• Climax (2018)

    Caspar Noé's latest movie Climax is an experimental combination of a musical, drama and horror film.

    Climax is a musical because it revolves around a group of young French dancers who get prepared for their new show over the course of three days in an abandoned school building. The movie starts with interview sections as the different dancers talk about their motivations to join the group. The second scene shows the elaborate dance choreography. The third scene is the party after the last practice when you can see the characters dance to electronic music. The entire first quarter of the film focuses on dance moves and electronic music to portray how the characters express themselves artistically.

    The movie slowly shifts towards a drama. Someone has poisoned the sangria with LSD and the dancers start acting erratically, emotionally and aggressively. We observe a brother who overprotects his younger sister who is longing for more independence. We get to know that one of the female dancers is pregnant and she doesn't know who the father of her child could be. We come across a nervous mother who is desperately trying to protect her son from the dancers.

    The film ends as a horror movie as the situation escalates. Prejudice, rape and murder occur as the drugs bring out the worst in each and every single character. The film's second half and especially its final third are certainly hard to digest. This movie should only be watched by adults with an open mind and a strong stomach.

    The cinematography of the film needs to be pointed out. There are almost no cuts as the camera randomly follows characters throughout the fateful night which gives the movie a quite fluid vibe. The fact that the movie values music and movements over an actual plot or even dialogues is also particularly outstanding. The film starts with the credits, introduces chapters like silent movies used to do and the camera sometimes turns around to portray a world that has been shaken upside down.

    As nightmarish as the film might seem, Climax is actually based upon true events. Without pointing fingers, the movie certainly includes a lot of social criticism. It shows how partners, friends and even family members turn against each other once a drug has eliminated their self-control. The film also uses a lot of stereotypes that may be shocking at first contact but that turn out being more realistic that one might be willing to admit. It leads the viewers to question their societies and their values.

    In the end, Climax is a mindblowing experience unlike any other film. It's not easy to digest because of its explicit violence, thin plot and absence of dialogues but the aesthetic aspect, vibrant atmosphere and underlying messages pardon for its minor flaws. If you are an adult, have an open mind and strong stomach and like experimental cinema, this might become one of your very favourite movies.

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  • Best F(r)iends: Volume 2 (2018)

    Best F(r)iends: Volume 2 is quite different from the first volume and might actually surprise you a lot. The first film focuses on the difficult friendship between introverted drifter Jon Kortina and eccentric mortician Harvey Lewis who develop a scheme of selling gold fillings from the deceased's teeth to shady underground businessmen. This second movie tells us how the quiet drifter and his manipulative girlfriend leave the mortician for dead and try to run off with the money the scheme has made to start a new life in Colorado.

    This second volume has a much steadier pace than the first volume. This is due to the set of unusual characters the couple encounters on its strange road trip. The diversified locations also add some diversified entertainment. The final thirty minutes of the movie are very intense, come around with a series of intriguing plot twists and feature numerous deadly confrontations in breathtaking landscapes.

    Despite the differences between the two volumes, the weird tone, unexpected events and strange characters keep them together in a quiet coherent way. The ever-changing second volume itself is kept together by numerous surreal dream sequences that connect both volumes and give more background information about the two lead characters. It's certainly impossible to watch only one of the two volumes or to watch them separately over a longer period of time.

    This unique second volume is so intriguingly strange that it could be watched on several occasions in order to uncover more unsettling details and understand all its facets since some questions remain unanswered which gives the viewers some food for thought. This film has the potential to become a genuine cult movie while the first volume is rather an appropriate introduction to the madness that unfolds here. I would recommend the two volumes to fans of television shows with uniquely strange characters such as Fargo and Twin Peaks and obviously to anyone who has watched The Room even though these two volumes are much more clever, coherent and serious than you might expect. Grab a beer, invite a few friends and enjoy these two volumes to the fullest.

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  • Best F(r)iends: Volume 1 (2017)

    I had the chance to watch Best F(r)iends: Volume 1, Best F(r)iends: Volume 2 and The Room at Ottawa's famous Mayfair Theatre with Greg Sestero in attendance who would answer numerous questions about his latest project. The two volumes tell a story which is partially inspired by true events when Greg Sestero and Tommy Wiseau took a road trip many years ago. The two movies tell an epic story about betrayal, friendship, greed, love and trust but the two volumes are actually quite different. The first volume focuses on the growing friendship between the two main characters in Los Angeles while the second volume is an almost surreal road movie taking one of the lead actors and his girlfriend to Arizona.

