The late Gregory Peck was a rarity of rarities among Hollywood actors in that he lived a life of authentic integrity, fulfilling a role of moral iconography that seems to be extinct now. The previous generation of critics were too preoccupied in assessing his occasionally dull virtuosity to notice that Peck was as vital a symbol, albeit a flawed one, as was John Wayne. Peck’s rugged nobility was best conveyed when shaped and nurtured by the right director. In the wrong hands, Peck could be woefully miscast, such as his Captain Ahab in John Huston’s Moby Dick (1956) or worse, as Josef Mengele (complete with cringe-inducing accent) in The Boys From Brazil (1978). Peck, a moderate liberal of devout faith, could rarely generate the type of rudimentary excitement and screen charisma of conservative counterparts such as Wayne, Charlton Heston, or Gary Cooper.
It is well known that Peck, fortunately, turned down the part of Will Kane in High Noon (1952). Although, in hindsight, Peck counted it as a grave mistake, he graciously and correctly admitted Cooper had been the better choice. The reason Peck turned down the role was that he had recently finished what he felt was a similar film, with Henry King: The Gunfighter (1950). Peck, of course is best remembered for his Atticus Finch in Robert Mulligan’s naive Hollywood version of To Kill A Mockingbird (1962), but some of Peck’s best work can be found in his inconsistent six-film collaboration with King. King often cast Peck against type. The results were usually better than normal: vivid performances in Twelve O’ Clock High (1949), the largely unsuccessful adaptation of Hemingway’s Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952), and The Bravados (1958). At the opposite end of the spectrum were embarrassingly inept misfires as the biblical King David in David and Bathsheba (1951) and as F. Scott Fitzgerald in The Beloved Infidel (1959), which makes the pair’s successful collaborations all the more valuable.
The Gunfighter was best of the King/Peck collaborations, despite not having received the attention it deserved, which was due in large part to producer Daryl Zanuck’s lack of effort in promoting it. Zanuck was reportedly disgruntled with the screenplay (which was worked on by Andre De Toth, Nunnally Johnson, Roger Corman, William Bowers, and William Sellers), feeling (correctly) that the script did not follow standard western formula. Zanuck first offered the part of Johnny Ringo to John Wayne, who declined, having the same grievances as Zanuck. As with High Noon, Wayne later did an about face and regretted that rejection. An older, gravely ill Wayne would play a slight variation of Ringo in his valedictory film The Shootist (1976). However, in 1950, Wayne’s persona was still too invincible, lacking the essential weariness the part required. The Gunfighter stands as one of Peck’s best roles and as one of the first psychological anti-westerns. Peck nails the nuances of an aged shootist whose past brashness has caught up with him. Fortunately, we are not privy to views of Peck as the younger Ringo. Such an exposure would have inevitably rendered both the performance and film uneven. Rather, we are given a Ringo who has barely enough time from being on the run to reflect on a life of bad choices. He is hoping against hope that he can evade the consequences of those choices and reunite with his estranged wife and son. Even while trying to set things right, Ringo is still pervious to making poor decisions, which continually puts his life at risk. The most telling difference between Ringo and Wayne’s later portrayal of J.B. Books is regret: Books is hated by many, but dies confidently with no regrets. Ringo has nothing but regret.
Several young thugs are pursuing Ringo, seeking revenge for the killing of their brother, despite the fact that it was in self-defense. A local father seeks justice for his son, whom he mistakenly believes to have been one of Ringo’s victims. The young Skip Homeier is the next generation of white trash (an type Homeier played well), seeking to gain a name for himself by killing the famous older gunfighter.
Ringo plants himself in a town that finds his celebrity a much needed break from their monotonous existence while, paradoxically, seeking his death for having disrupted their routine. Peck portrays Ringo with the right tone of desperation. He is virtually standing on his toes, fighting against time and his own reputation. Smartly, the screenplay does not succumb to any fatal misplaced sympathy for Ringo.
What makes Peck effective in the role is his against-type awkwardness. Several antagonists correctly observe: “Ringo doesn’t look so tough.” Indeed, the actor often looks hunched over, as if he has had a few nights on a misshapen bed, resulting in a bad back.
A foreboding clock occupies the claustrophobic space, yet it draws far less attention to itself than did the numerous timepieces in the noticeably tighter High Noon (1952). In hindsight, Ringo might also be compared to Clint Eastwood’s William Munny in Unforgiven (1992), yet there are, again, revealing differences. For all his self-proclamations of penance, Eastwood’s Munny never convinces us of his regret, because he is still as prone to one-note sadistic violence as his reputation suggests. In contrast, Peck’s Ringo throws away the firearms of would be assassins, jails another potential assassin, and grants dying clemency to his eventual killer.
