Wednesday, September 9, 2009

cinema subversive

movies tell a story and try to get their point across in an efficient and timely manner. we watch them to learn, feel, or experience an emotion felt by the onscreen forces. some films are more powerful than others and go to extremes to get their message through with varying degrees of success. i am going to compare 2 movies that cannot be any more different: EDEN LAKE (2007), another entry into the ever expanding torture porn genre though this one is english so a warm welcome to the UK into the fray! the other film is ONE FOOT IN HEAVEN (1941), a religious melodrama starring fredric march. neither of these films are terribly remarkable or memorable but each have an interesting brand of subversion worth analyzing in light detail.

EDIT: torture porn refers to a genre of film that combines torture and horror in such a gory detail that it could be called porngraphy. the prime example of this type of film is eli roth's hostel.

eden lake concerns an attractive young english couple who go to place called 'eden lake' (come on, there is no way a place named eden lake but be anything other than horriffic. there is no screamville or terror lake FFS?) for a weekend of romance and an attempted marriage proposal. through a series of wacky mishaps, they end up on the shitlist of a local gang of teenagers led by a total lunatic. what follows is violence, capture, torture, escape, torture, blood, etc. what separated this from other attractive couples in trouble movies that came before it? well, if you saw funny games not much but if you didnt...


the guy (oh btw michael fassbender plays him) dies at the hands of the kids and the girl (didnt catch her name) tries to escape and ends up accidently in the house of the kids parents who at that point didnt know what their chitlins were up to. one of the kids dies and the parents take revenge on the girl after the kids make up a story. like funny games, there is no payoff and retribution for any of the characters. evil wins and that is the end of it. there isnt a glossy victory and justice is not served. and for that reason, the film is intentionally unsatisfying. also like funny games, the director suggests that the audience is watching to see people getting tortured, maimed, but eventually win against the bad guys. by making the ending so bleak, he is saying, 'you wanted torture. well, here is an implausible but unsatisfying ending ya sick fucks'

why subversive? because its giving the viewer an anti-torture porn movie in the shade of torture porn. get it? its a statement against violence that uses violence and takes away any glamour associated with the genre. pretty young girls are killed by ugly foul mouthed teens who get away with it. sub-v-sive? i think so.

the other film, ONE FOOT IN HEAVEN is subversive and obvious in nature. this is a big giant screaming film that smacks you in the smack and begs you to join the christian faith. plot is simple: a doctor to be is touched by the hand of god, leaves practice, and becomes a minister all in the course of an afternoon. his new wife of course joins him without a peep (ahhh olde time housewives). what follows is one hour and fifty minutes of how awesome christians are. the husband and wife never have quarrels or even interesting discussions like nick and nora in the thin man movies. this movies paints the christian religion as a be all and end all problem solver. the only person in town who doesnt go to church is the dentist who is an atheist but is quickly turned around by a miraculous sentence. i understand at the time it was made that people needed religion to turn to when the war loomed on the horizon though this was made before pearl harbor but i would have expected more from director irving rapper who did the outstanding now, voyager (with bette davis). this is a film that could have treated with dignity and respect (fred niblo's ben hur from 1925 did a great job!) perhaps they could have showed religion as something more than the ultimate placater. this is a film without conflict which is a shame. my father in law who is a minister thought this was ridiculous as well

why am i making such a big deal out of this movie and why did i even watch it in the first place? it was the new york times top 1000 films of all time and there is absolutely no reason this should be on there. however, i watched and noted it for its subversive material and got a blog entry out of it so there ya go. seriously, at this point the only reason im still on the new york times best of 1000 is to finish in its ridiculous mediocrity.