The Tetsuo Trilogy – Review

21 Oct

I’d feel pretty comfortable making the assumption that not many people know who Shin’ya Tsukomoto is, and I was one of those people up until last week when I started watching his Tetsuo films. He’s actually a cult Japanese film maker with a pretty sizable following. I then realized that he was actually the star in a movie that I recently reviewed, Marebito, but now I got to see his film making talents in full swing. I gotta say, much to my surprise, I’m not really that impressed. These movies were more of a chore than anything else, and I really wanted to like them considering the underground following that they have and especially concerning what seemed to inspire these films.

In 1989, the best film in the trilogy was released, even though how it was made is much more impressive. That film is Tetsuo: The Iron Man.

Tetsuo-The-Iron-Man

In what can only be described as a very strange morning, a Japanese businessman (Tomorowo Taguchi) and his girlfriend (Kei Fujiwara) end up hitting a character known as the Metal Fetishist (Shin’ya Tsukomoto) with their car and fleeing the scene to dump the body. What happens next defies all logic. The businessman starts to morph into a being made entirely of scrap metal, an event which has consequences that are often fatal. It turns out that the Fetishist is all but dead, and has returned to enact his revenge in the only way that he deems fit.

This is a very short film, only clocking in at a little over an hour, which seemed odd to me before I watched it and had any idea what the movie was like. Now that I’ve seen it, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, I wish it was shorter. This is a surreal trip down a junkyard, cyber-punk rabbit hole that only gets odder as it goes along. I’ve seen this film compared to the early works of David Lynch (Eraserhead immediately comes to mind) and the body horror that is so familiar in David Cronenberg’s work. I think this is a spot on comparison and is what makes this movie successful. By the 45 minute mark, however, it was all wearing a little thin. Still, that’s the only thing that is wrong with this film.

tetsuo-metal-fetishist

 

Tetsuo: The Iron Man is a very impressive film, especially considering that Tsukomoto wrote, produced, directed, had an acting part, and designed the effects all by himself. He also worked on the cinematography with Fujiwara, who plays the girlfriend. This is a really cool film with excellent special effects that shows what marvels can be done without CGI. It’s a bit too long considering how kinetic it is, but it’s still worth a watch, but for film fanatics only.

Tsukomoto couldn’t leave this movie alone, however, and released a retelling of the story with his 1992 film Tetsuo II: Body Hammer.

tetsuo_2_poster_01

Taniguchi Tomoo (Tomorowo Taguchi again) is a man with a dark and mysterious past, but has still found happiness with his wife and child. One day a group of skin heads abduct his child, and in the process of trying to get him back, Taniguchi accidentally kills him…with a giant gun that grows from his body. This horrifies his wife and he is soon kidnapped by Yatsu (Shin’ya Tsukomoto also again). Yatsu’s plan is to use that power that Taniguchi has to make an army of cyborg skinheads and exact revenge of his own.

So once again, the story here is all sorts of odd, but it worked so much better in The Iron ManBody Hammer is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the absolute worst movies I have ever seen. So much so that I cheated to get through it. I skipped certain scenes because they were damn near unwatchable. The production values are obviously higher and the movie may be in color, but it is still just a rehashing of something that was really cool and is now made stupid. The only redeeming thing about Body Hammer is the special effects, but unfortunately THE MOVIE IS SO GOD DAMN DARK, I CAN’T EVEN SEE ANYTHING!

BH1

 

I really couldn’t believe it. I just couldn’t believe it. This movie is such trash compared to the first film. Adding a story didn’t make it cooler, nor did the better special effects…well the ones I could see anyway. Another thing that didn’t help was the fact that the movie seemed to be monochromatic even though it’s color. The entire film was just a mushing of blues and grays, none 0f which looks exactly good. I understand, this is supposed to be industrial, but that doesn’t excuse how horrible this movie looks. Any fan of the first one should stay away from Body Hammer because you’re sure to be disappointed.

