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Antiviral * Brandon Cronenberg (2012)

Hell yeah! I needed a film like this. Nice camera work and a critical, extremely weird Cronenberg-like story. I will tell you what: this is a Cronenberg! Brandon is a son of David and it looks like he is inspired by the older films of his old man. The way I see it he succeeded gloriously, inspite of the 5.5 on IMdB. “Antiviral” brings flashbacks of films like “Videodrome”, “The Fly” and even “Naked Lunch” while it is pretty much in a different style. The story is, like Cronenberg sr. older films, so extravagant that I will have to watch the film again (and preferably with subtitles) to know what this is all about. Let me give it a try.
The celebrity craze went to such extremes in some unknown future that a facility called Lucas Clinic offers the possibility to fans to be infected with the same virus as the celebrities they adore. One of the employers, Syd March, also enters the black marked where meat seems to be cloned from these same celebrities so that people can eat the meat of their loved ones. Syd also seems to have plans for himself which of course goes bad and he gets crushed between the big money market parties living off celebrities’ cells. This is perhaps a bit too much about the story, but these are but some elements of a crazy story that slowly unfolds during the film.
The camera work is great. The hospital scenes are white and overlighted, giving some heavenly gleam. Outsides scenes are underlighted as if the outside world is unenlightened. There are only a hanfull of characters and everything is nicely minimalistic. There are a couple of great over the top scenes with experimenting doctors. Great, weird, Cronenberg. A wonderfull ode to his old man, but in his own style, and I hope that jr. will continue in this style. I watched this like I did when I first saw the sr’s classics. Perhaps “Antiviral” will be one of such classics.

Fausto 5.0 * Àlex Ollé (2001)

A medical doctor travels to some unknown city for a convention about terminal medicines. On arrival he meets a man who claims to be a patient from whom the doctor removed his entire stomach eight years ago. Theoretically the patient should have been long dead, but since he is not, he is eternally greatfull and wants to fullfill the doctor’s every wish. The doctor’s name is Faustos, so I guess you can guess the rest of the story. The box suggests an over the top cultfilm with splatter and sex. There are indeed some weird scenes and also some sex, but overall the film is not particularly weird of shocking. Not boring either, but mind that it is mostly quite a normal film with some not-too-normal elements.

El Topo * Alejandro Jodorowsky (1970)

Yes, it took me a while to see this third Jodorowsky that my usual DVD rental has. No time for a film, did not feel like it or it was replaced and lost, but I finally did see it. “El Topo” is a Western, but not a straight-forward one. Jodorowsky again uses amateuristic splatter for violence and other elements which seem only to be there to shock. Also again is a spiritual undertone. El Topo (the main character, played by Jodorowsky himself) is a cowboy in black who seeks revenge for his murdered village. He has to find six foes that appear to be spiritual masters that (the evil?) mole (“topo”) fights and tries to overcome. On the other hand, El Topo has (again) Christ-like elements, so perhaps the situation is the other way around (the spiritual masters are heresies). It is not unlikely that the director created this ambiguity on purpose. Like the other two films of Jodorowsky that I saw “El Topo” is interesting in some elements, dated in others, sometimes a little annoying. The films may not be masterpieces in my eyes, but I do suggest you watch them at some point since they are classics in the history of film.

Holy Motors * Leos Carax (2012)

  • mystery

The story of this film is so weird that I had to see it. Fortunately I live in one of the few cities where it plays. The film is even weirder than what I read about it. Carax had some ideas a decade or so ago, but did not get the finance he needed because his films did not sell that well. Now Carax put all those ideas in one ‘film’. We follow monsieur Oscar who crosses Paris in his limousine driving from assignment to assignment. In each one of those he dresses up as someone else and he appears to play some major role in people’s lives. But M. Oscar does not really appear human, also there are more of his kind. Besides, there are scenes way too weird to even be anything. There is no continuing story, some parts seem to explain something, but “Holy Motors” is mostly a collection of strange ideas. Mostly interesting, but the last parts are not very strong. Strange, even when you are used to films of David Lynch and similar. When you like strange, you might want to watch “Holy Motors” some time.

Renegade * Jan Kounen (2004)

Wat a great film! Vincent Cassel is Mike is Mike Blueberry (who gave the name of this film to the European market) a trouble-kid who is sent to an uncle in Western-America. He ends up among the Indians, but later becomes sheriff of a small town. An old enemy comes to his town and he, like everybody else, is looking for the gold in the mountains in the Indian lands. Kounen presents a lot of Indian rituals and drug-influenced visions that remind of the early scenes of “Enter The Void”. The film goes from classic Western to more adventure-like filming, to surrealistic and completely visionary scenes. The result is very impressive and reminds a bit of the also great “White Lightnin’“.

