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chaosmind's reviews view profile

fear, lust, revulsion, confusion  
on October 30, 2006 - 12:12 PM PST
  of Possession (1981)

in terms of feel, put Tarkovski's Solaris and the original Amityville Horror in a blender and you've got Possession.

A sick, gritty yet impressionistic psychological horror film, the nonlinear storytelling is maddeningly opaque. There is much about the film that reminds me of the feel of D'Ario Argento's Susperia. more sexual, perhaps. there's a nice little moment which alludes to fellating someone on the cross. more for fans of Cronenberg and Lynch than Spielberg and Michael Bay.


hands desperately fumbling at the crotch whilst staring at Jesus, hands wrestling with each other like maddened tentacles, hands gripping the knife stabbing at the lover who is not the Devil...

a portrait of developing madness cannot be told in sane fashion. psychological and physiological grotesqueries abound... tales of dying dogs, misspent confessions, milk from the mouth and pulpy bloody soup from the crotch during a hysterically screaming miscarriage... a Lovecraftian Yog-Sotthoth slimy lover in the bed...

lights are turned on and off for no reason other than to plunge the theatre into a strobe light effect, clothes and bodies are put into the refrigerator, people get naked. sex with aliens.

"Stay there at the corner. Bleed for awhile."

there is much of the cruelty and dirty meanness felt in Rosemary's Baby and The Sentinnel (or Last House on the Left, for that matter) but more surreal, like Eraserhead. Even more than From Beyond or John Carpenter's sublimely dark The Mouth Of Madness, this film captures the essence of H.P. Lovecraft's notion "to look on it was to go insane."

"There are corpses in there, at least two bodies. I thought she was pulling my leg, but no, there's blood!"

sublime seventies cinematography (yes, i know it came out in '81), cooler colors except for the blood, the camera is never at rest. sometimes subtle push-ins, crazy handheld work, some delightful reverse-pans... this could have been lensed by Haskell Wexler on a Charlie Manson bad LSD trip.

"...that great, incomprehensible god you reach through FUCKING!"


This is not a normal film. Sam Neill and Isabelle Adjani star.
Cute and shmaltzy tripe  
on August 15, 2006 - 5:04 PM PDT
  of Conspiracy Theory (1997)
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful

Well done mainstream crap. If you go into this expecting anything other than a Richard Donner flick with Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts, you have noone but yourself to blame. It has all the intellectual rigor of that hideous "Oceans 11" remake (albeit quite a bit darker): models spewing unrealistic dialogue while stumbling through outrageous plot contrivances. More than competent camera work, and some interesting flashback work, but little more. I will say that Patrick Stewart has some funny bits, and that this is the most fun I've ever had watching Gibson being tortured.

Do yourself a favor and instead watch a conspiracy theory movie with the IQ cranked way up, like the original "Manchurian Candidtate," "Parallax View" or the incomparable "The Conversation." Heck, you'd even do better with that latter film's pseudo-sequel "Enemy of the State."
Memorably vicious, stylish and moral.  
on April 1, 2006 - 9:39 PM PST
  of The People Under the Stairs (1991)
0 out of 1 members found this review helpful

This is a brutal, slice-of-sadistic-realism film that is intelligently-plotted, excitingly-paced and ruthlessly violent. Wes Craven's best movie concerns a kid, Fool (Brandon Adams), accompanying his criminally-pragmatic stepdad, Leroy (Ving Rhames, in a brilliant performance), on an exceptionally ill-fated educational foray into the exciting world of breaking and entering. It's not "The Godfather," but a smart and violent horror comedy.

The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre alludes to certain class issues around rural/urban distinctions, as the original Dawn of the Dead did with consumer culture and "trips to the mall." This film's first act takes on the ghetto and the institutional racism of landlords. With a horror twist. (Would make a nice double-bill with either "The Faculty" or "Tales From the Hood." Somehow I also think this is the only film of Craven's that fans of David Cronenberg might appreciate.) If you are in the mood for a violent and fast-paced yet thoughtful and socially-conscious action/horror film (think Stephen Sommer's "Deep Rising" meets Grandmaster Flash's "the Message," or wait, "To Kill a Mockingbird" meets Romero's "Night of the Living Dead".... nah, think Tobe Hooper's "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" meets "The Goonies"), give this one a whirl. Although grim, not a total splatterfest, no gratuitous nudity, "People Under the Stairs" is an effective sociopolitical commentary in the guise of a horror film with a lot of clever dialogue. This film may leave some gorehounds wanting despite some truly grotesque moments of exposition (how do the people under the stairs feed?) along the way.

