Man Bites Dog & Eyes Without A Face

While I was partying at All Tomorrow’s Parties in New York this past weekend, I was able to catch a couple of movies. Criterion had a room where they were playing a wide variety of movies they’ve released over the years. Both of the ones I saw happened to be black and white French movies and very very weird.

The first one I saw was Man Bites Dog (aka It Happened In Your Neighborhood) and it was easily one of the most bizarre movies I’ve ever seen. It’s filmed as a documentary but it certainly doesn’t portray facts. And as much as I hate this term, there’s no denying it gets the point across: Man Bites Dog is a mockumentary. The premise is simple. A small film crew follows around an eccentric serial killer, BenoĆ®t. Most of the time, Ben talks at great lengths about everything under the sun: art, family, society, music, and in the opening scene, the best way to keep a dead body submerged under water. Very often, the crew films him as he murders and rapes various people and even though you know this isn’t real, it still brings to mind many questions. How can they possibly make an unbiased movie? Should they ever intervene to help the victims? If they don’t help, are they automatically accomplices? The lines are very blurred and the questions aren’t easily answered. The way the creators of Man Bites Dog make these questions easier to swallow is that the movie is a comedy. It’s easy to brush off such heavy topics when you’re laughing. “Of course this isn’t real. So why bother thinking about it?” Apparently, this was very controversial when it came out in 1992 and won the SACD Award at Cannes. I give this film a high recommendation.

Eyes Without A Face is a French horror/thriller that conjures terrifying images from the title alone and the DVD cover only helps to provoke those fears. It’s about a doctor who is experimenting with strange skin grafts and when his daughter has an awful accident that, um, removes her face, he attempts to put a similar looking woman’s face skin on his daughter’s. This movie has made it into many critics “Top Horror” lists and with good reason. It is by far one of the creepiest movies ever. It’s a horror film that would be ridiculously unsuccessful if it came out this year. It’s not the kind of movie that really scares you or makes you jump and scream. It’s actually really hard to describe. Instead of watching it with your hand over your eyes, it’s more like you stare at the screen wide eyed with your jaw hanging open. That’s the best I can do. Trust me, Eyes Without A Face is a true horror movie but likely not one that you’re used to. And even with the occasionally cheesy effects, this is still a very worthwhile movie.


Son Of Rambow

Films that have children dominating the movie are a dime a dozen. The difference between all of those other movies and Son Of Rambow is that Rambow isn’t a kids movie. What was the last movie like this? Maybe Stand By Me? That was over 10 years ago. It’s prime time for everyone to see a whimsical story about a couple of British boys who want to make a movie.

First of all, let me assure you all that Son Of Rambow has (almost) nothing to do with that Sylvester Stallone franchise. Rather, it’s about a do-gooder named Will Proudfoot who accidentally gets caught up in bad-boy Lee Carter’s shenanigans. They form an unlikely friendship that mixes Will’s crazy imagination with Lee Carter’s equipment and know-how so that they can submit a film inspired by the original Rambo to the BBC’s Screen Test competition. The best parts of Son Of Rambow are when we get to watch Lee and Will perform all sorts of crazy stunts and watching this movie-within-a-movie fold out.

Son Of Rambow is a really solid movie. The acting is superb, it’s cute, funny, and very down to Earth. I can safely say it’s a film that many people would enjoy and I’m a bit surprised that it didn’t take off as well as I hoped it would. My guess is that it got overshadowed by all of the big Hollywood blockbusters. It had a limited release in the US the same weekend Iron Man came out and it probably just went downhill from there. That’s not reason it shouldn’t be seen, though. If it’s still playing in your area, by all means go see it. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait until it comes out on DVD in late August.