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THE STRANGE AND WONDERFUL

by Michael Brakemeyer

Created 07/13/12

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Such as life, the strange and wonderful moments are the most memorable. Few films can accurately or boldly try to capture those glimpses of life knocked off balance due to other people or unforseen events.

This list contains stories one can return to time and time again and pick up something new and undiscovered. A little mystery is always a good thing in telling a story. The list is bent toward more modern films, but only to illustrate how in spite of blockbuster Hollywood movies in recent years, these films still continue to delve into the dangerous magic and mystery of everyday existence.

  • The eyes and mind of a child can sometimes be decieving, but also very accurate. The mix of everyday magic and the harsh reality of life has never been better displayed than by Bergman's beautiful evocation of the twists and turns of our existence.

    Who can ever forget the boy hiding from his sibling underneath a massive table, looking out to see the ornamental displays in his drawing room come to life? Simple, but very effective of telling more about a character than 10 pages of dialogue.

  • Travis wears the road on his craggy face for all the world to see, if they so choose to look. Most people will ignore these shadow people walking along the street, but think of the stories they may have inside!

    The moment that really catapults this film is the "screaming man" sequence. "There is no safety zone!" screams the lone figure on a bridge over a vast highway of cars. The gentle touch of Travis onto the shoulder of this bent man in the end gives weight that everyone is worth something in this world. A magnificent scene in a film filled with quietly powerful moments.

  • Ingmar Bergman's statements about listening to the "voices" speaking to him throughout the house and outside the island gives one chills for all the right reasons. Truly worth watching simply for these scenes alone. It is at once strange, but very comforting to know that spirits surround us, guide us, and in Bergman's case, talk to us.

    Filmed late in his career, Bergman discusses his past with staggering moments of crystal clarity, mixed with his struggle with faith and fading life. The man made a lot of mistakes in his life, as he admits on camera, but waxes so poetically of the everyday magic that is around us.

  • One cannot simply call this an Alice In Wonderland in the future. Malle was bravely trying to aim for something, or everything, in this bleak, weird, and beautiful film. Watching this twice over, the story or meaning(s) are still an elusive mystery.

    It would be a treat to see any behind the scenes footage of Malle composing/directing these actors on this remote looking location. Think of the discussions they must have had before shooting some of these scenes! The talking unicorn would be the highlight!

  • One cannot get any more "weirdo" than Cronenberg in this cult masterpiece. Mystery and strange moments are the name of the game with this sordid tale, but when put together in a context of what is man's next evolutionary step...it all weirdly makes sense.

    This is Cronenberg set loose and taking bold chances with storyline and context. He even admitted that there wasn't a finished script during the entire shooting schedule! Cronenberg following his instincts and pushing the artistic envelope are the two prime reasons to see Videodrome in all its lurid glory.

    Repeated viewings reinforce this idea that Cronenberg is indeed searching for "the next step" in mankind. Is the "new flesh" a consciousness that no longer requires a physical body? Or am I, the viewer, seeing too much in such a convoluted and gory mess? See past the sometimes B-movie trappings and discover for yourself.

  • The absolute silence and, at first, weirdly disjointed scenes soon take on a hypnotic quality upon repeated viewings. Talk about mystery; this whole film is a mystery that no one seems to have unraveled. Weir captures a time and a place, but gives no clues. What happened...or did anything really happen?

    Those sunny shots of the picnic somehow have such a dark cloud of doom over them. How did Weir acheive that astounding feat? This is one of those films to unlease on an unsuspecting friend and then gleefully let them try to explain what happened!

  • It is quite a haul to attempt to watch this epic straight through. The detail in image and sound is sometimes overwhelming at first viewing. Fassbinder rains down the entire social and political history of pre WWII Germany upon poor Franz Biberkopf. He has his faults to be sure, but he makes a serpentine path through the social underbelly that shows the quiet magic and dismal reality of life. The concluding chapter in Franz's saga is a bold, controversial ending that is a surreal unfolding of an entire man's questioning life. One cannot think of another such ambitious undertaking that can mix all the strange and wonderful things in life like Fassbinder does in this film.

  • At first viewing Alex Cox's best film since "Repo Man", the modern day flourishes just didn't fit in with the story of William Walker and his grab for power in Central America. After time, it seems that Cox couldn't have shot it any other way to be true to himself. The performances range from wacko (Peter Boyle) to affecting (Sy Richardson). A particular example of a strange and wonderful moment comes at the heels of a bloody retreat by Walker's men into a church. Stretched out onto the altar, Walker and his surgeon work on a wounded man when Cox suddenly makes an insert shot to Walker himself pulling an organ out of the wounded man and eating it with a maniacal grin; thus making Walker literally feeding upon his own men to benefit his own glory and power! It is an unsettling moment and comes out of nowhere...but then, doesn't life come out of nowhere and slap us across the face at times?

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