    The plot focuses on lonesome and silent drifter Jon Kortina who has a shady past. He lives under a bridge and tries to get some money by walking through town with humorous signs. On his way through town, he comes across a mysterious hearse on several occasions. One day, the drifter observes how the driver of said hearse transports a coffin inside his mortuary. The mortician realizes he is being observed and spontaneously asks the drifter to help him out preparing bodies for their funerals. He later on introduces himself as Harvey Lewis, an eccentric loner who prepares masks to make the dead faces look beautiful. While the mortician is looking for a business partner and true friend, the drifter is only interested in stealing the gold fillings of the deceased's teeth to make money. One day, his conscience comes into play and he reveals his intentions to the mortician. The two start to get involved with shady underground businessmen and the more money they make the more risks they take. Things are getting even more complicated when Jon Kortina starts dating manipulative bartender Traci Walton who wants her boyfriend to take his share of the money and start a new life with her in Colorado.

    If you were expecting a sympathetic train wreck of a movie like The Room, you will be quite surprised by this film. This experimental movie is a mixture between a drama with sad undertones about two loners, a crime flick with sinister vibes and a dark comedy film with numerous awkward situations. The movie is told with calm, care and precision. It starts with slow pace but gradually gets more intense until the closing cliffhanger which is followed by a surreal preview of the second volume. The locations are quite intriguing and cleverly accentuated by calm camera work, light techniques and sound effects. Greg Sestero's acting performance is enjoyably minimalist while Tommy Wiseau's eccentric style perfectly fits the character he incarnates. The two actors complement each other perfectly. Despite being at times awkward, I would watch Tommy Wiseau's theatrical performance over any one-dimensional acting job by the terrible Dwayne Johnson. Despite the criticism he has faced, one can't deny that Tommy Wiseau puts all his passion into his projects and this is also the case here. A man who follows his dream no matter what like he does deserves respect. Greg Sestero's courage to create such a complex project and collaborate with the eccentric Tommy Wiseau also deserves recognition.

    In the end, I liked this movie for its unpredictable plot with numerous minor twists and turns, its unusual genre mixture that keeps the film interesting despite a slow pace and the surprisingly dynamic chemistry between an introverted Greg Sestero and an eccentric Tommy Wiseau. Fans of the aforementioned artists and those who like experimental art house cinema should give the two volumes a sincere try. I didn't have any expectations walking into this film and was positively surprised.

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  • Daniel the Wizard / Daniel der Zauberer (2004)

    The main reason why I watched this movie that is often described as one of the worst of all times is what appears to be Daniel Kublbock's tragic suicide that occured less than two weeks ago. The actor, businessman and musician jumped off a cruise ship into icy water and his body hasn't been recovered yet. Daniel Kublbock has always been a tragic character evoking both disgust and sympathy and who obviously had his share of mental struggles. His parents had wanted a daughter and separated in his early childhood. His mother was apparently an alcoholic who used to hit him sometimes while his relationship with his father was ambivalent. Daniel Kublbock auditioned for the first edition of a reality talent show when he was just seventeen years old. He wore androgynous clothes, appeared to be overtly emotional and had very dramatic, loud and unskilled vocals. Daniel Kublbock was looking for fame to find his own identity but refused to accept that he didn't have much talent and failed to understand that he was used by producers to have a clown in their show that people could make fun of. Againt all odds, many female teenagers pitied him or even saw themselves in this sympathetically confused being and made his songs and records more popular than anyone would have predicted. Daniel the Wizard was released at the height of his career. Instead of helping him find his fame and identity, the media attention had its share of negative impacts on him. Daniel Kublbock openly identified as bisexual, then admitted being homosexual and ended up claiming he was transgender shortly before his death. His physical appearance also shifted drastically as he looked quite androgynous as a teenager, then gave himself the look of a serious male businessman before adapting a feminine look with dresses and heavy makeup. His music also changed from anglophone pop rock music over Latin pop to a mixture of blues and jazz. Daniel Kublbock's fate is tragic because he never found his true identity and his erratic behaviour gave him a few moments of glory but also a few moments of resentment. Blaming those who bullied him because of his at times annoying behaviour is only partially accurate as his family, managers and friends should have helped him deal with his mental issues first instead of supporting him being watched by millions on television when he was still legally a child.

    Ironically, much of this torn character can also be found in this movie that mixes fantasy elements and documentary aspects. Daniel Kublbock is seen going completely crazy on stage at one moment and sitting thoughtfully in an isolated room in the next scene. The film portrays a young female teenager who admires the unique and different singer while male teenagers despise him for his erratic behaviour. This film actually shows us who Daniel Kublbock really was and how he was really perceived by society. These two elements alone make the movie bearable and justify a slightly generous rating.

