WWW: Weekend Wrental Wreviews 34

Let's see what I saw this week for Weekend Wrental Wreviews in my 34th WWW:

1) Naked Lunch:
I like things that are a little weird, odd, and/or disturbing, and David Cronenberg's films certainly fall into that category. And with Naked Lunch, I thought I was in for a true feast of weirdness. Peter Weller portrays an exterminator in the ‘50s who keeps running out of his yellow bug powder because his wife is addicted to it. When the police bring him in for questioning, they leave him alone with a giant talking insect claiming to be from “Interzone”, some weird alternate dimension. The thing was Cronenberg freaky, speaking both through its mandibles and a hairy anus beneath its abdomen's exoskeleton. Now there's a sentence I probably never expected to type. As the film gets weirded and weirder, introducing typewriter bug hybrids and esoteric “Mugwumps” whose Snork-like head tubes ooze narcotic substances, it becomes very clear that this is not a movie about extradimensional invasions and conspiracies, but just a guy on a really bad trip. It's done really well, perhaps too well. I was tired when I started the film, paused it to take a nap for an hour late on Sunday afternoon, and awoke in total darkness from horrible nightmares about giant insects criticizing my work. In the end, I had to do some research to figure out what the hell the point of it all was, and learned it was a semi-biographical account of William S. Burroughs, and how he came by the novel of the same name. Basically, Burroughs realized he never would have become a writer had he not accidentally murdered his wife, a pivotal moment in his life. So the film, told through the eyes of a drug addict, takes us through this disturbing process of confused sexuality, reality, and perverse creativity. Instead of admiring the bizarre, we're left feeling a little dirty. Maybe it was that one scene in which a typewriter sprouts an erection. Perhaps it was seeing Roy Scheider with breasts. I can't put my finger on it, but there was something about this movie that disturbed me greatly. And, given my tastes, that's saying a lot.

2) El Mariachi:
I've seen Desperado about half a dozen times, maybe more, and at least three times in the theater, which is rare for me. It's one of my favorite movies; it's just so ridiculously cool. For some reason, I always thought it was just a remake of El Mariachi with a bigger budget, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that Desperado was a true continuation of a character whose origins lay in the previous film. Robert Rodriguez made this film for $7,000, and while it might show in low quality film and non-professional extras, his signature style, action, and humor show as well. Carlos Gallardo is fitting as the title character, a true musician and innocent until he is mistaken for another man with guns in his guitar case and a score to settle. Our hero quickly finds himself the victim of mistaken identity, but manages to take care of himself and even fall in love. If you've seen Desperado, you know the resulting tragedy that leads this musician to become a true gunslinger. Gallardo had a supporting role in Desperado, but the character he previously portrayed was played by Antonio Banderas, as El Mariachi has attained legendary status, thanks in no small part to tales like the one inimitably spun by Steve Buscemi at the beginning of the sequel. Gallardo is a fresh-faced innocent, while Banderas brought more of a roguish quality to the character. In both films, the line between nightmare and reality is as much a theme as that between reality and legend. Ordinary people put in extraordinary situations will accomplish extraordinary deeds, that will be passed down and exaggerated from generation to generation. But the little things that made the legends human, things like the Mariachi's penchant for soda pop, will always ground them.

3) Ink:
“Tick tock; this man got rocked.” Ink is low budget, but proves that with a compelling story, and good thematic use of even the most basic digital effects, you can make a good movie. It's hard to describe, but basically tells the tale of dreams versus nightmares, with the real world caught in the middle. Ink, a tortured and disfigured soul, wants to be one of the Incubi, a prideful group with creepy screen facades, responsible for giving nightmares to the living. The price of his admission is the sacrifice of Emma, a little girl with great imagination and spirit despite some tragic events in her life. When Ink takes Emma, it's up to the heroic Storytellers from the dream world to save her. But, they'll need the help of her father, a businessman who threw himself into his work after a great loss, and without the ability to directly affect the physical world, they have a major challenge and not a lot of time to overcome it. This is a wonderful modern fairy tale, classic elements blending with heavier concepts such as non-linear perceptions of time and events. There are some truly compelling and interesting characters, such as the pathfinder Jacob, a blind man with black X's taped over his eyes, who perceives more than the others because he can hear the beat of the world. There's humor as well as sadness, and a great emotional score. At any given time, the hue tells us where we are. Normal colors? Real world. Vibrant gold? The realm of dreams. Desaturated tones with a hint of green and a grainy appearance? Welcome to the nightmares. Your brain may get lost piecing together the overlapping realities and different moments in time, but you'll find great satisfaction as you start piecing certain things together, and a great payoff as you learn that you were right about some of your suspicions. Because of the low budget and small distribution, there's great risk of people missing this one. I can draw comparisons to What Dreams May Come or Dark City, but ultimately it's a unique experience that you have to see to fully appreciate it. “It's all about the beat.”

More reviews to follow next week after I've spun a few more discs!



Anonymous Krispy said...

El Mariachi is a wonderful film. Proof that imagination and balls are far more important than budget. Somebody alert Michael Bay, Roland Emmerich, et al.

3/14/2010 7:46 AM  

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