Thursday, February 7, 2019

Thursday Movie Picks - Revenge

Written as part of the weekly blogathon hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves. Join in the fun by picking three movies that fit the week's theme and writing a bit about them!

Something horrible has happened to you. Someone has betrayed you, double-crossed you, committed an act of unspeakable violence against you and/or your family. You drag yourself out of the mud, effortfully pull yourself to your feet, raise your fists to the sky, and devote the rest of your waking hours in the pursuit of the one thing you yell to the heavens:

REVENGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Or, at least, that's what characters in these movies did. I don't know anything about it myself. I SWEAR.

Kill Bill (Quentin Tarantino, 2003-2004) In the words of Uma Thurman's Bride: "Looked dead, didn't I? But I wasn't. But it wasn't from lack of trying, I can tell you that. Actually, Bill's last bullet put me in a coma. A coma I was to lie in for four years. When I woke up, I went on what the movie advertisements refer to as a 'roaring rampage of revenge.' I roared. And I rampaged. And I got bloody satisfaction. I've killed a hell of a lot of people to get to this point, but I have only one more. The last one. The one I'm driving to right now. The only one left. And when I arrive at my destination, I am gonna KILL BILL." Very few movies make me as giddy from sheer movie-making bravura as Part One of Tarantino's revenge fantasia. If Part Two suffers a bit in comparison, that's only because it focuses more on the characters involved than the action. I still long to see the "Whole Bloody Affair" cut that fuses the two parts into one whole, but it looks like we'll never get it.

Irréversible (Gaspar Noé, 2002) A tale of revenge spun backward: We first see a man getting arrested for killing the wrong man, then watch him brutally beat that man to death, and then slowly learn why. Irréversible is a notoriously difficult film to watch, partially because of the sickening camera swoops and swirls that send the film careening backward in time, and partially because of one particular scene that occurs at the midway point of the film, wherein the murderer's girlfriend (played by the gorgeous Monica Bellucci) gets brutally raped and beaten to within an inch of her life in one unbroken nine-minute shot. This is sick-making cinema, and very much on purpose: There is a background noise with a frequency of 28 Hz (low frequency, almost inaudible), which causes nausea, sickness and vertigo, playing for the first thirty minutes of the film. If you can make it through, Irréversible is a unforgettable cinematic experience with fantastic performances and stunning, inventive camera work.

The Virgin Spring (Ingmar Bergman, 1960) Adapted from a 13th Century Swedish ballad, Bergman's masterpiece was the basis for Wes Craven's notorious The Last House on the Left, although the two films couldn't be more different. Bergman's film is, unsurprisingly, focused on the spiritual aspects of the story, and the revenge-seeker's quest not just for revenge, but acceptance in the eyes of God. Max von Sydow gives a typically brilliant performance, but in some ways, this film is almost as difficult to watch as Irréversible - just in a very different, internalized way.

14 comments:

  1. We match on Kill Bill! I don't do rape/revenge so I haven't seen the other two. I couldn't stomach the 1 minute clip I saw from Irreversible in the Indie Sex doc on IFC.

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    1. Yeah, Irreversible is NOT for the faint of heart.

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  2. Kill Bill looks to be the title of the week but I have to be honest I wasn't crazy about the first film so I never bothered with the second. Uma was kickin' it though.

    I'm unfamiliar with your second and I haven't worked my way to The Virgin Spring in Bergman's filmography. I have Through a Glass Darkly recorded and waiting to watch and I can only take so much Ingmar at one time. All that angst!!

    I went straight to noirish titles this week since revenge is so much of its leif motif.

    No Way Out (1950)-Shot during a robbery lowlife criminal Ray Biddle (Richard Widmark) and his brother Johnny are cared for by young black doctor Luther Brooks (Sidney Poitier) at the local hospital. Ray, a virulent bigot, protests loudly and when Johnny dies on the operating table (from an undiagnosed brain tumor) Ray becomes convinced it was murder and swears revenge. In frustration Luther and his mentor Dr. Wharton (Stephen McNally) turn to Johnny’s ex-wife Edie (Linda Darnell) to try and convince Ray of the truth. But despite being jailed Ray sends messages via another brother, the mute George (Harry Bellaver), to his gang and manages to incite the denizens of his ghetto-Beaver Canal-to attack the neighboring black community. Escaping Ray hunts Luther down leading to a nail biting face-off. Poitier’s first film, he’s good if a bit tentative, and overshadowed by Widmark and Linda Darnell both of whom give award level performances. Director Joseph Mankiewicz lead up to All About Eve is a brutal unfortunately still timely film about racial tensions.

    Act of Violence (1949)-Frank Enley (Van Heflin) is regarded as a war hero in his small California town where he lives with his wife Edith (Janet Leigh) and young daughter but one day Joe Parkson (Robert Ryan) appears hell-bent on revenge and Frank’s life starts to spiral out of control. The truth is that Frank aided the Nazis during his interment leading to a thwarting of Joe’s escape and a crippling injury as well as the death of several others. Now Joe plans a deadly vindication. Tough, bleak noir.

    Marked Woman (1937) - Mary Dwight (Bette Davis) and her four compatriots-Gabby, Estelle, Florrie and Emmy Lou-work as “hostesses” in a Manhattan nightclub that’s just been converted into a clip joint run by mob boss Johnny Vanning (Eduardo Ciannelli). Shortly afterwards they are pulled in by the crusading DA (Humphrey Bogart) and Mary takes the fall with assurances from Vanning that he will take care of her. But things go wrong and Mary’s innocent sister Betty is pulled into the web and ends up dead. When Vanning tries to weasel out of responsibility Mary tells him that she’ll get her revenge “Even if I have to crawl back from my grave to do it!” In response his thugs disfigure her making her the Marked Woman of the title which only strengthens her resolve to even the score.

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    1. AGREED about Bergman - can only take so much of him at a time! Through a Glass Darkly is quite intense in moments. Who knew those Swedes were so angsty? lol

      The only one of these I've heard of is No Way Out, which has been on my list for a long time. Marked Woman is DEFINITELY going on the list for Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart together.

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  3. Wow.... Irreversible.... I own that film on DVD. Fucking hell, that's a film I never want to see again. Too intense for me but then again, it's Gaspar Noe.

    We match with Kill Bill while I also loved The Virgin Spring.

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    1. Yeah, Irreversible is definitely in the same category as Requiem for a Dream of great films that I will NEVER EVER watch again.

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  4. Wow, Irréversible sounds absolutely mental. I struggle with motion sickness so I'm not sure I'll ever make it to the end but it sounds like a crazy experience!

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    1. It's DEFINITELY an experience - and most definitely not for the faint of heart!

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  5. Irreversible is pure evil but I love Kill Bill! Lucy Liu and Daryl Hannah are LEGENDARY in that

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  6. I've only see Kill Bill and I love it.

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  7. So much love for Kill Bill this week, as well there should be. Great movies. Glad to see The Virgin Spring get a little love too. It's a bit slow, but also excellent. Irreversible is one of those movies I haven't seen, but have heard lots about. I've heard enough to know that I'm going to have to work myself up to it before actually watching it.

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  8. I don’t think I will ever see Irreversible because I am not into a o minute rape scene shown I a film which is meant as entertainment. I have to see Kill Bill still and have the DVD but haven’t yet and it seems to be popular this week. I still have to see this Ingmar Bergman film. Poor Max looks full of angst yet again.

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    1. For what it's worth, I don't think Irreversible is meant as entertainment - it's meant as a provocation. And it's an effective one.

      Max is the KING of Swedish angst lol.

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