THE HOURGLASS SANATORIUM Review – ****

Just another day (for there are no nights there) in the Hourglass Sanatorium. ()

Just another day (for there are no nights there) in the Hourglass Sanatorium. (Source)

Rarely do I have the pleasure of truly having to interpret a film. Usually, it’s just straightforward enough that I can get the gist of it, or it’s obvious there is no gist to get, or others have already written so copiously about the film that the job is done for me. But not this time. This time, seeing a fairly obscure film, and having done only a small (though crucial) amount of research, I’m going to attempt to get to the bottom of this.

Whether or not I am satisfied with what I find does not change one thing: in terms of mise en scène, The Hourglass Sanatorium is an absolute masterwork. Wojciech Has’ direction, the cinematography, and the production design are some of the finest I’ve ever seen, and much of the time my jaw dropped at the sheer spectacle (in glorious–and I mean glorious–color) spread across the screen. As a narrative, even as a deliberate mindfuck, it proves more difficult, and I admit I was more often than not baffled by the goings-on, brilliantly staged as they were. But I’m going to see what I can do to understand–as much as one can understand such a film.

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Poster Salad: RED ARMY, THE MULE, BIG HERO 6, REACH ME, IN THE HEART OF THE SEA, and MORE!!!

Designer: LaBoca ()

Designer: LaBoca (Source)

My God, this poster is amazing. 80s retro, bold colors (including orange, my favorite), crisp graphic design…this is the sort of poster so good that, if I wasn’t starting this series, I’d want to see the film just so I could highlight this poster. As it is, it sounds like an interesting documentary. So I might see it. But it probably won’t be as awesome as this poster.

Design: Concept Arts ()

Design: Concept Arts (Source)

I’ve already mentioned how much I want to see the film. But this poster doesn’t hurt a bit. I think it’s the soft texture of the image that makes it work. It doesn’t look too cartoony or like it’s trying too hard. Can’t wait for this one.

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Fentimans Cherrytree Cola Review

wpid-imag1546.jpg

I had this once, several years ago, but as I faintly recall, it was enjoyable, and so why not make it my next subject? (I’d review Surge, but I’m not about to order a whole case of a soda I don’t even have any nostalgia for.) After all, it’s not every day you have a cherry cola with fermented ginger root extract in it.

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THE CONGRESS Review – ***½

A poster that doesn't tell you much. ()

A poster that doesn’t tell you much. (Source)

Robin Wright, playing a fictionalized version of herself, agrees to be digitally scanned so her avatar can star in films indefinitely; 20 years later, this technology reaches an absurdly logical conclusion. Absolutely fascinating look at celebrity culture run amuck, much of it in surreal animation representing a hallucinogenic alternate world. Beautifully made by Ari Folman, thought-provoking, visually stunning, and genuinely poignant, with a great, bold performance by Wright. See it if you can.”

That was what I said last November, when I first saw The Congress as part of the Drafthouse theater chain’s Fantastic Fest. Perhaps it was the sheer wacky boldness of the film that caught me off guard and blew me away–I gave it a score of 89, a solid **** rating–but on returning to it, I see that, as good as its good parts are, it falls just short of greatness, largely because, amidst a science-fiction narrative which leaps down the rabbit-hole with often dazzling results, lies a convoluted plot and a view of Hollywood which seems inspired less by reality and more by other movies.

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20,000 DAYS ON EARTH Review – ***½

"I love the feeling of a song before you understand it." ()

“I love the feeling of a song before you understand it.” (Source)

Going into 20,000 Days on Earth, I knew fairly little about Nick Cave. I knew he was a musician, but hadn’t listened to his music, and I knew he written a few screenplays, but had only seen one of the resultant films (the underwhelming Lawless–though his rejected Gladiator 2 script sounds awesomely ridiculous). So I might have been justified in wondering if this film would leave I and all other Cave neophytes bewildered.

Thankfully, the film doesn’t confuse, but highlights an amiable, thoughtful, and undeniably talented artist in suitably unusual fashion: one minute philosophizing with Kylie Minogue, the next eating pizza and watching Scarface with his young sons. While it arguably lacks a strong thesis and is not without its slow spots, 20,000 Days on Earth is a rather splendid film on the whole.

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