Thursday, March 27, 2008

Small Angry Germans with Guns: Watching Stroszek

- Stroszek is supposedly the film Joy Division front man Ian Curtis watched hours before his suicide. I find that fact odd, since the film isn't so much depressing or gloomy (though it has elements of both those moods) as it is bizarre. I suppose the film has a fundamental strangeness to it that could spook somebody in an agitated and despairing state. Suffice to say, do not watch this movie high.

-Bruno Stroszek is played by Bruno S., a street musician who was born to a prostitute and spent most of his life in an asylum. Director Werner Herzog used him in his earlier film The Enigma of Kasper Hauser, and according to the book Herzog on Herzog, he wrote Stroszek specifically for Bruno when Bruno found he'd lost his part in Herzog's version of Woyzeck to Klaus Kinski. Herzog also mentions in the book how odd and wonderful Bruno's way of speaking is, and though I don't understand his German, there is something perfectly expressive about his voice; he almost sounds like a character on a kids show.

-One of the two pimps who harass Bruno and his prostitute friend Eva looks like he's in a Hawkwind cover band. Or more likely a roadie for a Hawkwind cover band. The dude is tall and blond with a handlebar mustache and a wardrobe of silk shirts and gold jewelry. I think getting roughed up by a guy who looks that tacky has to hurt your dignity, because you keep thinking "If He-Man was a pimp, this is what he'd look like!"

Hawkwind Does Not, I Repeat, Does Not Endorse Pimping

-Bruno S. is a little too charming of a street performer for my taste. Aren't street performers supposed to be kind of shitty? That way when you drop a dollar in their guitar case, you can think "Man, how great could they be if they didn't have to perform on the street?" If you're charming and talented as Bruno is, with his xylophone and accordion, people on the street are going to think "Wow, he's good. I bet he makes a ton of money," and then not give him a cent.

-In a truly bizarre scene, Bruno meets with his former doctor from the asylum, who, after hearing of Bruno's troubles with Eva's two pimps, takes Bruno to the premature baby ward. There he shows him a small baby and illustrates its strong reflexes by sticking his finger out and letting the baby tug itself upright. Then the doctor picks up the baby by its legs and lets it hang there and cry, as if this is also supposed to be a profound, enlightening experience for Bruno. This is a difficult scene to watch especially because it's clear we're watching a very real premature child.

-After the three (Bruno, Eva, and Scheitz) move to Railroad Flats, Wisconsin (actually Plainview, Wisconsin), we meet Scheitz's "nephew" who may actually be someone he met in the Air Force. The only words the nephew knows in German are "the dog is loose" and he explains at least two or three times that the town is called Railroad Flats because of, you know, all the railroads. In one of the funniest scenes, the nephew does a bizarre dance/sex-simulation where each pelvic thrust is a coin. When he moves his right hip, he says "nickel," when he moves his left, he says "dime" and when he thrusts forward, he says "quarter." He keeps repeating it until it becomes a mantra: "nickel, dime, quarter, loose change, nickel, dime, quarter.."

Chapter 14: The Loose Change Technique

-Man, the guy from the bank who comes to take Bruno's house looks like Stephen Merchant from the British Office and Extras. It's just...uncanny.

-When the bank forecloses on Bruno's house, Scheitz grabs a shotgun and declares that he'll kill everyone involved with the conspiracy to take his home away. The two drive downtown to the bank, but when they find it's closed, they rob a haircut place instead. Scheitz berates the barber, shouting "I know you're in on it too!" As disturbing as this sounds, there is something so hilarious about a small German man with a shotgun ranting about a conspiracy against him that I almost hoped the rest of the movie was just going to be Bruno and Scheitz riding around robbing people, while Scheitz screamed about the vast machinations of the conspiracy against him.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Ol' Fred Krueger: Watching Nightmare on Elm Street

Since I'm incapable of writing two or three essays a week about movies, I think I'm going to switch to the far easier bullet point format. Enjoy.

-In the movie's first nightmare, as Fred Krueger chases Tina through a boiler room, a lone sheep appears, running down a hallway and bleating its little head off. I know Krueger is a sick man and all, but you've got to be pretty perverted to keep sheep around just to watch them run terrified through a dark and humid boiler room. Regardless, sheep bleating is incredibly creepy, and thus should be featured wherever creepiness is absent.

- When ne'er-do-well Rod runs into Tina on the way to school with her friends, he tells her "I had a hard-on last night with your name on it." You've got to love a line that stupid, as well as the fact that it's spoken by a character named Rod.

-You can see even in the first movie how lame of a character Freddy Krueger was going to become. All it was going to take was some idiot screenwriter or producer watching the first movie and thinking "That Freddy...He's the real movie. Let's give him some quips and catchphrases." And in that tragic moment was born the seed that would become Freddy vs. Jason.

-Nothing spells action like John Saxon:

"You might remember me from such films as Cannibal Apocalypse..."
-When Krueger kills Tina in her dream, we see her stomach cut open and her body dragged to the top of the ceiling, leaving blood all over. Since Rod was the only one in the room with her, he's the only and obvious suspect. However, forensically, shit just don't make sense. If you stab someone to death in their bed, blood is not going to end up on the ceiling. Life is not a samurai movie; when stabbed, people don't let out a geyser of blood. The Springwood CSI unit has a lot of explaining to do..

-You've got to love the spunk of kids from 80s horror movies. When they hear weird sounds or see pools of blood, they don't hesitate--they investigate. Sure, they're doubling their chances of getting brutally killed, but they'll be just kicking themselves for days if they don't find out where that horrible, horrible sound is coming from.

-After Rod is killed in his jail cell (Freddy makes it look like he hung himself), Nancy's mother takes her to one of the crappiest sleep clinics in the nation. Not only does their sleep-monitoring program look like accounting software, but when Nancy wakes up from her dream with cuts on her arm and Freddy's hat, the only conclusion they can come to is that she's nuts. Hey, guys, when she got into bed did she have a brown fedora with her? No? Then where did it come from? It's kind of hard to hide one of those in a hospital gown. I bet a bunch of of the doctors got a drink after work and just kept repeating "A brown fedora hat? I mean, what the fuck?.... I mean, seriously, what the fuck?"

-Nancy's alcoholic mom's drink of choice: Bacardi, baby!

Destroying lives since 1862
-When Johnny Depp's mom asks him what he's watching on TV, he tells her "Miss Nude USA." Excuse me, but no such pageant exists. And if it did, it would be lucky to last a half an hour, what with no evening gown or swimsuit competitions. Let's all be good people and not imagine the talent portion of the show..

-Seeing Johnny Depp's bed eat him, his television, and his tape player, and then spew out a giant geyser of blood a few seconds later is so awesome it hurts. Screw a sunset, that's the true definition of the sublime.

-Why does Krueger's sweater go from red and green to red and black? Because I have a perfectly good red and black sweater that might not have been ruined had the movie stuck to its original color scheme. Now I have to be the jerk who says "Freddy Krueger's original sweater was red and green" every time someone refers to my sweater as "the Freddy Krueger sweater."