Sunday, June 10, 2012

Being Brood Bride

Three more films for your delectation this time ... and all fairly different in their own right.

First up is Spike Jonez's brilliant Being John Malkovich. It's the sort of film that you watch wondering whether it was written because the actor John Malkovich wanted to be in it, or whether it was written with an eye on 'insert generic actor name here' ... so it could have been Being Christopher Lee or Being Sylvester McCoy, depending on which actor eventually said 'Yes'.

The plot is nothing but insane. Craig Schwartz, an out of work puppeteer (John Cusack), goes for a job as a filing clerk in an office which exists on floor 7 and a half - the ceiling is all half height so everyone has to crouch and bend all the time when not sitting. His wife Lotte (Cameron Diaz) is obsessed with pets, and their relationship is going nowhere so he tries to start something with another office worker called Maxine (Catherine Keener). Then he discovers a strange small door behind one of the file cabinets, and entering the tunnel beyond, discovers that it leads to the brain of the actor John Malkovich, where he can watch what John is doing for 15 minutes before being deposited on the New Jersey Turnpike.

Craig realises that he can make money with this, and so sells the chance to be John Malkovich for $200 a go to anyone who wants the thrill. Lotte goes through, and Maxine finds that she is attracted to John, but only when Lotte is in his head ... so Craig decides to pretend to be Lotte and takes control of John ...

Craig/Malkovich ends up making a new career as a puppeteer with new wife Maxine ... but of course happiness never lasts forever.

This is a crazy film with a mad concept at it's heart, but I love it. At one point John Malkovich goes into his own head and finds himself in a world totally populated with John Malkoviches (even the babies and animals have his face) and they all speak a language comprised of just one word - 'Malkovich'! You honestly couldn't make this up, and I am in awe of the writer Charlie Kaufman for coming up with such a surreal concept and making it work!

It's one to watch several times I feel ...

I'd never seen the next film, The Bride, which is odd as I tended to catch most of the horror in the '80s. This is a working of the Frankenstein story and stars Sting (yes, him off of The Police) as the misguided Doctor, and Jennifer Beals (her off of Flashdance) as the Bride.

There's some great performances in the film, most notably from Clancy Brown (The Kurgan in Highlander) as the Creature who forms a partnership with David Rappaport, ending up as a circus double act. This forms the core of the film, and is a lovely partnering with brilliant work from both actors.

There is pathos and humour throughout, and it's very well made. Sting is excellent also, bringing a lot of humanity to the role of the hapless creator. It's not what I'd describe as a masterpiece, but it's watchable and interesting.

Finally, a film which I first saw as a preview showing back in the day, with director David Cronenberg in attendance to answer questions afterwards. I'd not seen it since then, but The Brood still holds a certain fascination.

Oliver Reed plays a psychiatrist who specialises in illnesses of the mind - encouraging his patients to externalise their rage and confusion. Enter Frank Carveth (Art Hindle) whose wife Nola (Samantha Eggar) is ill and in therapy.  As the story progresses so a series of attacks by strangely deformed children increases, and of course we know that these things are all somehow connected.

Eggar gives a chillingly believable portrayal of a woman on the brink, and Reed is great as the cold and clinical pyschiatrist. The deaths are nasty, and there's elements of the alleged children in Don't Look Now and Communion (aka Alice, Sweet Alice) in the yellow raincoats worn by the killers.

It's a creepy film, somewhat let down by the ending, which fails to really tie up all the loose ends, and leaves you feeling a little dissatisfied. Overall though, it's a good slice of early Cronenberg - made after Rabid, and when the director was given more money to play with!

1 comment:

Paul said...

Hi David, I watched The Bride a very long time ago and it's a vastly under-rated film I think. Never watched BJM but always meant to.