Chronopolis (1982)

I just recently discovered the phantasmagoric universe of Polish animator Piotr Kamler. After seeing his short One Ephemeral Mission, I wanted only to exist in that world. A world with clean lines, geometrical shapes and inventive robots. A world where time and space are irrelevant. I watched One Ephemeral Mission several times that day, studying every detail, every motion, every aspect of the Escher-like stratosphere. It's a lot like what I would imagine Heaven to be, in an idealistic world. Comfortable and captivating. I watched several other Kamler shorts, all wonderful. When I saw that he made only one feature, it became a moral imperative that I see it.

Chronopolis is set in a magnificent metropolis lost in space. Inhabited by deathless Pharoah-like Gods, the absence of time makes their immortal existence monotonous and dreary. To entertain themselves they create spheres of mass which we can only assume encapsulates the physical realms of time, space and logic.

Chronopolis says more in an hour with no dialogue than most films can with a run of the mill linear narrative. There's something about the textural and dream-like environment of a Kamler film that just makes sense. Like you've experienced it without knowing and you're just now being reminded. In a cultural sense, Chronopolis came at the perfect time. It's how I would imagine a version of Blade Runner made by Jan Svankmajer would be. It also reminds of the kind of surrealistic dreamscape you'd find in Roger Dean's artwork. In more contemporary aesthetics, I also found it reminscent of the dream world in the 2005 Henson Company film Mirrormask, which makes me wonder if the animators were influenced by Kamler's early CGI and slick use of claymation. 

It can't be denied that there's something very progressive about Chronopolis. Not only is it an imaginative addition to the animated science fiction cannon, I would even go as far to say that it's an unsung Cyber Punk masterpiece. Chronopolis is important film and should be more widely available. Thankfully with the advent of youtube, these obscure art films from around the world are more accessible. I was able to watch Chronopolis in six parts, all too brief segments and if you've yet to be indoctrinated into this particular world of cinema fantastique, I suggest you do the same!


The Canterbury Tales (1972)

I've been making my way through Pasolini's Trilogy of life since it's currently available streaming on Netflix. I've been curious about Arabian Nights for years and it only made sense to watch them in sequence. With Salo being the only Pasolini film I'd seen prior to this year when I watched the Decameron, I really didn't know what to expect. Salo a is voyeuristic opus of degradation and depravity. I was pleasantly surprised to find the Decameron to be, although still teetering on vulgarity, a breath of fresh air. It set the tone for what I could expect from the rest of the trilogy. So finally, a few months later I made the leap for Canterbury Tales.

In this anthology we're shown several stories from Geoffrey Chaucer's classic collection of bawdy tales. Ranging from the charming to the flat out raunchy, never has there been a fart joke more endearing than told by Pasolini. Set in medieval England, while on a journey a group of men are told to tell tales to pass the time. Reprising his role as the narrator/artist is none other than Pasolini himself who sits in his room collectively writing these stories. In his usual fashion, he makes a mockery of religion and bourgeoisie society. Amorously poking fun at the rich and the corrupt while putting the simplicity of sex and potty humor on pedestal, where it belongs!

The Canterbury Tales is like the Decameron 2.0. Just as silly and careless, but punctuated with an exclamation point. I especially loved seeing Ninetto Davoli return to play an equally playful and wide eyed rascall of a guy as he did in the Decameron. Davoli ended up being my favorite character in both films. I looked him up afterwards to discover that he was Pasolini's long time partner since he was 15 years old, and appeared in a handful of his films. He was delightful and I anticipate seeing him more in my journey through Pasolini's world of film.

The Canterbury tales matched the Decameron in a lot of ways, what really put it on the map for me was the outrageous finale. Like an absurd Goya painting come to life we witness a Jigoku-esque Hell sequence in which unspeakable obscenities are being committed. Demons raping women, demons raping men, demons raping each other and best of all Satan shitting out said demons to wreak their rape-y biddings. An amazing sight indeed! I'm a sucker for a good depiction of Hell and this one rivals some of the best.