But still, STILL, Tsukomoto couldn’t resist make yet another Tetsuo movie. In 2009 he released the third film in the trilogy called Tetsuo: The Bullet Man.

tetsuo-the-bullet-man

Anthony (Eric Bossick) is walking with his son one day when the Metal Fetishist (Shin’ya Tsukomoto yet again!) runs over his little boy. This triggers an odd (or not so odd at this point) reaction for Anthony who begins to turn into a metallic man (shocker!).  Soon, Anthony begins to learn how he has android DNA which he got from his mother who died of cancer some years before, but was never told by his father. He begins to accept what he has become and tries to control it so he can get revenge on the Fetishist who killed his son and changed his life.

By the time I watched The Bullet Man, I was so sick of this trilogy and the rehashing of the same story over and over again. Doing that once with Body Hammer was one thing, although it was a failure, but doing it again with The Bullet Man is just annoying. Still, I did have a better time with this one than I did with its predecessor. The story is complete ludicrous, as usual, and the acting is also really subpar. What got me was that I could at least see what was going on, and unlike the other two, there was characterization in this one. The action was also pretty cool, even though Tsukomoto went kind of crazy with the crazy camerawork. Major points off for that one.

Tetsuo Bullet Man 7

 

Much like the other films, the special effects are what really make The Bullet Man anywhere near cool. This is a pretty terrible movie, but it’s almost so bad it’s good. I may be in the minority with this opinion, but I’d much prefer this one over the second one. This one has some really kinetic action and some repulsively bad writing and acting. While this isn’t as shitty as the second one, it’s still a big steaming pile if you catch my drift.

Well, there’s what I think of the Tetsuo Trilogy. As you can see I am not impressed. The first film is the only one that remotely impressed me and the second and third are just dumb. If anyone has any interest in Tsukomoto’s work with this trilogy, limit yourselves to the first one. For your own sake.

Being John Malkovich – Review

16 Oct

There are some movies where I think to myself, “How did this even get made?” 9 times out of 10 that means that I’m watching a piece of shit movie that seems like little to no talent or effort went into it at all. Now, it’s true that I had the “how did this get made” though while I was watching Being John Malkovich, but it was the rare 1 out of 10 chance where I had this thought even as I was watching an incredible movie that was full of talent, effort, and one of the most original screenplays I have ever seen. Still, with a story as surreal and other worldly as this, the movie has a lot to say and it really is some of the most fun I ever had watching a film.

being_john_malkovich_ver3_xlg

Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) is a struggling puppeteer who has recently gotten a job on the 7 1/2 floor of an office building as a file clerk. The office has incredibly low ceilings and the only was to get there is by prying the elevator doors open when it is in between the seventh and eighth floors, but that isn’t the strangest part about it. Hidden behind a filing cabinet is a portal that leads Schwartz, and anyone who enters into the mind of John Malkovich (who plays himself). Craig and his coworker Maxine (Catherine Keener), who refuses to return the love that Craig is pouring on her, decide to open the portal to the public for two hundred dollars. Everything seems to be going fine for everyone (except John Malkovich) until Maxine and Craig’s wife, Lotte (Cameron Diaz), become attracted to each other, but Maxine will only love her if she is inside John Malkovich. This odd love quadrangle soon results an existential crisis for everyone involved.

While this movie was released in 1999, I saw that an early draft of the script was actually being circulated by screenwriter Charlie Kaufman as early as 1989. This just adds to the miracle that this movie was made in the first place. Screenplays are very often around for years before being made, but this one is just so odd. John Malkovich was attached as producer for a while, but never actually planned on playing himself when the movie was made. Many people were suggesting other actors to play the part, including Tom Cruise, but Kaufman was only going to allow the movie to be made if John Malkovich was the celebrity whose mind would be entered. After much convincing, Malkovich decided to act in the movie, and the rest is history at its most surreal.

