The Intruder, Writer of O, The Omega Factor, Earthquake
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While directing Trouble Every Day, cultivator of the sublime Claire Denis read philospher Jean-Luc Nancy’s short story L’Intrus and for the first time became physically aware of her own heart. Denis then transferred her visceral experience into the most sensuous, elliptical epic this side of Malick.
L’Intrus could be considered the follow-up to Denis’ masterpiece Beau Travail: both films emphasize atmosphere and tactile impression over dramatics or narrative explication, and both hypnotize with a dazzling palette of light and color. Michel Subor’s heart transplant and journey for his lost son is the main focus here, but The Intruder really affects on a nearly subconscious level.
A 35 minute interview with Denis, who likens the process of adapting Nancy’s story to smoking a joint and thankfully doesn’t give away too much of the film’s intended meaning.
It’s said about everything from The New World to Hostel, but in this case take my word for it: The Intruder needs to be viewed on the big screen, its visual sumptuousness and hallucinatory splendor only fully achieved on a retina-engorging canvas. The DVD version might seem blasphemous, then, but Denis’ film is also ripe for repeat viewings in order to unlock its mysteries. Consider owning it a supreme act of faith in the power of art, or else an impetus to gain such faith.
Michael Joshua Rowin
Writer of O
In 1954, sensibilities were offended and a collective gasp was heard when The Story of O a seemingly autobiographical tale of a young woman coerced into taking the submissive role in a rather violent, extreme S&M relationship, was published. Though the book was initially credited to “Pauline Réage,” much speculation that it was actually penned by a perverted man was abuzz. Forty years after its publication, an elderly woman named Dominique Aury, long retired from an editing job at a high-profile publishing house, admitted to having concocted the tale to impress her older, married lover.
Rapaport uses old interview footage with Aury, literary experts, and other Gallic cultural figures in an attempt to get at the importance of the novel. She also has attractive actors perform some of the book’s passages, in a bizarre soft focus that takes off the edge, and hence, minimizes what was so shocking about the book in the first place.
The DVD itself offers a few interesting features — including additional interviews with the New Yorker writer who revealed Aury’s identity, and a director’s statement.
The project is a personal one for the director; she declares that discovering the book as a teenager changed her entire perspective on life and love. While this is all well and good, it is simply not enough to make a compelling documentary, and sadly, does the intelligent and fascinating life and lessons of Aury, little justice.
The Omega Factor
Somewhere in the annals of BBC Scotland sat the tapes of this 10-episode series about the paranormal and occult, which provided chilling, fuzzy memories for a generation of UKers. Unseen since then it has become something of a Holy Grail for those who saw the series that could be thought of as a sort of prototypical X-Files with broad lapels and poor teeth.
One will be struck initially by the dryness of the show’s exposition as we meet journalist Tom Crane who, during an investigation of the paranormal, realizes that he possesses creepy visionary powers of his own. After his wife is killed by an evil seer, he’s enlisted by a shadowy government agency to uncover the truth behind the sordid goings-on along the Highland Moors. Although it veers into 70s style high camp (zombified ginger-headed men in red jumpsuits programmed to kill!), its layers of complexity and often spine-tinglingly creepy effects make this curiosity a relevant missing link in the evolution of science-fiction television.
A somewhat standard but informative reminiscence-filled documentary featuring the show’s creators, photo gallery and an audio commentary accompanying the episode (Powers of Darkness.)
Nirvana for those with recollections of the show — a worthwhile diversion for everyone else.
There was a period sometime around the Ford Administration when you couldn’t swing with a cat in Hollywood without hitting a disaster film. Epics like The Towering Inferno, the recently refashioned Poseidon Adventure and Airport series all followed a strict formula of putting a plethora of A-, B- and C-listers in extreme peril with heavy-handed messages of social relevance tossed in haphazardly, often scored with suitable grandiloquent ridiculousness by John Williams. Earthquake ushered in the “natural” disaster subgenre, which spawned The Swarm, The Savage Bees and Empire of The Ants.
True to form we’re treated to a multiheaded beast of subplots which include Charlton Heston (who spent nearly his whole career trudging through wreckage of one sort or another) as an ex-jock and engineer carrying on an affair with an irresistibly cute Genevieve Bujold — at the expense of an overripe Ava Gardner. Other personalities that get caught along the fault line are George Kennedy as a disillusioned cop who finds redemption, Victoria Principal of Dallas fame as daredevil biker Richard Roundtree’s arm candy and an absurdly pimped out Walter Matthau as the town drunk. It’s all helmed by camp counselor Mark Valley of The Dolls Robson and co-written improbably by Mario Puzo. Briefly plausibly thrilling scenes of destruction are interrupted by long torpid stretches of languid exposition and laughably obvious miniatures.
Worth a look just for the fun of seeing old Chuck Heston in all his teeth-gnashing glory.