Saturday, September 28, 2019

Raspberry Reich (2004) directed by Bruce LaBruce

WARNING: Explicit subject matter! 

This film tells the story of a would be terrorist group who kidnaps the son of a rich businessman for blackmail purposes. However, the son has recently come out as gay and was disinherited which complicates their plans. The group is led by a woman named Gudrun who constantly and I do mean constantly, spouts off radical philosophy histories and slogans - going so far as yelling "Fuck me for the revolution" as her boyfriend fucks her off the bed, out of the apartment and into the elevator. As this is happening, Che (another main character) is preforming oral sex on various firearms and finally shoots his wad - and a gun - in unison. Gubdrun is, in effect the only woman in this film save for a neighbour in the elevator and the rest are all young, sexy boys (mostly gay porn stars) who spend much of the runtime fucking each other. This film has an "unedited version" but maybe that's the version I saw both in the cinema and on DVD because, honestly, nothing is hidden or cut away from sexually. Full on oral and anal sex, cum shots - it's all there. In the end the hostage escapes with a member of the the group who has become his boyfriend and they spend their days robbing banks owned by his father. The other members end up in gay bars and less revolutionary jobs while Che is hired by middle east terrorists to film practice kidnappings. Gundrun and her boyfriend have a kid, hoping he will continue the revolution when he grows up.

To be fair to Bruce LaBruce, this movie falls inline with his other films, falling squarely into comedy/parody territory and while it's not a good film in many ways, it is fun to watch. Sure the explicit sex isn't exactly a minus but the slogans and  dialog, though delivered in a wooden manner, is pretty funny. The boys are sexy and hung and the lead actress gives an over the top performance that is both annoying and somehow captivating. It looks like a 70's low budget exploitation film and sounds like one as well. That is likely 1) on purpose and 2) because LaBruce films are known for having very, very low budgets. The music is interesting at points, but can be annoying and doesn't always fit with the action on screen. The opening segment is far too long and drawn out with strobing title cards  creating an epileptic's nightmare. You could probably cut 20 minutes from the total time and have a much more tight and evenly paced movie.

Like I said, it isn't good, but it does stick with you. The slogans like "The revolution is my Boyfriend!" and dialog such as "homosexually must only be used for revolutionary purposes" might find themselves being used by you in everyday conversation. Well, if you have conversations like I do. You might also find yourself declaring what is  "counter-revolutionary" after seeing this. According to the film that would include things like: Madonna, hip hop, cornflakes and masturbations among other things.

This film is not everyone's cup of tea but it is honest about what it is and thanks you "watching this porn" in the end credits. Bruce LaBruce is a singular filmmaker and keeps on making the things he wants to make and he should be admired for that alone. Plus he is Canadian like me so I am maybe little biased in his direction.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Portrait of Dorian Grey (1945) directed by Albert lewin

A classic film from a classic novel that explores the obsession with youth and beauty and how they can hide evil, hideous interiors. Basically a horror story, Dorian grey is a young beautiful boy who, while having his portrait painter falls under the corrupting ideas of the artist and his friend. He realizes that youth is not forever and makes wish on an Egyptian cat statue that he will remain the same while the portrait ages and changes. This  wish is granted and as his desires and actions become more and more corrupt and terrible, he finds he must hide the image in a locked room so no one can see how he "really" looks. 

The films follow the books fairly faithfully and the cast, which includes a very young Angela Lansbury as Sybil Vane is great. Hurd hatfield as Dorian looks the part. Innocent, you, pretty and manages to give the impression that is all a mask as he becomes colder and callous as the decades pass by. 

The cinematography is decent but if you see this film, be sure to see the retired blu-ray version that has the technicolour insets. The first time we see the painting, it's a beautiful colour shot and when we see it later... let's say the portrait is much less beautiful but the image is stunning and shocking in colour. So shocking, in fact, I won't put an image of it here in case you have never seen the movie, it's really better to first see it context. 

I had not watched this movie in along while and it was surprising how much I had forgotten, not in plot details but how they worked themselves out. I like how we see the corrupted version of the painting long before the film ends so we have an idea of how "wicked" the lovely Dorian has been all these years. We don't see many of his deeds but his treatment of Sybil Vane is so devastating and cold, you can easily believe the painting is relflecting Mr. Gray's  soiled soul. 

This is the best of the adaptions of Oscar Wildes book that i have seen and it focuses on all the right things while later versions use the story as an excuse to show more explicit sex and violence, this film opts for letting the viewer imagine the corruption that can happen when you can place all your sins somewhere out of sight.