Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Stendhal Syndrome (Dario Argento, 1996)

Last year, I wrote a really big paper in a women's and gender studies class on the rape-revenge cycle, and Argento's mid-period The Stendhal Syndrome really made me wish I had seen it earlier, so I could have included it in my study. Starring Dario's daughter Asia (whom frequent readers will know I am enamored with), it is a return to form after some disappointing efforts on Argento's part (I thought Trauma was pretty boring and not very scary), and it was during a period where Asia was pretty prolific (including Traveling Companion, her Italian Academy Award-winning performance). It's the story of Detective Anna Manni (Asia was 20 during filming, so she's not very convincing, but oh well), who is in Florence investigating a rapist-murdered. She is quickly captured by the suspect, who rapes and would murder her, but she escapes. After that, something inside of Anna snaps, and she starts going to a psychologist. Even with professional help and a visit to her hometown, things aren't right for Anna. To say much more about the plot would be to ruin it, as there are some shocks that shouldn't be revealed.

Asia always seems really comfortable while being directed by her father, even though Dario caught some flak for directing several disturbing rape scenes with his daughter. The movie is dark and murky (although some of that might be Troma's fault, as this is a pretty terrible transfer), and while Thomas Kretschmann as the villain is pretty terrifying, even more so is Anna Manni's Stendhal Syndrome. The syndrome is when paintings have a hallucinogenic effect on an individual, and Anna's involves being able (actually, not being unable) to step into paintings, even while things are happening in real life. The CGI is actually used to pretty good effect, especially in the scene where Anna thinks she's drowning. The scares in this film are psychological and physical, and Anna's response to her rape is really stunning, something not seem much in film. This is a film that is both entertaining on the surface, and could definitely be analyzed in a much deeper way. I recommend this to any fan of Argento, and horror (especially feminist horror!) in general.


RIYL: Suspiria, I Spit on Your Grave (theme-wise)

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