2w8nMzE

 

From the get go, this movie plays by its own rules, and I need to give so  much credit to Charlie Kaufman and director Spike Jonze, who before this movie only worked on music videos and commercials and is now an Academy Award winning film maker/writer. The fact that these two took a story about a portal that leads to the mind of John Malkovich and then spits you out on the side of the New Jersey Turnpike and made it work well is really incredible. Beneath all of the surrealism and strangeness is a wonderful look at how people obsess over the idea of celebrity to the point where they want to stop being themselves in exchange for a life that is much more exciting. If you want to dig deeper, it actually is a powerful movie about self worth and respect that is hidden beneath a dreamscape of portals and advocates of ever lasting life.

Another thing that’s wonderful about Being John Malkovich is that it made me laugh, and laugh very hard. The now famous “Malkovich, Malkovich” scene is one of the funniest scenes I’ve seen in a movie ever. I feel like I’m very harsh on comedies in the sense that it has to be original, somewhat smart or witty, and not rely on gross out or sexual humor. A movie that doesn’t apply to these personal rules are not funny to me. This film almost exists on a different dimensional plane of comedy where people like the members of Monty Python thrive. It’s smart and original on so many levels, but also just unbelievably funny. This is comedy, ladies and gentlemen.

Being John Malkovich is one of the most interesting, original, and insightful comedies that I’ve seen in a long time, not to mention that it provided me with enough surrealism to last a year. This was to be expected from the writer of films like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Adaptation, and the director of Her and some of the most wild music videos you’ll see. This is an excellent film that I would normally say isn’t for everyone, but it really sorta is for everyone. I feel like there’s joy in this movie for everyone and even some things that everyone can relate to. Being John Malkovich is one of the best comedies of all time.

The Baader Meinhof Complex – Review

14 Oct

There are some movies that are so obsessively made and complicated that it’s a wonder my brain doesn’t just go into a complete overload. Covering historical topics, especially controversial ones, can either make a film go down as a classic that explored cultural significance with panache, or be dismissed as disgusting pieces of unrealistic propaganda. Enter Uli Edel’s exceptional 2008 film, The Baader Meinhof Complex. This is a really extraordinary piece of historical film making that takes a look at a violent time throughout the world without taking sides, but simply tells a story. Of course as accurate and beautiful it is, problems with the pacing and the run time would have made this film an even better mini series.

baader-meinhof-complex_poster

 

The year is 1967 and the world seems to be overrun by violence from America, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Each of these conflicts seem to wrap around another, and there is fear in Germany of another Fascist state. Ulrike Meinhof (Martina Gedeck) is a left wing journalist who meets up with two young revolutionaries Andreas Baader (Moritz Bleibtreu) and Gudrun Ensslin (Johanna Wokalek). Putting together their political ideals and their own personal opinions, they start a group called the RAF, which stands for the Red Army Faction. The group begins almost innocently enough with plans to just rob banks in the name of the people, but soon they become more deadly and earn the title as one of the most notorious group of terrorists ever to exist.

Even writing this synopsis is hard since this movie deals with ten years of jam packed history. Events flashed by before I even had a chance to process what was happening and really digest the significance of it all. It got me thinking about the mini series John Adams, a piece of work that I argue is the most beautiful thing ever to be filmed. If that was made as a movie, the impact would not have been as significant because I wouldn’t have had the time to grow with the characters and fully understand all of the actions and events. That’s the only bad thing, really, about The Baader Meinhof Complex. Some of the most important scenes would happen as part of a montage, which isn’t really how a story should be told.

Baader_Meinhof_Com_1386309c

 

Since this movie is about history, I’d say that it’s important that the film makers got the history right. I hate watching movies that claim to be based on historical truth and then come to realize that that’s just a bunch of bullshit. What I didn’t realize before I started watching The Baader Meinhof Complex is just how historically accurate it actually is, down to how certain rooms are designed. Uli Edel looked at lots of different pictures and used the resource of biographer and writer of the book the movie is based on, Stefan Aust. The most impressive example of historical accuracy in this film is probably in the very beginning when the riots that ensued over the Shah of Iran at the Deutsche Oper, which resulted in the death of a student.

