Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Kingdom (1994)

Originally created for Danish television, Morten Arnfred and Lars von Trier's supernatural thriller The Kingdom chronicles the bizarre occurrences at the title hospital, the largest and most respected hospital in the country. While the series deals with such real-life complications as murder investigations and malpractice suits, a more villainous force may be unleashing itself upon the hospital staff. After a patient (Kirsten Rolffes) sees the ghost of a young girl, many of the staff members find themselves involved in frightening and bizarre situations like an ambulance that appears every evening but then instantly vanishes. Eventually, a female doctor (Birgitte Raaberg) becomes pregnant, but the accelerated development of her fetus could be a sign that the evil forces have found a way to enter more permanently into the world. This film consists of the first four episodes, or the entire first season, of the television series. ~ Perry Seibert, Rovi

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 272 mins
The Kingdom (1994)

The Blockbuster series is of two disks with two episodes on each disk with some special features. Have no idea why I picked this one, but it was pretty boring. The one funny part was the attempted abortion that was being performed in the neurosurgery rooms. They had visitors going through the hospital when all kinds of strange things were happening including a patient and some staff holing up a broken out section of the wall in the basement, sex in the sleep studies room, and the abortion.

They tried some drugs on the "foetus" and it did not kill it. The nurse said she had to kill it before it was born because that is the difference between abortions and murder. Ultimately, a man's head came out of her birth canal...pretty funny, I suppose.

The one part I liked was the guy at the end giving a summation of the episode in a way too cheerful demeanor. I watched the first two episodes on the first disk but just skimmed over the next disk, except for the ending with the attempted abortion.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Story of Marie and Julien (2003)

Jacques Rivette's Histoire de Marie et Julien (The Story of Marie and Julien) stars Emmanuelle Béart and Jerzy Radziwilowicz as a pair of ex-lovers who get back together after their lives change. Julien (Radziwilowicz) is a clock repairman whose girlfriend has left him. Marie (Béart) is a mysterious woman who does not bleed after being cut. Her boyfriend has died. Marie and Julien had once engaged in an affair when they were each involved with other people, and now that they have no emotional entanglements, they slowly begin a new relationship. This film started decades before as a project in Rivette's "Scenes From a Parallel Life" series and abandons the majority of the formal rules imposed by the filmmaker on the other films in the cycle. ~ Perry Seibert, Rovi

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 150 mins
The Story of Marie and Julien (2003)
Extremely slow movie at over 2 1/2 hours with little of plot material. I kept expecting more acts of violence but ultimately only talk about how people had committed suicide. Although it appeared at times of high intrigue with ransom demands along with an attempt at finding the documents in Julien's home, ultimately it was just the private affairs of a woman and her desire to keep the family in-fighting personal.

The special features included interviews with Jaques Rivette and Emmanuelle Beart. Did not watch either.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sada (1998)

Based upon the case of Sada Abe, who on May 17 1936 killed and emasculated her lover. These events took place during a period of war, economic depression, public unease and growing militarism, a time of unrest and confusion when public opinion was, at best, unpredictable. Sada, condemned by the law, found herself lionized by the press and hailed as a 'saint' of love. Because she committed murder out of passion, the purity of her motivation elevated her from the status of criminal to that of popular heroine. Written by L.H. Wong
Sada (1998)
Really just a silly story although now I read that it was based on "A True Story of Sexual Obsession". The plot line about the student that fixed up her groin area after being sexually assaulted seemed to be missing some elements to it. All the men just went head over heels when having sex with her and she had an insatiable appetite for sex. The love making scenes were nearly comical although no nude scenes. It was a lot of jumping up and down and floating above the bed.

It was her idea to start choking him with the scarf and then he continued it on until according to the film he asks her to not stop when choking him.

At best just a mediocre film.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Firemen's Ball (1967)

Firemen's Ball was Czechoslovakian director Milos Forman's final film in his home country; he was scouting locations in Paris when the Russians moved their tanks into Prague in 1968 causing Forman to decide to remain an expatriate. Because of the supercharged political climate of the era, critics read all sorts of allegory and hidden meanings into the Firemen's Ball. Other critics simply accepted the film as the slapsticky tale of a disastrous small-town celebration in honor of a retiring fire chief, and laughed accordingly. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 73 mins
The Firemen's Ball (1967)

One of the special features on the DVD was a director's discussion about the film and the controversy. In it he does imply and state that he was making fun of the bureaucracy of the socialist system. He clearly was not sympathetic to the socialist causes.

It is true the comedy of the whole movie was foremost his goal. A lot of slapstick comedy with even the start of the beauty pageant. It was more or less a gawk-fest of old men admiring younger although most not very attractive. For example, one girl takes the initiative to go get a bathing suit on under her clothes and thus models in the suit while the men are staring like little boys looking at a chocolate cake. When the time comes for the beauty pageant, only one girl has courage to come up on stage with the rest resisting with all their strength. Ultimately the girls all end up in the women's restroom until one of the fireman hear the fire alarm. After saving a few of the victims items, they go back to the pageant and one old woman is declared the winner.