Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Charcoal Monday (Tuesday again!)

I posted this one a while back with the "Paris Post", but here she is again.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

So As Not To Break The Rules, This Is A Review Of Kung Fu Panda 2

“Fight Club” is—if such a thing exists—a philosophical action movie. People come to it for different reasons: to puzzle about things like society, boredom, and carnal impulses; to watch bloody, shirtless men hurting each other and to experience the ensuing desire to immediately go out and beat stuff up; or possibly to see it just to say they saw it, since it is fairly unanimous that this is an “awesome” movie, presenting valid arguments appealing to both ends of the moral and social spectrum. 

            The story is about and narrated by a nameless (there’s your first metaphor) corporate minion (Edward Norton) who incessantly attends support groups, though insomnia is his only ailment, and becomes addicted to the emotional vent that they provide for him in an otherwise emotionless life. This he does until a fellow phony named Marla (Helena Bonham-Carter) pops up and ruins his binge. He cannot deal with his façade being validated by the existence of someone in the same boat as him… much less a woman.

            Then he meets Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), a macho soap salesman who seems to understand perfectly what is on the narrator’s (and our) minds. He makes things like holding a gun to the head of a store clerk and blowing up buildings seem perfectly logical; you’d be crazy not to do it. Materialism is his worst enemy. He leads the life that we all secretly wish we could lead. Not the carefree life of luxury and indulgence—the life of impulse without consequence. The life where pain is merely a side effect of achievement. The life where fear is overshadowed by adrenalin to the point of nonexistence. Hey, why should we worry about consequences when the worst consequence of all is death, and we’re all going to die anyway, right?

            The truth is, we all have a Tyler Durden inside of us. Freud called it the “Id” and said that if it is gone unchecked we would be a civilization of barbarians. “Fight Club” poses the question, “What if we are a civilization of barbarians? Are we not letting ourselves be destroyed by our own fears and lust for material?”

            It uses the glamorization of violence to ask this and does it so thickly it is sometimes plausible to assume that it is validating the very point that it is arguing against—that we are, in fact, barbarians who cannot balance ourselves between civility and all-out carnage… and given the choice, carnage is far more exciting. Especially when it is done with some fast-paced music, snazzy visual effects, and lots of explosions. 

            Like its narrator, “Fight Club” seemingly can’t make up its mind about the point that it is trying to make. It doesn’t know if thrills are what life is all about or if we need stability; and it isn’t sure if we can do any of it without falling into the leader-follower syndrome where the powerful take control of the weak and mold them into a culture of enslaved, dead minds. It is, often literally, fighting its self. Only at the end do we catch a glimpse of that one entity that may instigate symmetry. It’s not… can it be… love? 

Nah, this isn’t that kind of movie. Is it?


For an analysis far more intelligent and entertaining than the one above, check THIS out.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Roses Are Red And Something Is Askew


            Movies are essentially an art of manipulation. The composition of a frame, the angle of a shot, the pace, the score, even the credits are all specifically utilized to bend our perception of the story on screen. The difference between a close up and a long shot is the difference between one awareness and another. In many cases, it is the difference between two stories.
            “He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not” is a movie completely reliant upon audience trickery. It builds our trust in one character only to betray that trust by impulsively switching perspectives mid-way through the film. It creates a façade and then dismantles it, piece by piece, with head-slapping logic and more than a few psychological jolts. This is a movie you can watch for the first time twice—once you know the secret that even the misleading trailer takes good care to repress, it becomes a completely different movie.
            The heroine is dainty young art student Angelique (Audrey Tatou) who is conducting an affair with Loic (Samuel Le Bihan), a married cardiologist with a baby on the way. She is madly in love with him and their relationship appears to be a mutually happy one until Loic begins to stand Angelique up in favor of his wife. Angelique consequently assumes a painful downward spiral into depression until a startling revelation is made that changes everything.
             Even more shocking yet is that lying just beneath the outer layer of cerebral mayhem is a sort of ironic humor. We have Audrey Tautou, fresh from her career-defining performance in “Amelie”, whose face would likely appear alongside the definition of ‘adorable’ in the dictionary, playing a deranged jilted lover. The reasoning that discloses the true plot is all so simple, you can almost sense the writers giggling at their own devilishly easy deception. It isn’t often you get a psychological thriller this engrossing that simultaneously pokes subtle fun at its own guise as a sappy love story.
            It’s this simplicity that makes “He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not” such a pleasing movie to watch. We don’t have to work out complex concepts or sticky knots of jumbled up relationships. Though there is just enough left untouched to give it a mysterious air, it only plays coy when necessary while dishing out information with precise timing. The complexity is in its knowledge of the audience’s mind and how to manipulate it with smokescreens and imagery. When you know how a person thinks, it infinitely possible to permeate their mind. This is all the more cunning when your tactics go unseen—good advice for cinematographers and unhinged lovers alike.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Friday, April 15, 2011

If You Are Uncomfortable With Something, Don't Make A Movie About It

            “The Reader” is about a lot of touchy subjects: Forgiveness of genocide in the name of humanity, the question of whether one can still love a person who has committed a horrendous crime, the impotence of shame and its translation into a lust for authority, and the never ending debate over whether or not law is based upon morality… just to name a few. And yet the one thing that springs immediately to mind whenever we think about this movie is the sexual affair between a fifteen year old boy and a thirty year old woman. We don’t think of their relationship later in the film, when Michael (David Cross in the flashbacks and Ralph Fiennes in the ‘90s) is forced to choose between exposing Hanna’s (Kate Winslet) shameful secret- she can’t read- or watching her be sentenced to a life in prison for the crime of allowing 300 Jewish women to burn to death in a church during her career as an SS guard. 
            Instead we think of the R-rated scenes involving beds, bathtubs, and books. Why? Is it a publicity stunt; to lure audiences in with the promise of sex and controversy before whacking them with a good dose of historical morality after they have already paid for their tickets? This would mean that the true depth of the more intense subject matter would emerge after having seen the film. At least, this was what I was hoping for. A hundred and twenty four minutes later, and my cynicism was in overdrive. 
            The problem with “The Reader” is that it presents exacting reality with tenderness and subtlety while treating the subtle and tender with exacting reality. It is not a holocaust film. It is about the lives of the next generation of Germans who had to live in the shadow of guilt and who were faced with the enormity of having to move on.
            It is certainly a unique premise and one that carries a massive potential to resonate in our moral psyches. But it plays it safe. All the way from the rather too coincidental beginning to the neat-as-a-pin ending, it walks ever so lightly on its abundance of ethically controversial material, picking up on the nostalgia of post-WWII films that have gone before, but goes hog-wild when it comes to sexuality, leaping at the chance to at least be bold about something
            In doing this, it becomes what, in my opinion, is a bad movie. It is based on a story that implores us to consider something that we would prefer to put behind us. It (rightly) doesn’t want to give any answers for fear of having to take sides; but neither does it have the courage to ask any questions. “The Reader” is a movie about a nation that is weary of the shadows of the past, and its responsibility is to have the audacity to cast a light into that darkness. Instead, it is afraid of its own shadow. It is tactful and predictable.
            When undertaking something that is potentially controversial, one must be firm in their convictions and know where they are going and what they want to do. “The Reader” has an identity crisis. Does it want to be a steamy romance? A period piece? A WWII aftermath film? It seems to know that any way it goes about it, there must be a flavor of controversy. And the only way it knows how to do that is not by forcing us to think, but by playing the sex card. 
            Maybe we too have an identity crisis. Maybe we are still afraid of our own shadow... our own thoughts.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Charcoal Monday

Sunday, April 3, 2011

You Might Be Surprised By What They ARE Afraid Of


            I love movies that are based on plays. Using a story that is intentionally fashioned for a presentation where flamboyant effects are limited not only by budget but by reality and is instead forced to place all its cards on the quality of actors and dialogue is a wonderfully sneaky yet effective way to create a movie boiled down to the essence of what great theatrical entertainment is all about. When it doesn’t get overly Hollywood-ized in the process… that is.
            “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” is structurally about as simple as it gets: four actors, very little music, and most of the scenes are set inside one room of one house. The complexity lies in the characters mentality and is expressed in their dialogue, originally penned by playwright Edward Albee.
            The plot, at least on the exterior, is simple as well: A young professor and his wife (George Segal and Sandy Dennis, respectively) meet the daughter of the college president (Elizabeth Taylor) and her husband, an associate prof. of history (Richard Burton) at a cocktail party and are invited to the older couple’s on-campus home for drinks at an hour that straddles both “late at night” and “early in the morning”. Little do Honey (Dennis) and Nick (Segal) know of the marital warfare that rages in the home of Martha (Taylor) and George (Burton).
            All attempts at friendly small talk are quickly muffled by the virtual machine gun spray of dialogue that George and Martha ceaselessly pelt each other with. As the foursome grows drunker and drunker, the two guests become sucked into the combat as well and round and round they all go, ripping each other down verbally until we no longer know what to believe and who to trust.
            It’s movies like this that thrill me to no end. The dialogue is the driving force that pushes the movie forward, only to whip the characters back with such great momentum, they need to take a minute to catch their breath. Elizabeth Taylor’s role in the film has become the stuff of legend- and rightly so- but upstaging even her was the brilliant performance delivered by Sandy Dennis. While the other three incessantly reload their guns with ammo of alcohol and secrets, the mousy blonde Honey is the one who bears the brunt of the situation, as it is she who ultimately discovers that her husband does not love her. It is one of those performances so unique and bizarre, it is impossible to keep our eyes off her even with Elizabeth Taylor just feet away.
            “Virginia Woolf” is a merciless movie. There is not an emotional or psychological stone that is left unturned, not a flaw that goes unscrutinized, not a gun that doesn’t go off; and in the end, we are surprised by our own shock at who can best withstand the blow. But it is also a deeply metaphorical movie that is not afraid of the surreal.
One might argue the same about long-term marriage.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Back and Forth


Remember those back-and-forth stories that we all used to do (or at least bored writers with weird friends, like me, used to do)? Where creative juices would run riot as you penned back and forth, each adding to the growing plot that the other had established? Where anything went, and hilarity ensued?
Well, the internet's best kept comedic secret (Nico Morley) and myself have decided to join forces and establish a blog just for this purpose. She and I will alternate posts, stopping abruptly in order for the other to continue the story. Who knows where it will go? What levels of brilliance will be reached? What caverns of humor, tragedy, life, death, metaphor, and insanity will be delved into? Will they be left undiscovered or blasted open with the force of our combined brilliance? Who knows?... Who cares?... check it out!

Also, a last minute note, Darryl, whose sense of humor is almost more acerbic than mine, has come on board as well. Let the wild rumpus start!

Monday, March 28, 2011

What Do You Get When You Cross A Baby, A Convict, And A Thesaurus?


             Far be it for me to scrutinize those who venerate the more ostentatious calibers of the English vernacular. But when it obstructs a congregation’s ability to assimilate the true intentions of a fabrication… well, that’s just plain bad writing.
            “Raising Arizona” is the better aspects of the later works of the Cohen Brothers all lumped together in one movie proving that chocolate, bacon and Pringles- individually delicious as they may be- do not make a good casserole. In other words, too much of several good things is hardly ever great.
            Here we have all of what would later become the Cohen Brothers usual suspects: dialogue that sounds like it was scraped off the tongue of an eighteenth century Alabaman lawyer, slapstick black comedy, a bounty of colorful characters, a madcap heist plot, and John Goodman. Every one of these aspects is trying to one-up all the others and what results is a movie more confusing than even the Cohen bros. most incomprehensible con stories.
            Holly Hunter and Nicholas Cage star as Hi (Cage) and Ed (Hunter). The former is a two-bit thief who falls in love with Ed, a police woman who takes his mugshots. They marry and decide to start a family but as “biology conspired to keep them childless” and Hi’s criminal record is longer than his hair, rendering them unable to adopt, they have no choice but to kidnap one of the famed “Arizona Quints” based on the logic that five babies is more than any one couple can handle.  
            At first, the movie wants to be a zany character piece, scooped from the trailer homes and convenience stores of Southern U.S. Then it switches gears and becomes a dangerously screwball comedy when Hi’s oafish (yet eloquent) prison buddies set up camp in the new family’s home. Then it wants to be an action flick with a chase scene involving a naive truck driver, a package of Huggies, and a Rottweiler in one of those gags that never fails to crop up in chase sequences that need a bit of forced comic relief. There is also a puzzling subplot that somehow manages to make its way into the limelight of the movie’s main storyline involving a grizzly bounty hunter who looks threatening enough until we hear him speak in a stuffy twang that is due to his apparent lack of nostrils.
            There is so much stuff being flung about in this movie, the fact that this bunch of folks are stupid enough to invite company over to see their newly kidnapped baby before they even think of a decent name or rid their house of bundt cake guzzling escapees… yet speak using words like “recognizance” and phrases like “ply her feminine wiles” is laughable- though not in the way intended.
            Of course, The Cohen Brothers went on to dissect the tangled mess that is “Raising Arizona” and grow films like “Fargo”, “The Big Lebowski”, and “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” using the seeds of brilliance found therein, thus proving that although credulousness and inexperience may have initially deemed their work asinine, maturity and fortitude were able to play a hand in conceiving their latter works of proficiency.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thursday, March 17, 2011