It is the central performance and intelligent screenplay that assures The Gunfighter of its reputation as an underrated cult classic. However, that does not mean it is without its share of flaws, mainly in the assignment direction of King and the substandard performances of Helen Westcott and B.G. Norman as Ringo’s estranged family. With such a dull wife and annoying son, one can’t resist wondering why the Gunfighter would risk his well-being to reconcile with them. Karl Malden as the awestruck, slimy barkeeper Mac fares considerably better.
We’re a third of the way through 2014, which can only mean one thing: it’s time for us to publish a Weird Movies Yearbook covering the previous year’s bizarre cinema! The print issue still needs formatting and will arrive in a few weeks, but we’re happy to announce the Kindle e-book version is now live:
Per the ad copy: “Covering everything weird, from art house surrealism to next-generation cult movies to so-bad-they’re-weird B-movie atrocities, 366 Weird Movies has been meeting all of your weird movie needs since 2009 with a combination of sly humor and serious insight. This is our annual Yearbook covering all the weird movies released and re-released in 2013, from The ABC’s of Death to Zeta One, with over 45 full-length reviews, extensive supplemental listings, and exclusive interviews and director’s statements. If it’s weird, and it’s a movie, and it’s from 2013, and 366 Weird Movies covered it, you’ll find it here.” The delightful cover image is from Strange Frame: Love & Sax.
If you’re a regular reader and you appreciate what we do here, this is a great way to show some gratitude for mooching off our weird movie knowledge for an entire year. Royalties from each sale will be given to reviewers and used to purchase either one domestic beer, or 2/3 of an import/craft beer, or, in Alfred Eaker‘s case, 1/2 of a Bloody Mary—we keep advising him to go with the house-brand vodka, and he keeps telling us where we can stuff our cocktail onions. Reviewers based in Colorado and Washington may opt to dedicate their royalties towards greener purchases, if you know what we mean. Teetotalers and those in recovery are objects of pity around the 366 World Headquarters; they can spend their pittance on whatever it is sober people buy (probably love, or justice, or something hoighty-toighty like that).
“‘Demonstration as theater,’ because then you got the headlines, and then you made your point. And there was a lot of competition for those headlines then [the 1960s]. So, it was theater as protest, certainly, which is something that, until the Seattle riots recently, kids don’t even know about… They know ‘I have a dream,’ they know Martin Luther King, they know Malcolm X, but they don’t know all that weird stuff… this is like a radical movement against cinema, which there hasn’t ever been one, but [laughs]…”–John Waters, Pink Flamingos commentary
DIRECTED BY: John Waters
FEATURING: Divine, Mink Stole, David Lochary, Danny Mills, Edith Massey, Mary Vivian Pearce
PLOT: Divine, winner of a contest to determine the “filthiest person in the world,” has gone into hiding at a trailer park with her egg-obsessed mother, randy son Crackers, and “traveling companion” Cotton. The Marbles, a couple who make a living by kidnapping women, impregnating them, then selling the babies to lesbian couples for adoption, are jealous of Divine’s title, believing they are filthier specimens of humanity. An escalating war of outrageously foul pranks between the two camps eventually results in arson, murder, and consumption of doggie-doo.
- According to John Waters, neither his own parents (who financed Pink Flamingos), nor Divine’s mother, ever saw the movie; in fact, they were “forbidden” to see it.
- The film’s budget was $12,000 (about $68,000 in 2014 dollars). It made a reported $6,000,000 in its original run and perhaps an additional $12,000,000 in subsequent video rentals.
- The movie is dedicated to Sadie, Katie and Les, the Manson Family names of Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkle, and Leslie Van Houten. During the film you can also see graffiti (painted by the crew) reading “free Tex Watson.” Waters says that the Manson Family and their recent trials were a big influence in this “anti-hippie movie for hippies.”
- The chicken that was killed during the sex scene between Crackers and Cookie had been bought from a man who was selling them as food, and was cooked and served to the cast afterwards.
- Waters wrote a sequel to Pink Flamingos called Flamingos Forever; plans to film it were scrapped due to the reluctance of Divine to reprise the role in middle age and the 1984 death of Edith Massey.
