Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Centipedal Force

The Human Centipede (First Phase)
2010 Netherlands
Directed by Tom Six
Six Entertainment DVD Region 0

Ok, I’ll admit it. I wasn’t that much interested in seeing this movie to be honest. I’ve been around the block a bit and I’m way jaded beyond my time and so I assumed that this film was in no way going to be anything as horrible as people were saying... and to a large extent I was right about that (seen it all before)...

However... there’s a small problem getting in the way of me dismissing this as something on a par with the grubby little j-horror clone I thought it was going to be.

If you don’t know why this movie is getting a lot of knee-jerk hype at the moment, this is the basic plot. A mad German doctor joins a Japanese guy and two all American gals backside to mouth so they make up a human centipede sharing a cobbled together digestive tract (and all that your imagination might struggle with at that last half a sentence).

I was prepared for the movie to be a bit of a “one joke repeater” in terms of it’s plot development... and yes, to be fair... it is.

But... what I wasn’t prepared for was for it to be really well acted, not terribly written and having some of the best cinematography I’ve seen in movies for a long time. Seriously, if you want to see some of the most beautiful and colourful and, frankly, very clean but not quite clinical shot composition... then take a gander at this flick. The look of it reminded me of the beauty of the design of Hal Hartley’s Simple Men or No Such Thing. You know that kind of carefree but informed look which you only get from good European cinema or independent US films?

And the lighting is fantastic too. They’ve used a suggestion of a fire and the suggestion of a swimming pool to have moving light bouncing off walls so that if a shot is in danger of being too static, you’ve got all this going on in the background. Really amazing work. Renoir filtered through Ridley Scott! And it has nice, slow, leisurely paced camerawork which slowly reveals things to you... not a shaky cam MTV job for the kiddies.

And the performances are just amazing. Dieter Laser as the “enthusiastic” Dr. Heiter, the villain of the piece, is absolutely riveting. A really interesting person to watch on screen who will have all of your attention. And the three “segments” of the centipede are all quite sympathetic characters in their own right. A little speech by the Japanese guy towards the end of the movie before he does... something which was a bit silly all things considered... and the doctors reaction to his words is truly compelling and it’s a shame there wasn’t time to see a proper dialogue between these two characters in the earlier stages of the film.

Would I recommend this film to people who are primarily interested in story as their main response to cinema? Heck no... there’s nothing you don’t know about this movie from a one sentence synopsis. You will know how it’s all going to pan out and there’s not a whole lot of variety to be had.

Would I recommend this film to lovers of cinema who don’t give a damn about the story and are more conscious of their cinematic pleasure by the way it is conveyed through the medium? Absolutely. A film for the discerning cinephile if ever there was one.

So... I don’t know who this Tom Six guy is but...

Kafka meets Cronenberg with some spit and polish so as not to dirty the camera lense... the joy of Six!

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