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Tuesday , December 14, 2010
An Astrological Guide to Arthouse Cinema: Movies With Subtitles That Will Actually Keep An Aries Entertained
We got so many good suggestions from our Marc Jacobs/Shopbop giveaway--a ton of readers mentioned they wanted more astrology-related stuff, and a few mentioned they wanted more film content. Well, dear lovers, luckily I can write about both! I decided to combine the two into an epic, beautiful, erratically comprehensive Astrological Guide to Arthouse Cinema. Of course, you don't have to be a Virgo to like Lovers of the Arctic Circle or an Aquarius to appreciate any Werner Herzog movie, but it's kind of fun to approach film appreciation through the eternal lens of the stars and planets. I initially tried to do all 12 signs at once in one mega-Guide to end all Guides, but the whole shebang got to be a little book-length, and while I'm all for Magnum Opuses (Opi?), I don't want to kill anyone's eyes. So I'm doing 12 installments, one for each sign, so I can recommend more than one film for each sign, because I do believe in the magic of film, of movies that take risks and are audacious and aren't just shit Hollywood products. This week: we ease into the somewhat forbidding realm of arthouse cinema via Aries, whose energy and craziness demand the least archetypal arthouse films out there.
Aries are like the excitable, hyper kid with tons of ADD and energy. People love them for being like a bottle of soda all shook up. They're kind of aggro, but they get shit done in a super-fun way and are supreme flirts, like the kind that plops themselves in dudes' laps with a bottle of beer and threaten to pour it over them and they'll fantasize about this for days because it's just so fucking cute and sexy. Aries, you can get away with this shit 'cause you're an Aries and you think everyone loves you! Luckily you're usually very charming, but chill you are not. Your attention span is just not meant for the meaningful silences that fill so much of art cinema! Your unboundable energy makes you the ideal audience for frenetic action movies, a genre that's hugely underserved in the arthouse circuit. (However, did you know that the most successful American film exports are action films? Scarily, explosions and mayhem are an internationally understood language.) But luckily other countries also love action films and make these as well, which makes them de facto arthouse because of their subtitles, a certain visual stylishness and a kind of audacity that suits Aries well.
For you, dear Aries (say that in my Susan Miller voice), I recommend a lot of the super-stylized martial arts films coming out of Taiwan, Hong Kong and China--you know, like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, probably one of the most successful examples in recent years. My favorites are done by Zhang Yimou, like the gorgeous Hero or House of Flying Daggers. These movies are ravishing to look at, have dynamic, almost balletic action sequences and probably the most beautiful people on the planet acting in them. Yimou made his name in what is known as the Fifth Generation of Chinese mainland filmmakers with super-intense, stunning dramas like Raise the Red Lantern and Red Sorghum. These are amazing films, but their slowness and emotional acuity are not for blunt, restless Aries, who need a metaphysical (and sometimes actual) fistfight of the soul every now and then. Stick with Yimou's action films, Aries, where you can get your action fix and arthouse cred at once.
A fight scene from House of Flying Daggers:
But if you're looking for something with a little bit more "social import," I would also recommend Mathieu Kassovitz's incendiary film, La Haine, which chronicles the life of three teenage friends in a Parisian banlieue. (Kassovitz is the dude who played the romantic lead in Amelie, but he was an acclaimed director before he starred as a porn store clerk romancing a chick with a cool bob.) It's not necessary "action-action," but it moves at a propulsive pace, and the film is an explosive mix of racial politics, police brutality and dynamic, seriously amazing cinematography. (I watched it a few months ago after not having seen it for years and was just so fucking amazed at how fantastic it looked.) Plus, it has one of the most unforgettable, tense endings I've ever seen, the kind that make your heart leap into your throat. It will keep Aries hooked and probably make most people who watch it want to drink heavily and energetically afterwards.
The trailer for La Haine:
But I don't want social importance and ravishing visuals! whine some Aries. You want FUN; Aries are always wanting FUN. You're like the kindergartner of the zodiac; I always feel like I have to keep all the Aries I know entertained and stimulated, otherwise they just get into trouble. Fine! The most fun, crazy arthouse action movie I've ever seen was Brotherhood of the Wolf. This is one of the most bananas cinematic experiences I have ever been through in my life; you watch it and can't believe someone thought of this stuff. I mean, it's a French action-historical film about a creature ravishing and devouring beautiful young girls in the 18th century French countryside, and this "naturalist" is sent by the king to investigate these strange killings. He arrives with his Native American (!!!) sidekick named Mani, and both of these studs fight off marauders, bandits and other assorted crazy folks with Matrix-style martial arts? And this is the 18th century and they're doing Matrix shit? Bananas! And there are these crazy nobles running around, including a particularly crazy one with an incestuous jones for his sister, and I'm not even getting half of the glorious madness that is Brotherhood of the Wolf. This movie is just one big French OMG/WTF, and Aries (or anyone with an appreciation for the enjoyably absurd) will probably eat it up.
The trailer for Brotherhood of the Wolf:
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