As you may have guessed, this is a very politically charged movie, but it never takes the sides of any one group. Sure, we’re supposed to sympathize with the leaders of the RAF for a while, but then our feelings dramatically change when they turn violent. Meanwhile, we sympathize with the government for needing to put an end to their terrorism, although we can’t fully get behind them either. Who we really are meant to feel for are the victims caught in the middle of the two powerhouses, even though that groups never gets a chance to speak for themselves. The violence that occurs in this movie, which many times involves innocent people, is sudden, realistic, and often shocking, which goes well with the historical accuracy behind the movie.

The Baader Meinhof Complex is a difficult movie, especially if you aren’t exactly an expert in European terrorism of the late ’60s and early 70s. Even if you aren’t, much like myself, you probably still know of how volatile the time was. It’s also difficult because things happen so quickly, so as to cover the amount of history that is jam packed into a two and a half hour long movie. Like I said before, this would have worked out so much better as a mini series, but that just isn’t how it went down. As it stands, The Baader Meinhof Complex is an interesting, exciting, and dramatic movie even though it has flaws of its own. Any history buff or lover of thrillers should miss out on this one.

House of Flying Daggers – Review

9 Oct

Sometimes there’s nothing better than watching a wuxia film where the characters fly through the treetops and can perform incredible moves of martial arts that seem to defy physics in just about every way. Think of films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero. These are just two examples of such a style, but ones that I think are the most impressive. The director of Hero, Zhang Yimou followed up that masterpiece with his 2004 film House of Flying Daggers, which is everything you must expect it to be. While it is a fantastic visual and auditory experience, the story seems a little bit behind with a boring second act that really doesn’t stand up to the first and third.

MV5BMzg4MDE0NzIwNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDI2NDcyMQ@@._V1_SX640_SY720_

 

At the end of the Tang Dynasty, the government is threatened by a rebel group of Robin Hood types who rob from the rich and give to the poor. They are both feared and respected and known by all as the House of Flying Daggers. After a new leader of the group rises to power, the local authorities led by Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro) and Liu (Andy Lau) arrest a blind dancer, Mei  (Zhang Ziyi), who may or may not be associated with the Flying Daggers. As part of a conspiracy to find out who the new leader is and assassinate them, Jin pretends to be a wandering warrior who breaks Mei out of prison and vows to return her to the Flying Daggers. As the two travel further and further, they begin to for a relationship that was most unexpected, but also the soldiers who were meant to be on Jin’s side suddenly want him dead. As if that isn’t enough, Mei is holding on to a few big secrets of her own.

I would describe this movie as martial arts meets William Shakespeare. The way the story plays out and the kind of characters are involved kind of reminded me of the Montagues and the Capulets. All of the deception and forbidden love is also very reminiscent of a Shakespearean tragedy. That combined with gravity defying martial arts only adds to how cool this movie is. It is inevitable that I’m going to compare this movie to Yimou’s earlier work with Hero, so let’s just get it out of the way. Hero is the better movie all around. It has a better story, better visuals, and is pretty much just more memorable. That doesn’t mean that House of Flying Daggers is a disappointment though, because this movie is quite memorable in its own right. I’d love to see Hollywood just try to make something like this.

house_of_flying_daggers38

I really can’t get over just how aesthetically awesome this movie is, even though it really came as no surprise. This may sound cheesy, but I can’t really help it. This movie is visual and auditory poetry. One scene in particular where Mei dances and beats the drums with her sleeve is the perfect combination of sight and sound. Every fight seems to have its own colors, sounds, and music that make them all unique. That and the way that the characters seem to effortlessly glide through the air only serves to make it all the more stunning. Finally, the score is so traditionally Chinese and occasionally thumps with a barrage of percussion that the action happening onscreen literally feels like it’s being high lighted. It is a sensory overload and I love it.

The only problem I really have with this movie is actually quite small. The beginning and end parts of this movie are both fantastic, especially a climactic fight scene that seems to begin in fall and end in winter. The middle, however, is kind of weird. This is where a lot of the excellently choreographed action scenes take place, but in between those is just a whole lot of walking around in the forest. This is where the visuals kind of lack compared to the rest of the movie, and the relationships between the characters don’t really have much depth until the third act when a lot of the secrecy is revealed.

