I always wanted to have a section at the movie store, my pick’s, now, that movie stores no longer exist, it doesn’t look like this is going to happen, I have a feeling they wouldn’t be too popular anyways. Unless you’re already a fan of underground films, in which case I’m sure you’re already familiar with some of these films, I’d like to share a few of my favourites (and if you’d like to share some of yours I’d appreciate it).
If you like the subtle, dark, slightly disturbing humour and watching a wandering nihilistic intellectuals wondering why they shouldn’t hate the miserable world they life, then you may find some solace in Naked. With a similar feel to Withnail and I, Naked chronicles Johnny who get’s off on raping girls, dark I know, and meets up with his ex-girlfriend, and tries to either get back at her or back with her, by sleeping with her witless roommate, then wanders the streets of London encountering various characters and trying to get some sort of answer for existence from them.
Man Bites Dog (1992)
A Belgium underground classic, done in a mockumentry style, a small film crew follow an eloquent serial killer and are unwittingly sucked into being accomplices. The film shows how an extremely dark side to human nature can be portrayed in a somehow light fashion, and how easy it is to get led along, like the film crew.
La Haine (1995)
A social commentary of tragic circumstances that’s beautifully orchestrated, along to an awesome French hip hop soundtrack and stunning cinematography . Documenting a spoilt innocence, young kids who grow up in the projects of Paris, who are pushed to extreme action from the hateful environment they are surrounded by.
Cammora is a criminal organization in Naples, Italy, it is one of the oldest and largest criminal organizations in Italy (according to Wikipedia). This film gives a glimpse into the lives of people either directly affiliated or living in the neighbourhoods where Cammora reigns. It shows an environment that it is impossible to escape from, where the only option is to join forces and hope you’ve picked the right side.
One of, the indie star, Richard Linklater’s earlier film’s, before Dazed and Confuse, Before Sunrise, Before Sunset. Do you ever have those days when you’re walking around town and bump into a real character, perhaps they’re want to tell you a story, about something crazy that happened to them, they’re trying to let you in on some secret knowledge they’ve obtained, they’re trying to sell you something that will change your life, and in your mind you’re thinking, how do I get away from this weirdo, but at the same time, you’re compelled, curious about what they have to say, this movie is like a compilation of those run ins.
Harold and Maude (1971)
A young man attempting suicide to get attention, falling in love with an old woman,who shows him the value of life, with a soundtrack by Cat Stevens, the perfect romantic film. This is my favourite movie, it lead to a Cat Stevens obsession, I now own all his records, made me want to buy a hearse and probably inspired my love of black comedies, I even had a little thing for Bud Cort. It’s a perfect combination of tragedy and hope, macabre and upbeat optomism, young and old, life and death, ect.
Soy Cuba (1964)
A mesmerizing film, artistically done, portrays the life in Cuba leading up to the revolution and the dire circumstances the citizens live in. After showing the desperation of the Cubans it ends on a hopeful note, leading into the Cuban Revolution, although we all know how that turned out, having recently visited Cuba, I must say, outwardly at least, conditions haven’t improved much.
Allegro Non Troppo (1976)
An Italian answer to Fantasia, and without the constraints of Disney, it’s probably one of those, ‘better when you’re stoned’ type films, but I believe it still has merit. Musically guided animation is broken up by scenes of the orchestra that is a satire of the social classes in Italy at the time.
Conspirators of Pleasure (1996)
I first heard of Jan Svankmajer while in Prague, from a young man with a shirt full of holes and alcohol stains, gesticulating wildly trying to portray the experimental theatre he took part in, I will admit I felt slightly sorry for him, but when he had cleared the dance floor with his flailing limp moves, I had to return to the safety of my friends. Even though Svankmajer is from the Czech Republic and is one of the more well known local film makers, I think this was an apt person to recommend him to me. While rummaging through the pirated dvd’s in China I happened upon this film, I was collecting a lot of criterion collection type films since most of the selection there is either blockbuster trollop or utterly obscure, only later did I make the connection of what I’d picked up. This is not one of my favourite films by far, but I thought it was worth mentioning, considering it’s a feature length film with no dialogue, a mix of stories and odd characters, describing their weird fetishes, including one that gets off on fishes mouths, it still managed to keep me entertained, if only out of wonderment at what exactly I was witnessing. Svankmajer is a pioneer of stop animation, and you can see how he influenced others in this genre, including Terry Gilliam. As I walked away from my new friend in Pargue, shaking my head, I somehow couldn’t manage to pull my eyes away, it kinda sums up the Czech Republic and what it produces, weird and quirky, but fascinating.
Greta Gerwig, the name doesn’t roll off the tongue, nor would you probably recognize her, she’s one of those Hollywood ‘normal girls’ that you’re almost convinced by, she’s a lot easier to sympathize with when she doesn’t get the guy as opposed to say Kate Hudson. Recently seen in Damsels in Distress, Whit Stillman’s new film. Although the film left me slightly befuddled, it wasn’t without it’s merits. It’s apparent that Stillman is no longer in his element, trying to conceptualize the youth subculture, whereas The Last Days of Disco and Metropolitan were both based on personal experiences, this film feels detached, as if he’s trying to place his past perceptions in a new environment. Damsels in Distress is placed in that non-specific time period, bordering on reality, but with a ridiculousness, satirizing different social groups, and a witty dialogue, typical of Stillman, that creates an idealized, but removed society. I’ll try not to analyze the movie, because, well, I wouldn’t really know where to begin, but Gerwig (his Chloe Sevigny replacement) plays a strong but hopelessly flawed character, baring some semblance to the character she played in Greenberg, you empathize with her character but simultaneously feel frustration, why doesn’t she stand up for herself? doesn’t she realize she could do better? Perhaps because it’s too easy to relate to her weaknesses, she’s too human, and that’s not something we’re used to seeing when we go to a film, that it makes us feel slightly uncomfortable. Isn’t art supposed to be reflection of life, instead we’re fed films that fulfill our deepest desires, showing us life through rose-coloured glasses; shit happens, but don’t worry, you’ll end up finding an even better guy, you’ll get that promotion, and all the bad people in your life will get their punishment, we never tire of our fairy tales. But when film starts to point out our own social anxieties, and uncertainties of life, we don’t like what we see, we don’t want someone to hold up a mirror to our lives, but a picture of that super model we are trying desperately to be. Sure Gerwig’s had her duds, but I’m hopeful, I welcome the new alternative girl.
I’ve decided to do some weekly features to add structure to this blog… Therefore I present, under appreciated things, in my opinion, and at least in the circles I’m in.
Let’s start with… Berlin Calling
as I’m being made aware from all the blogs commenting on this film, others feel the same way, making this posting totally redundant, but nonetheless it is still an under appreciated and people should be made aware.
If you’ve ever spent any time in Berlin, experienced the underground rave scene, or are fascinated by people going crazy, which to a certain extent we all are, harbouring a secret fear of it happening to us. A modern day One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, but with aa awesome soundtrack, done by lead character, Ickarus, who is real life DJ, Paul Kalkbrenner.