Monday, May 31, 2010

#5 of the Top Five Bizarro Films Countdown!

Hello loyal readers, Its time yet again for another Top Five Countdown! That is Dennis Hopper and Isabella Rosellini on the pic above, and that is a scene from Blue Velvet, one of David Lynch's strangest films (but not the strangest!) and I decided to put it up there for two reasons. Number one is to commemorate Dennis Hopper's career, he recently passed away and he will be sorely missed. And the second is because once again, I am working in collaboration with Shaun Anderson from the excellent film review blog The Celluloid Highway. If you remember, we collaborated a while ago on our Top Five Stand Alone Sci-Fi Movies, which was a success. We both knew it wouldn't be long before we did another one, so here we are again with one of our crazy countdowns. This time around we thought we could make things interesting by counting down our respective choices for top five weirdest and most bizarre movies ever. Of course, there are a lot of bizarre movies out there, some of which you have probably never heard of, but these choices we have made are the cream of the crop of bizarre, according to us. So if you haven't checked any of the movies we are going to be counting down and you are into the strange, the bizarre and the downright tantalizing, then do yourself a favor and check these choices out! 

As always, we are going to be giving a different choice ever day of the week, starting today with our #5. Tomorrow we will give our #4 and so forth, until next friday where we will be revealing our #1 most bizarre movie. These countdowns are interesting because Shaun gives his choices and I give mine, so you will have double the amount of bizarre movies to watch. So sit back, relax and enjoy our Top Five Bizarro Movies countdown! Remember to come back through out the week to see the rest of our countdown! Also, remember to check out Shaun's blog, The Celluloid Highway, a well written and informative movie review blog. 

The Celluloid Highway's #5 Bizarro Movie: MAN BITES DOG (Remy Belvaux, Andre Bonzel & Benoit Poelvoorde, Belgium, 1992)

Man Bites Dog is an outrageous and at times farcical film that is made all the more horrifying by the fact that so many of the events illicit laughter. This episodic narrative involves a group of amateur filmmakers documenting the exploits of an unusually philosophical and enigmatic serial killer. The rough documentary style, appearances of the filmmakers on screen and the killers regular addressing of the camera gives the act of murder an extremely disturbing intimacy. Furthermore the filmmakers throughout aid and abet the chilling events, realising as they do, that without more slaughter and mayhem they don’t have a film. The central character of Benoit is one of cinemas most engaging and unintentionally likeable of mass murderers. He has a strong family ethic, looks after his friends, helps the needy, discusses in detail art and politics, and moans frequently about the urban decay and poverty in deprived parts of the city. But at the same time he is a ruthless gangster, with a clown like appearance, that thinks nothing of scaring old women to death or murdering people on a busy commuter train. The opening murder aboard the train is one the most unpleasant examples of celluloid homicide I’ve seen, simply because it goes on and on, with an unflinching camera documenting every aspect of the victims desperate struggle. As alluded to earlier the real difficulty with the film is that so much of it is funny, treating death in an offhand and flippant manner. Of more importance is Benoit’s standing in the community and his regular apperances at swank art gatherings. This might not be bizarre in formal terms - the film is shot in black and white and aside from some shaky handheld footage there is very little visual experimentation - but the tone is one of the most peculiar I have ever come across. Central to the film are questions of truth and reality and the ethical responsibilities of filmmakers (that one of the filmmakers get shot dead should be warning enough, but the rest decide to carry on documenting these monstrous deeds in his honour) when faced with such material. Benoit holds the power because of their complicity and he controls almost every aspect of both the process of filmmaking and murder. An unforgettable experience that is refreshingly free of the self-conscious artiness that plagues many a cult film.