House of Flying Daggers is an excellent example of the wuxia style of film making that I just love so much. I saw a post on Imdb where someone was complaining that it wasn’t realistic. Well duh. It’s not meant to be, so going into this movie expecting to see some true to life history would be a mistake. Instead, enter this movie expecting a visual and auditory experience that combines martial arts, fairy tales, and Shakespearean tragedy. That doesn’t sound like a bad idea at all. This movie is absolutely fantastic.

Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai

8 Oct

I’m gonna just come out and say it. I’ve never Masaki Kobayashi’s 1962 samurai classic, Harakiri. That being said, I can’t really compare these two movies. Today, I’m going to be talking about Takashi Miike’s 2011 retelling, Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai. I knew that Miike was capable of successfully crafting a samurai movie after his expertly made remake of 13 Assassins. The difference between these films is how he goes about telling the story. 13 Assassins is a quick paced action film that delivers on the goods when it comes to swordplay. Hara-Kiri, on the other hand, is most certainly not an action film. This is a slow paced family drama that tells of how the caste system in this time period spelled doom for the unworthy.

Hara-Kiri-DVD-F

On a day like any other the House of Li gets a visitor by the name of Tsugumo Hanshiro (Ichikawa Ebizō Xl), a poverty stricken ronin who asks if he may use the house’s courtyard to perform a ritual suicide. Before a decision is made, Hanshiro is told a story about another ronin, Motome (Eita), who came to the house a few months earlier for the same reason. It turns out that he was bluffing in order for pity to be shown on him, and maybe some money given to him. He is brutally killed for this. Hanshiro then tells a story of his own; a story where he reveals his relation to Motome and the reason behind his bluff. Tensions rise as he tells his story of family, death, and his goal of revenge.

This is a strange movie for a director like Takashi Miike to take on considering his filmography, which is out of this world I might add, consisting of over 90 movies. Look at films like AuditionGuzo, and his controversial Masters of Horror film Imprint. These are brutally violent horror films, and while he does work in other genres, he’s known as being one of the leading horror icons in Japanese cinema. Therefore, to even think that he could tackle a dramatic samurai film such as this is surprising. He handles Hara-Kiri like he’s been making movies like this his whole life. This is a legitimately excellent samurai drama that may leave some in the cold who were expecting an action packed movie with memorable sequences of swordplay.

HARA-KIRI -Death of a Samurai

 

Ichikawa Ebizō Xl in his role as Hanshiro may actually be the best part of this movie. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this actor before, but he reminded me a lot of Toshiro Mifune, the go to actor of Japanese film legend Akira Kurosawa. He brings a feeling of gravity to all of his scenes, whether it’s joyful, angry, or downright somber. Another person who deserves a great deal of credit is Miike’s cinematographer Nobuyasu Kita, who again feels like he could’ve been doing this 50 or 60 years ago when samurai movies were at their height. He makes the scenery really pop in this movie, but also makes the climax of this movie look absolutely beautiful. It was all together a big team effort that really pays off big time in the end.

This is also an interesting samurai movie because it deals with a theme that feels fresh to me. In most of the films involving samurai and their code, their way of life makes them strong and excellent warriors capable of bringing the most powerful of armies to their knees. This is not the case in Hara-Kiri. This film explores the negative side of the samurai code and dares us to think of how honorable they could have actually been. Sure they fought bravely in battle and offered their services, but only to those who were able to pay. The very last line of dialogue sums up the entire movie in a very ironic way, and is an excellent coda to such a thematically powerful film.

Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai is an excellent addition to Takashi Miike’s stunning filmography. The fact that he has made so many quality movies is a pretty remarkable feat. This is not a movie that will leave you on the edge of your seat or one that will it give you a surge of adrenaline. This is a thinking man’s samurai film with themes that question what honor the samurais actually had. If you’re a fan of samurai films or even of Takashi Miike’s work, you have to check out this movie. It sums up his talent pretty damn well.

