Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Ole Switcheroo - Volume 0000002

This time around, El Yacht threw Jean Cocteau's Beauty & The Beast at Appaulled, knocking him straight on his ass. Appaulled jammed Fires on the Plain by Kon Ichikawa into a spud gun and fired it directly at El Yacht's cranium. Here's what each wrote about the experience in the emergency waiting room.

The Fires on the Plain caused this Reviewer much Pain in the Brain.

Like enjoying my annual drunken sob-fest while viewing Gone With The Wind, war films are generally a treat I save for the holiday season. Do they make me feel grateful for not having to endure such hardships? Or are there simply a lot of yuletide films with Nazis in them? Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, indeed. Fiddle-dee-dee! Needless to say that viewing Kon Ichikawa's grueling 1959 masterpiece Fires On The Plain has thrown my seasonal cycle totally out of whack.

The Philippine Front. February 1945. Small bands of Japanese soldiers struggle desperately to survive against the Americans, unforgiving terrain, and each other. Opening with a sound bitch-slap the intense action rarely lets up; but despite the bombast of war, the film possesses extraordinary use of silence. Our protagonist explores a deserted village looking for supplies; shares a moment with a lonely ant; follows the beacon of a silver cross only to discover a maelstrom of twist ed corpses at its feet. An endless parade through rain and muck where the smallest obstacle can mean certain death. A chain of soldiers pathetically trying on the same pair of souless boots is especially poignant. I can't list all of the moments of artfully choreographed torture on display, but rest assured it finally involves cannibalism - both voluntary and otherwise.

It's remarkable that this was produced a mere six years after the actual events. Ichikawa's views and austere visuals anticipate a furrow that would later be richly ploughed be Herzog and Tarkovsky. He effortlessly establishes how easily relatively small things can attain immense importance during war. Are they guerillas making smoke signals? Depleted artillery? Famers burning corn husks? What's all the fuss? They're just fires on the plain.
-El Yacht

Booty & Da Beast

As El Yacht presented me with my next movie mission, I squawked out my excitement like a frat house mascot cockatoo who’s just been informed it’s his turn to do a rail off the ass of a hammered freshman. Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast has long been another of those “Why the hell have I not seen this?!” films. No disrespect to Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman, but something told me this would be the best version of the fairy tale to go with since none of the others were exactly screaming my name. Well, unless there’s an adaptation somewhere out there starring Weng Weng as the Beauty and Klaus Kinski as the Beast.

The film kicks off with a simple yet clever title sequence before a meet and greet with two super self-absorbed, evil sisters. Adelaide and Felicie revel in crushing the body and soul of sweetie pie third sister Belle. These are the type of bitches who would step over the flailing bodies of suicide bombing victims and only offer to assist the dying with heaps of sputum and fashion critiques. Their father has recently lost his profitable shipping business. While the family sets sail into the storm of poverty, Adelaide and Felicie continue to spend the family’s remaining money on shit like diamond covered water wings and designer nose plugs. Avenant, a friend of fourth sibling Ludovic, wants to tap him some a’ dat Belle ass and marry her up, but Belle ain’t down wit dat pliznan. He’s a scoundrel zero, she wants to get wit a hero!

Chasing down a lead that could put the family back in the high life again, Pops heads out with a skip in his step sensing he’ll be rolling in coke and hookers again very soon. When asked what gift she would like him to return with, darling Belle requests only a simple rose. Bad choice, girlfriend. The only one with a thumb green enough to grow roses in this neck of the woods is Da Muthafuckin’ Beast and the price for stealing one is… well, watch the goddamn movie!

Cocteau is a Sir Reel of the surreal and he knits one hell of a gothic yarn. (Let us not forget the co-director [un]credit of one Rene Clement - mad props.) Human body parts are designed right into the sets and creepy reverse shots work to excellent effect. The star of the show though is without a doubt, The Beast. He is so sinister and genuinely eerie he could make even the most grim black metal fan drop his bullet belt and run for the hills. His make-up would be amazing if it appeared in film form today, but simply spectacular for 1946.

Other highlights include a rather pleasant shot of Belle’s ample cleave - pretty risqué for a film from this time period (Mmwaaahh, the French!) and the absolutely choice line “May the devil himself splatter you with dung.”


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