The Film Connoisseur's #5 Bizarro Movie: Leolo (Director: Jean Claude Lauzon, Quebec, 1992)

This coming of age film is one of those that shock because they put a little kid going through all sorts of horribly sick situations in the early stages of their lives. You might think that thats kind of sick, but Im actually okay with this type of film. Why? Well, because some children out there in the world do go through a lot of situations that some of us dont imagine kids going through. Or some of us dont imagine kids should go through. Yet they do. This is the story of Leo Lauzon, a kid who has a mind of his own. His family might be bat shit insane (and they are) but he doesnt feel like he is a part of them. He hides away from all the madness by reading and writing....and dreaming. In his dreams Leolo escapes to an Italian landscape, because he once had a dream in which his father was an Italian. So anyhows, this is the kind of story that will show us how a kid grows through painful life experiences. Leolo grows and learns just how cruel and cold this world can be. Essentially, since Leolo has such unreliable parents, he has to learn everything about life the tough way, on his own. Which he does. This movie has some elements of magical realism to it, by this I mean that some of the characters in the film stick to the rules of magic rather then those of the real world. The film has elements that seem to come out of a Fellini film, specifically because its about a kid growing up in a very adult world, and its also about the sexual awakening of a teenage boy, a theme that Fellini addresses in films like Amarcord. Its a beautiful film to look at, but at the same time, some of the situations are so mundane, grotesque and downright gritty! So its that kind of strange film that mixes both the beautiful and the ugly. The beautiful with the shocking. Recommend it for lovers of the dark, the poetic and the artistic, but not to anyone who might be easily offended. 

Most Bizarre Moment: When Leolo starts to hang out with these teenage friends who get together to sniff glue, smoke cigarettes and get drunk, they all dare another one of their friends to do something. We hear everyone preassuring the kid to do something and his like "put five dollars on the table and Ill do it! Non of you got the balls to do it!" After they put the five dollars on the table, we find out, the kid was being preassured to fuck a cat. Which he does. Strange but true.


Shaun Anderson [The Celluloid Highway] said...

I have to admit that I havent even heard of your No 5 choice Franco! which is something of a suprise to me - but it sounds interesting and I will endeavour to track this one down.

Simon said...

Good choices, then. The strangest film I ever has to be Benny's Video.

Franco Macabro said...

Hey Shaun, Leolo is one of those films that follows a character as he comes of age, that awkward face of childhood when you are learning how life really is. It has a dreamlike quality to it, highly recommend it. Its sad that the director died in a car crash just as he was about to embark on his next feature.

Simon, I agree Benny is a weird film, but as you will see on this countdown, there are films that are a whole lot stranger than that one! Don't forget to come back during the week to see what other choices we come up with, it will prove to be interesting.

Franco Macabro said...

By the way Shaun, your choice Man Bites Dog was a very interesting film. You see the filmmakers just digging themselves deeper and deeper into the killings, just to make their movie more interesting. I love the black and white look of it. This film also reminds me of a movie that kind of imitated Man Bites Dog. The film is called The Last Horror Movie which has the same basic premise but didn't surpass Man Bites Dog.

Shaun Anderson [The Celluloid Highway] said...

Yes I've seen THE LAST HORROR MOVIE and was unimpressed. I think the major difference between the two is that MAN BITES DOG has no pretensions, it doesnt feel like its trying to be clever. But THE LAST HORROR MOVIE is one those awful arty type horror movies that tries to make audiences feel bad for enjoying violent films. The violence as a result is absurd, in MAN BITES DOG its just matter of fact, death as a mundane and daily event.

Unknown said...

MAN BITES DOG is an odd film to be sure and has as dark a sense of humor as I've ever seen in a film. It really plays around with your expectations of a protagonist. Are we supposed to like him, hate him? There are moments where he's pretty funny but then the filmmakers show that's a pretty sick mutha as well.

Phantom of Pulp said...

LEOLO is one of my favorite films of all time. It is such an utterly immersive experience in that the director paints Leo's world so painstakingly. I love the river of discarded appliances and dog corpses; the scenes of toenail-biting with the Grandfather; the stunning music. Bizarre and beautiful. All your choices are excellent.

Franco Macabro said...

Thanks Phantom! Not many people have seen Leolo, but its a film worth of attention, a real work of art.

That scene you mention is the scene he is walking side by side with that old man, who had a God like quality to him.

It reminded me of TIN DRUM, ever seen that one? Its a german film about a kid who is also born into a crazy family and wants to make it own his own in the world as well. There is another film that Leolo reminded me of, but Im saving that one for me #1 Bizarro film, which I will be talking about tomorrow.

I Like Horror Movies said...

I havent seen Leolo but I will definitely be sure to, but man how awesome is Man Bites Dog?? Certainly filled with bizarre moments, I always feel guilty laughing but it is sheer genius black comedy!


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