Monday, May 14, 2012

"Seul Contre Tous"(1998)d/Gaspar Noe

Argentinian-born, French-based director Gaspar Noe openly flirts with brilliance in his 1998 feature-length debut, shot in a combination of 16mm and CinemaScope and known internationally as 'I Stand Alone', a skeptical potrait of the futility and inner turmoils that an unemployed French horse butcher, portrayed by Phillipe Nahon, of "Haute Tension" fame, faces over several brutal days.Noe's lens captures a bleak northern French landscape wrought with poverty and desperation, while his abrupt cuts are like cinematic exclamation points for every statement he makes through the cynical, darkly humorous inner monologues of his lead's voice over.Some directors like to give you a punch in the guts while unveiling their vision to you, while others like Noe prefer to stomp you in the balls repeatedly, an especially effective method of purveying emotion.Though it may be all adrenaline rush and nostrils full o'victory when you're the one laying the boot, it's a humbling, reflexive experience when it's your bag getting pulverized, and a skillful artist like Noe gives you a bit of both here, while touching on sensitive issues like class warfare, immigration, incest, foot fetishes, knuckle-driven feticide, filicide, and suicide, and even giving you, the viewer, a William Castle-style warning card right before the shit hits the fan, so you can decide if that pipe cleaner you call a spinal column can handle what he's about to give you or if you're going to have to use that thirty seconds to flee to the concession stand like a weepy little mealy-mouthed girl with skinned knees.
"...I didn't pay ten francs just to get foot-titted, bitch."
Through some voice over narration and a montage of still photographs, we learn of our butcher's(Phillipe Nahon) disconsolate history, having been orphaned and turned out by a priest at an early age before landing in prison after having stabbed an innocent man for raping his autistic daughter, mistaking her first menstrual cycle for foul play, selling his butcher shop to a Muslim, and condemning her to a life in an institution in the same rueful swoop.While on lock down he engages in some man-on-man prison cellie action, and vows to maintain a selective memory of the experience once he's back on the outside.As if that didn't suck a big enough Hefty three-ply full o'dicks,  he inadvertently knocks up a highly unsexy barkeep upon gaining freedom, and is forced to move to the north of France with the expectant bo-hemoth and her mother on the promise that she'll buy him another butcher shop of his very own once they've relocated.Of course, she renegs on her word and sends him out on increasingly embarrassing job interviews, none of which pan out for our anti-hero.He eventually wigs out and wallops the parturient pig's pup-pouch repeatedly into a mitt-induced miscarriage before checking the fuck out like Keith Moon's Rolls in a Holiday Inn pool and getting his ass back to Paris, where his old buddies can help him out in ducking his criminal responsibility and getting back on his feet, while shacked up at the same flophouse where his institutionalized daughter was conceived years earlier.
Trente secondes? Sacre Bleu! Nous allons prendre nos cafés et cigarettes obtenir nos ânes dans le hall et le faire vite!
Of course, all of his former chums are currently more impoverished and destitute than he is, and he's forced to endure more fruitless interviews because of it, as the last of his money is wasted on drinks and junkie whores.His internal monologue becomes increasingly classist and racist, and after being denied work at a slaughterhouse he once did business with, he decides to kill the manager with a handgun he pilfered while fleeing the lethargic anchor he was married to.He plots the bourgeous boss' demise at the local watering hole, but gets kicked out after drunkenly puffing chests with the owner's son.Upon discovery that he's only got three bullets, he assigns each round to their respective recipient, one for the manager, one for his poor daughter, and the last for his own brainbox.After the whole nasty family reunion culminates in the father and daughter having sex in his room after lifting her from the home, him shooting her in the carotid artery and through the brain afterwards when the first bullet doesn't prove fatal quickly enough, finally shooting himself, before revealing that he'd been playing out the whole thing in his head, afterall.Overcome with the emotion of not committing a murder-suicide in a dirty room that he's behind on paying on, he begins to fondle his daughter and contemplates having sex with her her anyway, remarking to himself that the world only condemns their type of love because it is 'too pure'.Roll credits.
You've gone and spilled all the spaghetti sauce onto the shag carpet, you clumsy girl.
Definitely an impressive effort from Noe, and we'll certainly be checking out some of his other films here at the Wop as time passes on.From a technical standpoint, Alone would score one higher, with Noe's beautifully framed shots, dripping with despair, and inventive cuts, but I'm gonna go ahead and rate the film on enjoyability instead, and though I chuckled at some of the internal dialogue and grooved on the sporadic but shocking violence, it could have used a bit more of either or both to achieve glorious four Wop status.Kind of a polished-up, sleeker Combat Shock(1984) vibe going on, and that's not a bad thing to groove on once in a while, really, is it?Still, a depressingly nihilistic, incestuous, xenophobic, hateful, womb-wallopin' good time to be had by the whole effin' family, in my book.My kinda flick.See it, then watch it again once you've picked your mandible off the floor from the first screening.
Cancel 'The Ainsley Harriot Show' on me, will you, you bastards?!!?

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