Thoughts On: End Of The Week Shorts #53


End Of The Week Shorts #53

Today's shorts: Dogtooth (2009), You Were Never Really Here (2017), Alps (2011), Undisputed (2002), Undisputed II: Last Man Standing (2006), Undisputed III: Redemption (2010), Boyka: Undisputed (2016), The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie (1972), Slave Girls From Beyond Infinity (1987)

Ridiculously brilliant, Dogtooth is, in many respects, a film about childhood and naivety being used against children so that they remain who their parents want them to be. What we then see across this narrative is a selection of games and lessons used to contrive a fake reality - one where the ground outside a home can't be touched, where a zombie is a flower, where your canine falls out and grows back for a second time, an indicator that you are ready to leave your parents. These games become vicious competitions between children whose parents are forced to dehumanise and treat like animals because of the fact that their the plan to raise their children is so ill-conceived and inhuman. 
The final image we are left with is one that asks if these rules can ever be broken after they have been bent; if a child can become an individual after an abuse childhood. A must-see masterpiece that is far from just weird, gross or absurd.

Deeply enthralling and fascinatingly immersive, You Were Never Really Here feels very much so like the silent and slightly soft underbelly of Scorsese's Taxi Driver. Replacing actions with spaces, thoughts with inertia and conflict with abstract imagery, this is a basic thriller at heart. And in such it picks up the theme of protecting the weak and runs with it, which imbues the emotional subtext with hatred; a hatred for those who victimise the weak. Staying along this pathway, You Were Never Really Here wouldn't distinguish itself from the likes of Taxi Driver. However, by inverting its narrative, revealing hatred to, in this case, be a kind of fear that emerges from compassion, there emerges incredible catharsis of a very uncanny breed. 
Who is the true child, the saviour, the oppressed or the oppressor? 
Difficult to put into worlds, but a true pleasure to be lost in, You Were Never Really Here is an absolute must-see for anyone who takes cinema seriously.

Though many compare Alps to Dogtooth, Alps is most like Lanthimos first film, Kinetta. In such, it deals with a universal Lanthimos themes: care giving, privacy and loneliness. In following a group of people who act as surrogate family members and friends for grieving people, Alps contrasts ideas of caring for other people with personal ulterior motives. Like Kinetta, this then sees characters move toward and away from professionalism and intimacy with the gap between the two highlighting the film's central concept of action as humanity. Drama then emerges when characters try to bridge the gap between their professional personal lives; it is when they try to find value in one and integrate it into another, that trouble emerges. And this is all because, when actions are perceived as one's humanity, one can too easily be fooled into thinking playing parts will have you grow and change as a person. The fact is humanity is deeply internal and cannot be simply imitated; a crushing fact for some.

In direct conversation with Mike Tyson's sentencing to prison in the mid-90s, Undisputed is kinda, sorta the original Rocky set in prison. 
What this succeeds in doing is showing a passion for boxing and showcasing a few solid boxing sequences. It also forms an allegory about remaining humble; about confronting life with measure and a strong internal perception of oneself and the world. What's more, this makes a smart decision in not making any conclusions about the main character's (Mike Tyson's) sentencing to prison, but it probably didn't really need to tell a story around this. On the negative end, whilst the editing style is inventive, it is quite clunky and lends to structural weaknesses. Moreover, characterisation is pretty flat and so this fails to do what even the most basic stories of this kind must: have its main character overcome something. Without overcoming anything, Snipe's character arc falls flat. In the end though, somewhat engaging, not particularly good.

Pretty poor. In some ways better than the first, in others, worse. However, the fact that this thinks that it's a sequel is the most ridiculous bullshit I've ever heard of. Many years after an already elderly boxing champion goes to prison and emerges again, he's in Russia - apparently no longer champion (implying he lost or retired). Not only is he in better shape than he ever was, but apparently can rival a kick boxing phenom. Utter nonsense. 
The story of Undisputed II is repetitive and weaker than the first, as is the writing, but the characters are better written and the action, without a care for continuity or sense, is better than that seen in the first. Still stupid nonsense, the quality of the fight scenes doesn't really justify watching this.

These movies, fortunately, get better.  
The story is still lacking. It follows a similar structure, using the same themes and motifs, as the two previous films. In such, this is about the defeated and the humble rising against their own hubris and maybe bringing someone up with them. Whilst the fundamentals remain the same, there are a few very significant changes. There are more fights, better fights, stronger characters and greater thematic harmony, which is to say, this does everything that the previous films do, just better. The most significant triumph is certainly the deeper sense of conflict and struggle; our main character actually has a respectable character arc and much to overcome. So, whilst this isn't brilliant, it is worth seeing for the general package.

Whilst this is may be the best - the most ambitious with story and character - Undisputed film, it is not miles beyond the rest and still exists in pretty much the same realm as all the others - that is to say, these appear to be 90s movies that have somehow smuggled themselves all the way through the 00s and into the 10s. 
The selling point of these movies should be the action sequences. And, I have to say, I don't think Adkins' type of action is utilised, in the script, by the director or choreographers, to its full potential. The structure of the fight scenes and all that builds into them is never satisfactory; there is no swell of emotion and no real triumph. This reduces the spectacle of Adkins' spinning and flying shit (official terminology) quite drastically. It is then all too easy to see Adkins performing some incredible stunts and not be dazzled - all because he hasn't got the right support from the filmmakers around him. He needs to watch more Jackie Chan movies and then get a bunch of other guys to watch Jackie Chan movies and then maybe we'll get something special out of him. For what it is, this is cool and sometimes fun - but that's about it.

A meandering journey through the anxieties, desires and fears of a group of upper-class friends who just can't seem to sit down and eat together. 
Most reminiscent of The Exterminating Angel, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie deals with the formalities of the upper-classes by essentially invading spaces and exploiting rules of engagement. Awkwardness and out-of-placeness is then a key element of this film with the tone-deaf drama emerging from a conflict between the stiffness of social settings and the chaos of imagination and emotion that resides with the people who inhabit it. In a strange way, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie ultimately makes efforts to humanise its ridiculous set of characters, utilising far less satire and critique than The Exterminating Angel - at least, this is what you sense. 
Not as striking as Buñuel earlier works, this is absurd before it is surreal, and so my response is pretty neutral as of now. I wonder what a re-watch would bring, however...

Whilst the title is nonsense, the poster makes promises that aren't broken. 
Slave Girls From Beyond Infinity is a movie about surviving, balanced between life and death, caught in cross-hairs, forced to destroy and save others and retain one's humanity. This is also soft-core pornography. 
Reminiscent of, though distinctly cheaper than, the likes of Barbarella, this is a 60s movie that somehow made it to the late-80s, bringing along with it a Russ Meyer complex (strong female characters, always at least half naked though) and a barrel of cliched lines. Made watchable by all that's obvious, this is what you think it'd be, and you can't hate it for delivering what you came for. Complete trash - though not in a bad way.

Previous post:

When Marnie Was There - Voicing Conflict

Next post:

A Quiet Place - Tension > Drama

More from me:

No comments: