28 June 2006

Viridiana (Spain, 1961)

Director Luis Buñuel was considered a surrealist. I like to think of his movies, especially his last movies shot in France, not so much as surrealism but as absurd, like Ionesco's theatre of the absurd. It is a combination of mockery, comedy and surrealist scenarios that are sometimes hard to follow. In any case, his controversial topics awarded him the Palme d'or in Cannes with this movie.

In Viridiana, Mexican actress Silvia Pinal plays the role of Viridiana, a nun that goes to visit his uncle. He falls in love with her, tries to seduce her and finally commits suicide. Afterwards, Viridiana tries to create a shelter home for the poor people in her uncle's town. Unfortunately, the poor soon destroy the house of her uncle, prepare a feast for themselves and end up drunk and trying to rape Viridiana. It sounds pretty harsh, and considering this was shot in 1961, just imagine the reaction of the Catholic Church. This movie was banned in Spain for many years. It still remains controversial and original.

21 June 2006

Match Point (USA, 2005)

Christian, a tennis instructor, gets a job in an exclusive London country club. He becomes very good friends with a student of his, whose sister he finally marries. Christian soon finds himself living with the rich and bourgeois of London. He has a beautiful apartment, beautiful cars, everything he strived for. Things start to go wrong when he has an affair with his friend’s fiancé, played by Scarlet Johannson. When Scarlet gets pregnant with Christian’s baby, he will have to make the most difficult decision of his life: either leave the life of the rich and famous or get rid of Scarlet and his soon to be born baby.

Director Woody Allen brings us once again another atypical love story. His latest films have a certain feeling to them. They are at the same time mysterious and intriguing. This one will keep you guessing until the end. Of course there are many dialogue scenes, but the way he writes his dialogues is really remarkable. He definitely has his very own style of filmmaking. Not that I am a fan of Woody Allen, but his last couple of films (Melinda and Melinda, for example) cover topics that are of particular interest to me.

20 June 2006

Nekromantik 2 (Germany, 1991)

This is the story of a woman who digs up a corpse from the local cemetery, takes it home and makes love to it. Yes, you read it right! I will not go into the details of this, but I must say the film is quite graphic. Not only does she make love, she then proceeds to clean the corpse, dresses him up and finally cuts him into pieces in her bathtub. There is very little dialogue and a lot of romantic music with violin and cords, as if to make us believe that the woman is really in love with the dead guy. And that is not all: this woman, whose name we never get to know, is also dating a guy (alive) who starts to question her new girlfriend’s postmortuary habits, like showing him her photo album full of coffins from her relatives. When one day he discovers a part of the dead guy in the fridge, she has no other option but to kill him, and of course have sex afterwards.

Needless to say, this is one of the most graphic movies I have seen. It is a low-budget film, but it is so realistic it makes your stomach weak. This one is just for hardcore gore fans.

14 June 2006

Genealogies of a Crime (Généalogies d'un Crime, France 1997)

Director Raoul Ruiz likes to confuse viewers, at least make them thing throughout his films. The story is based on the real life and works of psychoanalyst Hermione Helmut van Hug, who worked with children. She went so far as to determine that her nephew would be a killer someday, and at the end his nephew actually killed her for reasons that will remain unknown. Ruiz takes this interesting premise and creates the story of Solange, played by Catherine Deneuve. She is known for losing all her cases, but she decides to take one case that resembles Helmut van Hug's. There is a Parapsychologist Group involved who tries to convince Solange that the killer is someone else. The whole movie shifts from real-life to dreams, without really telling the audience what is real and what is not. There is also a hint of what I call "absurd cinema" like the great movies of Luis Buñuel that he made in France.

08 June 2006

The Fiancée of Dracula (France, 2002)

"A Van Helsing-like professor and his protegé are tracking Dracula's descendants through the world of "parallels", creatures who are human in form but live quite distinct psychic lives. A circus dwarf who is in love with one of these creatures leads them to a mansion filled with oddly behaving nuns, The Order of the White Virgins. The nuns are detaining a beautiful woman who is the betrothed of the still-extant Dracula. When she escapes, everyone follows her to Dracula's seaside castle, on the way dealing with a baby-eating ogress and a wolf-woman (Brigitte Lahaie in a cameo), witches and madwomen. The bizarre wedding ritual commences." Source: amazon.com

The movie sounds interesting, it actually looks a little cheesy and fake. The actors try to do their best at acting, but sometimes it' just not enough. That makes the story not very credible. The background music is really creepy and the otudoor sets and landscpaes are correctly chosen. Director Jean Rollin likes to combine horror and comedy in his films, and the end result is an erotic and richly visual film that is worth watching.

06 June 2006

The Sun (Sontse, Russia, 2005)

Director Alexander Sokurov shows us the last days of the Japanese empire under the Emperor’s reign after the defeat suffered during World War II. Just as in his earlier film Moloch, in this movie we see how the Emperor spends his days alone in his residence, surrounded by his servants. One day, the American army comes to the residence and arrests the Emperor. He is taken away for interrogation. All along he is treated really nicely, like a member of a royal family. For the Japanese, this defeat meant a great loss of confidence in their Emperor. He was regarded as a superior being by the people. This movie shows in an extraordinary way how his servants reacted and spoke to the Emperor during this time of crisis. With very few actors, Sokurov is able to achieve what many directors strive for: a real interest in the main characters.

05 June 2006

L'Aventure c'est l'Aventure (France, 1973)

This comedy is one of the most famous movies from France. It is a classical, according to many, and it includes a very good group of French actors who unfortunately passed away. It is the story of a group of individuals who want to create a new political movement based on stability within confusion. What that means basically is that they end up kidnapping famous people and getting ransoms for their liberation. At one moment they kidnap Che Guevara and even the Pope. The idea is quite original, but I did not find the movie very funny. There aren't a lot of laughs as in other French comedy films. There is nice theme song if that helps.