Saturday, May 08, 2010

RAGs film report 1: The 5 Best films ever made and 2 other faves

I saw this when I was 4 or something and I think it is partly responsible for the amount of disappointing viewing experiences I have had ever since with all kinds of art. I probably measure so many things by the high standard this set. I assumed that since this was a family film, real horror films would be ten times more terrifying. But this is still one of the scariest films ever made. I love my films emotionally harrowing. It was a real delight to find a few years ago that there was a companion film called Plague Dogs, which only recently became uncut on DVD.

It is my favourite Lynch film and it may be my favourite film of all. I wasn’t as big on Eraserhead as most people are and I ignored Lynch for a long time assuming that he was not for me, so it was a surprise to find out that such a famous guy could make things that felt very close to me. I think Inland Empire, Mulholland Drive, Twin Peaks Fire Walk With Me and Lost Highway are his most powerful works, the warm dreamy style makes me feel incredible and resonates with me more than the black and white stuff. The music and those red curtains feel like my own memories from long ago and I feel it gels with my personal approach to art. After experiencing Inland Empire with all that prolonged wandering in dark corridors and short bursts of terrifying faces, I left intensely pleasured and very sad that someone else had achieved some of the things I had always wanted to achieve myself.
I don’t think it gets enough recognition for how scary it is. I’d like to also mention the start and end credit sequences of Lost Highway when the camera is speeding across the road to what I was amazed to find was David Bowie( since I only had a fairly small fondness for Bowie), I think those sequences with that music is some of the most incredible feelings a movie has ever gave me, makes me feel ELATED!


This has the finest hysterical energy I have ever witnessed in a film, not the noisiest movie ever made, but the noise is exhilarating. To me Sam Neil was always just “that Jurassic Park guy” but this gave me a lot of respect for him(not that he was bad in JP, Mouth of Madness or Event Horizon).
I wasn’t expecting more horror from the rest of Zulawski’s work, actually there was a lot more horror than I expected but I was disappointed by all his other films and I gave up getting more (I still haven’t saw Public Woman, Mad Love, Boris Godunov and Blue Note). Szamanka did not live up to reputation and the good music was overplayed to exhaustion, I don’t get why people think Third Part of the Night is one of his better films, The Devil was quite good in places, On the Silver Globe was fascinating at times but I’d rather look at these screenshots than watch the whole film Amazing screens. If you like Sophie Marceau you’ll enjoy his romantic films.
I didn’t think any of the films were bad, they all were interesting and were obviously done by an individualistic director who is pleasingly different from all other arthouse and shock directors, his sense of humor is unique too, but nothing came close to Possession. Tim Lucas raved about L'important c'est d'aimer but that somehow did nothing for me either. But I did think Jacques Dutronc was really good in two Zulawski films, he came across deeply eccentric in a very real way and his eyes are fascinating.
I’m sorry Mr Zulawski, I don’t get your films except for Possession, The Devil and small parts of your other films. Am I a teeny bopper?


Shinya Tsukamoto deserves to be just as big as Miike or any other auteur today. He has a more consistently satisfying body of work than any other director I have ever encountered. Like the way I overlooked David Lynch, I avoided Tetsuo The Iron Man because I assumed such a popular cult classic would not be my thing, and that was another time when I was amazed to find something so amazing that was so widely available and under my nose the whole time.
I watched Tokyo Fist first and I adored it immediately. Remember I was talking about Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure and the subversive intensity that used to be associated with Japanese imports in the late 80s and early 90s? Tokyo Fist EMBODIES that energy. The film is like a power drink. It has an incredible soundtrack by Chu Ishikawa (who always does music for Tsukamoto), Tsukamoto plays the main character (he acts a lot in his own films and for a lot of other directors including Miike), Kahori Fujii is really great and she has a beauty that that reminds me of a much older Japanese ideal that you don’t see often enough today. You have to see it.

