Fragmented Films Dec 2012

Bellflower_flame thrower at night

Bellflower (Accent) is what happens when you and your mate watch Mad Max way too many times and begin to fantasise about being characters in the film.

Woodrow and his BFF Aiden are two twelve year old boys trapped in the bodies of twenty something slackers, spending their time drinking too much beer, chasing girls and building and testing flamethrowers and muscle cars where flames fly out of the exhaust.

They say it’s in preparation for the coming apocalypse, but their notion of the Armageddon is shallow, dripping in cinematic cool, a movie fantasy where they get to be the baddest dudes with the coolest toys in town.

It’s the debut feature of writer, director and star Evan Glodell, a labour of love made on the smell of an oily rag, because like the characters in the film, Glodell chose to spend most of the budget on the car.

At a bug eating contest Woodrow meets Milly, and they fall in love doing quirky Gen y things like driving for three days on their first date so he can take her to the cheapest nastiest place he can think of. It’s when their love inevitably sours that the flamethrowers come out, and the boys get their apocalypse, albeit saddled with significantly more emotional baggage and visceral brutality than they’d envisaged.

Bellflower is a violent, dark and beautiful film. Thanks to its budget it feels raw and handmade, possessing an energy that’s rare in American films since the decline of the indie over the last decade. Glodell made the flamethrowers, the car, even some of cameras, which provide the film its unique, at times disconcerting feel. Make no mistake Bellflower heralds the arrival of a significant new vision, a filmmaker who literally views a relationship break up as the end of the world.

There’s a scene in Polisse (Curious), supposedly one of its lighter moments, where a young girl is at the Parisian police child protection unit relating her story. “ She took my phone and she said that she wouldn’t give it back unless I gave her friends head. So I said okay.”

“Okay to what?” Ask the police

“To blowing them for my phone,” she replies.

“You must really like your phone,” offers the cop barely containing her laughter.

“It was a smart phone,” says the girl oblivious to the howls of laughter.

“And for a laptop?” Asks another cop and they’re all in hysterics again.

It may seem pretty callous behaviour for a squad who investigate child maltreatment, but over the preceding 40 odd minutes they’d repeatedly collared paedophiles, dealt with exploited children, witnessed multiple cases of incest, and disposed of the stillborn baby of a rape victim. It’s all pretty harrowing stuff, filmed documentary style from the perspective of a photojournalist who accompanies the eclectic unit. Occasionally they need to blow off some steam and they do this via copious drinking and finding humour in bleak unexpected places. Polisse is admittedly raw, but it’s also a fascinating examination of the costs of doing one of the most difficult jobs on the planet.

 

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