INDELIBLE IMAGE: Oh my. There is a phrase that was coined for images like those in Pink Flamingos: “what has been seen cannot be unseen.” A naked woman covered in fresh chicken blood, a rectal closeup of a curious proctological case study, and of course the film’s grand finale (and reason to exist)—300 pound transvestite Divine using her gullet as a pooper scooper, gagging down dog dirt with a grin—are all candidates. If we want to chose something less nauseating to remember, we can consider the vision of Divine herself (himself? itself?) as the takeaway image, since this is the movie that introduced the iconic drag queen—a character who looks like Elizabeth Taylor during the “Big Mac” years, if her makeup had been designed by a grateful but seriously stoned Ronald McDonald—to the wider world.
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: About a 300 pound woman (played by a man) living in a trailer who is harassed by a couple of “jealous perverts” because she is anointed “the filthiest person in the world,” Pink Flamingos is a parade of hard-to-swallow, tongue-in-cheek perversities played out in an unreal subculture where society’s values have been turned on their head. It’s the ultimate stoned, amoral underground atrocity, an obscenity shouted at the normal world by angry freaks.
Clip from Pink Flamingos
COMMENTS: If you’re not offended by something in Pink Flamingos, then please go see a psychiatrist. The movie’s reason to exist is to shock and Continue reading 169. PINK FLAMINGOS (1972)
Den Brysomme Mannen
DIRECTED BY: Jens Lien
FEATURING: Trond Fausa, Petronella Barker, Per Schaanning
PLOT: Andreas Ramsfjell awakens after a suicide attempt to find himself in a seemingly perfect city where he is equipped with the perfect life. Unfortunately for Andreas, it doesn’t take long to discover that something is very much amiss.
WHY IT MIGHT MAKE THE LIST: The Bothersome Man is a masterpiece beyond its weirdness. It’s a film even the normal crew should watch and enjoy. It’s rich with astute and pointed social commentary on our materialistic society and the importance people place on conformity over freedom in life. Not to mention that it’s devilishly funny!
COMMENTS: Many regular readers of the site must have experienced at least once in their life the curious befuddlement of a friend or colleague asking them why they like something different from general tastes. But that’s so weird, they might say. Or, my personal favorite: but surely you prefer [insert the more popular choice here]? The Bothersome Man tackles this ideal as a political, social and religious allegory.
Everything initially seems perfect in the city where Andreas wakes after his suicide. He is given a great job with plenty of start-up capital. He meets a beautiful woman with whom he quickly forms a relationship. Everything is wonderful. And then, the cracks start to show, in a Kafkaesque fashion. His increasing unease leads him to seek out others who might rebel, who wish to get away by any means necessary, be it suicide or more surreptitious means. It’s hard to escape the machine, though; without giving too much away, the pie eating scene, in this sense, is one of the best moments of the film.
The Bothersome Man‘s strong, tight script is well-paced over its 95 minutes. Muted color is used well, presented in such a way as the viewer doesn’t realize it as such until it’s important enough to do so. Jens Lien’s film is an accomplished piece of cinema which, particularly given its haunting and ominous conclusion, is a strong contender for inclusion on the List.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:
“A surreal nightmare of gleaming surfaces and razor-sharp edges…”-Jeanette Catsoulis, The New York Times (contemporaneous)
(This movie was nominated for review by Tristano, who said it can be “compared to works like Brave New World or Roy Anderssons two last movies.” Suggest a weird movie of your own here.)
DIRECTED BY: Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani
FEATURING: Klaus Tange, Birgit Yew, Anna D’Annunzio, Hans de Munter
PLOT: Dan Kristensen comes home from a business trip to find that his wife is missing. His investigation into her disappearance leads him down an intricate rabbit hole of murder, sex, scopophilia, demonic possession, and, especially, confusion, as he moves within the impossible spaces of his mysterious apartment building.
WHY IT MIGHT MAKE THE LIST: With its influx of surreal imagery, bizarre plot twists, aggressive soundscapes, and grunge-decadence sets, the weirdness of The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears is not in question. Its place on the List is hard to solidify, however, as its weirdness doesn’t quite compensate for the dragged-out pace, irrelevant script, and unnecessary repetition.