You CAN See It Just Once... Because It Will Stay With You Forever


            What is the difference between song and speech? Both, when well done, can be eloquent, elegant, powerful, and beautiful. Both can implant an awareness of truth in the psyche of the listener. Both are expressions of humanity. The difference is that speech is an expression of the mind, while song is an expression of the heart. “Once” is a song manifested in film.
            The opening scene is of a scruffy, red-haired street musician (Glen Hansard) with a face not entirely unlike a basset hound’s, strumming a- for lack of a better word- threadbare guitar. In hot pursuit of an oddball who has just snatched his daily earnings, he hands his instrument to a passerby, imploring him to “hold this for a second”. The chase ends with the musician offering the stolen cash to the troubled thief who embraces him and asks how his mother is doing. The musician’s mother is dead. The movie is, of course, set in Ireland.
            We never learn the musician’s name. Nor do we learn the name of the young Czech mother (Marketa Irglova) whom he befriends. In fact, we know almost no more about either of them than they know about each other. They first meet abruptly in the streets of Dublin, but unlike most hopelessly romantic movies featuring European artistes, their love affair is not whirlwind, undying, or in any way steamy. “Once” is the story of two people who were right for each other in the right place, at the right time.
            We learn that the musician is/was in love with a woman whom he has long been parted from. We learn that the mother is nineteen and married to (though not in love with) a man back in the Czech Republic. But their personal lives are not important. What is important is music. The immediate, fleeting notes that are never heard the same way twice. The musicians who cannot say what they feel for each other, and who do not have to because their instruments say it all.
            They are an undeniably cute couple. We want them to be together and so do they, but we know in the backs of our minds that their relationship can’t last forever… and so do they. It’s not about physical love and it’s not about romance and it’s not about sacrificing everyday life to be with that special someone forever. Because at the end of the day, we aren’t living in movie land where our children and long lost spouses and financial worries and lonely parents all disappear when we find the person who we want to ride into the sunset with.
            “Once” is one of those movies that only requires one viewing to prove its point. Now can’t last forever. The present will always become the past. But, as the Irish are very proud to state, the past makes us who we are today. As we live in the present, we are creating our past and in doing so, crafting our future. It may not make much sense, but neither does love… or the Irish.   

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Stage And Screen Week


For all you film aficionados out there looking to expand your horizons, I am going to switch into advertising mode in order to plug one of my very favorite places on earth.
Mineral Point, Wisconsin is one of those towns that you hear so much about, but never actually encounter. Where the townsfolk conglomerate every morning at a quaint breakfast joint where the boundaries of conversation never stop at the table edges. Where time seems to slow to make room for the hours spent napping on the front porch, as well as those wandering in and out of art galleries and prowling through the sky high shelves of books crammed within the brick walls of the library. This is a place where the arts are a lifestyle, not an ideal and nowhere does this manifest its self better than at Shakerag Alley.
Tucked away amongst Mineral Point's quintessential 19th century lead miners cottages is the grand old Stagecoach house guarding the magical realm (if you've ever been there, you'll understand why I feel compelled to use such hokey terminology) that is Shakerag Alley. Peeking out of gardens galore are multiple outbuildings that are home to every type of artistic/creative/literary... and even some technological... workshops that you can imagine. Which brings me to the point of this post.
This Summer, besides hosting a slew of workshops in the afore mentioned mediums, Shakerag Alley will be the home of Stage and Screen week- an entire week dedicated to classes on the various aspects of film making and the preforming arts. The cast of characters at the helm of this learning extravaganza includes award-winning writers, directors, actors, costume designers, and many, many more. In addition to teaching about the preforming arts, Shakerag Alley is also home to The Alley Stage, an outdoor theater that entertains townsfolk and tourists alike all summer long with the work of some of Mineral Point's most talented individuals. During Stage & Screen week, the Opera House, usually home to quirky indie films, will collaborate with The Alley in presenting award-winning playwright Bill Svanoe's play, "Persons of Interest". Students in certain classes will also take part in the production of the comedy.
So in a nutshell, when I heard about an event of this caliber taking place in the hub of Southern Wisconsin's rural arts culture, I found it all but impossible to not immediately share it with you. For someone, like me, whose idea of an exciting theatrical experience is whenever the local theater gets a movie that isn't made by Pixar, this is too thrilling for words.
So tell all your friends! Tell all your enemies! Tell total strangers! Come experience it yourself! I've always said, if you've never been to Mineral Point, you can't know the full potential of Midwestern small-town beauty, or the creativity of the people who live there.