There's no denying that Pasolini was a multi layered genius. A poet in every sense of the word. His political agenda mixed with his sly sense of humor and questionable morals has made him one of the most revered filmmakers of the 20th century. That being said, I can barely contain my anticipation for Arabian Nights. The last installment in his Trilogy of Life, on that note I'll leave you with the promise of a final review in the very near future!


The Demoniacs (1974)

I recently watched Jean Rollin’s film The Demoniacs. Another gorgeous entry into his dreamscape of a film cannon. This one is a nod to the adventure stories Rollin grew up with. Treacherous pirates chasing after nubile maidens. Of course it’s still a Rollins movie so it has a tendency to waver a bit on the bawdy side at times (and perhaps a bit rapey-er that I like them) but his incredible ability to tell a story through images and emotions is unmatched especially in the horror and sexploitation genres. 

In Demoniacs I noticed his wonderful use of color, and the fact that it would appear that he decked his cast and sets out with the contents of a Halloween costume shop. If you get around to seeing it, pay close attention to the wild decorations in the bar. 
Also, I must mention the lovely clown girl who guards the temple. I’ve always had a thing for female clowns and apparently so did Jean Rollin, as I've noticed it's reoccurring theme in his films.

There’s just something really special about the worlds Jean Rollin creates. It’s a really nice place to visit, despite the rape and slaying. As I mentioned before, there are quite a few of Rollin's films on netflix instant right now (including Demoniacs), so if you’re privy to that kind of thing, go take a gander and revel in the atmospheric nightmares that this one of a kind auteur created for us.


Deep End (1970)

I lost an almost-complete review I wrote for Deep End yesterday, so forgive me if this recap is a bit brief and unenthusiastic. Losing a review is one of my most loathed personal fuck ups. The second one is NEVER as good. So...enjoy :-(

I'd been wanting to see Deep End for quite some time. After years of it remaining on my ever growing wish list, I finally obtained a copy of this unreleased (in the states) rarity. The story follows a teenage boy named Mike who gets his first job at a bath house. At that time in London many people still didn't have bathtubs in their homes so it was still fairly common to have a membership to a public facility. Mike is shown the ropes by his co-worker Susan, played by the lovely Jane Asher. She explains to him that many of the customers have special "requests", and that if he goes along with it he'll be tipped handsomely. The most amusing of these events is when actress Diana Dors mauls him into submission while describing a football game. Mike is uncomfortable with the whole scenario, and appears sexually confused through out the whole movie. Susan is a sexually liberal young lady who enjoys the attention from just about anyone she can get it from. There are the patrons of the bath house, her apparently wealthy fiance and of course Mike who she's stringing along for the ride. He begins to develop feelings for Susan, who's ten years his senior. Although it's clear to the audience that her motives are selfish, Mike convinces himself that they're meant to be together turning an innocent crush into a dangerous obsession.

My biggest problem with the film was it's pacing. I can see that it's supposed to be a slow burn but the mid-section seems to drag out with an unnecessary amount of  filler. During one long stretch of the film Mike is wandering around the city looking for Susan. He appears to be lost, ends up in night clubs, strip joints, peep shows and even a prostitutes den. I get that this angle was meant to express his hormonal agitation, which eventually leads to the infamously explosive ending, but this sequence ended up eating into about 1/4 of the film's total length which struck me as a bit of a waste of time when the point was clearly taken.

I may have had the bar of expectations raised a bit too high based on my years of anticipation. Also, for whatever reason, I was expecting it to be similar to Twisted Nerve. The two films have a lot in common on paper. The basic premise of a disturbed young man obsessed with a girl, both made around the same time, both British psychological thrillers. Although this conjecture was completely self imagined, Deep End didn't meet those standards. For a sexy thriller I expected more sex and thrills.

