Archive for the ‘Shock Treatment’ Category

3 Mini-Reviews

April 4, 2006

What, you were expecting FIVE? Being locked down to five is like being locked down to logic – it gets stale after a while. Besides, you create the Law Of Fives yourself; but surely you knew that already – right?

I had been trying to write reviews for a few movies recently, and seem to keep stalling – so, I have decided to write up all three in smaller formats.

Each of these films deals with varying levels of reality, a subject I am most fascinated with. If you view any of these movies (or have viewed in the past) and either agree with me, or disagree with me, please leave some comments, I would be interested to read what you have to say.

For simplicity I am going to present the reviews in chronological order:

1) THREE WOMEN (1977) Shelly Duvall, Sissy Spacek – Obviously influenced by Bergman’s “Persona” this Robert Altman film is a strange and disturbing look at what makes up identity, and the nature of extreme loneliness. Sissy Spacek plays Pink, a young woman who has just moved to the small desert town, and gets a job taking care of old people. She is trained on the job by Millie (Shelly Duvall) who is obsessed with dating, magazines, and recipes which are filed by how long they take to cook. Pink’s name is also Mildred, and soon she begins to idolize Millie, for reasons unknown. At a critical point midway through the film the two seem to switch identities, as confusing for Millie as it is for us. From there, the film only grows more bizarre, and to reveal any more about the plot would be criminal. This film would be interesting to watch back to back with Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive”

2) SHOCK TREATMENT (1981) Jessica Harper, Cliff DeYoung – Originally intended as a sequel to “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”, this film is much more bizarre, and to me is much more interesting. Whereas “Rocky Horror” was a standard musical-play-to-musical-film, Shock Treatment is entirely its own creation, and could only exist as a film. In this film everyone lives inside the television studio including stars, staff, executives, even the audience. Brad and Janet Majors are contestants on a game show, and when the prize end up being Brad trucked off to the local soap opera mental hospital all notions of reality are thrown out the window. People talk to the doctors and nurses both as if they are indeed actors, but also as if they were actual doctors and nurses. A comment about how all we care about now is celebrity and television? A comment that our lives are full of enough drama without television? Possibly both. On top of all these levels of confusion and insanity the actors speak to each other in riddles and cryptic one-liners giving the feeling none of the characters are actually speaking to each other, just speaking. I love this movie.

3) ANGUISH (1987) Zelda Rubenstein, Michael Lerner – I only saw this film recently, but it is fantastic. Levels of reality are the main theme of this film, as it first hooks you in with the story of a man who is constantly hypnotized by his strange mother to kill people and collect their eyeballs, then shifts the level of reality to two teenage girls sitting in a movie theatre watching what we had been witnessing up on the screen. As the hypnotized son begins to murder people in a movie theatre something strangely similar starts to transpire in the theatre with the two teenage girls. Toward the end we get a hint of another level of reality intruding. Strange, disturbing, and genuinely original. To watch this film in a theatre full of people would place it in yet another level of reality.