Be Well Come once again to Reaper Rick’s Movie Reviews.
In 1958 Diane Arbus left her husband, her two daughters and her family to pursue a career in photography. She became well known for her stark black and white photos of people who were for the most part on the outskirts of society—nudists, dwarfs, giants, conjoined twins, transvestites, circus folk—those who might otherwise never be seen by others. The reason she left her wealthy family to do this type of work is not really known, and also for unknown reasons she took her own life in 1971.
In 2006 the movie “Fur; An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus” was released. This movie starred Nicole Kidman, Robert Downey, Jr., and Ty Burrell. As the title implies, this movie is not based on fact, but rather is an imaginary journey which may have propelled Arbus to seek out the odd, strange and twisted of society and to photograph them.
Diane’s husband, Allan, was a photographer who did most of the advertisement shoots for a large department store her parents owned. Diane (Nicole Kidman) was his assistant, and for some reason she was uncomfortable in the lifestyle her family’s wealth provided. In 1958 a strange man moved into the apartments directly above them and Diane was intrigued by this man from the very beginning. Perhaps it was because the stranger wore a cloth mask whenever he went out in public.
Eventually she went up to his apartment one night—with a camera—and offered to take his portrait, even though she had no idea what he looked like. What developed (no pun intended) was a close friendship between the two of them which slowly and inevitably started Diane on her quest to seek out the odd and strange in life.
The man (Robert Downey, Jr.) suffered from Hypertrickosis (werewolf syndrome), which caused thick hair to grow everywhere on his body. He worked for years in a circus sideshow and knew many other circus types whom he introduced Diane to. Through him, she was exposed to a life she never knew existed outside her well-protected and rich upbringing, and she was fascinated by these people and their lifestyle.
From the moment they meet there was sexual tension between the two. Diane was obviously attracted to this intelligent and captivating person who is covered in hair, but initially she refused to act on her impulses because she felt that she still loved her husband. As for Robert, he was also obviously attracted to Diane, but he apparently refused to act on his feelings because he knew that he was in her eyes some sort of ‘freak’ and perhaps did not want his advances to ruin their companionship. Yet, we watch as the prim, proper, and even naive Diane has her defenses slowly destroyed by the animalistic sexuality of the wolf man.
Within a few months she and Robert became close, and then finally lovers, which pushed her away from her husband and family, and eventually Diane went off on her own to find something in life that she perhaps always sought, but apparently never found.
This may seem a dry and dull review (and I left a Lot of information out of the review which would certainly spoil the movie for you if I discussed any of it here), but the movie is packed with sexuality and oddly sensual scenes. It does start off a bit slow, but is just over two hours long and is worth watching every minute of. “Fur” has an ‘artsy’ flavor to it, as well as being a suspenseful thriller at the beginning, and is highly recommended if you enjoy a movie that is just a bit ‘odd’ right from the start, and continues in that vein throughout. I give “Fur” Three and a Half Big Furry Howls of Pleasure .
For anyone who enjoys the work of David Lynch (“Twin Falls,” to name just one of his projects), then the movie “Blue Velvet” is a must-see film. Released in 1986 it starred Kyle Mac Lachlin, Isabella Rossellini, Dennis Hopper, Laura Dern and Dean Stockwell. Written and directed by Lynch, “Blue Velvet” takes place in a Pacific Northwest town which on the surface appears to be a typical ‘Leave it to Beaver’ type of place, but Mac Lachlin soon discovers there is a decaying and festering underworld in his town.
Kyle is a young man who returns home after his father has a serious injury. When he discovers a severed ear in a field near the hospital, the police do not seem to be cracking this case quickly enough for him, so Kyle begins his own investigation. With the assistance of the police chief’s daughter (Laura Dern) whom he knew from high school, Kyle is soon involved with a kidnapping, murder and deadly drug dealers.