COMMENTS: Hurling images of kinky sex, paranormal apparitions, and violent attacks before the viewer’s eyes, all edited in quick-cut fashion, The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears is quite the experience. Its filmmakers seek to unsettle and disorient, and at that they are certainly successful. Just as the regular-Joe protagonist is thrust into this impossible situation, the audience is taken on a strange and terrible journey that makes very little sense, and frustrates more than it entertains. As a whole the film is very scattered, peppered with moments of brilliance between overwrought segments of confusion. Cattet and Forzani seem to have opened up a big book of experimental film techniques and just took a stab at every trick they happened upon. Some sequences are marvelous, including a dream wherein Dan becomes stuck in a time loop, meeting and killing multiple versions of himself over and over. Another shows an older woman losing her husband to a sinister force in the room above the bedroom, as she is left with nothing to do but listen to the strange noises coming through the ceiling. Still another is filmed in a sort of fuzzy black and white time-lapse, as a woman is chased by an unknown demonic figure. Other sequences feel completely pointless, as various asides and barely connected subplots and characters appear and disappear on a whim.
This film never allows its audience to find their footing, but it also never really rewards the more loyal viewer for sticking around til the end. It was at first engrossing for its emphatic—almost combative—illegibility, bullying its way through numerous red herring plot twists and presenting an extreme giallo-throwback aesthetic. The sets are beyond beautiful, with most of the action taking place within Dan’s apartment building, surrounded by Art Nouveau filigree and deep, heady color combinations. The sheer number of bizarre happenings and nontraditional cinematic techniques employed is honestly impressive, but the constant flood of ideas eventually becomes tiresome, especially as the story (a term I use loosely here) proves more and more cyclical. There’s little momentum, and little payoff for a film that stretches very thinly over its 102 minutes. It’s clear the film would have worked better as a short, where Cattet and Forzani could have packed in all of their artsy grindhouse weirdness without wearing out their welcome. But for diehard giallo fans, it’d definitely be worth it.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:
“Formally experimental, headily disorienting and an aesthete’s wet dream, The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears is a schizophrenic blend of arthouse and charnelhouse.” –Anton Bitel, Sight & Sound Magazine
Next week, Alex Kittle will explore The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears (Cattet & Forzani’s neo-giallo followup to Amer), while new contributor James Harben explains what the deal is with The Bothersome Man (2006). Bothersome is in our reader-suggested review queue, and G. Smalley will take a look at another film from that clan, an unassuming little flick you may have heard of called Pink Flamingos (1972). Thursday you can take a breather from that weirdness as Alfred Eaker faces The Gunfighter, another Gregory Peck oater from the 1950s.
And, believe it or not (and you have no reason not to), the publication of the 2013 Yearbook is right around the corner… we may interrupt regularly scheduled programming for an announcement.
We didn’t see the usual host of weird search terms this week. We blame spring fever: folks who’ve been cooped up all winter must be leaving behind their perverse, pasty keyboard exploits for some (yech!) fresh air and sunshine. Still, we’ll highlight what we can in our never-ending quest to bring you the Weirdest Search Term of the Week. We’ll start with “movie about a girl who cant get wet shes an alien”—see, we told you we were having a hard time coming up with weird search terms! Just a little bit weirder was the search for “obscure hirsute movies,” which is only strange because the searcher assumes there are commonplace hirsute movies, and wants no part of them. For our Weirdest Search Term of the Week, however, we’ll have to bite the bullet and go with “80s 90s movie with old guy mustache dwarf eats chicken.” Next week, you guys need to come inside and start looking up bizarre stuff on the Internet. The novelty of the outdoors wears off quickly.
Here’s how the ridiculously-long reader-suggested review queue currently stands: The Bothersome Man (next week!); Pink Flamingos (next week!); Celine and Julie Go Boating; Abnormal: The Sinema of Nick Zedd; Nightdreams; Rubin & Ed; The Real McCoy; Themroc; Candy (1968); Northfork; Continue reading WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE
A well-rounded combination of eerie music and abstract animation which seeps under your skin with its simplicity.
For more listening and viewing, I recommend Marie Louise’s live performance of Wind. The musicianship is astounding.
Our weekly look at what’s weird in theaters, on hot-off-the-presses DVDs, and on more distant horizons…
Trailers of new release movies are generally available on the official site links.
FILM FESTIVALS – Tribeca Film Festival (New York City, April 16-27):
Besides an April 26 special screening of Certified Weird classic Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (which concludes with a scientific panel discussing the possibility of the film’s memory-erasure technology becoming a future reality) and a suite of shorts collectively titled “Totally Twisted” (programmers describe the set as “Fun. Creepy. Weird.”), there’s only one film playing at Tribeca this year which looks to have some potential bizarre impact:
- Der Samurai – A small German town believes itis being menaced by a wolf, but onepoliceman discovers the killer is actually a samurai (in lipstick). Screens Apr. 19, 22 & 24.
