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Askew Review 15

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1983.  Drama/Musical.  87 Minutes.  Not Rated.  French with English Subtitles.  Contains Some Language, Violence, Nudity and some Drug Use.  In the near future, a group of misfit punks and hoodlums take refuge in an automobile junkyard from an oppressive faction.  Breathing in the distasteful human ways of sex, drugs and rock-n-roll, these misfits survive on their own by taking from others.  Only one man can bring them together in harmony with his music; his name is Emanou.  However, the oppressive factions each day become closer to discovering where these rebels inhabit and turn their world upside down.
         Car Cemetery retells the story of Christ.  Emanou represents Jesus and through his music he can connect with people.  The oppressive faction are the those who wish to crucify him.  Arrabal's film is rather bold as it combines pimp, prostitution, sex and drugs with Jesus Christ; most folks would rise and protest a film like this now-a-days.  The acting seems a bit cumbersome as much of the dialogue and lyrics don't much up at times; one could also get lost in story due to Arrabal's nature of storytelling.  Still, this cyberpunk film brings an interesting mixture of metaphorical religion to a post-apocalyptic world that nobody had ever seen before at that time.

THE EMPEROR OF PERU 1982.  Children.  81 Minutes.  Not Rated.  English language.  Contains children mischief.    Three children befriend a former train engineer whom doesn't have all his marbles in correct alignment.  Taken aback by the children's passion for adventure and putting a little liveliness back into his crippled body, the engineer makes them honorary conductors of an old steam engine the children discover.  While spending hours on fixing up the old engine, the engineer wildly teaches them how to use the beast made of steel that will take to the far corners of the earth.
         At first, I was unsure about Arrabal's children film take; the zaniness of Mickey Rooney, the engineer, is quite unsettling and you tend to wonder about his intention with the children, but after the corrupt thoughts settle, you see the more lighter side of what Arrabal's film is all about.  The lessons the children learn are important for any child even today:  responsibility, friendship and caring for one another.  The youngest child of the three Toby, played by Jonathan Starr, stands out as his imaginative daydreams make him out as the hero in a most ridiculous way.  The most disturbing child Hoang, a foster child with Toby and his sister Liz's parents, has monotone voice like a robot.  Hoang's awkwardness make Mickey Rooney seem normal and that is a tough task to accomplish.  The Emperor of Peru seems obsolete when compared to today's standard of children television, but there lies still something magical about the whole idea of kids fixing up a train to travel the world which can not be ignored.

FAREWELL, BABYLON!  1992.  Abstract.  55 Minutes.  Not Rated.  French with English subtitles.  Contains some violence and language.  Lelia is a wondering soul of New York City trying to find retain the memory of her executed father through the people.  She, like her father, rebels against the norm of which those who executed her father had followed.  Lelia can entrance people and make them do weird tasks to as simple as putting on makeup to letting Lelie perform the ultimate sacrifice upon them - murder.  An officer of the law stalks her as he suspects her of the weirdness taking place in the city.
         Arrabal at his arthouse finest with this completely odd and abstracted film that has an ironically simple story behind the curtain, but to follow it, you will need to pay close attention to the subtitles to understand and that isn't easy since they move super fast.  If you've seen The Emperor of Peru, you may be confused by some of the rehashed scenes used from the Children's film.  They're used to tell Lelia's story, but if you've seen the scenes, the context will become baffling.  Farewell, Babylon is actually based on Arrabal's 1969 novel of the same title, yet I feel his message loses any kind of connect between the reel and the audience.  Sometimes too much abstract can be a bad thing. -Steven Lewis

This DVD set also includes the two below documentaries. However, the review DVDs we recieved were damaged and we were unable to review.
Borges: A Life in Poetry - (1998) A sixty-minute documentary featuring the last interview with author Jorge Luis Borges.
Arrabel, Panik Cineast- (2007) The final sixty-minute documentary on Arrabel the artist.




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