His search first leads him to a female torch singer (Rossellini) whose husband and daughter have been kidnapped by a psychotic drug dealer and killer (Hopper [as if you couldn’t have guessed]), who has a sexual fetish for blue velvet. Hopper forces Rossellini to have kinky sex with him in order to keep her loved ones alive, and he is a sadistic and abusive lover as well as a total whack job.
Kyle is in her apartment looking for evidence when Rossellini comes home and finds him, but then Hopper shows up and she hides Kyle in a closet, where he watches as she is raped by Hopper. Afterwards, she is vulnerable and Kyle is horny, so the two of them begin a sexual relationship even while Kyle is falling in love with the cop’s daughter.
After Kyle starts to investigate Hopper, he stumbles onto a drug ring run by the psycho killer. Then, when Hopper finds Kyle leaving Rossellini’s place, he takes both of them—along with several of his henchmen—on a joyride and then to one of the strangest whore houses I have ever seen (run by Dean Stockwell), where Hopper is keeping the girl’s kidnapped child. After they get really drunk Kyle is taken out and beaten up by Hopper, with a warning to back off or else.
And after that the movie gets really weird. Once again, I must leave quite a bit of the plot development out of this review so as not to spoil it for anyone. The plot twists become even more convoluted as the movie progresses, and the final showdown is a real nail-biter.
As freaky and enjoyable as this flick is, there were a couple of inconsistencies that did bother me. One thing which was never explained to my satisfaction was how and why the severed ear ended up in that field to begin with. And, the only reason Kyle discovers it is because he was looking for small rocks to throw at a rusted oil drum near an abandoned shack out in the field. That entire scene seemed a bit contrived to me, but the story would not have worked otherwise. Another unanswered question (Warning: Spoiler Alert!) is how did Rossellini end up naked outside Kyle’s house one night after Hopper once again raped and beat her? Granted, the movie needed that scene to happen, but how and why it happened was never explained, and stuff like that bothers me.
Even so, this is a great thriller with lots of suspense and plenty of Lynch’s weird visions, so I have to give “Blue Velvet” Four Big Howls of Pleasure .
“Shutter Island” from 2010 is not technically a horror movie, but it is one of the most intense psychological thrillers I have seen in years. Directed by Martin Scorsese, it stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Kingsley, Mark Ruffalo, Max von Sydow and Ted Levine.
Off the coast of New England in 1954 lies Shutter Island, a private institution which houses criminally insane prisoners, and where the inmates are supposed to receive treatment. DiCaprio is a U.S. Marshall who has been assigned to investigate how a female prisoner supposedly escaped her locked cell one night and simply vanished. Right from the start it appears that the staff of Shutter Island attempts to thwart any and all of DiCaprio’s and his partner’s efforts to find the truth behind this vanishing act.
DiCaprio begins to feel that the doctors may be conducting secret and illegal brain experiments on some of the inmates, and as he gets closer to what he feels is the answer he is afraid they may try to keep him on the island, rather than allow him to leave and reveal what is really going on there. A hurricane which forces him to stay longer than he wanted only makes things worse, and DiCaprio starts to have horrific flashbacks to when he was a soldier in WW II and liberated a Nazi death camp.
To complicate matters, it turns out that DiCaprio has an ulterior motive for being on the island. Several years ago his wife was killed in a fire set by an arsonist. He learns that the killer is supposedly an inmate on Shutter Island, and DiCaprio wants to find him. He is now seeking two people on the island, but seemingly can find neither one of them.
We are witness to DiCaprio’s slow mental deterioration as he is determined to discover what happened on the island, while unusual plot twists keep the viewer always surprised at what is turned up next during the investigation. By the end of this movie we begin to wonder just who is actually insane and who is not, and the climax is a total and unexpected shocker.
For on the edge of your seat suspense, surprise twists and turns throughout the movie, a great cast and a terrific story, I give “Shutter Island” Four Big Howls of Pleasure . This is a Must See movie for anyone who enjoys a who-done-it in which you will never correctly guess the outcome.
All right, that’s about all the time I have this issue, but I’ll be back…