Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Decisions, decisions

Carlos Reygadas is a Mexican director whose first feature film, Japón, showed him a) to be a promising young (30 at the time) talent, who b) had seen about 15 too many Robert Bresson movies (which is not easy to do, believe me). I do approve of using non-professional actors, and I did like Japón, which was very Bresson/Tarkovsky/Kiarostami-in-rural-Mexico, but it was tough sledding in spots; I think I watched the DVD in three shifts. Some prominent Arvo Pärt on the soundtrack, if that tells you anything. Nice title, by the way ("Japan," a country in which, as I have already mentioned, the film is definitely not set). Some of you would like it a lot (you know who you are). On the other hand, if you're one of those people, you've probably already seen it twice.

Anywho, I recently saw a predictably uninformative trailer for his subsequent film, Batalla en el cielo, and I thought I'd go over to imdb to check it out before tracking down the DVD. Now there was some, um, unusual material in Japón; nothing to give you nightmares or anything, but enough to make one just a little wary. imdb has a relatively new feature on their recently redesigned page, which shows five (presumably) computer-generated recommendations: if you liked this film, you may also like these others.

So what does the imdb database recommend for those who enjoyed Batalla en el cielo, you ask?

1. Caligula
2. Ken Park
3. Intimacy
4. In the Realm of the Senses
5. Visitor Q

I've seen three of these films. I had heard that Caligula was really bad, but I love Malcolm McDowell, who is perfectly cast as Caligula: Alex the Droog as Roman Emperor, always up for a bit of the old ultra-violence. So I saw it. It was really bad. Oscar trivia: in 2007, one nominee for each of the Best Actress and Best Actor awards, including one winner, appeared in this film almost thirty years previously (Helen Mirren and Peter O'Toole). How about that?

I did like Intimacy (dir. Patrice Chéreau), which has some fine acting (Mark Rylance, Kerry Fox, the always great Timothy Spall) along with the apparently unsimulated (i.e., real) explicit sex. But you see where this is going (check out the Plot Keywords for this film at the imdb link: hel-lo!).

In the Realm of the Senses is Nagisa Oshima's legendary 1976 shocker of sexual obsession. Thumbs up on this one too (but you have to like that sort of thing – by which I mean that era of Japanese avant-garde cinema, you naughty boy).

I'd never heard of Ken Park, but it turns out to be a film by Larry Clark, director of Kids and other teen-sex-exposé-cum-exploitation numbers, of which I have seen zero to date. One imdb commenter on the film says: "Before watching 'Ken park' I was warned this was the uncensored version. If there really is a censored version, may be the one in theaters, it would probably miss around an hour out of the hour and a half the movie runs." Oooo-kay.

The last film is a film by Takashi Miike. I did not dislike Audition, but after reading reviews of Ichi the Killer I decided to pass on further visits to the twisted Miike psyche. Here's what another imdb commenter says about Visitor Q: "There are some truly disturbing things in Visitor Q that few people of sound mind and body will want to sit through. Fortunately, I am not of sound mind or body." Body? Yikes. Oh, and the page also lists (under Fun Stuff) a Continuity Goof: "At the start of the film when the girl is undressing to have sex with her Dad, she takes her socks off. However when we see her again a few seconds later, she still has them on. She then removes them (again)." Even though I thereby repeat myself, I say again: yikes.

So I guess I know something about Batalla en el cielo. Just not whether or not I want to see it.


Anonymous said...


Rorty, Schmorty; you've retreated into ethical theory, or perhaps academic Kultur chat--booj-wah, sir. Caligulaism is sort of the default political and ethical programme, contintental or analytical.

Best part of Caligula was that Alex the Drooogie McDowell (and the other leading thezzpians) was never told that his porno director later spliced in some, uh, rather scandalous and sapphically splendid if not de sadean scenes (without him in there either). Ah, the life of the Mind.

Duck said...

Oh, please. We're not just about heavy-duty phil-speak here. Check the header (and the archives).

And I myself am a bourgeois born and raised – got a problem with that, comrade?

Anonymous said...

I am not one for postmod ala Baudrillard, but cinema, serious or not, bourgeois or prole, may be one of the greatest swindles and mindfucks of the 20th century--hyperreality par excellance: George Lucas, Oppressor. (And even a Kubrick--or all the ahht-house hacks like Allen Woody not much bettah).

Peli Grietzer said...


Say, Duck, is there any way to e-contact you in a non post-specific manner? I'm hugely into your take on Rorty, and wanted to try and bounce some thoughts off you.

Duck said...

Huh, I thought my email was on the profile page or something, but I don't see it. Let's see, do I have to be spammer-bot-safe? Append to dfm8; that will bounce to me (as these comments do).

Don't let that stop you from commenting publicly on Rorty posts though! (Your name is familiar, so you must have posted somewhere I've been ...).