Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Serial Mom

Year: 1994
Director: John Waters
Writer: John Waters
Genre: Slasher, Comedy

I adore John Waters but have since having only seen one film of his. Over time, I have slowly worked through his filmography. Serial Mom is one that has continually evaded my watching pleasure, but I'm glad to have finally given it a watch.

The basest assessment of the film would peg it as a slasher, and it is. People are killed time and time again and it's routinely bloody. However, the film is not about fearing the killer or even being led on as to who it is. We all know who the serial killer is just by looking at the title of the film. The overly-peppy, restrained mother makes the perfect killer as you can't help but laugh at the strangeness of it all.

The piece seems to primarily speak of Western society and its full blown obsession with fame. Even when everyone knows that the mother is a psychopath she is given the star treatment. Everyone idolizes her as someone better than Freddy or Jason because she's an actual being. People are caught up with their obsessions and are unable to hate such a lovely, charismatic woman.

This is one of those Waters' films that seems tailor made to appeal to a wider audience. Perhaps not so much as Hairspray, but it is still pretty close. There's nothing wrong with that but it always interests me to see Waters create films beyond his original style. Definitely a fun watch for fans of horror comedy.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Belle de Jour

Year: 1967
Director: Luis Bunuel
Writer: Luis Bunuel, Joseph Kessel
Genre: Drama

My life has found itself full of work lately. I'm not complaining, but in the periods of exhaustion in between, there is little room for films. Watching surrealistic or feminist fare is too stimulating for a tired mind, although "typical" slashers also have been lacking in appear. Upon realizing I've seen barely anything this year, I blindly chose to watch Belle de Jour. The title had been on my list for a while, but had no clue of what to expect. As it turned out, this was the perfect decision on my part. I am completely enamored with the film.

As the story starts we are immediately drawn into a weird dual-reality. The lead character is a young woman married to her husband. Their chaste relationship draws on both of them in different ways, but we see only how she handles herself. All throughout the film, it is hard to determine what is real or imagined as she takes up a job in a brothel. Is she really even there or is this another elaborate fantasy? Are the fantasies real?

None of these questions are ever answered and that is part of the beauty of things. There are symbols, such as bells, which imply that those are her periods of dream, but who can be certain? I felt I could peg what was meant to be fantasy until later on when things became even harder to parse. The film is certainly not stodgy or overly complex though, just something very intriguing.

It's a rare film that makes me continue to look up information and interpretations of it after watching. Belle de Jour has done that for me and I would love to continue to read critical essays about it, or even eventually submit my own. This is an incredible film.
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