Tribeca Film Festival official site.
The Lobster (est. 2104): Dogtooth auteur Giorgos Lanthimos‘ first English language movie involves a “Hotel” where singles are forced to find a mate in 45 days or be transformed into an animal of their choosing. The latest news is that John C. Reilly joined an ensemble cast that already included Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz along with Lanthimos regulars Aggeliki Papoulia and Ariane Labed. Read the latest news at Variety.
NEW ON DVD:
The End of Time (2012): An experimental documentary on the nature of time. Looks to be in the same cinematography-centric vein as Koyaanisqatsi and its progeny. Buy The End of Time.
Wrong Cops (2013): Quentin Dupieux‘s third feature is an absurdist comedy about cops-gone-wrong entitled, oddly enough, Wrong Cops. The cast includes Eric Wareheim, Marilyn Manson, and former “Twin Peaks” spouses Grace Zabriske and Ray Wise. Buy Wrong Cops.
NEW ON BLU-RAY:
Alice [Neco z Alenky] (1988): Read the certified weird entry! Jan Svankmajer‘s stop-motion surrealist version of “Alice in Wonderland” is a crucial addition to the Blu-ray ranks, even though the First Run Features disc arrives sans extras. Buy Alice [Blu-ray].
Touch of Evil (1958): Orson Welles’ overheated noir about a Mexican lawman (Charlton Heston!) who uncovers border town corruption, embodied in the massive, commanding personality of bad cop Hank Quinlan (Welles). Maybe it’s not completely weird, but if you’ve never seen it you’ll likely be amazed at the ornate camerawork, frighteningly quirky characters, Code-challenging evocations of drugs and rape, and general ahead-of-its-time style. This Blu-ray contains the same content as the 2-disc “50th Anniversary” DVD, including three separate cuts of the film and four (!) commentaries. Buy Touch of Evil [Blu-ray].
What are you looking forward to? If you have any weird movie leads that I have overlooked, feel free to leave them in the COMMENTS section.
From 1956 on, actor Charlton Heston kept an actor’s journal, which he published in two volumes, in 1976 and 1996. These are some of the most fascinating and valuable behind-the-scene writings published on the subject of studio filmmaking. In addition to these writings, Heston was also an exceptional and underrated visual artist. Often, when actors turn to painting, the result is less than memorable, and can even be downright painful. One thinks of Henry Fonda’s vapid watercolors or the recent, execrable “world leader” portraits by George Bush as painful examples. Heston’s visual art was an extension of his journals. His pen and ink drawings of makeup artists, stuntmen, cameramen, and technicians celebrated the unsung blue-collar workers. I was fortunate enough to attend a small showing of Heston’s extensive work and it remains of the most compellingly unique exhibits I have attended to date.
The story of the making of Will Penny (1968) is a standout entry in Heston’s “The Actor’s Life: Journals.” Heston was handed an incomplete script. Under normal conditions, the actor would have refused to read an unfinished screenplay, but Heston was so taken with the fragment that he immediately expressed interest in taking on the role of the aging, illiterate cowboy Will Penny. Heston was then informed that the writer, Tom Gries, was insistent on directing. When Heston inquired on Gries’ directing experience, he found it consisted of “a couple of television programs.” Heston put up a mild protest, but quickly changed his mind upon learning that Gries’ demand was unconditional. While it is fortunate that Heston compromised in what turned out to be one of his best and most underrated roles, his skepticism about Gries’ lack of experience had some validity.
The central performances and an intelligent, sensitive script are the strengths of Will Penny; however, Gries’ television-like visual direction and an embarrassingly melodramatic performance from Donald Pleasance are noticeable flaws. As excellent as Heston’s work is here, Joan Hackett is even better. She imbues her part with an unglamorous freshness (Heston amusingly related that several actresses turned down the role upon reading the description of Catherine as plain). Heston later counted Hackett as the best of his leading ladies, and for good reason.
Will Penny is not a Wyatt Earp type. He does not bravely face down the enemy to clean up a corrupt town. Rather, he is a fifty-year-old cowhand who works with cattle. It’s all he knows. He doesn’t even know how to write his name. When he gets into a fight with a younger co-worker, Penny uses a frying pan “because I use my hands to work.” When a trail job ends, Penny finds himself traveling with a young Lee Majors and Anthony Zerbe in hopes of finding work. Majors is a bit of a nonentity here, but Zerbe gives a very good performance as a recently transplanted, thickly accented European immigrant who awkwardly shoots himself and then milks every ounce of sympathy he can.