In Deep End's favor I will say that the ending does not disappoint. Although over all the film may have fallen a little flat for my taste, it's tied up beautifully in the last ten minutes making for a well executed and cataclysmic conclusion. Also, the music is nice. CAN did the score and Cat Stevens does the opening and closing credits. That makes any film OK in my book.

I wouldn't recommend it to just any cinematic pedestrian, fans of British horror and mod cinema will probably have the most to gain. Also, if you have a region free player the restored version is apparently stunning. With that said, despite my ambivalence I'm glad I finally saw Deep End. It may not be making any top lists of mine any time soon but it's not without it's charms.

I loved the look of the prostitute's room. She and I have very similar taste :-)



I started a second movie blog. I know I can be flakey about updating this one, and I'm NOT abandoning it by any means. I just wanted a separate place for more casual movie related musings. Lists, passing thoughts and more importantly lots and lots of pictures. This will remain my primary review blog, although for the time being reviews will be posted on both. I need to feel the new one out to decide where I want to go with it. But mostly, it's going to satisfy my immediate urges to obsess over a poster or something retarded. You get me?

Also, it's on tumblr which is a completely different universe. If you do the Tumblr thing you should follow me :-)


also, while we're on the subject I did sort of abandon Unicorn Wizard. I've now graduated to Wizard Boobs...


The Perfume of the Lady in Black (1974)

Meeting somewhere between Repulsion and Rosemary’s BabyThe Perfume of the Lady in Black is heavily saturated in conspiracy and paranoia. For both the the leading lady, played by Mimsy Farmer, and the audience.
 After suddenly being confronted with a traumatic event from her childhood, Silvia (Farmer) begins finding herself disoriented and being apparently stalked by her inner child. On top of that, everyone from her boyfriend to colleagues to the shop girl around the corner seems to be plotting against her. It’s difficult to decide whether or not everything happening on screen is apart of her delusions or if there’s something bigger at work here. Perfume keeps you guessing until the very end. I was pretty sure that the obvious conclusion would be that she’s just insane. Thankfully director Francesco Barilli didn’t sell the audience short with such a predictable ending. I won’t give it away, but it’s pretty bad ass.

I’m not sure if this would qualify as giallo. No black gloved killer in sight. It’s a little more complex and psychological than your run of the mill Italian slasher. Stylistically however, it fits the bill. It’s absolutely gorgeous in it’s design, lighting, costumes and score. Those are the four most important things in a “giallo” film. Which explains why Argento’s movies suck as of late. An Italian horror movie can get away with having mediocre plot (although of course a good one helps) and still win you over on aesthetics alone. Perfume is one of the loveliest I’ve seen. The building Mimsy Farmer lived in was out of control gorgeous. Every room, every piece of furniture, it was all spot on. 
Perfume of the Lady in Black was a delightfully depraved and stunning work of art. Lucky for us, it’s streaming on netflix! So you have no excuse not to revel in it. So get on that, wouldya?!


Fascination (1979)

Fascination, like most of Rollin’s films, took place in this dreamy/nightmarish atmosphere where extremely beautiful women partake in depraved sex and death games.It’s only my third film of his, the first being Grapes of Death which is my least favorite and the other being Night of the Hunted which I absolutely adored. Fascination fell somewhere in the middle. Although the pacing can be a little slow at times, the film builds suspense towards the impending climax that’s hinted at being rather dramatic only to somewhat disappoint with an uneven ending. The direction Rollin took Franca Mai’s character is lost on me. Minor critiques aside, it’s really a quite an elegant film. The emotion and sensuality in Brigitte Lahaie’s face is enough to carry out the entire film. The score by Phillipe d’Aram is also worth mentioning. It and a bunch of other Rollin scores have recently be released by Finders Keepers. Which I totally need them all.

Nothing spectacular in the way of my writing, this is just a little blurby review to get the ball rolling again. More to come!