3 posts categorized "Transgressive Cinema"

August 11, 2015

DARK STAR: H.R. GIGER'S WORLD

COLE SMITHEY

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Dark StarH.R. Giger (pronounced ghee-gur) was a true artistic genius of the 20th and 21st centuries. His innately original “biomechanical” visual style contributed to the “Alien” sci-fi movie franchise that director Ridley Scott launched in 1979. Giger’s gothic reptilian alien monster designs for the film exemplify the morbid nightmare-inducing quality of his monochromatic art. Birth, death, and sex have never enjoyed a more modern gothic celebration of evil erotic necromantic possibilities of psychosexual designs. BDSM and satanic imagery also plays a part in Giger’s flesh-meets-metal designs.

H.R. Giger

Giger won a Best Achievement in Visual Effects Oscar for his work on “Alien,” but by the time Hollywood discovered his prolific wealth of paintings and sculptures, the surrealist was already a household name in his hometown of Chur, Switzerland. Giger’s work on Alejandro Jodorowsky’s abandoned “Dune” movie informed design aspects of “Star Wars.”

Dark Star: H.R. Giger's World (2015) - Movie Review / Film Essay

Debut documentary-feature director Belinda Sallin was fortunate to film Hans Ruedi (as his friends and family affectionately call him) at his sprawling live/work studio during the artist’s final days. He passed away shortly after filming was completed.

It takes some getting used to seeing the master artist barely able to speak or move freely after suffering from an apparent stroke. Archive footage of Giger painting shows him working with phenomenal speed and precision.

H.R. Giger, Engineer of Aliens - Hero CollectorSallin extracts fascinating stories depicting Hans Ruedi growing up in his loving parents’ home, which came equipped with a genuine mummy occupying the basement. Racked with fear due to the ancient preserved corpse occupying his home, Hans Ruedi was nonetheless compelled to visit the basement alone at the age of eight to face his fears. Old footage reveals the mummified cadaver in its coffin-like case. The creepy experience stuck with Giger and contributed to his anxious psyche. Like his encouraging mother, Hans Ruedi was constantly racked with fears related to the unknown. Painting and sculpting were the only way to alleviate his angst.

Dark Star: H.R. Giger's World' review: Peek inside artist's haunted mind -  Chicago Tribune
Giger 1Surprises abound. Psychiatrist Stanislav Grof takes the viewer on a backyard tour of Giger’s “Ghost Ride,” a creepy adult rollercoaster that takes the passenger on a perinatal journey through tunnels adorned with the faces of sculpted infants, reptilian creatures, and skulls.

Giger’s three-dimensional reflection of the “trauma of birth” is far scarier than anything in a circus sideshow. A dynamic aerial view rises from the tree-and-shrub concealed area to reveal its proximity on the edge of town, adjacent to an active railway and mini skyscrapers. An especially joyous moment arrives when the camera follows Hans Ruedi taking the ride. He yells at his beloved Siamese cat Muggi to get off the track.

Dark Star: HR Giger's World (2014) Movie Review from Eye for Film

Giger’s dark sense of humor comes across when he takes the oldest skull from his collection off a shelf, and describes how, after his father gave it to him when he was six years old, he would pull it down the street on a piece of string. The unpleasantness of death gives him, and us, a fuzzy feeling. Delightful.

Review: Dark Star: H.R. Giger's World – An island of oddity

"Dark Star: H.R. Giger’s World” provides an intimate window into the creative process and vibrant workplace of an artist whose originality and boundless imagination is beyond the beyond.

Dark Star
Not Rated. 95 mins.

5 Stars

Cozy Cole

Cole Smithey on Patreon

March 08, 2014

NYMPH()MANIAC: VOLUME I

COLE SMITHEY

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Nymphomaniac Just as with Harvey Weinstein’s famous mistake of splitting Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill” into two parts, the producers of Lars von Trier’s 240 minute film have seen fit to split it in two, rather than deliver the movie as the filmmaker intended. Big mistake.

The result is exactly what you would expect, that of watching half of a movie. It is not a fair way for an audience to screen the film, much less an acceptable format for a critic to judge and contextualize it by. To make matters worse, there will also be a 5.5 hour director’s cut that will demand interested viewers cover old ground if they are invested enough to want to see von Trier’s entire film. Meh. Pshaw. 

