Friday, 13 April 2012

Triple Bill Mini Musings: Foreign Flicks and a Supernatural Slasher...

This Greek black comedy is a twisted and intriguing affair - depicting the lives of an isolated family, where the children have all been raised with strange boundaries and teachings - aeroplanes flying overhead are said to be toys that sometimes fall to the ground, they have a brother living on the other side of an insurmountable fence, only the patriarch can leave the compound, sex is emotionless, and the meanings of numerous words have been replaced without their knowledge. The film takes a gentle, yet distanced, view on the proceedings which move at a creeping pace as if from a passive or even seated perspective (oftentimes heads are entirely cut out of the frame once the characters stand up), escalating from the bizarre (the father pimps his factory's security woman out to his son at regular intervals) to the disturbing (sudden moments of blunt violence and perverse sexual practises), there's still room for a curious sense of comedy. Rocky IV, Jaws, and Flashdance all find their way into this cut-off and insular world that avoids explanation. I figured I'd give this a punt as it was showing during Film4's recent Extreme season (as presented by film critic Mark Kermode), and in spite of the more troubling moments, it makes for a fascinating and darkly comic viewing experience.

Continue reading after the jump for Import/Export, and Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II...

Ulrich Siedl's bleak European drama details the travels of Olga (Ukranian) and Pauli (Austrian) from their native lands to that of their counterparts. Told concurrently, their stories meander with a deliberately confrontational pace - no scene is rushed - as the director himself stated, to rush many of the scenes would have either warped or removed their entire meaning. To linger on numerous scenes matches the sense of struggle so ever-present in the protagonist's lives - nurses dealing with crying infants, trainers drilling their men mercilessly, and using money to abuse those from 'lesser' lands than your own. Olga, a single mother, cast against the repressive apartment blocks of the snow-bound Ukraine, finds herself a cleaning lady - by way of internet webcam sex performer, and before that a nurse. Pauli, a charming chancer, is wallowing in debt owed to numerous money men (and even his sleazy stepfather) and seeks better things in life, just like Olga, and yet by our journey's end you know they have an awfully long way to go. It's not exactly a cheery flick, then - but it is filmed with a sense of careful precision that suits the serious subject matter. Worthy, but not what you'd call enjoyable.

Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II

This rhythmically-titled sequel to the 1980 Jame Lee Curtis-starring slasher sidesteps all-too-samey sequel territory by taking a different route to its predecessor. Clearly inspired by the likes of Carrie, The Exorcist (which is explicitly referenced more than once in the dialogue), and A Nightmare On Elm Street, a tragic accident at the Prom of 1957 leads to the eponymous Prom Queen being burned to death. Fast forward to 30 years later and Michael Ironside is the principal (and former pupil) of the same school, which suffers a series of tragic deaths - many centering around Vicki, the sweet-natured Catholic girl with a domineering mother, who becomes possessed by the spirit of Mary Lou. It gets off to a slow start initially, but once it settles into some stylish set pieces and nightmarish visions (with a couple of darkly original deaths - don't hide in a gym locker), it turns into a pretty good ride, especially for a slasher-like flick from the late 1980s (1987 to be exact), which were the dying days of the classic slasher flick. Genre fans should be well served by this somewhat unusual fare, and while it's far from perfect, it's fun while it lasts and certainly outstrips some of it's peers.

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