Friday, October 10, 2008

LETTING THE RIGHT THOUGHTS IN

So, I had a solo drive to Dallas today. That makes for some good music listening leisure (the new Cold War Kids and Verve records...) and some good reflection on stuff that work and life got in the way of in the past week. A lot of that thinking - obviously - generally goes back to movies, movie culture, and movies and our culture.

Well, since it's October, and since I'm still fresh from a sci-fi/fantasy/horror genre festival, I've kinda had that species of movie on my mind.

Last year I saw an under-appreciated horror film called The Abandoned. It was part of the original 8 Films To Die For series that's become so popular via DVD. The director, Nacho Cerda, had previously done a handful of shorts, and this week I finally watched them. One of them, Aftermath, is about a pathologist who is also a necrophiliac. I will spare the details, but I need to mention that it's extremely graphic. I thought long on this film, especially as to why the director would even want to make a such a thing.

Aftermath doesn't strive for mindless sensationalism or shock-horror (though the imagery is, indeed, shocking...). The film was made without much of an audience in mind, so entertainment value was of no concern, and despite my disliking of the film, it's technically well made. Then it hit me: Cerda's intention was to intellectualize a real-life sexual perversion that exists on the fringe of our society. But why? Is there really much left to intellectualize about necrophilia, a behavior that exists on the fringe because it doesn't have a place in civilized society? What is left to examine? In conclusion, Aftermath is simply a terrible art film with lifelike autopsy visuals.

contemplating certain evil

My conclusions about Aftermath pushed me onto thinking about the intentions behind movies such as The Woodsman (intellectualizing pedophilia), Zodiac (intellectualizing murder), I Stand Alone (intellectualizing BOTH!), and others like them. Raunchy ugliness dressed-up in art film garb in order to misdirect an audience into taking it seriously. Stay with me...

... cuz this took me to thoughts on a film I've been thinking a lot about lately, and that's one of 2008's most buzzed about horror films: Let The Right One In. Overall, I think the film is average-to-good in its offbeat handling of a pre-teen friendship, but there was something I disliked about it hanging over my head. Now, I know what it is. Director Tomas Alfredson - after realizing the genre he was working in had run its course and back thrice over - had "intellectualized" the vampire film, and poorly so. Lord knows he wasn't the first, and he won't be the last, but Alfredson's end result is nothing more than lean-on-me playground romance.

Yet because Let The Right One In has an air of heavy headed-ness about it, has clean & moody cinematography, and - let's be honest - because it's Swedish, critics have been giving it not only a pass, but an over-the-top golden halo: "masterpiece!", "best horror movie I've seen in ten years!", and all such premature excitement.

With movie culture branching out to include critical voices of all ages, backgrounds, and education (something which I think is great, for the record...), it seems the audiences who have truly become the easiest to fool are the ones that are supposed to know better.

8 comments:

Soiled Sinema said...

Genesis was an amazing short. An art film in art garb. The perfect plan?

I like what you mentioned about Woodsman and I Stand Alone, although I loved I Stand Alone.

Fox said...

I definitely liked Genesis better than Aftermath. I returned it before listening to the commentary, but I'd like to hear if it was somehow "personal". I also think the ending and score are a little bit much, but I thought the pathway there was interesting. I'd really like to see Cerda make another feature length film. IMDB says he's finishing up a doc on Jess Franco and co., which would be interesting, but I'd like to see him try his hand and narrative again.

Marilyn said...

I resemble that, Fox! I panned a South Korean film, so country of origin has nothing to do with it. Let the Right One In presented the vampire myth in the one way I haven't seen before - vampires going about their business. They're not trying to do anything but stay alive, and that's about what Oskar's family was doing as well. Those we demonize might be ourselves.

Fox said...

Ha! I wasn't trying to aim at you, Marilyn, if it came out that way. :o) Truly. I liked your take on it more than others. I'm thinking of the horror site writers when I think of misguided praise.

They're not trying to do anything but stay alive, and that's about what Oskar's family was doing as well.

That kinda gets to part of what I liked about Let The Right One In. Oskar can't rely on his mom the way Eli can't rely on her "dad" so they end up relying on each other. In that way I liked the storybook type relationship between the two of them. The ending cemented that for me, though I know you had problems with it yourself.

Marilyn said...

I didn't have major problems with it from an emotional standpoint, but from a reality standpoint. Thanks for not lumping me in with the horror folks.

Fox said...

ANYONE READING BEYOND THIS POINT SHOULD NOTE THAT MARILYN & I MAY REVEAL STUFF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW BUT YOU SHOULD STILL READ ANYWAYS CUZ WHATEVER IT'S REALLY NOT THAT BIG O' DEAL:

Marilyn-

I'm curious. Do you think Eli will turn Oskar and they will live together as pre-teens, or, will Oskar grow up to be another father-like assistant for her? I like to think the former b/c it fulfills my fairy tale take on the movie. Plus, it goes well with the cute S.O.S. knocking on the coffin.

Anonymous said...

Fox & Marilyn, I just watched "Let the right one in"...I enjoyed it, but I was left wondering the same thing; did Oskar eventually get turned or did he just spend the rest if his "life" as Eli's "caretaker"? I think the fact that he did "provide" her with a meal, took their relationship to a whole different level. They are at the very least going "steady".

Lastly, I would have loved to known how the deaths of the other two bullies at the pool was explained...

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