Sunday, January 01, 2006

Day 93: Reflections of Evil

This is the final film for One Movie a Day.  This film was viewed on a VHS tape a friend of mine sent me some years ago.  I note that a DVD for this film has been released, but have no idea if this is the same version.

Like channel flipping through time while taking a methamphetamine-inspired jump into a nest of cobras, Reflections of Evil is a media-saturated pastiche, the plot focusing on an obese street vendor in Los Angeles.  His sister disappeared sometime ago on the Universal Studios tour (not unlike the famous story about a young Steven Spielberg who is lampooned without mercy in the film) and she figures into the film in oblique, sometimes terrifying ways.  Reflections of Evil is a kitchen sink style production with crazy and inspired choices in overdubbing, editing, and shooting.  When it works, it's touching, scary, and exciting - suffused with the life and vigor of undiluted artistic integrity.  It's far too long, though, and the valleys in the film are very, very low with a final sequence that falls to the level of a home video prank and makes too coherent a plotline that previously meandered at its own whim.

The film's audacity is almost enough to carry it off, though.  The film opens with an intro by Tony Curtis, who introduces what would seem to be a completely different movie, but he's overdubbed at times to say the correct title (and "he" reveals that the director was sued by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg). We're then treated to an old Serta commercial and some old ABC promotional material.  More materials like this are cut in and out of the movie, and there's even a clip of John Ashcroft talking about the war on terror from FOX News at one point.  There are also clips from other films like 2001 and The Omega Man that play counterpoint to the narrative.  The soundtrack of the film also contains many "sampled" elements including music and sound FX (I heard the bird noises from The Birds at one point).  These alternate media sources float in and out of the film like radio interference at times.  They often work well as jokes or distortions of mainstream culture, but they're as often digressive.

A better idea of what this movie is like:  We first meet our main character as he stumbles around a neighborhood shouting obscenities, gets drunk on candy liquers, shouts at dogs, and vomits a great deal of some disgusting substance.  Then, the film flashes back several months to when he's selling watches on the streets of L.A.  When he's got free time, he eats giant sugar-filled snacks with great delight, though his sound effect laden gorges will put anyone off food for some time.  The citizens of L.A. and, indeed, the city itself are presented as blatantly hostile to the main character and he responds in kind with grandiose threats of pent-up rage.  Much later in the film, there is a sequence in which the main character is attacked by dogs that rivals the traffic jam sequence in Weekend for its length, intensity, brilliance, and insufferablity.

This is a good movie, made good by brilliant passages and kept from brilliance by overindulgence.  It's a feverish experience: dirty, random, and smoking with temple-vein bursting vitriol.  However, even as the film beat me down, I was terrified, excited, and overjoyed for much of the movie because I had no idea, whatsoever, what would happen next.  And that, it seems to me, is as good a place as any to stop.  


matt said...

this sounds outstanding.

free movies said...

I like the concept of the film and whole idea behind it.I was very excited when watching this movie as I coudn't guess what gonna happen next which is best part