Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sweet Movie

Sweet Movie, full of unenlighted lunacy, is not really a film at all. It is a social disease.

- Jay Cocks, 1975

Sweet Movie [is] in effect the most concentrated work I know that follows out the idea that the way to assess the state of the world is to find out how it tastes (a sense modality not notably stressed by orthodox epistemologists but rather consigned to a corner of aesthetics) – which means both to find out how it tastes to you and how it tastes you, for example, to find out whether you and the world are disgusting to one another […]

The film attempts to extract hope – to claim to divine life after birth – from the very fact that we are capable of genuine disgust at the world; that our revoltedness is the chance for a cleansing revulsion; that we may purge ourselves by living rather than by killing, willing to visit hell if that is the direction to something beyond purgatory; that the fight for freedom continues to originate in the demands of our instincts, the chaotic cry of our nature, our cry to have a nature. It is a work powerful enough to encourage us to see again that the tyrant’s power continues to require our complicitous tyranny over ourselves.

- Stanley Cavell, 1979

Umm, hmmm how to do this one? Well let's start with the plot. There are two different stories being told in this movie:

Story #1 We start in 1984 where Miss Canada, played by Carole Laure, has just been crowned Miss World Virginity. The prize? A ton of money and marriage to the richest man in the world who happened to be the sponsor of the contest. You see the man, a dairy owner (milk is pure you see), (John Vernon of Animal House fame) is tired of catching things from the prostitutes he visits and has decided he must marry a pure woman in order to avoid any future diseases. Unfortunately his mind is not pure and the wedding night involves some kinks that are just too much for Miss Canada and she freaks out and wants to leave. She his held against her will and eventually an employee who lives in a water tower is supposed to kill her. More drama ensues and Miss Canada ends up stuffed inside a suitcase and put on a plane where she ends up in Paris. She hooks up with a Latin singer on the Eiffel Tower, but this does not end well for our poor girl either and eventually she joins a commune. This commune, full of people with interests in bodily functions, welcomes our girl, and she seems to have finally found a home.

Story #2 A woman named Anna, (Anna Prucnal) who also happens to be a radical, is steering a large boat filled with candy down a river. A wandering sailor (Pierre Clementi) comes aboard and they become lovers. There is a large hanging platform full of sugar that becomes a bed, a mouse, some murdering, a very naughty dance in front of school boys, some yummy looking candy, and maybe a serial killer.

These stories take place simultaneously and are interspersed with some very disturbing scenes involving autopsies, experiments involving babies, and mass graves which are all taken from footage of real incidents.

I watched this movie last March and I didn't write about it then because I wasn't sure if I could. I didn't understand what the movie was trying to say although it was obvious that the director was trying to say something. I didn't even know if I had enjoyed it. I knew that I had enjoyed the performances, especially Carole Laure. I liked the photography, the music, and I think I laughed where I was supposed to laugh. And I was definitely shocked at the shocking bits and there are plenty of them. But this damn movie has been in my head for the last year and I can't get it out!

Lorraine Mortimer has written a book about the director, Dusan Makavejev, and you can find an excerpt from the book which discusses this movie far better than I could ever hope to at this site. The quotes at the top are from that site as well.

Should you watch this movie? Yes, if you don't mind seeing some very disturbing imagery and if you don't mind having your brain challenged, I say definitely watch the movie. If you're looking for a popcorn, mindless entertainment, fun way to spend a few hours then skip this one.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Preview of Coming Attractions and Today's Feature

I dreamed up a marvelous (at least in my mind) sentence the other night when I couldn't sleep:

It started out as a really sweet movie but then turned into a perversion story because the frightened woman had the devil's nightmare and woke up screaming "danger diabolik"!

All of those films are on the top of my to-post list which I will get to just as soon as I can peel my butt away from the tv. I really must get a laptop.

Today's film was Trilogy of Terror, seen it before but wanted to watch again to see if it retained any of the scariness I remember from childhood. (My mom made me watch it with her when I was little because she was scared to watch it alone). So far the scare factor hasn't held up, but ask me again in the middle of the night when I'm hearing little zuni warrior footsteps.

brief interruption: Holy Crikey you can buy one!!!
image courtesy of MWC Toys

There were some featurettes on the dvd, one with Karen Black and one with Richard Matheson. Karen Black had an interesting thing to say about horror vs. science fiction. She said that horror always involves a body being cut up in some way and lots of blood and gore whereas while science fiction might have some blood, it is distinctly different from horror. She said that she has always done science fiction and not horror and she does not appreciate it when horror and science fiction are lumped together. She thinks it is not very literate of people to do so.

Richard Matheson also appears to have a disdain of horror which he says lately is the same story over and over. Teenagers drink, have sex, do something awful and one by one are hacked to pieces. Matheson says that he is not a writer of horror but a writer of terror; that you can be much scarier if you never show the monster. I'm quite fond of the monster myself, but I can see his point.

Back to the movie, it has become a bit of a cult classic so for that reason I can recommend it. But please bear in mind that it is a tv movie so will have pauses where the commercials went and is somewhat tame compared to a theatrical release. But it is well-directed and acted so go for it.

I am headed back to the tv now to watch the second half of today's double feature, George C. Scott starring in The Changeling.