The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears (2013, Cattet & Forzani)

Amazing giallo tribute that outdoes any of the originals except maybe the peak Argentos. Apparently this is what this Belgian filmmaking duo makes – loving, intensely stylized fever-dream giallos – which makes me sorry I skipped their Amer a few years ago. Full-color widescreen lunacy with trippy credits, great but too-infrequent music, extreme close-ups, bondage, nudity and lots of knife murders.

Danish Klaus Tange returns home from a trip to find his wife missing. They live in a Lords of Salem apartment building full of odd neighbors and evil unopened rooms and hidden passageways above and behind everything, in which first a tenant named Laura and now Klaus’s wife have disappeared. Mysterious bearded guy lives in there and seems to know what’s going on, and Klaus has an Italian police detective on his side. Also there’s a grey-haired old woman who tells a story of when her husband disappeared into the walls, and she might in fact be Laura and/or the murderer, and I believe Klaus gets killed, but none of this seemed important at the time, even less so afterwards.

N. Murray in Dissolve:

The problem is that Cattet and Forzani have done this before—and with more focus. Strange Color gets at the voyeurism of giallo, and how investigating a mystery gives people license to peer into other people’s homes and lives. But the movie as a whole doesn’t say anything about male sexual desire and female sexual power that Amer didn’t already say.

J. Anderson in Cinema Scope:

One reason Forzani and Cattet’s films are so alluring and unnerving is how well they tap into giallo’s fundamental core of irrationality. They invest a new elegance and a renewed vigour into the “science of plotless shock and dismemberment.” O’Brien intended that phrase to serve as faint praise for Bava and his successor Argento, but it’s also suggestive of the careful manner in which The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears induces ever more advanced stages of dread and derangement on the viewer’s part.

About Time (2013, Richard Curtis)

Not really a romance movie, turns out it’s a father/son bonding flick with some incidental women: perfect girlfriend/wife Rachel McAdams (Passion), and troubled sister Lydia Wilson (kidnapped princess in the first episode of Black Mirror). Father (Bill Nighy, natch) and son Tim (Domhnall “son of Brendan” Gleeson) have the boys-only inherited ability to revisit previous moments in their lives, change things then return. Movie starts out having Tim use his power to impress girls, but later to teach us that life should be enjoyed and fully experienced the first time through. Non-time-travelers: Tim’s mum (Lindsay Duncan of Traffik) and first crush (Margot Robbie, Leo’s second wife in Wolf of Wall Street), and I can’t remember if they explained whether Tim’s weird uncle Richard Cordery could time-travel. Nighy has Nick Cave’s “Into My Arms” play during his funeral, so now I’ve gotta find a new Nick Cave song to request for mine. “Push The Sky Away” sounds too obviously like funeral music with that organ, and “Babe I’m On Fire” goes too far the other way, so maybe “People Ain’t No Good”? I guess “The Weeping Song” would work, or “Let The Bells Ring”. I’ll have to listen to those two again, and maybe “No More Shall We Part” before deciding for sure, but for now I’m leaning “People Ain’t No Good”.

Viola (2012, Matias Piñeiro)

Delicate drama mostly shot in shallow-focus close-ups – so delicate that it has pretty much flown right out of my head. I remember some actors rehearsing Shakespeare, a girl with a pirate video delivery service, chance meetings and a dream sequence. And I remember really, really liking it. Katy did not.

Quintin has a great Cinema Scope article about the Argentinean writer/director:

The films take Shakesperean promiscuity to the limit: in the end any actor can play any character—including sex changes—as if all the bodies, the names, and all of Shakespeare’s and Piñeiro’s characters are impossible to distinguish. In Viola, María Villar plays a character named Viola who—in principle—has nothing to do with theatre. But then she meets a girl who is acting in a production of Twelfth Night who asks Viola to be her replacement. In the second act of Twelfth Night, Viola disguises herself as a man called Cesario, but in the play within the film he is called Bassanio, a character from The Merchant of Venice. Any multi-talented member of this magic sect can act, write, or even play music, as is clearly shown at the end of Viola. These endless confusions and exchanges continue on and on in the film. Piñeiro has declared that he doesn’t want to make the kind of film where characters’ paths intersect due to the cleverness of the script, but rather one that allows people to live as they want or as they can. But, in that way, all of these individualists living like monads, trying to succeed in love and art, end up mixing into a symbolic orgy, where film and theatre, men and women, music and literature, work and leisure, dating and talking, are molded into a single entity.