I havent been able to get a hold of Nightmare Detective 2 and Female, but I have seen everything else and all of them are good films. There are only two or three Tsukamoto films I’m not crazy about, but Tokyo Fist, Tetsuo Iron Man, Vital, Haze, Gemini are all essential. A Snake of June and Bullet Ballet are also highly recommended if you need more.
Vital is nothing like all his other films, it has an extremely soft lovely feel even though it is about a medical student who is dissecting his girlfriend to find secrets about her life and death, it is very romantic.
Haze is a 50 minute claustrophobic nightmare with Kahori Fujii again. Not scary exactly, but still a nightmarishly horrible situation that you will have dreamt about, and it seems like a more logical approach to make a horror film than 99.7% other film attempts I’ve ever seen.
Gemini is an Edogawa Rampo story about an evil twin, but all the delight is in the visuals. The first appearance of one of the beggars is so bizarre and tense because he acts in a scary and unpredictable way and the further scenes of beggars are amazing because their costumes are burning bright with gorgeous color and their dancing is fascinating.

Most of you probably know about the first Tetsuo film, but I will say that the scene where the woman attacks the main guy in the subway is one of the sexiest scenes I’ve ever seen in a movie, just seeing her changing from this timid office worker to a wild dripping maniac is really hot. There is a third Tetsuo film coming out this year, it is filmed in America in english but is still essentially a Japanese film, the initial response has been bad, but the second got a bad response too despite having some incredible moments. Everyone wants more of the first film.
I cant wait for more Tsukamoto films across the years, hopefully a lot of decades.

This is currently only in Region2 but do whatever you can to see this movie.

You may think I’m going over the top about this film, perhaps there is something about this time in my life that I reacted to Love Exposure so strongly, but I’m pretty sure anyone who sees it will be impressed.
The previous week I watched Sono’s Strange Circus, which was decent film with some striking rooms, an odd plot about a horrible father making his mother and daughter switch places, but it didn’t come anywhere near close to the power of Love Exposure, which I watched the day after. I’m going to get more of his films, but only 6 or 7 of his films have had a western DVD release.
Sono’s most famous film is Suicide Circle/Club and he seems to love being hated in Japan and he is currently stirring up controversy with his upcoming Black Metal docudrama Lords of Chaos based on the book of the same name, which I think might be an awful idea since the book is supposed to be wrong about a lot of facts and Sono has no real interest in the music scene. Whatever happens, it will probably be a decent movie. Varg has threatened to kill him if Sono makes the film, but Sono likes the danger.

If I picked this film up in the shops I wouldn’t have been interested, as I have an aversion to the type of stylish highschool kids on the cover, but this is a fucking masterpiece. Love Exposure is really hard to summarise, one main thread of the plot is about a son of a priest committing sins to confess to his father because his father wont believe him if he says he has not sinned. Another thread is the son believing he will find the love of his live by taking upskirt photos with his kung-fu pervert technique. It is FOUR HOURS long but it never feels boring for a second because an incredible amount of things happen in the movie, it is not padded or stretched out in the least. It is a really beautiful love story.

I’d like to get to tell Sono what this film meant to me as he seemed somewhat drained and upset after the film finished and everyone regarded it as a probable peak of his career which would be difficult to match again. When it ended I was sad there was not more, even after four hours. I’ve never been so shaken by a movie, for the start of this week I was quite down and wished I could make some exciting change to my life to match the excitement of the lives in that movie even if I would hate to be in their specific situations. I was also a little bewildered by what Sono had achieved and I was creatively envious, because he does things I could probably never do. I don’t really do plot and characters in this way and this is one of the few times when I really cared about such things in a movie. The very feel of watching this is like no other movie. I was immensely inspired and it was one of those times I was so touched that I wanted to spend each second of my life more wisely. I’m still totally astonished by it.

Ken Russell is just as crazy as any other director from any part of the world. Just watch that trailer! Rick Wakeman and Roger Daltrey do a really amazing soundtrack. It may seem just way too silly to start with, but trust me, stick with this film, it is amazing. Incredibly funny.


Fukui could be accused of being a thief of the first Tetsuo film, because his early films are very similar, but he actually worked on Tetsuo. Rubbers Lover is okay, but Pinocchio 964 is really incredible. Easily the craziest film I’ve seen if you mean shouting maniac crazy. It is unique to me in that I have never seen a film before which used lengthy scenes focusing on one thing to create an unbearable tension. There is a part where a girl has a dripping wet face and she stays still for ages without moving, I cant watch it without squirming. The ending is INSANE!
Fukui has came out with several short films in recent years after a long time of nothing, but they are very obscure and I probably wont get my hands on them for years.

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