Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Revisionist Male Images On Screen: Blaming The Victimizer

Resurrection Of A Bastard

Part Tarantino, part existential live action looney toons, Guido van Driel's adapted graphic novel Resurrection Of A Bastard puts a surreal twist on what might transpire if a mobster were to metaphorically walk in his victim's shows. And in this case specifically, a Netherlands neanderthal homicidally inclined enforcer stricken with a case of soft-hearted human empathy, following an act of attempted murder revenge by the family of one of his victims.

Yorick van Wageningen (the scary rapist in David Fincher's Dragon Tattoo) is Ronnie, the portly psychopathic designated bastard in question. A terrifying thug for hire in the employ of a loan shark for some reason named James Joyce, Ronnie beats to death a young mother who happens by, while he's in the act of creatively torturing a noncompliant debtor by extracting his eyeball with a vacuum cleaner, don't ask.

Following a near death experience when the mother's relative hunts him down and shoots the unrepentant macho miscreant in the neck, he emerges from the hospital as a new and improved Ronnie. And taken to watching snails mate for hours, when not into saving the life of his assailant on one occasion.

Meanwhile, there's a parallel story of young African immigrant Eduardo (Goua Robert Grovogui), who just wants to be a car mechanic with dreams of his own future garage. And doing his best to dodge a less than hospitable xenophobic Europe at the moment. Eventually the two differently alienated men end up in a tree together. Contemplating who knows what, but in any case distancing themselves physically and mystically from whatever pressures come to bear on men, no matter where they're from and how they got there. At least in movies.

The Critic

Move over Scientology. While veiled threats directed at film critics from Scientologist honchos if daring to approvingly review Alex Gibney's damning doc Going Clear, amounted to mere idle cease and desist tongue wagging, Argentine director Hernan Guerschuny's El Critico may be a different matter. Though couched as fiction, this buffoonish bittersweet backlash against film critics who can make or break a movie in a case of the pen being way mightier than a sword, is a none too subtle swipe at those wielding such potentially damaging power. And incredulously as often seemingly whimsical afterthought.

Rafael Spregelburd is Victor, the prominent film critic in question. Beyond jaded and terminally melancholy, Victor feels he is dying, Specifically, suffocating from too many bad movies. Or, as the saying goes among the colleagues of your truly, most movies do nothing but transport you two hours closer to death.

And owing to this dismal state of metaphysical affairs, it's no surprise that Victor trashes most movies in his reviews. Which has to his misfortune, landed him in between a rock and a hard place as a 'taste terrorist.' With his newspaper about to redeploy him to the position just vacated by 'the horoscope girl' because his dismissive assault on movies is costing the publication diminished theater advertising revenue. And on the other hand, a possible emergence of failed filmmaker stalkers with potential malice in mind, owing to Victor's negative reviews costing them their careers. Including several peeved employees at a local theater who, were it not for Victor sealing their fate, would much rather be making movies.

But eventually worse than 'the malady of cinema that is destroying me,' Victor finds himself trapped somewhat in a not too pleasant movie of sorts in the real world. Somewhat held emotional hostage as pathetic protagonist by a mysterious woman (Dolores Fonzi) who has not only grabbed his heart, but the new apartment he wants to rent as well.

Suffice it to say that the mystery female, however flaky, in this case at least triumphs over male belligerence reinforced by the inordinate power inherent in that weird vocation known as film criticism. And at the same time while transformed into an inconsolable lovesick loon, succumbing to the 'cheap emotions' he always reviled in films as a critic up until now. Resulting in, to utter traumatized disbelief, his name mounted all over town on billboard blurb quotes, gushing over a questionable movie.

And whether or not El Critico is satire or a filmmaker's warning to movie reviewers to beware in the future, seems to be up for grabs. Let for a change, you the reader decide.

Prairie Miller