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a blog from Eli the Bearded
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Rubber: all great films ... contain an important element of no reason

Rubber at IMDB

[first lines]

Lieutenant Chad: In the Steven Spielberg movie E.T., why is the alien brown? No reason. In Love Story, why do the two characters fall madly in love with each other? No reason. In Oliver Stone's JFK, why is the President suddenly assassinated by some stranger? No reason. In the excellent Chain Saw Massacre by Tobe Hooper, why don't we ever see the characters go to the bathroom or wash their hands like people do in real life? Absolutely no reason. Worse, in The Pianist by Polanski, how come this guy has to hide and live like a bum when he plays the piano so well? Once again the answer is, no reason. I could go on for hours with more examples. The list is endless. You probably never gave it a thought, but all great films, without exception, contain an important element of no reason. And you know why? Because life itself is filled with no reason. Why can't we see the air all around us? No reason. Why are we always thinking? No reason. Why do some people love sausages and other people hate sausages? No fucking reason.

Can you handle a film that celebrates "no fucking reason"? If not, skip Rubber. If so, if so, you still might have trouble with this. The film is a comedy-horror that features an explained "living tire" that blows up people's heads, Scanners style. There are strong hints that the story is a story within a story, for example there is an audience that starts to watch the action through binoculars, after the above intro, but never any explanation of anything who, why, or how.

It starts slow and weird and then moves into slow and atmospheric, then gets more enticing. It might seem hard to give a tire character, but the filmmakers succeed.

Let's call it 22PSI out of a recommended 32PSI.

Trailer: on Youtube

Scanners at IMDB

Final thought: the tire even comes across as male

Figures in a Landscape

This was Malcolm McDowell's second film role, and came before Clockwork Orange. He is the younger guy tagging along with Robert Shaw in a cross-country escape. What they did, who exactly they are fleeing from, and where they are headed is never made clear.

This might be the original black helicopter story. Much of the pursuit of these two escapees is followed by one such helicopter.

The story is revealed slowly, and all of the background we get comes from the characters talking, which they don't do a lot of. You get a real sense of these people being in danger, in a way that movies in the 70s seemed to do better than today: you get the sense that the actors themselves are in at least some danger.

One early scene has the black helicopter attack these two guys by flying low, driving up dust and rocks to fly at them, while they run around with their hands bound behind their backs. A couple of times it looks like the helicopter comes close to hitting the actor. Another sequence has the actors working close to flames in a burning field.

There were two things in this story that struck me as odd. One was a costuming choice on the soldiers at the very end, the other is more signficant. These two are pretty good at climbing, running, survial in general, but they can't manage to remove some ropes without a knife? They never found or thought of a sharp / rough rock to cut through them? Neither one can untie the other (working behind the back)?

Three unlabeled tins of food (square are meat, large are beans, and medium is condensed milk) out of five.

Figures in a Landscape at IMDB

A Clockwork Orange at IMDB

Final thought: on those final soldiers: those sunglasses? really?

Returning to fabliaux

Several years later I've gotten around to reading Liaisons Dangereuses, and like the fabliaux mentioned elsewhere in this thread, it doesn't meet modern definitions of "erotic" but it was not a waste of time. It seems a lot of the erotic reputation it has comes from the illustrations that were in many versions. There's a collection of them on Wikimedia's Commons, six of eight from a 1796 edition of the book:

Les Liaisons Dangereuses at wikimedia

A typical description of a night's intrigues is summarized as "And then she yielded everything to me." One of the subplots in Liaisons reminds me strongly of the fabliaux format.

Since my post three years ago, I've read some more fabliaux, and come up with a list of non-fabliaux titles for further reading:

  • Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles (1462 or earlier)
    An English translation at Gutenberg that I've looked at, but not read fully:
    One Hundred Merrie And Delightsome Stories, an 1899 English translation: at Gutenberg
    Like fabliaux, and like the inspiration for the original request, it seems to have stories of monks, etc, behaving badly.
  • Heptam√©ron (published 1558, ~20ish years after author's death)
  • Satyricon (Latin novel)
    A link, for which I have not read anything: at Gutenberg
  • The Golden Ass (Latin novel)
  • The Country Wife by Wycherley (1675 play)
  • Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (aka Fanny Hill, 1748)

(I found Satyricon today looking for Norman Lindsay books.)

The Cabin In The Woods (2011)

Asked to spoil The Cabin in the Woods someone wrote

Everybody dies.

I finally got around to watching this. "Everybody" means more than just the five teenagers. It ends with every character, from a large cast, save two, dead and the strong implication of end of humanity. It's a rather impressive ending.

(Those two: Guy on roof at beginning and the gas station attendent are not shown to have been killed yet.)

I watched it on DVD and watched the various special features. According to a Q&A with (Producer / Co-author) Wheedon and (Director / Co-author) Goddard stating that every creature shown at the end has a trigger item in the basement and inviting viewers to pause the DVDs to find them. I did not do that. The blood for the image outlines is explained to be generic sacraficial blood and not from the teenagers by Wheedon.

Well cast, nicely plays with the tropes of the genre, and finds a deeper unifying story. Although never answered (in film or in Q&A) is how the agency got started and how they know what they know about the ancient monsters.

Also "Apparently", the original release date was supposed to be about a month after the premiere of Tucker & Dale vs Evil, which is another good humorous take on dead-teenagers-in-a-backwoods-cabin film.

T & D at wikipedia The film premiered on 22 January 2010 at Sundance Film Festival

Cabin at wikipedia The Cabin in the Woods was slated for wide release on February 5, 2010

Final thought: and why have a "purge" button?