Stage & Screen Week runs through July 30-August 5. For more information, click here.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Friday, March 4, 2011

Get 'Em While They're... In Limbo Between Theaters And DVD


A while ago I watched a documentary on the dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet. I learned that, like film editors, a ballerina’s best work is that which appears to be effortless, flowing, flawless. The audience must never see past the impeccable exterior to the harsh, painful, mentally and physically exhausting work that goes into the art of an unadulterated expression of someone else’s vision.

However, the lifestyle of a ballerina, unlike that of a film editor, lends its self beautifully to psycho-sexual melodramas starring the likes of Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis.

Nina (Portman) is a hard-working mommy’s-girl whose personality is reflected in the tight wad of a bun that clings to the back of her neck like a swollen tick. Her mental stability thrives on perfection… too bad she was never told that nobody is perfect. She is cast as the Swan Queen by the sleazy choreographer Thomas-with a silent “S”-Leroy (Vincent Cassel) whose buzzard-like nose indicates Portman isn’t the only one metamorphosing into the bird that most closely resembles their personality.

But what appears to be the role of a lifetime becomes a paranoid mental coup once the daringly sinful dancer Lilly (Mila Kunis) enters the scene. While Nina gracefully embraces the pretty and pure “white swan”, the Swan Queen’s darker personality, “the black swan” is right up Lilly’s alley. As only one woman must dance both parts, Thomas decides to give Nina a lesson on loosening up, and no, he doesn’t mean that in the traditional choreographic sense.

Nina is unable to acknowledge her repressed desires, fears, and passions and instead grips that which she can control so desperately that her fingers bleed- literally. Eventually, with the provocation of jealousy and a little help from Lilly, her inner darkness bubbles to the surface in the form of inky feathers that send her soaring into the piths of a mental meltdown. Being trapped behind her eyes, somewhere in the unhinged corners of her mind, we go right along for the ride.

Even for those of you who, like me, need a bit of brushing up on Russian ballets and their subplots, it is fairly obvious that Nina is the Swan Queen in much the same way that Meryl Streep is Virginia Woolf in “The Hours” or that Steve Carell is Noah in “Evan Almighty”. Ballet has that sensation to it that lends its self exceptionally well to third-degree melodrama. Slap on a thick layer of insanity, and you’ve got yourself one mean theatrical sandwich.

It is like Portman is a ballerina and we are in her head, looking helplessly out as she skillfully spins faster than lightening. The world seems hazy and dizzying but never does she falter or stumble. Effortlessly- or so she would have it seem- she (and the film editor too) dances with the audience until the world is so blurred, we no longer know what reality is. If Nina Sayers is the Swan Queen, Natalie Portman is no Nina Sayers.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Nico Morley's Non-Recommendation: The Room



Watching “The Room” for the first (and hopefully last) time was a bit like listening to Bob Dylan on auto-tune. No, scratch that. It was like watching Kim Kardashian preform mouth-to-mouth on a blood hound. Or maybe it was like eating a sloppy joe while Judah Freelander massages my feet. Somehow I cannot put together an analogy that completely embodies the queasy, incoherent, weirdly-dark-yet-still-completely-tacky-and-unpleasant-hot-mess-of-a-cult-film that is “The Room”.

The plot (and I use that word loosely) is composed of a love triangle that contains about as much love as it does geometry. Lisa (Juliette Danielle) is engaged to a hot chocolate-drinking, football tossing, lump of muscle, wrinkles, and grease named Johnny (Tommy Wiseau) but is in love (or at least says repeatedly and menacingly that she is) with Johnny’s best friend Mark (Greg Sestero). (Or at least he says repeatedly and exasperatedly that that is what he is).

Tommy Wiseau (who also writes, directs and produces) delivers an incredible performance as Johnny. I was unaware that it was even possible to act while simultaneously asleep and in a coma.

