Thoughts On: End Of The Week Shorts #33


End Of The Week Shorts #33

Today's shorts: 5 Centimetres per Second (2007), Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow (1978), Hipsters (2008), The Headless Woman (2008), The Circle (2000), Delhi Belly (2011), Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989), Q (1982)

5 Centimetres per Second is a beautiful work of animation, one structured around tension and imbued with a deep sense of romanticism. Thematically, through its 3 episodes, this briefly explores the fleeting nature of life, the brevity of beauty and the distancing force of fate. 
Unfortunately, I didn't connect with 5 Centimetres per Second. I may have just been in the wrong mood going in, but I wasn't pulled into the tone of the narrative at all. So, whilst some moments of characterisation spoke to me, this felt very inconsequential and nostalgic for nostalgia's sake. In recognising the aesthetic wonders that this holds, I can't say that this is a bad movie. It does, however, lack something to grip and sink your teeth into.

Brilliant--ridiculously stupid and ludicrously illogical, but nonetheless brilliant. 
Snake in the Eagle's Shadow is very much so the stereotypical martial arts movie about school rivalry, wandering teachers, searching students, assassins and an array of styles: Mantis, Dragon, Cat, Snake, Tiger, etc. Fully embracing all of these cliches, Chan brings a spark of his iconic comedy into the mix, and thus we have a terrific action-comedy. Paying little mind to story and character, Snake in the Eagle's Shadow is awash with stunning choreography, ingenious direction, nutty camera work (emphasis on the zooms) and blistering editing. So, despite the fact that this film doesn't take itself seriously, there is true talent and craft on display that demands to be seen. 
If you think you're a fan of Jackie Chan and have only seen his American movies, give Snake in the Eagle's Shadow a watch (and then Police Story, The Drunken Master, Who Am I?, etc.).

As intriguing as a Russian musical sounds, all interest wears away as Stilyagi, or Hipsters, goes on... and on... and on. Whilst Hipsters is not edited slowly, it is a painfully cumbersome film with far too little story and very little character. This means that once it makes its statement on self-expression and shines light on 50s Russian counter-culture, Hipsters has nothing else to do but meander on with weak drama and empty romance. 
After the first 20 minutes I was then hoping for some kind of gear shift and for the so-so songs to pick up, but this never happens. Unfortunately, Hipsters is then little more than a lot of noise made by annoying characters that offers a very basic (allegedly anachronistic, too) incite into Russian history. I just can't recommend this one.

The Headless Woman is a difficult and very opaque film that is, in a way, a psychological thriller, but, due to its structuring and direction, there is no sense of genre or plot in this film. The absence of narrative, resolution and character makes this a confusing experience, one that defies articulation. 
Whilst I have to say that I didn't enjoy this--even as an art film--at all, it pulled me in at points and provides a lot of material to ponder upon. In essence, this seems to be an allegory about times of dictatorship in Argentina and the 10s of thousands of people that would be 'disappeared' by the state. In loosely alluding to this history, The Headless Woman is an inaccessible film about truth, deception, guilt, denial and the dizzying trauma of witnessing - or at least believing you witness - tragedy.

The Circle is a film that explores what it is to be a woman living outside of the control and supervision of men in Iran. 
With a sparse, hyperlinked structure, The Circle follows numerous women through a day that is overshadowed by a looming sense of inevitability and danger. And, as individual as each woman is, they are all linked by subtle rebellion and so all seem fated to meet the same end. As sprawling and elliptical as this story is presented to be, its structure is then self-contradicting: the free-form narrative path is stuck on circuitous track with one certain end. 
It is this relationship between form and content, between freedom and oppression, between chance and inevitability, that leaves this film so striking. Recommended.

Far from a masterpiece, but entertaining enough, Delhi Belly is a too-much-in-one-day crime-thriller dark-comedy; it is Adventures In Baby Sitting, Harold & Kumar Go To Whitecastle, It's A Mad...World, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The Hangover, etc, but, with a lot of poop jokes (Delhi Belly itself is a poop joke... so that says a lot). 
What sets Delhi Belly aside from the mentioned films somewhat is the density and intricacy of the plot; this film runs at a million miles an hour with no true A plot and B plot but an alphabet of plots forming one huge flow of narrative. Getting swept up into this makes Delhi Belly a highly entertaining film despite its shaky writing - which uses expletives with no sense of reason or natural cadence, an incredible amount of cliches and ridiculously low-brow jokes. If you're then looking for some nonsensical blockbuster fun, Delhi Belly may be the film for you.

Less a body-horror and more an art film, Tetsuo is an insane masterpiece. 
With motifs of industrialisation, capitalism/competition, sexuality, poverty and technology this explores the modern age (Japan in the late 80s) as a force that turns people into monsters. With horror imbued into every element of its design, this is one of the most disturbing and unsettling films I have ever seen. I dare say this is the only true horror I have ever seen as it isn't at all diluted by the traditional drama, mystery, thriller, comedy, etc like almost all 'horrors' are. However, to see this as a genre film is to degrade its self-conscious and awe-inspiringly articulated commentary on the modern day man. I cannot recommend this more. Find this, and you are in for a ride you won't be able to forget.

The poster, as to be expected, is way better than the film itself. Surprisingly, however, Q isn't a horrific movie. 
The direction, writing and acting throughout are very mediocre (sometimes questionable). However, there are glimmering moments of structure, character and dark comedy that make this more than watchable. The special effects have, of course, dated - and rather drastically. And this is only emphasised by the direction and terrible design of the creature. Nonetheless, building upon its strengths, Q holds some sparse satire and subtext concerning corruption at the individual and governmental level that is quite amusing. 
All in all, I had and had a pretty good time with Q. It's ridiculous and quite obtuse, but watchable enough.

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