The Paperboy – Review

5 Oct

I would assume that when people think of the film maker Lee Daniels, there are a few movies that immediately pop into their heads. These movies are Precious and the more recent The Butler, a movie which Daniels seemed to love putting his name all over. I would venture to guess that not many people would think of his mainly under the radar film of 2012, The Paperboy, a film based off of novelist Pete Dexter’s book of the same name. While being nominated for Golden Globe and also competing for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, this film remained relatively unheard of, which kind of seems to make sense after watching it.

ThePaperBoy_24x40.indd

In the small bayou town of Lately, Florida, investigative journalist Ward Jansen (Matthew McConaughey) and his partner Yardley Acheman (David Oyelowo) are hired by Charlotte Bless (Nicole Kidman) for a rather strange job. The two are to investigate an old crime and hopefully prove the innocence of Hillary Van Wetter (John Cusack), a death row inmate who has been charged with murdering a sheriff and with whom Charlotte has fallen madly in love with. Soon, Ward’s younger brother Jack (Zac Efron) makes himself part of the investigation, but can’t seem to get past his feelings towards Charlotte, who is becoming more and more obsessed with Hillary. The investigation is met with a seemingly endless run of obstacles including racism, unexpected violence, and secrets that none of the characters are willing to have come to light.

Now, I’ve never seen a movie by Lee Daniels before, but just judging from The Paperboy, I love his style. This movie takes place in the deep south during the 1960s, so there’s plenty of stylistic choices to go with. One way would be to make a film that simply and realistically depicts what this would look and sound like. The other way, or should I say the more interesting way, would be to create a hyper-realistic film shot on 16mm to give it a gritty look, make all of the colors faded, and have all of the actors look like their dying from heat stroke. That is how Lee Daniels makes this movie look excellent. It actually looks like it was produced in the 1960s, so I have to give Daniels a lot of credit there. Not only that, but I could almost feel the heat and humidity that seemed to be radiating from this movie.

the-paperboy-e13378566288501

 

I also have to give Lee Daniels and Pete Dexter credit on the uncompromising way they tell the story. I was actually kind of surprised that the MPAA let this movie fly so easily cut the way it is. Lets just say The Paperboy went places with its story that I was neither expecting it to, but also it went places that it probably shouldn’t have. I like that the film makers liked to take risks, since not taking them can sometimes lead to a boring movie. The problem that it poses here is that the movie got way too distracted and often times took itself way too seriously. It was too often that the plot strayed way too far from the crux of the drama, and too close to the angsty spirit of Jack. By the time we get to the climax of the movie, I didn’t feel like I was all there cause I wasn’t even quite sure how we got there. It would have been much more interesting to focus on the criminal investigation with these over the top characters, but instead we get a sort of twisted, lustful romance that took itself way too seriously and detracts major, major points from the movie as a whole.

What saves the movie from falling too deep into the pit of awful is the performances by each and every one of the actors. Of all the Disney stars that have come out of that hell hole over the past few years, Zac Efron is the one that shows the most potential, and he handles the thickness of this movie well. As it would be expected, Matthew McConaughey owns every scene he’s in, even though I feel like he was a tad underused. John Cusack plays a creep almost too well, and I haven’t been as frustrated with a character as I was with Kidman’s in quite a long time. Going back to what I was saying about the story, I just wish they stuck more with McConaughey and Oyelowo’s characters since I found what they were doing much more interesting and involving.

I’ve heard a lot of negative things about The Paperboy, but at the same time I’ve heard people who’ve loved it. This is one of those movies where you really love it or you hate it, but for me it just isn’t that simple. I didn’t think that this was a great movie, but it was a good homage to pulpy, entertaining trash. I’m not sure if this is what was expected, but that’s just the feeling I got from it. This would have been a really good movie if the story was more concerned with the drama that actually felt important and interesting. Instead, it gets distracted with some random scenes of steamy lust and young adult angst. Just know what you’re getting into if you decide to watch this movie.