The extraordinarily-creepy story hinges upon the effectiveness of the chlid actors, whom I normally hate. If we didn't care about the kids, the whole film would fall apart. The number one reason this movie rules is the intelligence exhibited by the kids who lead the film--even more than Larry Clark's "Kids",this film may contain the single most accurate depiction of the actual intelligence of children/young adults ever captured in a movie. There's something approaching a romance between the young boy and the girl (AJ Langer), who both give uncanny performances. Fool is inspired by Leroy's strength which he must emulate in order to survive, and Alice in turn inspired by Fool's strength to abdicate the subservience to her imprisoning monsters which has kept her alive so far and attempt escape.

That brings us to the end of the first act... spoilers follow.

Fool is black, Alice is white, the parents are cracker-jack racists with an S-and-M fetish. Is this the first interracial "puppy love" story in Hollywood history? It's certainly the most vicious. The fact that the two kids get out alive at the end certainly helps balance out much of the darkness of the film, and the wonderfully natural interracial relationship anchors the heart of the film. The third kid (Alice's brother?), the one living both in the walls and under the stairs, had his tongue cut out for speaking out (love that Code of Hanurabi-style justice). Not clear if he survived or not at the end, which is somewhat unfortunate. Very unfortunate that Ving Rhames doesn't survive the first half of the film, as his dialogue in the beginning constitutes the bulk of the movie's intelligence.

The parents are in fact siblings, one of those befouled family relations that obsesses the mind of a sociologist like Wes Craven (cf. The Hills Have Eyes). The creepy screenplay's pacing doles out these Freudian-transgressive plot-twists over the first half of the film, producing a kick ultimately as challenging as Hitchcock's Psycho or Miike's Visitor Q.

This is a dark film which can only really appeal to those of nihilistic or natural-selective bent, despite its frequent moments of humor and insight. Good stuff for the hard of heart and strong of intellect. Life isn't always filled with goodness, but we can usually learn from good examples of the bad stuff.
Sublime Altman  
on January 24, 2006 - 9:25 PM PST
  of Nashville (1975)
0 out of 1 members found this review helpful

This is one of the greatest and most idiosyncratic films ever made. A film-student's dream, this is probably not your best first introduction to Robert Altman, just as the Battleship Potemkin is probably not the best first movie for a film-student to see.

See The Player, then see Short Cuts. Well, isn't that pompous? Isn't that like saying you low-brows would be better off reading *about* John Cage or Frank Zappa then actually experiencing their work? Uh, yeah. Altman did really get nearly performance-art-type performances from his players... he always was about natural performances...

Nashville goes deeper... it really is about the human interactions. There's a serial-killer/we-all-kill-the-heroes-we-love theme here, and yes, its disturbing, but Altman has never been about easy answers...
One for the ages...  
on January 24, 2006 - 9:13 PM PST
  of A Decade Under the Influence (2003)
2 out of 3 members found this review helpful

As film documentaries go, this one's the tops. This is why cinephiles like us greencine'rs go to the movies. Really quickly, it should be noted that the 180-minute running time of this "film" constitutes three commercially-uninterrupted episodes of an Independant Film Channel documentary.

The MPAA came on the scene in the late sixties just as the studio system was floundering in the face of independant and foreign films and, most importantly, as the big budget blockbusters being put out for the mainstream american audiences began flopping big-time.

Was it Cassavetes in the States or Antonioni on the other side of the pond that pounded the first nail in the coffin? Was it Coppola or Scorcese, on this side, following in their footsteps that put the final nail in that coffin? Sadly, there was no final nail, as the double-whammy of Speilberg's Jaws and Lucas' Star Wars re-established blockbuster supremacy, and the industry focus on opening weekend dollar-counts. (Terry Gilliam's critical masterpiece and fiscal fiasco Brazil would cement this perception amongst the penny-pincers, but this is after the time-scope of this particular flick; it only cements, however, the central thesis of this doc.)

This film documents this turbulent almost-transitional period, when experimentation was not only not reviled, it was celebrated.

So what you should expect to see is a documentary of the incredible revolution in american 70's cinema, with a strong focus on the independants. A lot of focus is given to Easy Rider, Bogdanovich, Coppola and Scorcese. Transgressively-independant cinema, whether its John Waters, the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and 42nd street "grindcore" films are given short-shrift.

Have you seen Easy Rider, the Conversation, Two-Lane Blacktop, Faces, Nashville, the Last Picture Show, Badlands, Mean Streets and Chinatown? Congratulations! Then you already have this film-hipster conventional view, but you would probably very much enjoy seeing the masters pontificate on what inspire them. If not, but more than a few of those titles are on your to-see list, you really owe yourself checking this sublime documentary out. (If not, then promptly get your mainstream-movie-watchin'-ass back to Blockbusters, you corporate whore!)

"When I say it's safe to surf this beach, it's safe to surf this beach!"
"You can't eat that corn, Maddy... that corn's green!"

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