Tuesday, March 26, 2013

They're creepy and they're kooky

Stoker has got an incredible visual sense, obvious from the elegant minimalist credits sequence.  (An increasing number of Hollywood movies, of course, have no opening credits at all.)  It's a film where the story is more a matter of shots than of plot, but those shots are so graceful it kind of works.  The acting is mannered to the extreme.  If you've watched as many episodes of old B&W anthology shows like Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Boris Karloff Thriller as I have, Nicole Kidman's performance will ring a few bells.  (Actually you're about a half hour in before there's any indication this is taking place in the 21st century.)

[For context, a thumbnail description of the plot is as follows: A girl's father dies.  Her uncle she never knew about moves in, then starts working his seductive charm on both her mother and her.  With any experience of the genre you can fill in a lot of other things, but not all of it.]

The violence is  treated mainly as another element of the film's visual design.  And there are some troubling sexual undercurrents here as well.  Or at least there would be, if "undercurrents" weren't such a laughably inapt way to describe them.

In short I'd say that Stoker is the kind of movie that David Lynch has apparently retired from making.  That's true in the good sense and the bad.


numb said...

chan-wook park? if you haven't already, do check out 'oldboy', the second (& easily best) of his 'sympathy trilogy' movies. based on a manga (but, having read it, i think the movie's actually much better), it's that one-of-a-kind type movie experience that stays with you long, long after (whether you want it to or not :) )...

Ben said...

Oldboy is a movie I've been hearing about, and I'm planning to see it at my next opportunity. I don't really know what it's about yet, so I'll be going in fresh.

I think the library has the DVD. One movie I did take out from them recently was "Killing of a Chinese Bookie" by John Cassavetes. Interesting in that it made the life of a guy surrounded by beautiful naked women look bleak. The Coen brothers were probably making an in-joke reference to it when they cast Ben Gazzara in "The Big Lebowski."