Irréversible – Review

2 Oct

Well, ladies and gentlemen, here we are again back with that crazy guy Gaspar Noé. It hasn’t been too long since I’ve last reviewed something by this director, but I’ll do a little refresher. His first feature I Stand Alone  and the short film that preceded it, Carne, were pieces of visceral art that are definitely not for the feint of heart. The same can be said of his 2009 trip down a nightmarish rabbit hole, Enter the Void. Now, however, it’s time to look at his notorious film that was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and made him more known internationally, Irréversible. Like his other films, this is difficult to watch, but unlike his other films, it’s so difficult that at times I found it almost unwatchable. While it is graphic, disturbing, and all too brutal it certainly isn’t trash. Just insanely difficult.

large_eEA5JRaqq2ehMvdi0vBF2UOfOYc

Much like Christopher Nolan’s film Memento, the action in Irréversible happen in reverse chronological order. Alex (Monica Belluci) and Marcus (Vincent Cassel) are a couple who are going to a party with Alex’s old friend, Pierre (Albert Dupontel). The three are having a fine time until Alex, annoyed with Marcus’ intoxication leaves the party. On her way home, she is brutally attacked and raped by a man known as Le Tenia (Jo Prestia), and is soon found by Pierre and Marcus. Marcus then drags Pierre through the underworld of Paris to find where Le Tenia is and get revenge for what he did to Alex and potentially ruining her life and the lives of the three friends.

To get an idea of the intensity of this movie for all those who haven’t seen it, Newsweek called Irréversible the most walked out of movie of the year. People were even leaving during the Cannes Film Festival. Imagine that, people walking out of a movie that was nominated for the festival’s most prestigious prize. It is quite clear that Noé did this on purpose with a lot of fancy film making and editing. The first thing that I noticed was how the camera flew all over the place, following all the action seamlessly, and edited all together to create the illusion of really long takes. He used this same style again in Enter the Void. The camera flies in and out of cars, flips, spins, etc. As if that’s not disorienting enough, the first 30 minutes or so of the movie as a continuous 28Hz droning that actually has a physical effect on humans that make us feel uncomfortable or even sick.

hero_EB20030314REVIEWS303140303AR

A lot of credit has to go to the people that were involved in helping Noé’s vision, disturbing as it is, to the screen. Rodolphe Chabrier had what seemed like a really tedious job as this film’s visual effects supervisor. It was his job to fix up all of the crazy, illusory long takes and make the camera look like it’s doing all of the acrobatics almost naturally. There’s a lot more visual effects in this movie than it may seem on the surface, but there were many scenes that had to be cleaned and other actions tweaked. Much props also go to Belluci, Cassel, and Dupontel. Cassel has this intense approach to his acting when appropriate and is menacing for part of this movie, while Dupontel works well as the more hesitant of the two. They work very well off each other and give commendable performances even during the quieter scenes. Belluci deserves more praise than most actresses for stepping up to the challenge of this role and also performing it in such a realistic way. The brutal attack scene is made all the more difficult by how outstanding her ability to act really is.

I may have talked about this before, but it’s something that gets me heated. Many people have condemned Irréversible as trash taken to the most extreme. They seem to be implying that there is no room for films that are disturbing or graphic or show something that makes people uncomfortable and angry. Movies are supposed to stir emotions, be they good or bad, and the worst movies are the one that leave the viewer feeling nothing in particular. Yes, this movie made me feel very uncomfortable and close to physically ill, but that’s good. The movie did what it was supposed to do. There are many films that are graphic and disturbing and are most certainly just trashy entertainment. There is nothing trashy in this film, just brutally realistic and gritty.

I’m not going to recommend Irréversible, because I feel like there are many people out there who may read this review and not be able to sit through this movie. Normally, I think people should try movies like this out and do their best to push through it, but even I had trouble with the intensity and unflinching vision of this movie. It is extremely well made and acted, once again showing that Gaspar Noé is one of the most under appreciated director working today, while definitely remaining one of the most controversial. Irréversible is gritty, brutal art that should be considered as such, but should never be referred to as trashy.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 161 other followers