D: Tom DiCillo; with Brad Pitt, Catherine Keener, Alison Moir, Tina Louise, Nick Cave, Samuel L. Jackson.
DiCillo's new film, Living in Oblivion (opening in Austin on August 25??), is the buzz of the indie film world, so for those who like to do their homework, check out DiCillo's earlier effort with Brad Pitt as the indescribable Johnny Suede. Sporting a heavily lacquered pompadour with the aerodynamics of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Suede's visual appeal is almost reason enough to rent this film. Johnny Suede is a loner in search of a soulmate; a singer in search of a band; a fashion victim in search of style. Many strange and sometimes inexplicable things occur in this film. Often these incidents are quite funny; one-liners are thrown out with abandon, and the characters are all winningly eccentric. While the story itself leaves a little to be desired (think of an overextended TV episode of Twin Peaks), the characters truly make the film worth watching. Small parts played by Nick Cave, Tina Louise, and Samuel L. Jackson pepper the film like jewels. The film's narrative develops around the relationship between Johnny and Yvonne (Keener), a woman who works as a kind of social worker; their love/hate courtship providing some of the more entertaining scenes. The situation in which they meet is symbolic of the misunderstandings that characterize their relationship. This scene's weird trajectory of events suggests even more the Twin Peaks similarity, and not just because a midget is involved. Pitt makes a terrific Johnny, playing the role with tongue-in-cheek bravado. Keener (who also appears in DiCillo's Living in Oblivion) is smart, funny, and on target as Yvonne, a young woman struggling to find a place in her life for a man with huge hair. Although Johnny Suede lacks a consistently strong narrative, it is well worth watching for its other elements such as the characters, the deadpan dialogue, and the Fifties-inspired sets and music. In addition, Pitt eschews a stunt double and does his own singing, which is an event in itself. And did I mention his hair? - Alison Macor
D: Alex de la Iglesias; with Antonio Resines, Alex Angulo, Frederique Feder, Juan Viadas, Karra Elejalde, Saturnino Garcia Luminous Film and Video Works. Produced by art-house fave Pedro Almodovar, the passionately off-beat *Accion Mutante* marks the debut of Spanish director Alex de la Iglesias (no relation to fellow countryman Eloy de la Glasia *aka* Agustin Villaronga, who was responsible the haunting *In A Glass Cage*), whose style clearly follows in the maniacal tradition of John Waters, Peter Jackson, and (early) Sam Raimi. An action/comedy/sci-fi/horror epic with all the stops pulled out, de la Iglesias's film is set in a unspecified, but presumably distant, future, and chronicles the exploits of "Mutant Action" - a renegade terrorist faction made up of a motley crew of "physically challenged" misfits dedicated to waging war on the so-called "normal" human population. Led by the hideously scarred Ramon, this crack team of handicapped soldiers sets about on its most ambitious mission yet, namely kidnapping and ransoming off the virginal daughter of a rich business tycoon. While this plan more or less goes off without a hitch, things get (literally) sticky for our heroes when Ramon begins gruesomely murdering his comrades one by one, in hopes of keeping the ransom money all to himself. All this mayhem eventually leads to a climax that sees Ramon in a violent firefight with a virtual army of police, one half of a Siamese twin (his brother, still joined at the shoulder, is dead) out for revenge, the hostage falling in love with her captor, her well-to-do father turned into a suicidal lunatic, and a bunch of bullet-riddled corpses rising up for an impromptu musical number. An outrageous bit of nonsense directed with style and gusto by newcomer de la Iglesias, *Accion Mutante* effectively re-interprets genre cliches in an affectionately crazed manner and more than delivers the goods for those foreign film fans looking for a fun, hilarious walk on the wild side. Despite the overall quality of the film, coupled with Almodovar's international appeal and generally great production values, it has yet to nab an "offical" U.S. distributor, making this pan-and-scanned release (the damage of the compromised 2.35:1 compositions is noticeable) from Luminous, for the moment, the only game in town. *Accion Mutante* is available at I Love Video's Airport location. Call em at 450-1966 for directions.
The Mario Bava Collection: Baron Blood and Lisa and the Devil. D: Mario Bava; with Elke Sommer, Telly Savalas, Joseph CottonÅElite Entertainment LaserdisksÅÅFrom Elite Entertainment, the enthusiastic new company who recently blessed us with their wonderful, eye-opening laserdisk set of - DE- Night of the Living Dead- DE- , comes this exquisite double-feature platter, consisting of two films from legendary director Mario Bava. When placed together, the pictures in question, - DE- Baron Blood - DE- and - DE- Lisa in the Devil- DE- , neatly manage to express Bava's dual approaches to filmmaking- with the former displaying the inventive showman who manages to breathe life into what might have been, in lesser hands, tired genre "product"; while the latter offers up a portrait of a visionary, taboo-breaking artist in the mold of Roman Polanski and Alfred Hitchcock. Both movies are dripping with visual style and moody atmosphere, and while - DE- Baron Blood - DE- provides a number of chilling sequences and makes for great spooky fun, - DE- Lisa and the Devil - DE- is a far more memorable picture, filled with the kind of startling, ironic images and subversive spirit that mark the best of Bava's films. Beyond their obvious importance to serious aficionados of the horror genre, these disks also represent an important first step towards the highly underrated Bava getting a bit of the respect he so richly deserves. In keeping with the standards of excellence they have set with past releases, Elite doesn't stumble in their presentation, with both films presented (for the first time domestically) in their uncut versions, looking considerably better than they ever have before, with Bava's trademark use of color being a particular joy to witness with such clarity. Nicely letterboxed at an appropriate 1.85:1, with the addition of theatrical trailers and, in the case of - DE- Lisa and the Devil- DE- , a collection of deleted footage, there really isn't much here to complain about. One small complaint however, is the virtual ignoring of the troubled history of - DE- Lisa and the Devil- DE- , which, while far too convoluted to go into here, suffered from enough severe post-production tampering to render one of Bava's most fascinating movies a laughable, incomprehensible mess. A supplemental section detailing the changes forced upon - DE- Lisa and the Devil - DE- would have not only made for some resonant backround information, but would help to foster an understanding as to why this marvelous film wound up as one of Bava's most obscure works. Nevertheless, this thoughtfully affordable set (only $60.00) is an unquestionably worthy addition to any laserphiles collection, as well as being (dare I say it) one of the most important releases of this year.Åweigh it's weaknesses. - DE- The Overlook Film Encyclopedia - DE- has also produced two other volumes, - DE- Science Fiction - DE- and - DE- Westerns- DE- , with a third, - DE- Mysteries- DE- , on the way. All are rumored to be of the same excellent quality as the - DE- Horror - DE- volume being reviewed here, and if this is the case, then this is one reader who can't wait to indulge in a little more information overload courtesy of editor Phil Hardy and the fine folks at the Overlook Press.ÅÅBroken Mirrors/ Broken Minds: The Dark Dreams of Dario ArgentoÅby Maitland McDonaghÅCitadel Press, $18.95ÅÅThis beautifully and appropriately titled book (nicely utilizing a line of dialogue from Agento's own - DE- Suspiria- DE- ), finds smart fantasy movie critic Maitland Mc Donagh diving head-first into the twisted landscape of Italian horror filmmaker Dario Argento
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