27 July 2009

Movies - Last Seen

The Inhabited Island Part 2, Russia (2009)

Pretty and tall young man with blond hair and blinding white teeth is riding a tank, flying an aircraft and blowing up buildings. But it's ok, you see, he is from highly advanced planet Earth where there is no more violence and the life is very boring, but safe and there is no poverty or need. And now he is on some far and weird planet, where optical illusion makes horizon to be higher and it looks like people live on the inner side of the surface, not outer. The world is inside out, and he is compelled to fix it. The tyranny, the war, the persecution, the killings, the unthinkable methods of depression and brainwashing. And if violence is the only thing these people understand, violence is what they will get.
Written by Strugatsky Brothers half a century ago, popular sci-fi novel Inhabited Island deals with the moral burden of true idealist, witnessing bitter and cynical injustice of epic proportions, and what he decides to do if he has the power to change it. And while the book is a strong and direct confrontation of what is right against what is wrong, empowering the acts of individual against total dictatorship and condemning conformism, the movie adaptation lacks pretty much all of it.
Whether it is loud energetic music accompanying even most boring scenes, epic pathos and extremely serious approach with no self irony, lack of originality in visual style and compositions, or failure to direct the actors in believable way, the movie is a complete mess.
It is hollow shell of chaotic images and screaming actors with no purpose and no interest. The actors cringe and yell like crazy, with spit flying out of their mouth, everything feels so fake, so unnatural, so theatrical. The false grandiosity and forced attempt to give the film some meaning fails miserably, behind countless cliches and many ideas stolen from other movies lies confusing and pretentious film of megalomaniac director.
And the story with the blond guy lost somewhere underneath, behind pointless explosions, banal dialogs and barely understandable plot. Some directors understand when they make a shitty film, but judging from the clueless responses of Bondarchuk in the interviews, he is still sincerely thinking it's a masterpiece and he is misunderstood genius.


Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, USA (2009)

This generic story of slave uprising against the ruling elite creates mostly nausea, and made me shake my head with disbelief all the time I was watching it. Creating a working class hero with enough charisma to inspire the masses and to lead them on the path of revolt against their oppressors takes more than loud voice and secret romance with the daughter of the ruler. I didn't believe for a second in heroic abilities of Lucian, nor in Sonya's attraction toward him.
He and the rest of the actors seem to be misplaced in their roles, not really fitting into the pompous characters, which makes it all look like a big fake. Pathetic try to give this plot some Shakespearean tragedy angle is absolutely laughable, and instead of creating emotional involvement it is just plain boring.
The filmmakers are really trying to convince the viewers that what they see is the real thing, but their forced tactics are more similar to the tactics of a bad car salesman, trying to convince you that the car he shows to you is the best car on the lot, even when it's obviously not.
Well, I am not buying it.


Little Vera, USSR (1988)

Don't believe the poster, this movie is not about what is written there. It is completely misleading, making it look like the film is a wild adventure of underground culture in Soviet Russia. I even found this poster, in which it may seem like an exploitation B-movie with sex and violence. It is definitely not.
Little Vera is a rough kitchen sink drama about pointless and wasted life of the working class families, about unfulfilled dreams and about strong desire to have more in life than hard work and small apartment.
The rebellion of the youth is not the same as in western films, young Vera maybe similar in her spirit to the typical, coming of age American teens in films like American Graffiti or Grease, smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol and even having sex at young age, but it sure ain't pink fantasy world. The environment is nothing like fancy cars, disco dancing, singing and burger joints. No, the film's reality is decayed and rotten industrial port city in Soviet Union, just before its collapse.
It is very grim and sad film about what it is like to live in real dystopia, when the social structure prevents any kind of escape from harsh reality, how people's nature is bended and their spirit is broken. This is very powerful anti-soviet film, predicting the fall of communism in Russia, because such reality goes against the very basics of human psychology, and while it can be controlled for a long time by brutal force, it just cannot hold forever and eventually it will fall down.


