June 24, 2006

Abysms of shrieking and immemorial lunacy

The Call of Cthulhu
(Andrew Leman, 2005) ***1/2

The envelope from Greencine was like any other DVD envelope, shewing nothing of the horrors within. Upon pulling the disc out, I was discomfited by the hideous singularity of the lettering thereon. Pressing "play movie" on a menu which faded into the movie in a fashion that bordered on the blasphemous, I was confronted by terrors surpassing those of the mouldier pages of the Pnakotic Manuscripts. Told in the frightful style of the most ancient cinema, this film revealed forbidden horrors that chilled the blood. Of the story, of the frightful dreams of a Providence sculptor, the repulsive statue guarded by a mad Esquimaux shaman, the nightmarish rites of the darkest Louisiana bayous, and the monstrosity slumbering in the ancient depths of the South Pacific, I recoil in fear of mentioning them. I will only give the least disquieting glimpse of these diabolic occurrences.

Shree 420

Shree 420
(Raj Kapoor, 1955) ***1/4

This is a bit more like typical Bollywood in its bagginess. The first hour is almost unnecessary. (It includes that dispiriting sign of comic desparation, fast motion.) Eventually Raj, after flailing around in poverty at a Bombay laundry, discovers his true talent, cheating at cards. I was reminded of three other films.

1. The Middleman (Satyajit Ray, 1976) Sad to say, 20 years later, India still hadn't solved the problem of what to do with its college graduates, the main career choice in both films being either destitution or selling your soul.

2 and 3. Sunrise (F. W. Murnau, 1927) and One Wonderful Sunday (Akira Kurosawa, 1947) Lovers in the city with dilapidated Bombay, reminiscent of postwar Tokyo in the latter film.

And now for the pictures.