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Udo Kier (#110 of 6)

Berlinale 2015 The Forbidden Room

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Berlinale 2015: The Forbidden Room
Berlinale 2015: The Forbidden Room

If a film festival like Berlinale can be said to have—as one of its goals, at least—an overriding interest in getting a sense of cinema’s future, then perhaps it’s ironic that the first film I saw in this year’s edition (its 65th) is one that not only glances at cinema’s past, but explodes it, putting it through a stylistic wringer, slathering its lovingly replicated old-movie images with a barrage of visual and aural filters, giving them new life through sheer unflagging verve and devil-may-care chutzpah. One would expect no less from Guy Maddin, a filmmaker who’s made a whole career out of running recreations of classic-Hollywood styles through his own darkly whimsical avant-garde sensibility—but his latest opus, The Forbidden Room, manages to be a law unto itself even in light of his previous oeuvre.

Poster Lab: Nymphomaniac

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Poster Lab: <em>Nymphomaniac</em>
Poster Lab: <em>Nymphomaniac</em>

With little more than two strategically placed parentheses, Lars von Trier may well have delivered the best poster of the year, a preposterously simple, characteristically devious tease that succeeds in saying nothing and, potentially, everything about his latest film. Reported, more than a year ago, to be a two-part endeavor (details of when and how each part will be released remain somewhat ambiguous), the self-explanatory Nymphomaniac stars von Trier’s masochistic muse, Charlotte Gainsbourg, as a self-diagnosed sex addict, who, at age 50, spills her lifelong string of trysts to a man (Stellan Skarsgård) who finds her beaten in the street. That’s essentially all that’s known, aside from the fact that the film will include bona fide, non-simulated sex, and that Shia LaBeouf will be among the libidinous partners baring all.

Depending on how you received Antichrist, a sins-of-the-mother horrorshow that culminated with one of cinema’s most unshakable acts of violence (you know the one), von Trier can be viewed as a conscience-deprived misogynist or the world’s most offbeat feminist. In either case, there’s no getting past his fascination with female genitalia, which is bluntly evoked here without any immediate crudeness. One might call the apparent obsession Freudian, but such a common label seems dumbly reductive for a man of von Trier’s oft-immeasurable thematic predilections. Still, Sigmund would be proud if he moseyed over to the movie’s current website, which, speaking of revisiting the past, lets the viewer enter those parentheses via a move of the scroll bar, simulating the ultimate return to the ultimate source.

Freaks and Geeks Shade Rupe’s Dark Stars Rising: Conversations from the Outer Realms

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Freaks and Geeks: Shade Rupe’s Dark Stars Rising: Conversations from the Outer Realms
Freaks and Geeks: Shade Rupe’s Dark Stars Rising: Conversations from the Outer Realms

Shade Rupe’s Dark Stars Rising is a collection of interviews with first class weirdos in the world of cinema and performance. What makes it a special read for connoisseurs of this sort of bizarre entertainment is Rupe’s earnest, non-ironic, deeply curious set of questions, which bring out a candor and trust in his subjects. Told entirely in Q&A format, there’s a shortage of editorializing, and Rupe allows his superstars to speak for themselves.

For example, the spectacularly large drag queen Divine, best known for appearing in such John Waters classics as Pink Flamingos and Polyester, opens up about various inherent vulnerabilities and interests. Perhaps it’s because Rupe’s very first question isn’t a question—he simply states, “Those are great shoes.” Divine’s response is, “I always say I look normal from my neck to my ankles, and the head and the shoes are always, as I say, fucked up.” Rupe’s follow-up question wonders if Divine gets bugged a lot for looking “normal” and already we’re set up for a little more to the discussion than, “Did you really eat the dog turd in that movie?”

Transgressive bad-boy filmmakers like Gaspar Noe (I Stand Alone) and Richard Kern (You Killed Me First) delve into their work, and how they have evolved over the years. Kern’s deadpan sense of humor about living in his fantasies is summed up when he says, “[When I was making] all that violent stuff, I was in that phase. Now I’m in the pervert phase. I don’t have to hide anymore.” Noe explains how his projects became fueled by personal anger at being rejected by financiers, or observing his friends make movies while his hands were tied. “Then you start hating the person who refused your script,” he says, “[to the point where] you kill her in your own dreams…and [when you finally make the film] it all comes out in the movie!”

Toronto International Film Festival 2011: A Mysterious World and Melancholia

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Toronto International Film Festival 2011: <em>A Mysterious World</em> and <em>Melancholia</em>
Toronto International Film Festival 2011: <em>A Mysterious World</em> and <em>Melancholia</em>

A deliberately paced study in sublime defeatism that shuttles easily between deadpan humor and witty pathos, Rodrigo Moreno’s A Mysterious World might be the most auteur-y object to emerge from the Toronto International Film Festival’s “City to City” Buenos Aires-themed program. Expanding on—and more expediently dramatizing—the philosophy of monotony that characterizes his earlier film El Custodio, Moreno wanders the streets, apartments, and rural suburban roads around the Argentine metropolis by way of a scrawny flaneur protagonist, Boris (Esteban Bigliardi), who’s ejected from his terminally bored girlfriend’s loft in the daintily circuitous dialogue of the opening sequence. Just barely responding to his newfound adrift-ness, Boris checks into a hotel, allows himself to be conned into buying a broken-down French car, interpolates cigarette drags into his daily abs work-out, feasts on white bread topped with ketchup and mustard, and follows women compulsively, for miles, without any recognizably lecherous intentions. The camera lopingly observes Boris through these exploits, frequently forcing us to identify with his stultifying nervousness by mimicking his immobility and aimless turns of the head via stable eye line shots and unhurried pans.

On the Circuit: Mother of Tears

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On the Circuit: <em>Mother of Tears</em>
On the Circuit: <em>Mother of Tears</em>

Among the many sights on display in Dario Argento’s Mother of Tears: a psychotic screaming monkey, a gaggle of hooded, chanting occultists, an oblong, metallic jawbreaker, and some freshly disemboweled intestines employed as an impromptu noose. And that’s only the second scene.