Nympho

Volume I establishes the character of Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg), a self-hating nymphomaniac rescued from the cold ground of a brick-wall-surrounded courtyard by Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård), a thematically-charged character whose sole purpose — in Volume I at least — is as a human sounding-board and harmonizing influence for Joe's litany of sexual transgressions.

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Seligman is a lonely guy, a bit too pleased to have in his company a piece of female damaged-goods who wants nothing more than to spill the beans about her life of wild and naughty sexual diversions — indeed her sexual experiences are many and varied. Joe is one carnally voracious girl. The titillation dial is stuck on ten.

Nymphomaniac

The film opens on a black screen. Water tinkles. The viewer is left to imagine its source. Is someone taking a leak? No. Snow is falling, and melted ice drips down a tin drain.

A passed-out Joe lies bloodied on the pavement of a well-concealed courtyard outside of Seligman's apartment. Seligman awakens her. He offers to call an ambulance or the police. Joe threatens to run off if he does. It’s tea that she wants. He invites her inside his sparsely appointed place and puts her in bed. The defenseless Joe begins to recount her sexually adventurous life that led up to her present wounded condition — possibly from some act of revenge or semi-public bit of BDSM.

Stacy Martin - Nymphomaniac - Volume I - Director's Cut - 15_1-500

Seligman not only isn’t judgmental about Joe's checkered past, he finds all sorts of reference points from his own life — related to things such as fly-fishing. He sees similes in her troubled tale of bedding as many as ten men per day. Seligman is a dilettante counselor who is patient, and effete enough to listen to Joe’s outrageously erotic stories without becoming visually aroused or making a pass that would surely be easily received.

Nymphomaniac

Not all of Joe’s flashbacks are sexual. She fondly remembers walking though a winter forest with her doting father (Christian Slater). Joe’s erotic journey is broken into chapters — four for each film. “The Compleat Angler” is the first section. Joe recounts playing a sexual conquest game with her best friend, in which the two teenage girls would compete for a bag of candies by seeing how many men they could seduce during a train ride. Joe gets extra points if she can extract a load from a married man on his way to impregnate his ovulating wife. His cock does indeed find its way into Joe’s hungry mouth. No surprise how that scene ends.

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Joe’s flashback description of losing her virginity — at her own request — to Jerôme (Shia LaBeouf), a local London boy with a moped, brings up the fact that he "humped her three times in the front, and five times in the back." Seligman identifies Joe’s “most humiliating numbers” as following a Fibonacci series. Von Trier steals a page from Peter Greenaway when he superimposes graphic onscreen sub-titles and diagrams of the way Fibonacci numbers are used. Referenced is the way they approximate the natural order of a seashell. The numbers themselves flash on the screen as Jerôme pumps away at a younger version of Joe (played by a fearless Stacy Martin).

Nymphomaniac-trailer

As Joe’s personal tales of knee-jerk seductions go on, the sex scenes become gradually more graphic, and the sideline humor more sly. During the film’s third chapter “Mrs. H,” Uma Thurman plays the vengeful and curious wife of the man who has left her in order to be with Joe. Neither Mr. nor Mrs. H has any idea that they are interrupting a busy evening of carefully timed assignations that Joe has planned with various men.

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Nymph()maniac is a sly piece of anti-slut-shaming cinema aimed at demystifying female carnal desire. It is a character-study of an ostensibly rare type of sexually ravenous woman. Von Trier creates a new breed of social satire that is equally daring and tame. While the film is fiercely pornographic, it does not represent pornography per se.

Nymph()maniac3

“Love is the secret ingredient” that Joe denies and yet secretly seeks. Her loss of the ability to orgasm coincides with her father’s imminent death. Volume II promises to follow Joe’s experimentation into fetishized BDSM. 

To be continued...

Not Rated. 117 mins.

4 Stars

Cozy Cole

Cole Smithey on Patreon

May 20, 2013

FREDDY GOT FINGERED — CLASSIC FILM PICK

COLE SMITHEY

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 pal! Your generosity keeps the reviews coming!

