Tetsuo: The Iron Man is a film that utterly escapes me when I try and put it into words, and for once, that does not come with a disclaimer that says that is a good thing. Considered a hallmark in the genre of cyberpunk, this Japanese release from the… “mind” of Shinya Tsukamoto struck me as really weird for the first ten minutes, and only got weirder from there. This is another interesting case of the lack of proofreading the book seems to have gone through; the book incongruously lists this film as a 1998 release, when it was actually made a decade earlier. I just wanted to make note of that before we continue.

I didn’t know what to initially expect from this one, other than it being in black and white, but little could I have foreseen what was to come, even from the film’s technical aspects. The film’s movement shots are all the ultimate in shaky-cam; you can barely comprehend what is taking place even when the camera is simply following a person from behind; not that the static shots are all that decipherable either. The sound effects and dialogue were very obviously done with foley work and overdubbing, which meant that I could never really be fully immersed in whatever world the film was presenting to me. With the extremely stark black-and-white chiaroscuro cinematography (think Pi, but even more saturated) and art-house influences in both the story and how it is presented, the whole thing feels like a student art project gone awry, and there were parts of the film that I watched that made me wonder how this got released at all, that a film producer watched a print of this film and said, “Yes, that is something I would want to spend the money to release to a wide theatrical audience.” Then again, all indications are that this was an underground release, but still, my point remains.

The film is so incomprehensible that it borders on the laughable; I should give additional thanks to Wikipedia and their plot summary for this film; otherwise, I would have had no idea whatsoever what was going on or what this one was about. The poster up there likens it to a weird Japanese 1970’s hybrid of David Cronenberg and David Lynch, and I think that’s spot on; the effects and the alternate reality that this film utilizes are so bizarre that Cronenberg would probably applaud, and so obscure that Lynch would nod his head in approval. The one thing I can say about Tetsuo is this: it is certainly an experience unlike anything you have ever seen before. Now, thankfully, I don’t have to experience it again, at least for some time.

Arbitrary Rating: 3/10

Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

Jeanne Dielman...

I'll see you next week.

Yes, this film has quite the obscure and balky title, and chances are great you have never heard of this outside this or other 1001 blogs. Nevertheless, this made it into the grand tome, so here we are, sitting with Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles having a fine cup of tea. Or several, as this film takes a while to, well, everything.

By 6 minutes in, I could’ve sworn I was 15 minutes in. By 15 minutes in, it felt like a half hour. By the 2 hour mark, my mind had completely broken and I had settled in, headed inexorably to the film’s conclusion, resigned to my fate that the film’s point would not let me go until it was over. It was the 3 hour mark when the film shook me awoke with its ending, then left me there to die in peace. The film details the minutiae of one woman’s tepid life, and by detail, I mean it shows the everyday of the woman’s life in complete real-time. No montages or cutting of the film for time allotment take place here; the film is over 3 hours, and wants you to feel every second of it. And that’s the point; the banality of the woman’s life completely consumes you as it is supposed to do, so by the time the ending comes along, you are as sullen and sunken as the main character. Truly, this film achieves its objectives far more completely than any other film I have ever seen, or even that I have yet to watch.

I can see why the art house crowd loved this film. It appeals to the artist inside you, the one who would forego entertainment in favor of making a statement with a fine piece of work. It is truly a work of art, because it cannot possibly be anything else. I, however, grade films by their entertainment value, and this to me was just a grand waste of film stock. People go to see films for escapism, not to see the everyday life they go to movies to escape from. This has no appeal whatsoever to anyone outside the art house, so if you’re on the fence about this one, please allow me to give you a hearty shove in one particular direction.

Arbitrary Rating: 3/10

Un Chien Andalou (An Andalusian Dog)


Un chen andalou

I’ll be honest: I have no idea what I just watched. The so-called film has no discernible plot, no tangible continuity, or anything resembling structure. All it is is a pastiche of various shots, each suggesting different motifs and ideas but otherwise have nothing to do with one another. I know that this is the whole point of surrealism, and I can give it points for that, but nothing else.

I suspect this is in the book solely for the shot of the razor cutting open the eye, and as an early work of Luis Bunuel and as a collaboration with the experimental painter Salvador Dali, but there’s really no other reason for this to be here. If you’re looking for a recommendation on this, I’m sorry to say you won’t be getting one.

Arbitrary Rating: 3/10