Furthermore, his skill as a director calls for him to pay great attention to detail. For example, a scene in which Johnny, Mark, Johnny’s pseudo-adopted son/friend Denny, and another pal who just so happens to be a (much needed) psychiatrist don tuxedoes and then scamper out into a back alley to toss a football back and forth. Things such as contextual plot relevance, explanation, and, well, meaning, are obviously unimportant to the development of time fillers such as this. One would imagine that plenty of time could have been filled with coverage of topics such as Lisa’s mother’s breast cancer or the fact that Denny owes money to a drug dealer. But Tommy Wiseau’s imagination is obviously better than the rest of ours, as these matters are tossed aside without so much as the blink of an eye.

Instead, most of the movie takes place in Johnny and Lisa's living room where people wander in and out for no reason other than to exchange a few rusty bits of dialogue and in moments of levity, to engage in spontaneous pillow fights. Scenes like this are crudely glued together with completely irrelevant shots of "The Room's" location, San Fransisco.

Of course, this film is so bad, it has accumulated quite the cult following. And if my understanding of cinematic cult followings is correct, this is made up of people who can somehow relate to the characters in a way that the rest of us mainstream folk just can’t. Who enjoy listening to dialogue that sounds like it has been wrenched out of a pull-string Barbie doll. Who find refuge in a movie that, in being unconventional, somehow showcases unconventionality in a way that is relatable or thought-provoking. “Rocky Horror Picture Show” did this. “Pulp Fiction” did this. “A Clockwork Orange” did this. If “The Room” is unconventionality at its best (worst), it would make someone like Alex DeLarge want to immediately rush out and apply for a job as an insurance salesman.

It takes very little effort and/or intelligence to make a bad movie. It takes quite a bit to make a bad movie that means something.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Quitting*

Well, after writing for a local paper for almost two years, I finally realized that it was time to call it quits. In deciding the title of my last article, I turned to the American Film Institute's list of the top 100 movie quotes of all time. It was difficult ruling out no. 1 and no. 19 and even no. 25 before resorting to the generic line that graces the top of the article below.


Click image to enlarge


*No, the Celluloid Kitchen is not going anywhere.

Friday, February 11, 2011

M.W.B.'s 11th Favorite Movie: La Grande Bouffe


“La Grande Bouffe” is trademark French cinema at its very best… or worst, depending on your viewpoint and/or gag reflex. To give you a general idea of what I mean by this, I am going to have to venture into its grotesque and frivolous plot. This I do only to warn and recommend respectively.

We begin with four friends, all upper class, middle-aged Frenchmen who gather in an extravagant home, inherited but not inhabited by one of the quartet. It is to be a retreat from the trials of aristocratic life. Awaiting them are multiple truckloads of fish, cheese, wine, vegetables, and morosely alabaster animal bits. Though not immediately evident, the gathering is a surreal suicide pact. They intend to eat themselves to death- literally.

Before they even reach the second course of their gloomy gluttony, several young ladies take their place at the table and soon the getaway becomes a feast of food and fornication, each equally emotionless. Despite the over-abundance of luxury, nobody appears to be enjoying themselves. Things that are generally considered pleasurable to humans are conducted with an air of desperation and stoicism. Lavish items are disposed of without ceremony. A monstrously elaborate cake serves only as ammunition in a bizarre food fight and a shipment of meat is strewn about the garden before it gets refrigerated.

This is not a movie that most Americans (and even some French) find appetizing in any way. When a movie is explicit and disturbing, we tend to take it at face value. In America, if a movie contains a plethora of “graphic content” it rarely bothers to venture beyond its subject matter. The French cinematic tradition, however, tends to regard the risqué with a slightly more nonchalant attitude; and movies that bear the seal of a filmmaker’s politics or philosophical ideals are certainly not hard to come by.

I like to think of “La Grande Bouffe” as a hybrid of the minds of Louis Bunel and the Marquis De Sade. The characters and their obscure hedonistic actions are merely a foil for a larger idea. It is an allegory and a biting satire on the piggyness of the Bourgeoisie and their blind intent to devour as much extravagance as is physically possible. Their downfall, whether it be by violence or indigestion always comes about as a result of a blind consumption of luxury. “La Grande Bouffe” is tasteless because it wants to express the tastelessness of its subject.

Aristocracy and decadence are a favorite theme of French satirists- and why not? When extravagance is the norm, what is extravagant? When you have the best, what can you do but want more? When something is untouchable, what is left to do but make fun of it?