friend that helps you stagger home from the pub, Netflix was kind enough to provide subtitles on its Instant stream by default, so even Yanks like myself can get the full experience from The Acid House. This worked out great, as honestly I would’ve been lost otherwise.

The Acid House is an anthology film adapting three short stories from the work of Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting. So when, just a few minutes in, I thought the film was remarkably similar in tone and style to Trainspotting (a film I saw several times in my teenage years), it all made sense to learn it came from the same brain. But where my memory of Trainspotting tells me that film was shocking, realistic and heartbreaking, The Acid House is shocking, fantastical and hilarious. I loved it, start to finish, but this is definitely not a film for everyone.

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Eraserhead (1977)

Starring Jack Nance, Charlotte Stewart, Allen Joseph, Jeanne Bates, Judith Roberts, Laurel Near, V. Phipps-Wilson, Jack Fisk, Jean Lange, Thomas Coulson

Directed by David Lynch

Expectations: Low. Fuck David Lynch.

On the General scale:

If you like surrealism in film:


[Editor’s note: This review was my entry into the LAMB’s So You Think You Can Review tournament, in which I lost in the first round. Oh well!]

In one sentence: “Use a condom.”

A good 10 years have passed since I saw and hated my first David Lynch film (Blue Velvet) and now I find myself given Eraserhead as my first assignment in this tournament. Great! It’s been languishing in my queue for years, and now I’m forced to watch it. I’ve never understood the fascination with Lynch, but I went in with an open mind and a desire not to fall asleep too quickly. I guessed that the thick, WTF symbolism of his later films would be even worse here in his first feature. I was somewhat right on that front, but in spite of that Eraserhead easily ranks as one of the most engaging films of Lynch’s that I’ve seen. Perhaps that means some re-watches are in order for his other work, but I don’t know if I’m ready for that level of commitment just yet.

Eraserhead opens with a scene that recalls shades of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, with our main character, Henry, superimposed over the dark of space. A crusty God-figure pulls a lever while looking out his window on the infinite and an intestine-like giant sperm flies out of Henry’s mouth. This is crosscut with establishing shots of an asteroid/planet/barren, symbolic womb. Following along so far? No? Well, good luck getting through the rest of this fucking movie then. Anyway, this soon gives way to Henry on Earth carrying his groceries home (or at least a big paper sack that presumably holds some sort of products). He walks through the back alleys of a 1984-esque, dystopian science fiction world populated by derelict factories and men with deep-lined faces. I know that’s not much of a plot description, but a full paragraph that runs down the actual plot would easily contain the entire film, and that’s not my goal. But I do wish to break down what Lynch is going for here, so if you wish to see the film untainted (and really, you should), skip ahead to the last paragraph.

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