Posted on Friday, June 8th, 2012 by Jordan Hoffman
Eros(2004); Wong Kar-Wai, Steven Soderbergh, Michelangelo Antonioni, directors.
Eros: The Greek god of Love. The Roman version is Cupid. You’ve heard of him.
Another omnibus film. Unlike New York Stories which has two great chapters and one awful one, this one has three that are all pretty cool in completely different ways.
Wong Kar-Wai’s short is about a shy tailer who has been commissioned to create clothing for a prostitute. They talk and behave sexually in the moody way people do in WKW’s movies. If you liked In The Mood For Love this is like a little extra taste.
Soderbergh’s is a screwball one-act play therapy session between Robert Downey Jr. and Alan Arkin. It is hilarious and gorgeously shot in black & white. It even has a punchline and, now that I think about it, it is the funniest thing Soderbergh has ever done outside of Schizopolis. Fans of our greatest working trans-stylist really need to see this.
Antonioni, who was 91 when he made this, gets a pass on this one. It is such pretentious “foreign film” material that you can’t help but love it for being a parody of itself. First, a couple eat outside, then there is screwing, then there is naked dancing on the beach. It is absurd, but if you have a soft spot for mid-century European Art Cinema (and you should know by now that I do) you have to simply salute this as a swan song. I wanna be 91 telling busty, naked Luisa Ranieri and Regina Nemni what to do in the surf!
Dionysus in ’69 (1970); Brian De Palma, director.
Dionysus: Greek deity of wine, theater, ritual madness and ecstacy. Boo-ya!
I’ll confess another subgenre where I know I’m biased: New York-based late 60’s counter-culture films. (I don’t think there’s been one TBMYPHS that hasn’t included one.)
This time it is Brian De Palma bringing all of his split-screen documentary style to capture a theatrical adaptation of Euripides’ The Bacchae. The experimental theater troupe known as The Performance Group (which would introduce us, directly or indirectly, to people like William Finley, Spalding Gray, Sam Shepherd and Willem Dafoe) were among the first artistic explorers in New York’s SoHo district. At the time was made up primarily of soon-to-be-abandoned warehouses. Their main haunt was the Performing Garage (I’ve been there!) and it was as cool as it sounds.
Dionysus in ’69 is more of a time capsule than anything else. The show was quite radical in its interaction with the audience. That isn’t to say it wasn’t scripted, but, like a jazz performance, it made space for things to happen and no two shows were the same. De Palma shot two nights and the result is, indeed, quite far out.
You’ll never in a million years find a rental of this disc, however it is a legal stream – apparently the original Performance Group’s artistic director, Richard Schechner, is still kickin’ at 82 and teaching at New York University. As such, he’s distributed a video version through NYU. Using that as a green light, then, let me point you to a cleaner version of it here. Watch it and be the hippest person on your block.
The Cassandra Crossing (1976); George P. Cosmatos, director.
Cassandra: daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba, she was granted by Apollo the gift of prophesy. Unfortunately, she oftentimes saw bad things and, let’s face it, who wants to hear about bad things? As such, she had a hard time convincing anyone about the trouble she saw brewing, and was oftentimes dismissed as ancient Greece’s version of a Debbie Downer.
Disaster flicks! I love ‘em. While this one isn’t quite as good as The Swarm it comes close for its cheese to bloated all-star cast ratio.
Sofia Loren, Burt Lancaster, Richard Harris, Ingrid Thulin, O.J. Freakin’ Simpson, Lee Strasberg (!), Martin Sheen, Ava Gardner and more are all on a train, along with a terrorist and his biological weapon.
Everyone is sleeping with each other and being dramatic until it is time for heroics. Then they’re all dying in more and more complex ways. They don’t make ‘em like this anymore.
Tyrion Slaps Joffrey For 10 Minutes To Achilles Last Stand (2011), WesterosTales, director.
Achilles: Greek hero at Troy, star of “The Illiad,” dipped at birth by Thetis in the River Styx to make him immortal, though (whoopsie!) held at the heel, hence giving him an Achilles’ Heel.
I thought about wrapping up with Titan A.E. or the Rachel Weisz math-sploitation picture Agora, but then I looked at this video again. And I couldn’t stop.
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