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Thursday, February 8, 2007

I miss arthouse films...

Forget mainstream, R-rated films. It's the unrated foreign or indie films that I miss the most now that I am a mother, especially now that my son is a very aware toddler. As a single mom struggling with her budget too, it is hard to find an excuse for spending $25+ for just a visit to a far off arthouse movie theatre, not to mention the subway time and fare, and the distinct possibility that grisly popcorn and nuked nachos will not satiate my stomach. Then add the hassle of sneaking in a bottle of seltzer and maybe a Quiznos sandwich. On top of that, try coordinating schedules with an ex-boyfriend-turned-parenting-partner who will babysit for free, only if he can raid your fridge. Last but not least, breast engorgement from staying away from my nursing child too long...

At long last, my cable provider, Time Warner, added an "International Movies on Demand" Channel, an offshoot of the "Indie" section on the general "Movies on Demand" Channel. My prayers were somewhat answered — there are some interesting sounding films listed, but many are years old. If I'm looking for the latest Almodóvar film that was just released on DVD, this is not the channel to search.

Yesterday was my second time ordering a Pay-Per-View movie, and both had been from the "International" Channel. (The first was a French period film, A Song of Innocence, about the life of a wetnurse in the 19th century — excellent and resonant film that could be applied to the politics of mothering and breastfeeding today.) Yesterday, I ordered 1996's The Stendhal Syndrome, a tale of a policewoman in Italy hunting for a serial rapist/killer. It stars Asia Argento, who I have a girl-crush on (she is like a cross between Chloë Sevigny and Angelina Jolie; if I were a dyke I'd totally fuck her — actually all three of them) and Thomas Kretschmann, this blond German up-and-coming hottie, who was in King Kong and The Pianist with Adrien Brody.

It was melodramatic, heavy-handed with the dialogue and acting. It was extremely gory and violent, considering it came from Europe and since it's from 1996, it predates the CSI-TV and Saw-movie series. It was also impressively imaginative in its hallucinatory depiction of an actual Stendhal Syndrome sufferer and the viseral nature of this sociopath's crimes. Asia Argento shows off her dichotomous butch/femme side (which is making her hot in Hollywood action films right now) as an avenging riot grrrl on Thomas Kretschmann's disturbingly sexy sadist with washboard abs (his second-fiddle roles in King Kong and The Pianist did not put him on the map for me). (I did not actually finish the climax of the film because Time Warner's On Demand system can be wonky and block your access to content often, even if your account is in good terms. A frequent topic for me with TW reps on their 24-hour hotline.)

I recommend this film if you're cringe-factor is quite resilient, both to violence and Jean Cocteau-esque European cinematic excess. Also, I recommend you put your child down to sleep for the night or a very long nap.

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