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Freddie Got FingeredIn this sadly unloved comedy, class clown extraordinaire Tom Green brings his anti-establishment performance art comedy to a recurring boil with a movie that combines a punk rock esthetic with acted-out cartoon abandon.

Where teen gross-out movies like the recent "Say It Isn’t So" or "Tomcats" sink in their own toilet humor, "Freddy Got Fingered" soars because of Green’s sincerely committed imagination, curiosity, and irony-free execution of comic stunts that frequently involve oral fixation, word play, or Green’s bizarre take on large animals' naughty appendages.

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Non sequitur comic gags involving skateboard ramps, salamis, a British Bobby uniform, and a cordless phone play out behind cartoon animator hopeful Gord Brody’s (Green) attempts at finding his niche in society, thereby making his father (Rip Torn) proud. Green masterfully achieves his goal of ‘confusing audiences enough to enjoy’ his signature brand of demented comedy with a heart of gold. It’s a movie that works perfectly on its own terms, much like a Swiss watch in a doghouse overrun by bees and monkeys.

Cole smithey

Tom Green is a comic genius. Audiences familiar with his MTV show already know the twisted magic that pops out the lanky prankster with unrelenting regularity. As director, Green layers songs from punk music standard bearers The New York Dolls and The Sex Pistols to fuel his irreverent vision while subtly commenting on the scene at hand. The Pistol’s song "Problems" becomes an opening power chord statement for the movie as Gord skateboards through a shopping mall while being chased by irate security guards. Gord pulls off a few skating flourishes to show mocking grace under pressure before catching up with his parents who are waiting to see their boy off to Los Angeles to pitch his cartoon ideas and make something of his life.

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Dad and mom surprise Gord with a blue convertible Le Baron that instantly becomes an award of favoritism that the 28-year-old Gord flaunts over his 25-year-old brother Freddy. Freddy is as straitlaced and dull as Gord is unpredictable and wild. It’s a classic sibling rivalry that goes beyond crisis when, after Gord’s dad Jim ruins his skateboard ramp, and Gord responds by accusing daddy of ‘fingering Freddie’ to a family counselor. In this way, Gord pits authority on itself and wins a victory over his brown nosing brother and his overbearing father. Sure it’s a last ditch mean-as-snakespit thing to do, but Gord seizes the opportunity like the underestimated no holds barred man-boy that he is. Gord doesn’t want to be taken seriously, he just wants to be taken (as in accepted).

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After meeting with failure in getting a top L.A. television executive to hire him, Gord returns home to Portland to further incubate in his parent’s house. On a day that Gord is supposed to be out looking for a job, Jim returns home to find Gord wearing one of his suits backward while holding a briefcase in front of a full length mirror and repeating a ditty to the effect of, ‘I’m a backward man, I’m a backward man.’ The scene is loaded with humor as Gord lies about having secured a job with a computer company to his overjoyed father before going back to his self entertaining mirror act.

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The character that the movie turns on is Gord’s adorable love interest Betty (Marisa Couglan), a paraplegic nymphomaniac who also happens to be an amateur rocket scientist. Betty can’t get enough of having Gord cane her lifeless legs or letting her give him oral sex. It’s through Betty’s bottomless inspiration that Gord is able to turn his personality crisis into a successful career as an animator and finally reconcile the differences he has with his dad.

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By that time Gord has perhaps fondled one too many animal penises (once while repeating "I’m a farmer, I’m a farmer"), and spent a little too long getting intimate with an umbilical cord (by duct taping a piece of umbilicus to his navel that gets discovered by Betty), or a roadkill deer (which he guts and wears on his head).

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What’s important is Tom Green’s priceless comic delivery, quick to the mark timing, and daredevil sense of humor. When Gord tries to impress Betty at a nice restaurant by pretending to be a stock market consultant, he uses an out of date cordless phone with a tape recorder to fill in as a cell phone. Gord’s haiku rendition of the stock market is in a league of its own. For every person who walks out of "When Freddy Got Fingered," there will be two hundred others howling in laughter.

Rated R. 92 mins.

5 Stars
Cozy Cole

Cole Smithey on Patreon

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