A blog about movies and filmmaking.

Journey Into Human Depravity

In comedy, cult film on January 8, 2011 at 4:11 am

Photo courtesy Mandy Rodgers (movie-going accomplice)

I saw two movies tonight, at Los Angeles’ Silent Movie Theater that were completely opposite ends of the spectrum in approach, direction, and in the overall feeling left over after each movie was over. But, the one thing they had in common was the lengths that people will go to, to enforce their own perspectives of the world onto others.

But, first some proselytizing; The Silent Movie theater is a small place on Fairfax, just off Melrose; that was created long ago by Charlie Chaplin as sort of his own private screening room. (Okay, actually that appears to in some forms be a myth, as the website says the theater was built after the time of actual silent movies and was sort of a repertory theater even back then.) The theater is small-ish; the seats are unbearably uncomfortable; and the screen is just a tad too small, in my opinion; but, it’s been a great experience each time I’ve gone. So, what I’m trying to say is, please feel the need to help support them, or if you’re not in LA, then support any local, independent cinema in your neighborhood.

Okay, getting back to business…

The first movie I saw on this very evening was a Greek movie that has garnered a little bit of buzz and is another in a line of movies that are being sold as, “read nothing about this before seeing it.” So, I’m going to hold true to that campaign for now. But here is a small synopsis:

DOGTOOTH is the story of a family, that are sort of locked in their own little world. We don’t know why, we aren’t told all the rules, we only know that this family is odd. The parents, and their three children (one boy and two girls); live a fairly nice life. They have amenities like a swimming pool, a camcorder and television. But, they also believe things like airplanes are actually the size that they appear to be in the sky and if one fell, it would be the size of a model…But, their altered reality goes much deeper than that.

The movie is certainly a part of the movement of the “cinema of the absurd”, in it’s approach to these people’s lives. It’s traumatic, and repulsive; but it’s never too over the top. There’s not the attack against the viewer that certain filmmakers of this ilk might make (Gaspar Noe, Lars von Trier, Michael Haneke, to name a few), instead it lulls you into a zone of monotony almost, before springing strange and deplorable actions on-screen.

That’s all I’ll say. It’s an interesting movie and one I’d say you should definitely see; but I’m not exactly recommending it, if that makes sense.

The other, and the much more fun and what I’d almost dare call mainstream, movie is TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL. Don’t let the title, and the poster, or even the trailer fool you. This movie will not be what you’re prepared for. (Actually, the only trailer I could find – which I remember being different long ago when I first heard of this movie, does in-fact give it all away. So, I’ve decided to only post posters for both of these movies.) Anyway, the story, is indeed about two backwoods gentlemen by the name of Tucker (Alan Tudyk – FIREFLY, KNOCKED UP), and Dale (Tyler Labine – REAPER, SONS OF TUCSON); who are trekking up to their new vacation home. Wherein they have a run-in or two with a local group of college kids that are camping for their spring break.

Needless to say, all hell breaks loose; lots of people die and hilarity ensues. The really fun part of this movie though is that while it’s got some gore and nasty effects to it, there’s nothing really off-putting. It’s attitude never changes from anything other than a fun romp. Whether it’s from Tucker’s repeated use of Pabst Blue Ribbon as a cure-all for any ill; or the requisite banjo playing over certain scenes; this movie knows what it is and never tries to show off to the audience.

I know it’s a little mean to write about these two movies, while none of you are going to be able to see them. But, this is a call to all you people out there. If you live in or near an even medium sized city, there’s bound to be an arthouse, second-run cinema, that just might be up for showing movies like this. They’re not all stuffy, art film cinematheques that only the elite few can enjoy – and even those, aren’t that way all the time. So, while I’d definitely say check out Tucker & Dale, if and wherever you can; this is really a recommendation to seek out indy cinemas. I’ll admit to never really being on that cutting edge – I listened to mainstream radio growing up, I like superhero comics more than I ever did stuff by Crumb or even the Hernandez Bros. – but I can honestly say, independent movies are something to seek out and it doesn’t need to be as closed off as some of those other cliques may seem. (And I might even be over-estimating those, as I’m just still not part of those clubs.)

So do it! And if there’s the chance, go see these two movies as well. (I hear in Russia, TUCKER & DALE is called SLAUGHTER HOLIDAY.)


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