Sunday, July 5, 2015

Three Films Make A Post: Entombed for eons - turned to stone - seeking women, women, women!

Her (2013): The really surprising thing about Spike Jonze’s film for me is how little of the simplistic “oh noes, the modern world is so alienated” piece its set-up might threaten is actually in it; this is not beholden to any cult of authenticity apart from that of human feeling. It’s also a perfect portray of loneliness, and longing, and sadness, and oh, by the way, it’s also a mainstream (in the broader sense of the word) SF film that isn’t ashamed of having more than two brain cells to rub together, not exactly expanding on what written SF has thought about its themes and props but putting it on a human level as good as anything I’ve seen or read in a long time.

There’s also a pervading sense of joy as well as of quotidian strangeness running through the film, some fine performances in particular by Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson and Amy Adams, and an absolutely perfect score. Why, the film’s so good I’m even pretending not to notice it doesn’t seem to know what an OS is.

Cutie Honey (2004): Between remaking Neon Genesis Evangelion again and again and again, Hideaki Anno somehow found the time to direct this live action version of Go Nagai’s sleazy yet wondrous magical girl manga/anime, turning down the sleaze quite a bit in the process – leaving only a lot of coy and pretty good-natured shots of Eriko Sato’s shapely behind – and surprising me by how enjoyable the result is when it should by all rights annoy me to kingdom come.

Anno manages to turn elements of the original into a crazy mix of pop-art, kitsch, the grotesque and goofy humour, somehow finding just the right mixture ratio to make the film work as something beyond mere camp. There’s a sense of fun, often actually funny humour and an exuberance surrounding the proceedings that does curious things with the film’s crazy and grotesque side, turning the whole affair into one of the more charming pictures you’ll see in whatever week you watch it.

The Serpent’s Egg (1977): This is generally treated as Ingmar Bergman’s Big Failure (yes, with capital letters) but I don’t agree with that assessment at all. To me, the film seems to do exactly what it sets out to do, show the Weimarer Republik as a sort of hellish state of mind, filled with increasingly bizarre elements like the onset of the insanity that would become the so-called Third Reich. The people in the film can hardly communicate with one another, their actors only given the choice to emote either with very emphatic lacks of expression or through over-heated hysteria, which is of course no communication at all.

The film’s an often unpleasant experience, slowly dragging itself along like any good economic crisis does, only waking up for moments of ever increasing unpleasantness, sometimes bordering on the sort of thing that the exploitation movies I talk about more often would indulge in, yet filmed with a palpable sense of revulsion those films can’t afford. Nobody ever said films about people getting crushed by the wheels of history should be a pleasant experience.

No comments: