I decided on a theme for January’s at-home movie watching. I’m going with indie films, emphasizing experimental films. I’ve pretty much never watched experimental films in my life so this will jumpstart me on the goal of exposing myself to new types of movies. Experimental films are really different, though, so I didn’t want to limit myself only to that genre. That’s why I opened it up to the broader category of indie films. I use to really enjoy watching indie films but have kind of gotten away from that in recent years and wanted to see what I’ve been missing.
Yesterday, I watched two films on Netflix, one of which was experimental.
Poison, Experimental Film
Poison is a 1991 drama that consists of three entirely separate stories that are played together throughout the film, moving back and forth between the three different stories. The three stories are called Hero, Horror and Homo. What ties them together is the fact that they are each about a main male character and have a theme of exploring the border between sexuality and violence. Each short film within the film is set in a different time period and has a different style of photography.
Hero is about a 7-year-old boy who has killed his father and then apparently “flown away” according to reports by his mother. It is set in the 1980’s and has the kind of grainy color that movies of that time sometimes have. This fictional story is set up consisting just of interviews with the boy’s mother and various other family members who reveal more and more about the boy so that we can learn what happened.
Horror is about a scientist who is researching sex hormones and accidentally ends up ingesting something in his lab. It turns him into a leprous sex fiend. Despite this, a female doctor falls in love with him the way that he is. The film is basically about him going crazy and her trying to love him anyway and the tragedy that occurs as a result. This film is done in black and white with lots of shadows and close-up shots. There’s not too much dialogue but what exists is mostly between them. I’m sure that there’s a name for this style of film but I’m not sure what it is. Film noir comes to mind but I don’t know if that’s right. Hopefully as this year continues I’ll learn more about different styles of film and be able to explain this stuff better!
Homo is about two men in prison who had known each other previously in a boys’ school. We learn about their shared past through various scenes. The other scenes are the two of them in prison developing a relationship of sorts. It’s set in the 1940’s and has muted coloring. There is dialogue between the two characters as well as some supporting characters and we can also sometimes hear the main character’s thoughts.
It took me awhile to get into the film. I’m used to the fast-paced dramas of television and mainstream movies. I tend to strongly prefer dialogue-rich movies (don’t watch much action) so it took me some time to slow my pace and really pay attention to the wordless details on the screen. Once I got into it, though, I ended up kind of liking the film so I’m looking forward to learning more about experimental films as the month continues.
Sabah: A Love Story
The other film I watched was a much more straightforward indie romance called Sabah: A Love Story. It’s a Canadian film about a traditional Muslim family. The main character, Sabah, is a forty-year-old unmarried woman whose role it is to take care of her mother. She ends up meeting a non-Muslim Canadian man and falling in love with him. Fairly predictable family drama ensues and there’s a happy ending. I was kind of indifferent to this movie. It’s cute enough. There were parts that were enjoyable. Mostly I found the guy that she falls in love with to be terribly unlikeable and couldn’t get into it because of that but that’s just a personal preference thing. It’s worth seeing if you like movies with this type of plot.
Do you watch indie films? Experimental films?