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Archive for September 21st, 2010

by Joel

#85 in Best of the 21st Century?, a series counting down the most acclaimed films of the previous decade.

Olivier is one of those men you can’t picture outside of the workplace. They’re very good at their job, often stern without being cruel, dignified yet something of a personal cipher. In Olivier’s case, when we see him off the job (he’s a carpenter whose task is to train apprentices) we discover that he lives alone, never takes off his uniform (blue overalls), and apparently does not watch television or read – leisure time is spent doing sit-ups. As played by Olivier Gourmet, and photographed by the Dardenne brothers (whose penchant for handheld close-ups here borders on self-parody so claustrophobic is their cinematography), Olivier is initially hard to read, and one wonders if there is indeed anything to read, or if he’s simply content to be uncomplicated. There is, and he isn’t – or maybe he would be, but he hasn’t the chance to be simple. Having experienced a tragedy, and now forced to rub his nose in reminders of his loss, Olivier begins behaving erratically – although only we, in the audience know this; he’s still firmly enough in control to hide from public view his odd behavior (running through the shop, peeking around corners, leafing through files). Until a conversation with his ex-wife (Isabella Soupart) some ways into the movie we are not sure what lies behind all the eccentricities. Given the title, we suspect secret filial relations between Olivier and Francis (Morgan Marinne), a heavily medicated carpenter-in-training, whom Olivier initially refuses before accepting as an apprentice and then proceeding to stalk. But Francis is not Olivier’s son. Read no further if you want the film to take you by surprise. There are certainly benefits to both approaches (knowing who Francis is enables you invest more in Olivier’s strange behavior) but you can always go back and re-watch the movie with this knowledge in mind, so I suggest taking a break if you haven’t seen The Son.

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(Brian DePalma, 1976)

(essay by Troy)

While capturing screenshots for Brian DePalma’s Carrie, it became apparent that much like Mia Farrow as Rosemary Woodhouse, Carrie White could only be played by one person, Sissy Spacek.  Her face and mannerisms allow her to be the perfect sympathetic monster — beautiful, innocent, fragile, and pitiful, yet still managing to be chillingly believable as she exacts an inferno of bloody terror on her tormentors.

With that in mind (and partially due to lack of time), I’m shelving the draft I’ve written for this film (just assume it’s a lot of talk about the symbolism of menstrual blood, Carrie’s transition from girl to woman, the great performances by the supporting cast, DePalma’s fantastic use of split screen, Psycho homages, the use of the high school milieu and classic ending scare, both of which surely influenced countless future slashers, and the frighteningly realistic prospect of the ending in light of the real-world high school shootings of the last 20 years) and instead am going to post the series of screenshots showcasing DePalma’s use of Spacek in the film, many have which have certainly achieved iconic status.

(WARNING: COPIOUS SCREENSHOTS FOLLOW!)
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by Allan Fish

(Japan 1969 84m) DVD1/2

Aka. Môjuu

In the Realm of the Senses

p  Masaichi Nagata, Kazumasa Nakano  d  Yasuzo Masumura  w  Yoshio Shirasaka  story  Rampo Edagawa  ph  Setsuo Kobayashi  ed  Tatsuji Nakashizu  m  Hikaru Hayashi  art  Shigeo Mano

Eiji Funakoshi (Michio), Mako Midori (Akki), Noriko Sengoku (mother),

And what a realm it is.  The English title for Oshima’s later psycho-sexual masterpiece would arguably be even more appropriate for Masumura’s equally disturbing dip into the black side.  For what we have here is a film that is entirely about the senses, particularly that of touch.  It’s a film truly like any other, one that was for a long time unheard of in the UK – largely perhaps due to the extreme content of the final act – and indeed Masumura himself has been criminally neglected by western critics.

            Akki is a young virgin model who works by stripping off for fetishist pictures for an unseen photographer.  One day at the gallery where these pictures are being exhibited, she sees a young man caressing a sculpture of her created by the photographer’s friend.  She feels a very disturbing sensation as if the man’s hands were roaming over her, not the sculpture, and returns home agitated.  She rings for a masseur to come out and relieve her tension, but it turns out to be the self same man, who after touching her in ways even too intimate for a masseur, proceeds to kidnap her with the help of some chloroform and his mother accomplice.  She is then taken to a disused iron warehouse, where she is kept prisoner in a truly surreal, nightmarish studio, dominated by two huge sculptures of the front and back of the naked female form, and all the walls decorated with sculptured ears, eyes, noses, mouths and breasts of all types and sizes.  (more…)

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