217 posts categorized "Social Satire"

October 30, 2023

ENTER THE VOID — SHOCKTOBER!

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Enter The VoidGaspar Noe specializes in brutally grueling films of sex and violence. Anyone who has suffered through his 2002 film "Irreversible" knows well the feeling of seeing something that you would never want to see again.

"Enter the Void" is such a virtuosic, if orgiastic, piece of experimental exploitation cinema that the audience is simultaneously repulsed and mesmerized by the bold attack on the senses that Noe assaults the viewer with.

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Set in Tokyo, "Enter the Void" captures the most immersive subjective viewpoint for its drug addicted protagonist that any filmmaker has ever achieved. Through the eyes of Oscar (Nathaniel Brown), we experience a casual conversation with his sister Linda (Paz de la Huerta) that leads to a mind-melting drug trip after she leaves.

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Psychedelic to the extreme, the visually stupefying sequence goes far beyond even Stanley Kubrick's groundbreaking visuals for "2001: A Space Odyssey). It's only when Oscar finally faces his bathroom mirror that we finally see what he sees, his surprisingly young and innocent face.

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The story progresses in real time until Oscar's life takes a shocking turn inside a bar bathroom. Oscar's and Linda's back story about the car crash that took their parents' lives when they were small, informs their dodgy lives in Tokyo where he makes his living as a drug dealer, and she as a stripper. The filmic odyssey is eventually brought low by its own excesses.

Enter The Void2

At 137 minutes, there is too much brain-hammering repetition of headache-inducing segues of flamboyant neon color and grotesque physical elements to serve the filmmaker's bizarre vision. With a good 30 or 40 inessential minutes excised from it, "Enter the Void" could have been truly amazing. However, in its current form it is a traumatic film that wears out its welcome.

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Not Rated. 137 mins. 

4 Stars“ColeSmithey.com” MR. CLEANCozy Cole

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HARD CANDY — SHOCKTOBER!

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does. This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

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ColeSmithey.comStrikingly filmed and exquisitely performed by its principally two-person cast (Ellen Page, Patrick Wilson), "Hard Candy" is an intense reversal on the Little Red Riding Hood story.

Hayley Stark (Page) is a 14-year-old proto-feminist rebel who ensnares 32-year-old fashion photographer/potential child molester Jeff Kohiver (Wilson) in an online chat room before working Jeff over in a furious castration revenge scenario in the comfort of his California luxury house.

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Ellen Page is a divine manifestation of intelligent female fury that ups the high watermark set by Abel Ferrara’s exterminating angel revenge fantasy "Ms. 45."

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British director David Slade announces himself as a master of economy and discrimination by leaving the horror to the audience’s imagination.

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This movie will make you squirm like you’ve never squirmed before.

Rated R. 99 mins. 

4 Stars SF SHOCKTOBER!Cozy Cole

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October 29, 2023

THE HONEYMOON KILLERS — SHOCKTOBER!

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does. This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.

Thanks a lot acorns!

Your kind generosity keeps the reviews coming!

ColeSmithey.com

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“Ray kissed them, Martha killed them. They turned a Lonely Hearts Club into a slaughterhouse.”

The salacious tagline for “The Honeymoon Killers” was a tabloid-styled ad almost as incendiary as the 1983 New York Post headline “Headless Body In Topless Bar.”

The film’s original title (“Dear Martha”) was far too pedestrian for writer/director Leonard Kastle’s roasting of Americana values, tortured attitudes regarding sexual expression, and nostalgia-riddled romanticism of the masses.

Honeymoon Killers

Check out the scene where Ray’s new bride belts out “America the Beautiful” from a bubble bath while Ray and Martha empty her purse in the next room. The filmmakers are merciless with a roiling subtext of satirical statements and deadpan counterpoint.  

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Never mind that Kastle and producer Warren Steibel fired Martin Scorsese as the film’s original director after 10 days because Scorsese seemed to spin wheels. Nonetheless, a couple of sequences that Scorsese directed remain in the film.

Cool.

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The movie is based on the real-life exploits of a pair of money-hungry serial killer lovers. Kastle’s eerie crime drama follows Alabama-born nurse Martha (played with brooding hostility by Shirley Stoler) and her Elvis-haired Latin gigolo boyfriend Ray (Tony Lo Bianco).

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Opposites attract.

Martha is a zaftig woman with lust, greed, and jealousy in her heart. Ray is a handsome, suave Rudolph Valentino-inspired con man. Between his Latin accent and always-polite demeanor, Ray makes every woman he meets feel like the only woman in the world. The partners-in-crime pose as siblings while Ray conducts marriage proposals with unsuspecting widows who the couple eventually kill in order to steal the women’s life savings and life insurance. Naturally, things get complicated, messy, and nasty.

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Made in 1969, "The Honeymoon Killers" presaged elements of David Lynch's filmic approach, and clearly informed John McNaughton's similarly-themed stomach-churner film "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer." Romantic dysfunction never looked so banal, brutal, and ugly as it does here. Kastle’s dry documentary style is as inspired by Cassavetes (“Faces”) as it is by Frederick Wiseman's films (see “Titicut Follies”). The real Martha Beck and Ray Fernandez were executed by electrocution on March 8, 1951. 

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This is a raw crime drama exploitation movie that compares favorably to Richard Brook’s adaptation of Truman Capote’s “Cold Blood” (1967). Kastle employs a similar docu-styled editorial approach to the narrative and to its noir filmic compositions. The filmmaker allows social subtext of ‘40s era America to bubble up. When she's fired from her nursing position, it gives Martha opportunity to take the moral high-ground to authority; she indignantly announces her recent marriage like a diva in full bloom.  

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The picture’s naturalistic black-and-white noir compositions are augmented by a stark soundtrack punctuated with Gustav Mahler’s anthemic classical music.

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“The Honeymoon Killers” was the only film Leonard Kastle made, and he poured all of his talents into a picture that comes across as a labor of love. François Truffaut famously called “The Honeymoon Killers” his favorite American film.”

Rated R. 108 mins.

5 Stars COLE MONSTERCozy Cole

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