May 26, 2011 / Filmwell
Kenji Koiso has his summer vacation all planned out: he and his friend Sakuma have …
October 13, 2009
I may not have the freedom or funds to get to the Toronto International Film Festival, but most of us have the time to enjoy and learn from Victor Morton’s thought-provoking coverage of the films he saw. His capsule reviews are not really capsules at all… they’re more like megadoses of vitamins for your moviegoing discernment health.
Here are a few excerpts to whet your appetite:
I’ve frequently said that if Friedrich Nietzsche could ever have seen Kubrick’s 2001 and A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, I am convinced he would have cried out — “there is my philosophy on film.” Similarly, if his acolyte Michel Foucault could have seen POLICE, ADJECTIVE, he would have had the same reaction. And there is no question that, even if I’m wrong about the specific influence, that POLICE is intended to be seen and understood as philosophical discourse…. The bravura last scene, which radically recodes everything that had gone before and makes at least a rationale for what I acknowledge are the film longueurs, takes the form of a Platonic dialogue. … But this dialogue is not primarily about the search for wisdom (or even “language,” per se) but more on that anon.
As should be obvious, my love with POLICE, ADJECTIVE is intellectual and retrospective, and I’ve acknowledged sometimes getting a bit impatient with it as it unfolded. “There’s too many shots of him eating soup,” my notes say at one point.
It takes a special movie to have me nodding along in agreement with Al Sharpton.
… I think the reason is perfectly clear from the INFERNO footage, though L’ENFER never says it directly — that Clouzot had fallen in love (or at least lust or obsession) with the Austrian-born Schneider, not a great thespian but a stunningly-gorgeous, iconic camera-object (imagine if Renee Zellweger ever opened her eyes). Throughout the INFERNO footage, and you can really get a sense of what I’m talking about from the trailer, it’s plain as day that she is being directed to seduce the camera — looking back into its eyes, giving it come-hither looks. And the shots are blatantly sexual — Schneider licking water off a transparency, blowing smoke into her nostrils, pursing her wide mouth and licking her lips, looking into the lens for what I will simply call the “iris shot” (Mike was taken by it too). I understand that there’s a perfectly good story-related reason for shooting Schneider this way — she’s acting out the husband’s jealous fantasies. But Clouzot’s sinking his efforts into this footage, shooting way more than he could ever use or needed for tests, surely shows that he became seduced himself.
The director of this film has some learning to do. His framing is often amateurish and clumsy — either perfectly symmetrical or ostentatiously asymmetrical. …
The director of this film is 19 years old. It is *scary* that I’m criticizing I KILLED MY MOTHER at this level of achievement.
There is so much more where that came from.
Jeffrey Overstreet watches far too many movies, writes film reviews and two weekly columns for ChristianityTodayMovies.com, maintains the Web site LookingCloser.org, contributes to Paste Magazine, and is at work on a series of novels. He works at Seattle Pacific University.