Guy Maddin has a Vimeo page

I just found out!

Bing & Bela (2010)

Bing Crosby and Bela Lugosi.

Buried side-by-side.

Red lips. White wolf.

She is film critic Kim Morgan, who married Maddin after filming.

Lilith & Ly (2010)

A one-minute vampire short.

Udo Kier aims to steal a vampire woman’s necklace.

Is it supposed to be silent or is my browser messed up?

These last two were part of a shorts series called Hauntings.

It’s a Wonderful Life (2001)

Music video for Sparklehorse.

Silent actors on rotating sets.

Shot in peep-hole-vision!

Berlin (2008)

Footage from Berlin, Ontario in 1916.

Remixed to doom-music.

Sighs & Bosoms (2014?)

Literally that, in a single sepia-toned shot, with strings.

One Minute Louis Negin (2014?)

Single shot of Negin close-up

Perhaps from the rushes of something Keyhole-related?

Spanky, to the Pier and Back (2008)

Spanky is a small dog.

He walks to the pier and back, the camera frantically recording the experience.

Lullaby (or Funerailles) (2013?)

Takes exciting or upsetting moments from films and tracks back and forth over them obsessively, almost Martin Arnold-style. Intense and wonderful. Includes Santo, Tales of Hoffmann, a zeppelin disaster, Dracula, gladiator battles, more.

Sissy Boy Slap Party!!! (2004)

Louis Negin goes off to the store to buy condoms and the sleepy heap of sissy boys he leaves behind immediately commence with some major slapping, while drummers drum and women stand aside unimpressed.

Also on there:
- a trailer for Archangel with the most edits per second of any Maddin work (yes!)
- a bog in Victoria shot on lo-fi color camera
- a bunch of silent 8mm reels I didn’t watch

A Field in England (2013, Ben Wheatley)

“Beer has its own way of sorting things out.”

Julian Barratt (Mighty Boosh’s Howard Moon) seeks Whitehead, is looking for a field, then abruptly dies. Whitehead (Reece Shearsmith, a lead in The League of Gentlemen series) will be our movie’s lead coward, joining with some companions in a field in the midst of a filthy war in search of his dead master’s nemesis O’Neil, who stole some papers I guess.

Companions: hood-wearing Friend (that’s his name, took me all movie to figure it out) played by Richard Glover (minor role in Sightseers) with a great low voice, wide-hatted Cutler (Ryan Pope of TV’s Ideal), Jacob (Peter Ferdinando of serial killer movie Tony). They finally find O’Neil (Michael Smiley, the lead guy’s co-hitman in Kill List) at the end of a long rope (?) and a struggle ensues.

The point is less the war, the companions, the stolen papers and struggle than the weird ride. There’s a game of tug-o-war vs. mystical forces, poop humor, many mushrooms are consumed, Whitehead fasts then vomits runestones and the dead don’t stay dead. Maybe it’s Jodorowsky-influenced, seeming mythical without making any proper sense.

Set during the English Civil War, 1650ish, which reportedly caused some trouble coming up with period-appropriate words. The dialogue is great when you can make it out, which we couldn’t on my dad’s surround system (was fine in headphones). Writer Amy Jump and cinematographer Laurie Rose also worked on the other two.

Passion (2012, Brian De Palma)

A twisty triple-cross murder thriller, sleek and sexy and fun while it’s playing, with very good performances, but pretty instantly forgettable. Too bad, I was hoping for another Femme Fatale. American remake of Alain Corneau’s final film Crime d’amour which starred Ludivine Sagnier and Kristin Scott Thomas.

Rachel McAdams (To The Wonder) steals credit for her employee Noomi Rapace’s successful advertising idea, is in line for a big promotion, and is dating hottie Paul Anderson who is stealing from the company on the side. Noomi (also great in Prometheus) does all the work while Rachel enjoys being rich and powerful, repeatedly humiliating Noomi until she murders Rachel in the midst of a downward spiral of pill addiction with blue-toned noir lighting.

