(The Final) Fragmented Films August 2010

“I flatter myself that I have cultivated good taste in almost everything. Especially living. Yes to be dead would be such a bore don’t you agree.” If these words weren’t uttered by Vincent Price you’d stab your TV. Even so much of the hackneyed stupidity that flows from the mouths of the characters in House of 1000 Dolls (Umbrella) is barely tolerable even for B grade trash. The plot has promise: sex slaves kidnapped from a magic show in exotic Morocco. Yet it’s a delusional trawl through Tangiers nightclubs, with female mud wrestling, copious amounts of alcohol, and barely an Arab in sight. Making the least of the iconic Tangiers landscape, the film is overly dark and claustrophobic, shot mostly indoors or on seedy nondescript streets with zero character development and not enough nudity.

You’d think that ninja stars flying out of the butt of our hero in Robogeisha (Eastern Eye) would be enough, or even a Geisha bot with an electric saw as a mouth, or how about machine gun boobs? Nup, none of it works. It’s just too silly. It’ll have you lamenting the taste and sophistication of Tokyo Gore Police, because whilst the ludicrous special effects are mildly diverting and could perhaps be read as a comment on societies obsession with plastic surgery, the film lacks the one thing an ultra ridiculous, ultra violent and hyper gore flick needs to ground it. Heart…and perhaps a little nudity.

Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amelie) makes imaginative, inventive and eclectic films. Micmacs (Hopscotch) is a typically warm, eccentric and highly stylised work from the Frenchman, brimming with numerous moments of inspired absurdity. It all begins with a bullet in the brain and works its way out, becoming one of the quirkiest revenge flicks in cinematic history as our homeless victim is taken in by a band of weirdoes, each with a peculiar talent that they use to exact revenge against evil arms dealers. Apparently the title means something like ‘nonstop shenanigans.’ It’s A Fistful of Dollars meets the Goonies. It’ll warm the cockles.

The manipulative sociopath Tom Ripley has never been played as creepy and wrong as the young, studly and predominantly shirtless Alan Deloin in the original adaptation of the Talented Mr Ripley, 1960’s Plein Soleil (Madman). He’s of course competing with the likes of Matt Damon, Anthony Hopkins and Dennis Hopper, yet Deloin’s portrayal hits the right balance between unhinged and calculating. The disc is an English dub which is at first disconcerting, but actually begins to reinforce the distance we feel towards Ripley sociopathic tendencies. Whilst the ending is a cop out, it’s definitely one of the more stylish Patricia Highsmith outings.

French director Luc Besson was invented for Blu Ray. Whilst he may be infuriatingly erratic, there’s no denying his visual flair. Subway, The Big Blue, and Fifth Element, are all getting the treatment from Directors Suite. But his first film, the wordless post apocalyptic The Last Battle looks incredible in austere black and white, whilst his underwater documentary Atlantis is so lush and beautiful it could be used to sell televisions.

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