Irreversible

Luis Bunuel once claimed that he kept rocks in his pockets during the first screening of Un Chien Andalou in case the crowd didn’t like what it saw. Whether or not that’s actually true, the audience reaction was never so bad that it came to violence. Apparently cutting open an eyeball wasn’t a real biggie in the 1920s. Of course, none of that changes how ridiculously hard that short film is to watch. It’s grotesque, nauseating, and a great starting point for decades of filmmakers continuing to make audiences freak the hell out. That grand tradition was continued with a second fainting at a screening of V/H/S and it’s a tradition we’d like to celebrate with 8 movies that caused some strong physical reactions.

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Horror director Larry Cohen has a number of memorable movies under his belt. He’s the guy responsible for cult movies like Black Caesar, It’s Alive, and the other, other werewolf movie from 1981 Full Moon High. But it’s his 1976 film God Told Me To, a movie about a series of murders committed by people who say they are following the instructions of God, that looks like it’s up for a remake. Who is trying to get their hands on the rights to a movie that deals with murder and religion like that? It’s best to let the story play out in the same words it did in a recent issue of Film Comment: “The 70-year-old Cohen mentioned that he had just come from a meeting with an interesting young Frenchman who was seeking the rights to remake God Told Me To. ‘What’s his name?’ inquired the staffer. ‘I don’t remember, but he gave me some DVDs of his films.’ The director rummaged in a bag and produced copies of Irreversible and Enter the Void.” That’s right, not only did a 70-year-old man not realize he was talking to Gaspar Noé, he now has been given copies of both Irreversible and Enter the Void, which he will watch with seemingly having no idea what to expect out of them. This story makes me smile. I hope that Cohen still has a strong love for the grotesque living inside of him.

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As many fellow conflicted yet faithful Netflix subscribers know, last week marked the beginning of the separation of Instant and disc-only memberships. I had been trying to whittle down my streaming queue for a few months, but we all know that is a nearly impossible task with that devilish recommendation list appearing every time you go to the site’s homepage. Suffice it to say, my queue had actually grown since the announcement, making the budgeting decision for me. One of the films at the top of my queue was 2010’s long-awaited gay love story I love You Phillip Morris starring the forever not-sexy Jim Carrey and the always delicious Ewan McGregor as two convicts head-over-heels in love with each other. I could spend an entire column writing about this rapid, surprisingly honest and tender romance sprinkled with deception and humor, however my greatest take away from this man on man sexiness was the unexpectedly hot chemistry (and subsequent love scenes) between Carrey and McGregor.

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It started with a conversation I was having with my friend Robert about Salo. You’d be surprised how many ideas for articles arise from discussing this film. Not so many dinner plans, though. Makes sense for a film subtitled 120 Days of Sodom. Anyway, being avid film lovers, we agreed Salo was a film we were glad we had seen despite the inability to ever be able to “unwatch” it. We love film, and we love the notion we could sit through and appreciate a movie like Salo despite the graphic imagery therein. This spiraled the conversation into other films that our desensitized minds could handle, films we could observe from a film-lover or even a critical perspective even though they had imagery that could not be unseen. An hour later, we had disgusted ourselves to the point of seppuku, we went our merry separate ways, but a lingering idea was stuck in my head. Amidst all the onerous images I had conjured back into my mind from years and years of watching whatever whenever, a nugget of a question remained. It was basically this: As a film connoisseur, can you desensitize yourself for the sake of cinematic appreciation?

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Enter the Void

We all know that film is a collaborative medium, but some films give the impression of such a strong singular vision as if the work itself were simply the direct projection of the director’s imagination onto the screen, with all the ease of such a vision achieved that my statement implies. With respect to Gaspar Noe’s Enter the Void, by “ease” I mean that the film is as much of a technical accomplishment as it is artistically ambitious.

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cultwarrior_decadeinreview

This week’s Culture Warrior gives an exhaustive review of the decade that you won’t find anywhere else on the Interwebs.

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culturewarrior-hunger

This week, Landon looks at Hunger and asks why we watch movies that are hard to watch.

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A wise man once said, “French films are… too French.” For those who agree, here’s a list of eleven French films that will make you want to break out your DVD player’s poor, neglected subtitle option.

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