But wait! After being arrested Noomi manages to prove her innocence with some belated evidence and pin it on the boyfriend instead. And she’s secretly dating her hot red-haired secretary Dani (Karoline Herfurth of We Are The Night, not We Own The Night). The ending gets confusing, since Rachel is apparently alive again (Wikipedia says it’s her twin sister but whatever) and poor Dani gets murdered by either Noomi, Rachel, Rachel’s sister or maybe a ghost or it didn’t happen at all, I dunno. I figured it as a twist on the twist ending, not actually revealing how the final murder happened.

De Palma’s still got the smoothest moving camera in the business (shot by veteran DP José Luis Alcaine, who did at least six Almodovar movies), an excellent looking and sounding movie. I feel like I should’ve liked it more – not that anyone else did (A. Tracy’s takedown in Cinema Scope is the most amusing of the bunch).

Nymphomaniac (2013, Lars Von Trier)

Divided into two parts with multiple sections each. Rough-looking nymphomaniac Charlotte Gainsbourg is picked up by virgin shut-in Stellan Skarsgard. She tells her story, divided into two long parts with multiple sections, each section metaphorically tied to a different token from Stellan’s bedroom. He is presented as the most patiently nonjudgemental man in the world, then finally tries to rape her in her sleep, because after all, she’s had sex with basically everyone but him. It’s temping to call this a betrayal of his character, but really it seems too tragically real. With all the sexual escapades in the four-hour movie, this final minute is the part I keep thinking about.

Part one is a romp, then part two does away with the fun and games and much of the humor, as “Joe” goes too far and injures herself then can’t have proper sex for a while and has to visit a masochist (haven’t seen Jamie Bell since 2006, forgot what he looked like – he’s got a Ryan Gosling dreamy intensity here) and she becomes obsessed with her first/true love Jerome (Shia LaBeouf, then distractingly a different actor in the last few scenes) and tries to murder him when he takes up with Joe’s girlfriend Mia Goth.

For the most part, except when part two gets too heavy in the middle, the movie mixes things up admirably. It uses cutaway footage with different resolutions and aspect ratios, graphics and captions in part 1, and is overall full of intensely good dialogue. Fun meta-moment when Jerome returns to the story, Stellan tells her the coincidence is too strong and Joe replies you’ll get more out of the story if you just roll with it and believe me.

Christian Slater is Joe’s father, mainly seen during the “Delirium” episode when he’s dying in hospital, and Connie Nielsen (Demonlover) is her severe mother (does she even have lines?). Sophie Clark is Joe’s best friend in part 1, and Uma Thurman gets a huge breakdown scene as the wife of a man who has left her to live with Joe. But, as usual, too small a role for Udo Kier.

M. Sicinski:

… it functions a bit like a notepad, moving through different styles and tones without ever lapsing into stuntsmanship. This is a promiscuous film, one that intends to strip that descriptor of any pejorative scent. Like Joe, Nymphomaniac is exploratory and remains radically open, while retaining a core existential self. It can attach its diegesis to a character who may well weave in and out of objective truth; it may tip its hand into reflexivity, only to pull back and attempt to compel belief, both on the level of story and that of formal organization.

House of Tolerance (2011, Bertrand Bonello)

Titles have varied: L’Apollonide (Souvenirs de la maison close) and House of Tolerance and House of Pleasures, but I’d prefer Bonello Bordello. I didn’t have high hopes despite all the best-of-year placements and Bonello’s 50 Under 50 crowning. Didn’t love The Pornographer, and the promo photos of pretty girls in fancy dresses drooping on a sofa didn’t look thrilling. But the movie is thrilling and engrossing in a way I can’t explain. Scenes are repeated from different angles and through split screens, and a final time-jump to the present day doesn’t even seem out of place in the dream-world of the film.