The Vanguard, UK (2008)

Nice attempt to make post-apocalyptic zombie movie with strong message about the dark side of humankind, and what we are capable of.
But such pretentious content is a risky business, because with ultra low budget and without much experience, you are destined to look silly at the end.
Bearded guy is living in the forest, killing his time by riding his bicycle and by hunting infected savages with a long spear and pair of hatchets. He is also waiting for somebody and having inner monologues with god. Evil corporations, brainwashed soldiers, lots of running through the woods and many scenes in which all kind of people are pointing guns at each other and talking about doom and death. Blah, blah, blah.
Almost unwatchable and extremely boring in the beginning, getting better in the second half, but just enough to look silly in the end, and not absolutely terrible.


The Sinful Dwarf, Denmark/USA (1973)

One of the finest examples of 70' sexploitation films, and it actually delivers the goods.
Olaf is a horny dwarf with incredibly grotesque face, and he is running cheap motel with his drunk mother, that once was some kind of a show performer, with singing, costumes and dancing. She is old now, drinking all the time, yet still refusing to let her glory days go. So occasionally she puts up her dresses and makeup, and performs for her only guest, another old and drunk lady that still remembers her from the early days. Oh yeah, they also kidnap young girls and hold them as prostitutes in a secret room in the attic, so they can charge money from men to have sex with them. And to make the girls more submissive Olaf shoots them heroin, which they get from a local toy maker, that smuggles the drug inside the toys. A newlywed couple comes to stay in their motel, and they have some nasty plans for the young and pretty blond wife.

This is highly perversive film, with lots of nudity and rape/sex scenes, done with almost pornographic quality. Twisted facial expressions on Olaf's face you won't be able to forget for the rest of your life, the girls are attractive, and the drunk mother gives very credible and powerful performance as demonic freak, looking at her old face and as result hating everybody who is young. Very clever psychological subtext, believable characters and great atmospheric environment compensate for a silly ending of this, rather interesting B-movie. Any fan of exploitation genre must see this dark and complex film.


Camping Cosmos, Belgium (1996)

Subtle, intelligent and entertaining cult comedy about human nature and people's desires, which, according to the film, revolve pretty much only around sex.
A colorful group of people are gathered together in the trailer's parking camp, called Camping Cosmos. The name is of course symbolic, since people in the camp are cosmopolitical representatives of human archetypes with all their problems and issues, and it fits the surreal imagery of the movie.
They have different social activities and philosophical discussions, that at the bottom line are trying to find out the reason we ended up on this planet and the purpose behind our existence.
Tons of clever dialogs, many hilarious situations, lots of sex and adultery. The film is very inspiring and deals with heavy content in very light and compelling way, this is truly a must see for anyone that doesn't afraid of smart cinema.
One viewing is also not enough to catch everything that happens in there, but I think any film that features a scene, in which naked sumptuous blond woman (famous Lolo Ferrari) with enormous breasts having her first ever orgasm by listening to a man reading "Tintin in the country of Soviets" comics book, placed in between her spread legs with Soviet hymn playing on the background, is worth seeing again.


Transsiberian, UK/Germany/Spain/Lithuania (2008)

Boring and confusing attempt to make Americans scare even more of traveling in shady regions of our globe, and especially making acquaintances with shady people.
American couple with intimacy issues and some kind of unclear religious background, traveling from China across Siberia on a train, making friends with, what appears to be, drugs smugglers, and then wonder why they found themselves almost dead, or worse - still alive.
The movie is sometimes intense and thrilling, but not enough and the genre formula is not quite exploited. I would say, this is another result of post 9/11 trauma, depicted also in films like Hostel, where fear from the rest of the world is subconsciously inflicted upon ordinary Americans.
Averagely acted and having so-so story, the film is nothing special, but can be nice stimulant for parents not to let their child go to the trip to far East, or any kind of East for that matter.


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