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mystery

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind * Michel Gondry * 2004

How the hell did I manage to miss this film? Is it because Jim Carrey is in it or because I don’t know the director or was it just hardly announced in the Netherlands? In any case, the title comes from the poem Eloise To Abelard by Alexander Pope (1688-1744) (How happy is the blameless Vestal’s lot! The world forgetting, by the world forgot; Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d. (excerpt)). This is indeed a very typical way of giving the story of the film. A company appropriately named “Lacuna” found a way to erase those memories that their clients choose. The impulsive Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet) decides to erase the memories of her unlikely relation with Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) when the relation becomes boring. Joel on his part decides to do the same, since Clementine doesn’t remember him anymore anyway and he is caught by the pangs of love. The larger part of the film plays in the memories of Joel which are being erased by the operators of Lacuna. The ‘memorized’ Joel finds out what is happening and tries to prevent is. He runs from one memory to the other, even to his suppressed memories. Meanwhile he hears the persons who are doing the operations on his physical body talking, flashback rush through, but everytime things vanish as another memory is erased. This is done very nicely and confusingly and it may remind you a bit of the film “Being John Malkovich”. This is not an accident, since the story is again by Charlie Kaufman. It is safe to say that “Eternal Sunshine” is as good (or as bad if you don’t like this kind of films) as that film; surprising, well-invented, a nice atmosphere and very good acting (I could even stand Carrey).

Delicatessen * Jean-Pierre Jeunet (1991)

It had been far too long since I saw this brilliant comedy! Jeunet didn’t make a whole lot of films, but his “La Cité Des Enfents Perdus” (city of lost children) (1995) and his highly acclaimed “Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulin” (Amelie) (2001) definately belong to the highlights of the comedy genre (a genre I am not too fond off). Two years after Amélie there seems to be a new film coming up with the title “Un Long Dimanche De Fiançailles”.

But to “Delicatessen”. The story is about a post-apocalyptic France in which everybody does everything to get food. In one building lives the gruesome butcher Clapet (Jean-Claude Dreyfus) who hires young men to kill and eat and sell their meat after a few weeks of them doing small jobs around the house. His new worker is Louison (Dominique Pinon) used to be a clown in the circus and is as inventive as naive. I won’t tell you too much of the magnificent story. The film is full of contrasts. The atmosphere is always very grim caused by the idiotic characters, the colours and the stages. There are some extremely silly scenes and the humour is so subtle and brilliant that this is a funny film that doesn’t loose it’s grim atmosphere. The characters are berzerk, some scenes insane (a woman trying to kill herself in different ways, a girl that is almost blind, etc.), this is really a masterpiece.

Also great are the Lost Children that I really need to see again some time soon, another dark comedy of Jeunet. Amélie is much lighter (but no less funny) , so I don’t know what to expect from the upcoming film.

Dark City * Alex Proyas * 1998

A wonderfull film that I have seen long ago, but not reseen it on tv. The story is about a city that is made and maintained by an extraterrestial race called ‘the strangers’. They experiment with humans to find out what makes humans different from themselves, a search for the soul. In order to do this they swap memories and change the city to see if this effects a persons personality. At midnight everything is put to sleep and the strangers ‘tune’ a new city. Buildings arise or disappear, strangers go out to erase or add memory with the help of a human doctor (Kiefer Sutherland). The strangers don’t like the light, so everything is always dark, it’s always night. One human seems to be uneffected by the powers of ‘the strangers’ and even has the ability to ‘tune’. Naturally he saves the world.

A great film with a strange atmosphere. However ‘thrillerish’ it is brought as a comedy, but of course not one of these hilaric ones. Really wonderfull!

Carnivàle (series) season 1 * Daniel Knauf * 2003-

I remember when these series were introduced on the Dutch television. Quite a big anouncement and my interest was raised enough to watch it. I am not good at following series on TV, so somewhere in the second half I missed an episode, later another, then I dropped out. I liked the series. They are not comparable in magnificence to Twin Peaks which name is often mentioned, but it was a nice watch. For years I had the idea to watch them on DVD some time. That apparently took four years!
Carnivàle (as you probably know) is about a travelling circus. The “route” goes through the deserts of central and southern Northern America which immediately sets the atmosphere for the series: barren, desolate and grim. The atmosphere is rather dark for such a big series and the characters are as weird as they are collourfull. A comateus tarrot card reader, a bearded lady, a reptile man, a blind clairvoyant, a tiny director (a great role by Michael Anderson, the dwarf from Twin Peaks’ red room), an invisible “management”. A young man is picked up, Ben Hawkins, a man with a strange gift/curse. He “was not picked up for no reason” and this is what the series are about. A very nice watch for sure if you enjoy the non-average TV entertainment and can stand a grim atmosphere and halucinative scenes. A series for Twin Peaks fans maybe, but believe me, Twin Peaks is 10x better and I can’t wait for the second series to be available. The second series of Carnivàle are already available and the end of the first series prove that this is not a sequel because of a successfull series, but it was always intended to be a multi-series series. I have no idea if there are plans for a third series. I hope not! Canivàle is nice, but a second series will probably already be on the edge of cow-milking. I think I might watch that second series though… sometimes (maybe when I know if there will be more series!). For the time being, if you haven’t seen Carnivàle yet, the 12x 45 to 55 minutes on the couch are worth it.