    The rest of this film is a catastrophe. The plot is beyond ridiculous. The acting performances are stiff. The camera work is shaky. The sound is unsteady. The movie mostly consists of concert footage weirdly intertwined with poorly scripted fantasy elements. While other bad movies such as The Room show a certain degree of passion for filmmaking or are at least entertaining like Samurai Cop, Daniel the Wizard is neither passionate nor entertaining. Despite its short length of only eighty-one minutes, it feels incredibly stretched and could have been cut in half. The movie righteously sold very poorly but is today considered a cult flick because of its flaws. Honestly, those flaws are so amateurish that they aren't even worth discussing. Daniel the Wizard is only interesting to watch if you are intrigued by the lead actor's tragic fate. If you come here expecting hilarious entertainment, you have to looke elsewhere.

    Calling this film one of the worst ever made would be exaggerated. Describing Daniel the Wizard as unsuccessful low budget mash-up of random documentary elements and weird fantasy parts is more accurate. This movie is a sympathetic wreck. Such seemed to be the life of its lead character as well. May Daniel Kublbock rest in peace.

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  • Assassin's Revenge (2018)

    Stating that Assassin's Revenge is an odd movie is quite an understatement. I expected the film to be a trashy action b-movie starring actresses and actors whose best years are far behind them like Patrick Bergin and Bai Ling but I certainly wasn't prepared for such a weird experience. Despite its numerous flaws, the film managed to be so unique that it's ultimately still entertaining and a purchase I didn't regret.

    Assassin's Revenge is a title that doesn't make any sense in the first place as there is neither an assassin nor a credible tale of revenge. The movie tells the story of an old and disillusioned police officer who retires when his partner gets killed. Even though the protagonist had a secret relationship with his partner's wife, he suddenly seems to care about him now that he is dead. He decides to become a masked vigilante who arrests, chases and kills criminals at night. He doesn't have any specific powers or talents and is only guided by emotions and guts. The masked vigilante tries to arrest an influential serial killer who commits random acts of violence simply because he is a sadist. This psychopathic serial killer is responsible for the masked vigilante's colleague's death and protagonist and antagonist soon start provoking each other.

    The movie is extremely odd for numerous reasons. Large parts of the film are shot in black and white with a few coloured elements in form of blood. Assassin's Revenge basically looks like a very poor copy of the Sin City franchise. Numerous scenes include comic book stylistics that are used as a poor excuse to keep the film's budget as low as possible. Whenever there is an action scene, the real life sequences cut to comic book stylistics where limbs are torn and twisted in any possible way. The dialogues are often off camera and mostly focus on narrative parts. Sometimes two characters meet but instead of talking to each other, the dialogue takes place off camera or is simulated through long narrative monologues. The few actual dialogues are poorly scripted and quite simplistic. Our masked vigilante meets a woman who helped the serial killer escape and asks her if she helped the wanted criminal to which she replies that this is the case and that the masked vigilante should admit that he feels like having sexual intercourse with her. If this example seems odd to you, you can find plenty of this in this trainwreck.

    The worst offender however is the movie's ending. Without the credits, the film only has a length slightly above one hour but instead of offering a proper conclusion, there simply isn't any and the viewer is informed that this story will continue at a certain point. The story simply ends with the serial killer being on the loose again and the masked vigilante swearing to track him down. The movie concludes before it actually starts. It rather feels like the pilot episode to a series that might or might not see the light of day.

    Despite all these terrible elements, the movie is still somehow entertaining. The visual effects look stylish, the narrative style is quite original, the comic style action sequences are brutal, there are numerous cameos by more or less known trash flick legends, the soundtrack mixes ambient sounds, electronic music and rock tunes and the film certainly doesn't overstay its welcome which makes it easy to digest and somewhat entertaining.

    One has to wonder what the purpose of this unfinished low-budget film was. Even the genre isn't quite clear. It's like a fantasy movie without phantastic elements. It could be a science-fiction film without any science or common sense. Maybe it's a particularly mellow horror movie that just isn't scary at all. Perhaps it's a crime flick where the committed murders are so random that they become unimportant. Another theory is that this is an action film with most action scenes being shown through comic sequences or taking place off camera. I believe the man behind this project, director Richard Driscoll, doesn't even know what this movie is supposed to be himself. Maybe he just tries to be the next Tommy Wiseau.

    In the end, you will enjoy Assassin's Revenge if you look for an odd but original film that is all over the place which you can watch with your friends between Sharknado 5 and Titanic II. This movie actually has the potential to become a cult movie because it's so particularly odd. Only time will tell whether I predicted this movie's status before anyone else or whether this film will soon be forgotten.

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