Sunday, November 25, 2007

DVD reviews: Visitor Q/Trouble Every Day

Rave DVD reviews: VISITOR Q

[Originally published in Rave magazine, Brisbane 24/05/05]

The reigning king of Japanese kink Takashi Miike (Audition, Ichi The Killer) gives us his most grimly absurd, cheerfully subversive and sometimes deliriously comic film yet: a perverse portrait of the Japanese nuclear family at the point of total collapse. Dad meets an unnamed, almost Manson-esque free spirit (actually Dad’s skull meets the young man’s rock) who inexplicably becomes the family’s house guest. “Visitor Q” soon uncovers their secrets - Dad is a cold duck and necrophile, and over-anxious client of his sullen teen prostitute daughter, while the son is a bullied closet sadist who takes to flaying his half-crippled horse-addict punching bag of a mother with a riding crop. Like a duck to water, “Visitor Q” joins in on the fun, and in a bizarre way provides the catalyst for the family’s liberation (and the film’s wildly fucked-up happy ending), which includes a seemingly endless communal lactation scene. It only goes to prove: the family that sprays together, stays together.

Visitor Q is a hard sell and its “shock for shock’s sake” approach is almost impossible to defend. As a filmmaker Miike seems to have hit a dead end, having shattered most conceivable cinematic taboos in just one film. Yet even at his most hurried and lowbrow, Miike is a compulsive and always “interesting” experience, and the digital Visitor Q shows his unnerving mastery of the underground aesthetic: it’s like Pasolini making a Dogme version of Bless This House, or the home movies of Fred and Rosemary West. If you’re prepared to weather the onslaught and buy into Miike’s deranged microcosm, you’ll dig every milk-soaked, shit-caked, smack-addled, fatherfucking minute.


[Originally published in Rave magazine, Brisbane 31/05/05]

The provocative cover image of a blood-spattered Beatrice Dalle only hints at the ferocity within Claire (Chocolat, Beau Travail) Denis’ sad, haunting study of sex and cannibalism that caused record walkouts and faintings at its Cannes screening.

The voracious, predatory Core (Betty Blue’s Dalle) is boarded up in a secluded Paris house by her husband, the errant scientist Leo (Alex Descas). She periodically escapes, seduces passing motorists and in sickening detail, methodically consumes her prey. Her fate is connected to a visiting American doctor Shane Brown (a seedy, unshaven, troubled-looking Vincent Gallo) on his honeymoon in Paris, apparently a test subject for Leo’s experiments in unleashing the libido, and who is already having violent masturbatory fantasies of his gorgeous new bride (Tricia Vessey) covered in blood. “I will never hurt you,” he whispers to his concerned wife, already showing a tell-tale bite mark on her shoulder.

Trouble Every Day is simply and beautifully shot, and while not as blatantly pornographic as Romance or Anatomy Of Hell, it has a dangerous and electric eroticism that’s hard to shake. Wide-eyed Dalle says little yet conveys an air of both tragedy and primal appetite and doesn’t overplay her animalism, while Gallo (Buffalo 66) is at his greasy, neurotic best. Its slow pace and spare action deliberately unfold the story in a distinctly European fashion; at the one hour mark the film switches from carnal to charnal, spiraling toward a grotesque and shattering crescendo worthy of the great excesses of the 70s art film. Stunning.

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