Lucia Aniello’s Rough Night is what happens when you let five raucous friends cut loose during a destination bachelorette party in Miami. All the normal accoutrements are here: beachfront rental property, alcohol-fueled bar crawls, penis-shaped everythings, cocaine, a shredded male stripper, and involuntary manslaughter. Hmm, maybe things got out of hand somewhere . . .
Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is a satirical masterpiece. In this piece, we will discuss the germination of the great film and then detail how the director combines a serious camera (Part I), genuine but exaggerated characters (Part II), and a farcical tone (Part III) into one of the greatest condemnations of the military state of all time. Kubrick’s aim is simple: to subvert the grim seriousness of the Cold War by showcasing the absurdities that arise from taking concepts like “mutually assured destruction” and “nuclear deterrence” to their logical conclusions.
The fourth entry in Plot and Theme’s year-long look at the filmography of Stanley Kubrick. Check out all entries here.
In 1962, Stanley Kubrick adapted the Vladimir Nabokov novel Lolita for his sixth feature film. Though published only 7 years earlier, Nabokov’s novel was already reaching the status of a classic work due to its controversial subject matter, witty wordplay, and themes of erotic fantasy, hebephilia, and sexual predation. Working with Nabokov on the screenplay, Kubrick’s adaptation faithfully recreates the key aspects of the novel, capturing the sexuality, irony, and tragedy of a man who lusts after a prepubescent girl.
Still shackled by the Hayes Code, Lolita was thought to be unfilmable, and the director himself later expressed that had he known how severe the censors were going to be, he probably wouldn’t have bothered to adapt Lolita. Fortunately, he did.
Writer-director Nacho Vigalondo is no stranger to off-the-wall storytelling; Los cronocrímenes (Timecrimes) may be the best film featuring time-travel ever. In Colossal, Vigalonda tries his hand at a kaiju movie, but infuses it with his own style. Vigalondo exploits the genre for allegory and dark comedy, crafting an inventive exploration of indulgence, regret, and self-destruction – followed by attempts at self-improvement. The director has a deft command of his characters, abrupt shifts in mood and tone, and thematic allegory. The peculiarity of Colossal is a big part of its appeal, but it has far more to offer than its bizarre gimmick.
Paul Verhoeven’s Elle opens with a blank screen and the sickening sounds of sexual assault. The first image of the film is of a cat, casually witnessing the rape. Only after this introduction does Verhoeven confront the audience with the actual struggle: a man clad in dark clothing and a ski mask, dominating an older woman and having his way with her. Once he is gone, we’re introduced to Michèle Leblanc (Isabelle Huppert) wordlessly; she picks herself up, straightens her clothing, cleans up some broken glass, and then takes a bath. The blood floats up from between her legs to color the bubbles with a crimson wisp.
The Greasy Strangler might be what it feels like to go mad. The film is best described as a kind of John Waters fever dream (or maybe wet dream), that combines a penchant for bizarre sexuality with a tongue-in-cheek slasher film. The acting is purposely hammy, and each kill more absurd than the last. There are sequences that physically made me ill, and others that left me utterly befuddled. You can call it weird, disgusting, senseless, or even a fucking embarrassment of a film – but you can’t call it derivative or boring.