I can no longer remember all the characters, but let’s try: Marie-France Dallaire (Noémie Lvovsky) is madam of Bonello Bordello, looks vaguely like Meryl Streep. Madeleine (Alice Barnole) aka The Jewess is easily recognizable, having been given a Joker face by a sadistic knife-wielding client. Samira is Hafsia Herzi, Rym in The Secret of the Grain. Pauline (Iliana Zabeth) “Le Petite” is the youngest one who arrives after the time jump from Nov. 1899 to Mar. 1900. Lea (Adele Haenel of Water Lilies) is shortish, blonde, has an arm tattoo. Julie/Caca (Jasmine Trinca of The Son’s Room) has a neck tattoo. Clothilde (Celine Sallette of Rust & Bone and the TV series Les Revenants) has dark hair, looks like Maggie Gyllenhaal and gets addicted to opium. I paid less attention to the men, but apparently some of them were played by filmmakers.

Played in competition at Cannes, nominated for eight Cesars, winning for costume design. One of Cinema Scope’s favorite movies of 2011.

from P. Coldiron’s excellent article in Slant:

House of Pleasures‘s pièce de résistance comes when, following the death of one of the ladies from syphilis, the women of L’Apollonide gather in the parlor for a moment of grieving set to the Moody Blues’s “Nights in White Satin,” one of a handful of anachronistic pop songs deployed diagetically across the film. This moment of both grief and its exorcism via its performance comes to a halt when, at the song’s final notes, Clotilde emerges from an opium session and passes out upon entering the room. She awakens in the arms of the recently deceased, and the tender conversation that follows (“If we don’t burn how will the night be lit?”), which isn’t dismissed as a dream or hallucination, but simply presented as it is, perfectly distills Bonello’s project: the days of history as a succession of ghost stories are over; death, taken as inevitable, becomes irrelevant; and freed from the fear of looking forever forward toward death, we can look backward and see in the mirror of a truly lived history an image of a better future. Not an inevitability, but a possibility; this is all we can ask for.

Surprised how much the newspaper critics disliked it. I thought P. Bradshaw was supposed to be cool, but he gives it one star and calls it “weirdly nasty”.

Bonello:

I was obsessed with manipulating time because I did not have space; that’s why you have the flashbacks and a change in aesthetic point of view. I was trying to show a rich amount of time because I did not have a lot of space. I knew the film would be tough in a way, so I wanted to give some beauty and a lot of attention to light. We became obsessed with how light was seen during this period, which we can see in [paintings] from this period. We did research on the mix of electricity and candles because 1900 was when electric lights started appearing in Paris. So we decided that in the salon and the main rooms downstairs there would be electric lights and then upstairs there would still be candles. There were many little details used and the sum of the details give the aesthetic of the film. The whole film is made inside with no windows, so I wanted it to be theatrical with movement and beauty.

Bastards (2013, Claire Denis)

One of those grimy revenge dramas in which the filmmaker seems to be asking if the rewards of revenge are worth the costs, further complicated by the revenge-seeker getting his facts wrong. The way Denis parcels out information in context-free fragments, I don’t blame the guy for being confused.

Vincent Lindon (Friday Night) is back in town (after fleeing his family to be a sailor) because his sister Sandra’s husband has killed himself, and their daughter Justine (Lola Créton of Bluebeard and Goodbye First Love) is receiving medical attention for a horrible sexual assault. He sells all his possessions for cash, and goes after the guy he assumes is to blame for all this, the dead guy’s former business partner Michael Subor.

So Vincent gets involved with Subor’s younger wife Raphaelle (Chiara Mastroianni of Love Songs, A Christmas Tale). Subor realizes this, takes their son and splits, saying she needs to get away from that awful family – and in the final confrontation, Vincent struggles with Subor and Raphaelle shoots Vincent dead. It’s just as well. Turns out Justine’s dead father was responsible for her abuse, aided by a slimy (pimp? drug dealer?) played by Gregoire Colin of 35 Shots of Rum. Justine kills Colin and herself in a car crash. The movie had a few asthetic pleasures, but story seemed more sordid than usual, and I ended up angry with everyone involved (except Alex Descas, who only has a cameo).

Apparently inspired by Kurosawa’s The Bad Sleep Well. R. Koehler says “it marries her interest in narrative jumps, classical tragedy” and “the workings of capitalism.”