Monday, November 12, 2012

Top 10 12/11/12

Videodrome: Libetarianism vs the forces of reaction in a biology-altering arena made of pixels and paranoia. Still my favourite Cronenberg.


The Spirit of the Beehive: A film about children rather than a children's film, Spirit remembers Nietzsche's comments about the seriousness of children's play. That and some of the most eye popping landscape photography ever in a movie.

Eraserhead: A tapestry of anxiety made over years from rare grey glass beads.

Nashville: Robert Altman's Boschian canvas of America's other dream factory neither lets up for a second nor outstays its welcome even at two hours and forty minutes. Cast members who got songs wrote at least their own lyrics. This could have been an epic-scaled cheap shot but keeps to the harder path all the way through.

The Exorcist: Faith or reason? Parental love or dysfunctional broken family? Anyway you see it, the kid's the one who suffers. Friedkin reinvented the horror movie with this one, treating the gothic subject with the eye of a documentarian. Worked.

The Producers: Still funny.

Stalker: Could've been called Talker for its all dialogue no action screentime but this ocean-deep wish story absorbs like no other. Also, great example of an adaptation that extends rather than diminishes its source material (English title of novel is Roadside Picnic. It's shorter than this movie and worth your time)

Primer: Time travel as cinema verite, Primer takes us over the shoulder of the garage scientists who crack the code and take the trip. The dialogue of the technicalities is a subdued shorthand between friends; we aren't meant to follow it all the way and by the time we get to the moral conundra we are happy to assume the i's were dotted and the t's crossed as we enter some ethics warping territory. Not a found footage film but has the candour of a good one. Top marks for drying out a soggy sub-genre to just the right amount.

Cube: Writing about Primer reminded me of Cube, a one set movie made for two cents Canadian but comes across as a decently budgeted sci-thriller. Starts like a Twilight Zone story as a group of disparate individuals wake up in prison fatigues in a metal box with no memory of how they got there. Prologue already shows us how deadly the surrounding cubes can be but if they don't try they'll die. Vincenzo Natali has never topped this debut effort even with steadily rising budgets and production values. This one looks like a strong idea pursued with a bloodhound's single mindedness.

Seconds: Writing about Cube reminded me of Seconds, a mid sixties sci-fi wish tale that plays like an extended Twilight Zone ep. Ageing white collar gets offer of lifetime, the chance to live as a young man again with all new opportunities. We already suspect the cost of this will be horrifying but nothing will prepare us for the crushing pathos of the end. Rock Hudson, a gay man posing as a Hollywood he man in real life, must have been intrigued by the opportunity to send this coded signal to his fans and the demi-monde beyond them.

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