Zerbe and Majors try to steal an elk from demented preacher Quint (Pleasance) and his sons (one of who is played by Bruce Dern in one of his worst and most cartoonish performances). Penny is inadvertently drawn into the conflict, which will have eventual and horrific consequences.The three men temporarily part company when Penny lands a seasonal job as a line rider. Penny finds his shack occupied by squatters in the person of Catherine (Hackett) and her young son (Jon Francis).
The romance between Penny and Catherine is authentic. They do not wind up in each others’ arms within thirty seconds. It is the building of the relationship between the two that gives Will Penny its substance. Even the inevitable conflict between Penny and Quint is in service of the understated chemistry between Heston and Hackett.
While Gries’ does not have the cinematic visual flair of the best directors, his strength lies in characterization and elegant writing. This was Gries’ first feature film. His subsequent films were mere assignments, lacking the personal vision of Will Penny.
“Oh, my God, and when you got up in the morning, there was the sun in the same position you saw it the day before—beginning to rise from the graveyard back of the street, as though its nightly custodians were the fleshless dead—seen through the town’s invariable smoke haze, it was a ruddy biscuit, round and red, when it just might as well have been square or shaped like a worm—anything might have been anything else and had just as much meaning to it…”–Tennessee Williams, The Malediction
DIRECTED BY: Jaco Van Dormael
FEATURING: Jared Leto, Toby Regbo, Sarah Polley, Natasha Little, Rhys Ifans, Juno Temple, Diane Kruger, Linh Dan Pham
PLOT: In 2092, after all disease has been conquered through cellular regeneration technology, 119-year old Nemo Nobody is the last mortal man left in the world. He recounts his life story to a psychiatrist and a reporter, but his memories are wildly inconsistent and incompatible, and at times fantastic and impossible. In his confused recollections he is married to three different women, with multiple outcomes depending on choices that he makes in the course of his life; but which is his real story?
- The genesis of this story came from Jaco Van Dormael’s 1982 short film “È pericoloso sporgersi,” about a boy who must make an “impossible” choice between living with his mother or with his father.
- According to Van Dormael the script took seven years to write, working about five and a half hours a day, every day.
- Van Dormael published the Mr. Nobodoy screenplay (in French) in 2006, one year before production began and three years before the film was completed.
- Despite being made in 2009, the movie was not released in the U.S. until 2013, and then only in an attempt to capitalize on the Oscar buzz surrounding Jared Leto’s performance in Dallas Buyers Club.
- Leto temporarily retired from acting after Mr. Nobody, spending the next four years focusing on his band Thirty Seconds to Mars.
- Mr. Nobody’s first name, Nemo, means “nobody” in Latin.
- The movie is full of visual tricks and illusions, some of which are so subtle that they’re easy to miss. For example, watch for a scene where Nemo enters a bathroom then focuses on his own image in a mirror. When he turns around and the camera follows him back out of the room, we now see the perspective as if we had passed through the mirror; the reflection seamlessly swaps places with the real world.
INDELIBLE IMAGE: Mr. Nobody‘s essential image is of branching, criss-crossing railroad tracks; if you want something with a little more surreal zip, however, check out the scenes of a fleet of helicopters delivering slices of ocean, slowly lowering them into place on the horizon.
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Essentially an experimental narrative film disguised as a big-budget science fiction extravaganza, Mr. Nobody, an epic fantasia in which the protagonist lives a dozen different lives and a dozen different realities, was doomed to be a cult film from its inception. Even with a healthy dose of romantic sentimentality and whimsy a la Jean-Pierre Jeunet, it is far too rare and peculiar a dish for mainstream tastes. The opening is confusing, the moral ambiguous, and reality won’t sit still; it’s got unicorns, godlike children, helicopters delivering the ocean, a future world where everyone has their own genetic pig and psychiatrists are known by their facial tattoos, and a malformed sub-reality where everyone wears argyle sweaters. It’s unique, unforgettable, and utterly marvelous.
Original trailer for Mr Nobody
COMMENTS: One of the enigmatic Nemo Nobody’s many possible past identities is a TV science lecturer who explains such esoteric concepts as Continue reading 168. MR. NOBODY (2009)