Anyone who has seen the cinematic LSD trip that is Hausu might expect something similar from this film as the set-up is almost identical, but where Hausu starts to get hilariously psychedelic at the first hint of terror, Guzoo plays it pretty safe. The main attraction here is the camp design – Freudian tentacles emerge from unexpected places, and the soundtrack is pure 1950s B-movie – as besides that, there isn’t much to write home about. At just forty minutes in length, the film struggles to get the story out before overdosing on special effects. As a relic of low-budget horror in the VHS era however, Guzoo is of immeasurable value, and like the infamous Evil Dead Trap series, could eventually gain cult value through religious rewatching.
Thursday, 28 October 2010
Tuesday, 26 October 2010
A closely autobiographical piece (Haneke grew up in post-WWII Austria), Lemmings, Part 1 is an astute exploration of society’s influence on the developing minds of impressionable teenagers. The film is careful not to present them as reckless monsters – on the surface they appear all manners and sweetness, and their negative behaviour feels like a helpless metamorphosis rather than rebellion. These children’s violent impulses are made all the more terrifying by the fact that they are not yet equipped to understand their motives, meaning that this transformation is beyond their, or anybody’s, control. This theme is adeptly explored in Haneke’s latest film, The White Ribbon, the setting transposed to pre-WWI Germany. One can perhaps recognise this as Haneke’s own anti-war message, the suggestion being that it reinstates people’s class status and breeds conflict in every level of society. An accomplished precursor to Haneke’s later masterpieces, Lemmings, Part 1 could easily be Austrian Graffiti.
Sunday, 24 October 2010
While his ambition may not have been to create a tribute to these strangers, Büttner manages to tap into the pseudoscience of nostalgia to give the viewer little shivers that may represent a superficial connection to each photo. A proponent of musique concrète by trade, Büttner has a clear understanding of the synaesthetic possibilities of film, and the lack of movement in each image suggests that audiovisual memory is freed of temporality. Each musical composition feels diligently constructed, and clear references are made to the iconography in the images – a photograph of an old man with canaries is scored by a slightly tropical composition, while a scratched record accompanies Christmas picture. Büttner’s work is very consciously experimental, and ultimately the film showcases the artist’s music over his filmmaking abilities (one wonders why each picture has to seem so sinister), but it is definitely worth a watch.
From the very first frame, director Claudia Llosa makes the audience aware of the film’s themes as Fausta and her dying mother sing an emotive Quechua folksong together. As the rest of her family show more interest in partying, we are kept very aware of Fausta’s spiritual connection with her mother, and thus ideals of femininity. Without featuring any visual depictions of rape, Llosa does a stunning job of eliciting a strong emotional response from her audience, and remarkably even manages to balance the drama with a few laughs at the simple joys of life. But there is a worry that Llosa is oversimplifying the issues. Extreme contrasts in the film are made between masculine and feminine, rich and poor, and in the moments where the film should become most affecting, it often resembles a Greek tragedy. The biggest credit for the film undoubtedly belongs to lead actress Magaly Solier, whose enigmatic performance as Fausta keeps the film fascinating and believable.
Thursday, 21 October 2010
It is undeniable that Undertow was made with heart, but its first-time director Javier Fuentes-León has a few issues with articulating his message clearly. Using the idea of a ghost to represent intolerance in small communities is inspired and works for part of the film, but it just isn’t believable enough to hit the viewer as hard as it should. Great care has been taken to establish the family environment in Miguel and Mariela’s household – an illuminated religious painting in their living room hints at the couple’s selective participation in religious living – but Santiago is undercharacterised by comparison. In many ways, one should be grateful that the subject isn’t blown out of proportion by melodramatics, but it is easy to miss the gravity of the conclusion if one hasn’t invested all their emotive response in every scene.
Saturday, 16 October 2010
Using tropes from the silent era, as has become his trademark, Maddin creates a very textural, darkly humorous story whose conclusion is neither important nor welcomed. Thick Icelandic accents give credibility to the sham mythologies spouted by the two men, while visual motifs such as fish and a jewelled pair of scissors enliven the feverish imagery. But while one would instinctively describe the film by listing the names of directors pastiched by Maddin, the film feels startlingly novel in its design, as if German Expressionism was in need of being revisited. What is most remarkable about the film is that, while thematically it is macabre, one cannot help but be charmed by it. As outstanding and wonderfully cultish a debut as David Lynch’s Eraserhead, Tales from the Gimli Hospital is a winning combination of film styles, and Maddin’s unique manner of storytelling ensures that no single frame is wasted.
Thursday, 14 October 2010
Im has turned the power structure of the original on its head, perhaps in order to reflect a similar change in Korea’s class divide. Whereas the maid of the earlier film exerts predatorial tendencies over the family, Euny is a tabula rasa for her employers to spoil. Im’s parody of upper-class lifestyles is somewhat overwrought, to the exclusion of much-needed characterisation, but the carefully designed household provides many opportunities for clever theatrical camerawork, often emphasising the hierarchy amongst the characters. Unfortunately, the film soon loses its grip on the viewer as the drama grows more intense, particularly as there is very little of the titular character to grasp onto emotionally.
Anyway, end of ramble, great big dripping wet thanks to everyone who reads this blog!