Wednesday, August 3, 2011

#390: Sweet Movie

 (Dusan Makavejev, 1974)

Is it weird that the filmmaker I was reminded of most while watching Sweet Movie was Tati? I guess nothing seems that weird after you've seen Sweet Movie, one of the most controversial movies in the collection.

Makavejev is best known for another Criterion entry - one I have yet to watch - WR: Mysteries of the Organism, but Sweet Movie is much more polarizing. Certainly I could see many people making a case that it is the worst movie in the collection, or at least the least deserving. I wouldn't be one of those people, not because I enjoyed seeing someone piss in someone else's mouth or always wanted to know what a penis dipped in gold looked like, but because I think all this madness has a purpose.

That purpose - so tied to the politics of the time, which were very real for Makavejev, who was forced from his own country after WR - may have less of an impact in the post-Cold War environment. But fascism and capitalism certainly still manage to reign supreme, so Sweet Movie rages on, even if its targets have moved to a different field. And despite this undeniably angry political message, that sense of Tati lingers on. It's not just in the sketch-style structure of the film, which features brief vignettes tied together with a handful of characters, but in the light touch of its humor. Despite being almost entirely sexual in nature, the jokes here tend towards visual cues and offbeat choreography with a heavy reliance on music and the modern world - two of Tati's favorite themes.

On top of the intense and worthwhile message wrapped in a weirdly light and meandering package there are some great moments in the film. The sex scene with the germaphobic American billionaire spraying down his virginal-beauty-pageant-winning bride is pretty hilarious. And if you haven't seen two people doing it in a pile of sugar before the woman stabs the man - causing him to laugh to death - you, um, haven't really lived? If you've read this far and you still want to see this movie, you will enjoy it. If not, well, maybe you should watch something a little less strangely explicit, like Antichrist. Isn't this all we ask of a movie, to be all that it can be? Sweet Movie delivers.

And by delivers, I mean has a scene where people shit on stage.

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