Fragmented Films random column from 2007


Boom (DV1). Elizabeth Taylor in a role she was much too young for. Boom. Richard Burton in a role he is much too old for. Boom. It’s Richard and Lizzie simmering, their violent chemistry on screen yet again. Richard isn’t quoting Shakespeare, it’s a Tennessee Williams screenplay from his own play, and Lizzie gives a remarkable performance as the world’s richest woman, a recluse slowly dying in her spectacular Mediterranean villa amid servants and sycophants. Boom. The performance is so remarkable that back in 1968 she seems to be tapping into herself later in life, some 40 years on, capturing the power, the regret, the manipulation, and the fear of impending death. Boom. Burton is the wandering poet, dashing in black, nicknamed the ‘angel of death’ due to his propensity for turning up at the bedsides of rich dying older women. Boom. It’s typical Tennessee, a claustrophobic emotional potboiler, a ponderous thematic roller coaster, and these two devoted thespians revel in it. Boom. Tennessee reportedly believed this the best adaptation of his work, and it’s much darker than A Cat on a Hot Tin roof or A Streetcar Named Desire. Yet Boom is infinitely more elusive and obscure. It’s directed by Joseph Losey (Modesty Blaise/ M) and features a tumultuous Mediterranean score from John Barry. John Waters (Polyester) calls it the greatest failed art movie ever with a healthy degree of admiration. Boom. It’s opulent and excessive; the plot almost takes a backseat as Burton and Taylor ravenously circle each other. Boom. It all takes place high on the cliffs as the waves, echoing the emotional unrest and violence of the story continue to crash violently into the rocks. Boom.

This story of three generations of the one Hungarian family is not exactly a coming of age story, more like a cumming of age story if you catch my drift. And the sexuality that is being awakened is not that of an awkward pimply teenager, rather it’s a dirty dimwitted officer who awakens it inside a freshly slaughtered pig.  And that’s just the beginning. The work of Hungarian filmmaker Gyorgy Palfi is equal parts high art, exploitation, surrealism, and fable, yet it’s gorgeously filmed with such a mischievous understanding of the cinematic language that you can’t help but be enthralled. In fact it’s virtually indistinguishable from Amelie, except Taxidermia (Siren) possesses a little more masturbation, projectile vomiting, obese sex, animals chewing on the internal organs of humans, roosters pecking penises and the odd decapitation. Wrongness has never been this right. Despite its extremities the film is filled with these incredible delicately nuanced moments of ordinary confusion that teeter on the edge of realism before choosing a more imaginative less restrictive path. The score, in part from Brazilian Ninja Tune artist Amon Tobin is right on the money, vicious and minimal. It’s hard to know what this is. A warning about the dangers of elite sports? Of the lure of stuffing dead animals? Or coveting thy sergeant’s scary looking wife? It’s a portrait of a family who never really had a chance possibly due to some form of defective gene that carried through the generations. Gyorgy Palfi may not yet be household name, but you can’t make a film like this and not get arrested, I mean noticed.

Robot Chicken Season 2 (Madman) is stupid. And it’s a testament to the lowest common denominator half brain dead, half medicated audience that it’s so popular. If you watch way too much bad American TV, take mind numbing drugs and like watching puppets violently attack each other in incredibly wrong ways then welcome home. It’s claymation and barbie dolls doing terrible terrible things to each other, things that Barbie’s shouldn’t even know about. All those half thought out what if’s as you pass around your medicinal device all appear here in various forms. Horny pedophile unicorns, idiots with time machines, Sex and the City crossed with the Golden Girls, a happy skit called morning wood, robots humping washing machines, psycho hungry hungry hippos. There’s skits that delight in reliving franchises like Star Wars, and Harry Potter of urine, but what they do to hangman, space invaders and spy hunter is just plain wrong. They delight in digging up the b-grade, Corey Feldman and Corey Haim saving the Bush twins, Owen Wilson, Don Cheadle, Ben Stiller, even Dr Who pops up. If you are a nerd with bad taste you are home. Some of it works, some of it doesn’t. Some of it is amazing, other bits are quoting pop culture references so obscure that the nerd who can decode it has not been invented yet.





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