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À l'intérieur (2007)
this is what great horror should be.
before i talk about the film, lets make one thing straight-- there are different kinds of horror. there's suspense, there's splatter/gore, there's slasher, there's monster, there's disaster films, and so on. i bring this up because some dismiss a movie because they didn't jump out of their seat. scared is a relative thing, and it isn't crucial for a horror movie. seeing Cronenberg's the fly wasn't scream scary, but it was brilliant, creepy horror.
the same applies here. honestly, who cares if you pee your pants, if the situation of the hero/ine is harrowing? that brings us to inside, quite simply one of the bravest horror movies in some time. brave not only for the spatter level gore, but for a brutal horror *film* with real intellectual muscle. this is the sort of horror movie you would expect from a country that showed the world how to read film and explaining the pulp virtues of Hitchcock, Ford and Welles, that pointed out the b movies we now call noir, and the auteur theory: inside is smart, well crafted, and has a LOT of depth.
some will, of course, blindly call it 'gore for gore's sake,' but nothing could be further from the truth. lurking beneath the surface is not just the obvious themes of motherhood (every female in the movie is a mom, save the child), interior/exterior or public/private space and their violation, but also of longing, loss and possession. how else do you explain the otherwise trivial setting of the film, the night of Paris' recent Xmas day riots, which act as a mirror, or doubling of the action taken by the villain in the film, la femme? much like the looters, shown on TV breaking into stores, Beatrice dalle's heartless 'la femme' wants to "smash and grab" Sarah's child in the womb-- it's the ultimate looting, taking of one's body, one's child, one's life. taken a step further one could even read la femme as the agent of the working class invading the territory and peace of the all too comfortable middle class, or, an allegory for terrorism itself.* inside is packed with these sorts of filmic and thematic doubles, which points out the amount of thought that had to have gone into the seamless construction of this little bloody gem.
i could go on and on. but gore for gore sake? not even close. this? THIS IS WHAT HORROR SHOULD BE. great effects, on par with any American horror movie, done with make up, not CGI, a brilliant musical score that works hand in hand with the film. perfect moody cinematography going from crystal clear, to grainy to murky moody yellows, oranges, and of course, blood red. it's the same team behind the aborted mess/Dean Koonz rip off, haute tension. but here they aren't sabotaged by a stupid plot twist that turned what could have been a masterpiece into a master piece of *expletive deleted* (it's poop!). here they have script that meets them on their level: brilliance. yes, it's a gory, bloody, messy film, but it's supposed to be. it's a horror film, and this is a messy business, ideas of motherhood, giving birth, it's not as clean or as sterile as we'd like to think. that said, inside is not perfect-- there is a bit of 'knife over gun' logic, as there is in most horror movies, but it's minor quibbling. this is a taut, well constructed, well thought out mean little hurt machine.
*another great french horror movie that talks about politics is Clair Denis' equally brutal lyrical erotic cannibal movie, trouble every day, which looks at France's history with Algeria, and sexualization of the other. great film other horror films i love: >in my skin--(fr)self mutilation, and cannibalism. cronenberg-esquire body horror >cure (jp)-- a great hypnotic serial killer film >the host(Kor)-- the evolution of Godzilla fused with a family dramedy >funny games-- (aus)original:benny's video casting was brilliant, and a great, intellectual home invasion horror film, built on intertexuality and reflexivity.
me no likey:>haute tension/high tension >ils/them boo!
Life Is Sweet (1990)
this is another one of those movies that i loved so much the first time i saw it, i cried in the theater, went home, came back the next day with a friend in tow.
unlike the other movies i did this with (raising Arizona, after hours), the person i saw it with actually got the movie the first time, and loved it as much as i did. yes, naked and Topsy turvy got all the praise, but this is my favorite Leigh movie. it is just so...sweet.
i would talk about this movie years after seeing it saying that it was so heartbreakingly real, if you cut the screen, it would bleed. the was something so compelling about everyone in this movie. someone said they were pathetic, but i couldn't say i saw it like that. they were just flawed people doing the best they could. to me that is so beautiful. for years i would wish that America had a real working class director like mike Leigh. someone who showed people struggling. we need it so very badly, as the aftermath of Katrina can attest to. we forget our poor over here.
the funniest thing was i wold watch this movie when i got depressed, and it made me feel less alone. it cheered me up.