Blue Velvet * David Lynch * 1986

Just before “Mullholand Drive” came in the Dutch cinemas, Lynch old film “Blue Velvet” was brought back to the Dutch filmhouses on some kind of ‘tour’. In most filmhouses this film is just shown once and then the tapes are brought to the next cinema to please the local Lynch-freaks there.

Of course I have seen this film quite a long time ago even so long ago that I didn’t remember too much from it anymore. I didn’t even remember if I liked it! Well, to any Lynch-freak reading this I have one advice: go and see Blue Velvet on the big screen! The overall effect of such a dark film as “Blue Velvet”, “Lost Highway” of Mullholand Drive” is 100x better in a cinema than on your own television with the lights on. “Blue Velvet” indeed is the masterpiece of mister Lynch as many filmcritics say. It’s yet not as absurd or extreme as the other two mentioned films, but already here are the vague scenes with out-of-focus filming, dark drones, weird sounds and extremely dark filming that can only really get to you when seeing it in a ciname.

For the people who haven’t seen “Blue Velvet” yet (and to clear up the memory of those who saw it a long time ago), the story: The young and naive man Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle Machlachlan, best known for being special agent Dale Cooper in Lynch’s “Twin Peaks”, but also playing in Lynch’s “Dune”) finds a human ear in a field close to the remote small town where he lives. He brings it so a police-officer who lives in his neighbourhood and however the officer warns him to let it go, Jeffrey starts his own investigation together with the officer’s daughter (Sandy Williams played by Laura Dern). Jeffrey gets involved in a twisted world of crime where the extremely disturbed Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rosselini) is blackmailed by a group of criminals who have her little son and husband (who’s ear Jeffrey found). The first of the criminals Jeffrey sees is the over-emotional Frank Booth (a great part by Dennis Hopper) who starts to cry by every song he hears, but when not overwhelmed by sadness he is extremely violent, speaks only in terms of abuse and uses a gas that makes him feel to be an oversexed baby. Jeffrey also meets a couple of Franks friend, one of which is called “Paul” (Jack Nance played in every Lynch production until he died in 1996), Franks gay boss Ben (Dean Stockwell) and a corrupt police-officer.

I won’t tell too much of the story, but it is a fact that back in 1986 there still is an understandable story with a beginning and an end. The film has a great Lynch-atmosphere, some pretty sick scenes, rough violence and a beautiful contrasts in whichever way you can imagine.

And as said, “Blue Velvet” is 100x better on the bigscreen, so when you get that change, don’t let it pass by!

Avalon * Mamoru Oshii * 2001

You know these Japanese are crazy, but this does it! A Japanese film shot in Poland and spoken Polish! I had heard about this film soon when it came to the cinemas and it played in the local film-house (where you go to see the smaller productions) for quite a while. Still it took until I found it cheap on video before I finally saw it.

“With a story like Exitenz or the Matrix” the box says. It is actually quite a lot like Existenz. “Avalon” is a virtual-reality computer war game. The players entirely go up in their game trying to get as good and far as they can. There is a lot of Arthurian mythology in the film, but the game itself is just a shooting war game. Ash (Malgorzata Foremniak) is almost the best player, a good-looking but lonely girl who makes money playing the came and flees from the grim reality of Poland. The players contact eachother to get information to reach a secret level and when Ash reaches it, we no longer know what is reality. The secret game is the real world, or not?

Nice fairly grim atmosphere, nice colour-settings, mediocre story.

Abre Los Ojos * Alejandro Amenábar (1997)

I saw this wonderfull film in the cinema when it still played and later I also saw the American version (“Vanilla Sky”) in the cinema. “Open Your Eyes” by Amenábar (“Tesis”, “The Others”, etc.) was one of the earlier films with the ‘what is true, what is dream’ theme and is here centered around a cryonics project. It is well-done, fairly surprising if you haven’t seen (or heard about) it and especially Penélope Cruz is a feast for the eyes.