The Short Films Of David Lynch (2008)

I do not know why it took so long before I set out to see this collection of short films. I knew some of them and I am not sure how. Perhaps from extras on other DVDs or perhaps just because of Youtube, but this DVD contains Lynch’s debut films “Six Men Getting Sick” (1 minute, 1967 animation), “The Alphabet” (16 minute, 1968 funny animation with real film cut in). Then you get “The Grandmother” (34 minutes, 1970, a dark and weird film reminding of “Eraserhead”), “The Amputee” (5 and 4 minutes, 1973, a test with two different cameras with ‘The Log Lady’ as the amputee, created after a year of shooting “Eraserhead”)), “The Cowboy And The Frenchmen” (26 minutes, 1988 a not-so-interesting view of Lynch on the French, he made this one on request) and “Lumiere” (55 seconds, 1995 created with a rebuild traditional camera, could be a trailer of a great new film). This disc has also been released in the Lime Green Box which also contains some films that I already have, but also “Dumbland” (also available separately) and the film that I wanted to see most: “Industrial Symphony no. 1” (1990). An amusing set of Lynch weirdness, but the full-length films are better.

22 Mei * Koen Mortier (2010)

22 Mei (’22th of May’) opens with a scene reminding of Mortier’s “Ex-Drummer“. We follow the morning ritual of the rather cheap-looking Sam. With a cigaret in his mouth he brushes his teeth, makes his lunch and leaves for work. Sam proves to have the dull job of security guard at a small mall. While standing in front of the shopping center a massive explosion blows Sam to the ground. In a reflex Sam starts to drag people out of the collapsing mall, but soon he is overtaken by emotions and he runs away. After this the film gets stranger and stranger. The story of the explosion is told from various standpoints, victims, perpetrator, Sam. Pretty soon nothing is known to be true or imagined. “22 Mei” has a good atmosphere. It is quite a heavy drama with descent experimentations. An interesting film.

Ne Te Retourne Pas * Marina de Van (2009)

Marina de Van again made a dark and mysterious psychological thriller/drama, but this time not so bloody as “Dans Ma Peau”. We follow Jeanne who does not remember anything from before she was eight years old and decides to write an autobiography. Obviously digging in her past is not good for Jeanne’s psychological stability. Not only the past, but also the presents starts to change and a very weird and nicely dark drama unfolds in which characters change and stories become blurred. “Don’t Look Back” also has the beautiful Monica Bellucci on the role which adds to the pleasure of watching this film. A very nice, alienating drama.

Dans Ma Peau * Marina de Van (2002)

Wow, the director of this gruesome film was a co-author of the comedy musical “8 Femmes” and collaborated in the typical arthouse drama “Sous Le Sable” (which I apparently did not review). As a next project she apparently wanted something less light. “Dans Ma Peau” (international title “In My Skin”) definately is! The good-looking Esther (De Van herself!) has an accident during a party. The accident completely tears the skin of her leg apart, but she only notices this much later. Apparently by the fact that her leg does not hurt like it is supposed to (or perhaps the pain is suppressed) Esther becomes delusionary and fascinated by her own body. Her normal life is alternated with scenes of self-mutilation which are pretty explicit. Esther seems to be loosing it more and more and then the film just stops. “Dans Ma Peau” has a strange atmosphere. It does not always come accross very dark, but there are is a scene in the corridor of a hotel with a rumbling soundtrack and the scenes in which Esther starts to eat herself are not for the faint of stomach. Many of the mutilation scenes look more dramatic or dream/nightmare-like as if Esther is not herself. In any case, there is nothing to the story that you do not know now (but the box or the IMdB information give it away too), but just so you are warned about the explicit nature of the film. Is “Dans Ma Peau” is good film? Personally I am no fond of these explicit scenes. The film is a darkish psychological film, which is already more in my line of interest. There are some nice experimentations with split screens and strange colours and camera work, so it leans a bit to both sides. Weighing this I come to a:

The Holy Mountain * Alejandro Jodorowsky (1973)

Another very strange, Jodorowsky film in which he again seems to do his utmost to shock/provoke. The film is presented as a spiritual journey with a mishmash of alchemical, Kabbalistic, Eastern (Tantric?) and astrological symbolism, sexuality and taboos and with a relatively large role for Gurdjieff’s enneagram (the film appears to be based on a book of a student of Gurdjieff). Jodorowsky created some elaborate stages with rotating rooms with surrealistic, spiritual imaginary. The constant referral to yet another spiritual system tends to become weary after a while, but especially the Kabbalah part looks nice. In the beginning of the film, we are presented with Christ-like figure. Later he appears to be one of nine persons (the others are introduced in a shorter way) who are recruited by “the alchemist” (played by Jodorowsky himself) for a journey to the holy mountain where the nine immortals live. Again there is a massive amount of scenes that do or do not seem to have much to do with eachother and one scene is even weirder than the next. “The Holy Mountain” is another weird trip, interesting, especially for its time, and more enjoyable than “Sante Sangre” in my opinion.