Monday, 12 November 2018

The Question in Bodies #22: Freaks (1932)

(Freaks was made in 1932. Back then, the language used to talk around people with bodily deformities was what we'd now think of as pretty offensive. But it's the language of the film, and it's difficult to talk about the film clearly without using its language. And it's a worthwhile and humane film. It deserves to be talked about. Still. If I offend or use terms carelessly, I'm sorry. I would like to do better. Let me know. As ever, expect spoilers.)
Carnival barker:  We didn't lie to you, folks! We told you that we had living... breathing... monstrosities! You laughed at them! Shuddered at them! And, yet, but for the accident of birth, you might be one as they are. They did not ask to be brought into the world, but! Into the world they came! Their code is a law unto themselves! Offend one and you offend them all!
It's a simple enough film, this, and in some ways very much of its time for most of its brief length. It comes from a period where cinema had literally only just found its voice, and you can see that a bit in how former silent actors are still grappling with how to present themselves in talking film. There are moments that look creaky and mannered now, the jolly, tinny parp of the jazz age film orchestra sometimes at odd with the images it soundtracks.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Cult Cinema #11: The Pain is the Point

Martyrs (2008)

(I'm not sure you can spoil a film like this. The blank description of the carnage, misery and pain visited upon the women in the 2008 original version of Martyrs is inadequate, really, to get across the extremity of it. Suffice to say, though, there are many spoilers here, along with all of the content warnings.)

Martyrs has a dire reputation. Even the people who like it will tell you it's a work of relentless, nihilistic carnage; the ones who don't will dismiss it as torture porn. Is it? Well.