We are in a men’s public restroom. Where is it located? Apparently, it is placed somewhere in New Mexico. It has the same flicker of kind pity and wry loneliness all public washrooms have, but it is absent in the stinging smells of ravaged and ambulatory shit they all bear.
Walter White is changing the diaper of his baby girl, Molly. He is fulfilling the task with absorbing exercise and eroded delicacy; it feels that as if with the touch of diaper fabric against the immaculate skin of his daughter, he is delineating the boundaries between dreams and nightmares.
The last years of his life have been chronically tattered, with the same fractured structure as the one found on the reckless diaries of a mad king, a fallen ruler recollecting with diseased and drunken memory on the conquests that abided him with his throne, and unforgivingly stripped him from it as well.
Not a while ago, there was a drought on television fables. The medium was accused of cobbling its content and refusing to allow the undertone of more daring genres.
The previously mentioned scene takes place within the compulsively watchable third act of “Ozymandias”; the shit hit the fan episode of the entire Breaking Bad saga.
For Walter, Molly is the last shred of dignifying humanity, and the surviving flagrant evidence of the life he had, of the life he fought for, of the life he lost control from. He has the tormented need of taking her with him into oblivion, in order to maintain that blemish memory alive. But then, she mumbles “mommy” and her face is the emblem of thwarted sadness. Walter looks at her with disbelieving gazes, and the ego of the tycoon melts.
Today, these scenes are fluent without being patronizing. They grasp on irony and quiver with effortlessly anecdotic superiority. Television is granting light to atmospheric keys film hasn’t even dare to visualize. Today television is getting the last laugh, and it is laughing with mounting dismay.
You will find neither sagas nor trilogies on this list. No untouchable classics like Apocalypse Now and Chinatown. This list is just a portrayal of audacious titles, dreamy and original; they possess the qualities that might be able to hook the audience for long term seasons.
1. Boogie Nights (Paul Thomas Anderson, 1997)
Boogie Nights plot reeks of something HBO or Netflix would be willing to rip open with jagged thumbnail. The storytelling techniques of the film stand sullied in front of its own inflicting presence.
Besides being demystified from transfixed bits and recycled pieces of wronged judgment and misconceptions about the porn industry, it also presents a mended illusion about the poisoned subject of sex, and the ogreish nature of drugs, with almost pretended, unbearable ordinariness.
Dirk Diggler, Roller Girl, Little Bill, Amber, and Jack Horner, to name a few, are set in motion by the rod of excess. They are all intertwined with each other´s dawdling towards life. They are connected, as if they were all holding hands and clasping ankles, casting themselves into golden shadows, pulling each other´s ivory worlds into the ruin and plummet of a frothing sea.
All of them are spread like butter over the crunchy, honey oat surface of a rotten, decrepit underworld.
Paul Thomas Anderson keeps the flow of the chaos by respecting the gentle legitimacy of his character’s deceptions.
Much as in the context of atmospheric uniqueness presented in TV shows such as Six Feet Under and Orange is the New Black, Boogie Nights is an examination of a jerked down, unexplored universe, which the story itself questions and exudes with fist and blade.
Like these shows… no. Let’s stop comparing it with other shows. If Boogie Nights was to be transformed into a TV series, with Paul Thomas Anderson on the front, it would surpass them all in catastrophic leagues.
2. Do The Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989)
Nigger, more than a word of meaning, it is a pretext, a drunken tool of empowerment, a sore of unblinking madness roughhewn by envies, and given breath by the pointlessness of hate. Nigger, wetback, chin, all scribbling words carved into the stoned timeline of human recognition, faded and broken as if etched in forbidden tongue, but spoken in loving embrace, by the feasting mouth of mankind.
Do the Right Thing is a butchered rainbow of spicy, colorful characters, staggering through their daily routine in the particular street they live in, on one particular summer day. They are all slices of overburdened and obscure sensitiveness that do not blend well together, but still are forced to coexist and share flavors inside the same stagnant cooking pot.
They are all fried and boiled under the same slow heating flame of racial disintegration and circumspect misunderstanding; they are all gingered by hints of pathetic expostulations, dashes of verbal bribery, and pinches of the hereditary misinformation that straddles the contours of America.
Let’s play a teeny game of imagination. Imagine the events the next day after Sal´s pizzeria is squelched into ashes. Imagine the face on Sal, when he is sweeping the broken charcoal of his remorseless dreams. Or the day after that, when rushes of doubt and discomfort begin to invade Mookie’s morality about launching that trash can against the glassed window.
Film does that to you, it leaves you floating on wonder. TV can appease the spirit from such malicious tricks. That Brooklyn Street Lee painted with brushstrokes of tainted ambition, serves as a metaphor of self-destruction. There are corners in this earth where civilization is just make-pretend. It is a strange jungle out there, and we are all inbreeds gloating on the survival instinct of irrationality.
Spike Lee reminded us that such irrationality is just the plain condition of the human nature.
3. Dark City (Alex Proyas, 1998)
In a jugular landscape surrendered with overly ripe shades of black and ophidian greens, stands a revolting city of torrid sky crapes and crooked flares of airborne filth. It is illuminated, in practice and context, by dim lights that appear to born from the glow of zombified fairies.
Everything in this place is made out of gargantuan, rotten, liquefied starlight and toxic noon. This is a place of thundering sadness, and the nights here are as eternal as the memories are ephemeral.
With the last stroke of midnight everyone falls into brief unconsciousness. It is in that moment of quiet sleep, that “the Strangers” come to rip the inhabitants of this city from the burden of remembrance. They appear from nowhere, like sparks of darkness, dressed in watery blackness and bashful fedoras, a befitting paleness covering their faces, eyes beaming with hermit defilement.
The Strangers are an oration on the beauties of nightmares and helplessness. When they are done lurking through the city and slurping memento, the old night dies and a new one is awaken from slumber.
Dark city opens with a man in a bathtub. He remembers nothing. There is a dead woman in the same room; her back is deformed with spiraling symbols. The phone rings. He picks it up. A vexing warning carried by a ghostly voice: “Get the hell out of there.”
The first few minutes of the film are pilot material in its most basic state. Never has there been something of the kind of Dark City. It is something you won´t be able to find within the sardonic absurdity of The Fifth Element, nor in the punk philosophy of The Matrix. The funeral spectacle of its atmosphere was not received with torrents of applause when it first came out.
Like all misunderstood artistry, it has gained the respect and cult admiration of increasing fans, thanks to the dyad fleetness of time. It is hard to say, but perhaps TV would have been kinder in immediate demeanors towards this visual idiosyncrasy.
4. The Proposition (John Hillcoat, 2005)
“We are white men! Not Beasts!” – dwindles John Hurt to Guy Pierce. A verse, uttered with great volubility, like a quicksand pulsating beneath the surface of his character´s thoroughbred face. This line expresses the premise of “The proposition”, a western of overwhelming carnage and savage survivalists.
The film is an ornament of visual work, baroque in its portrayal of human wrath, but not in the drawing of the scandalous landscapes where it all takes place. More than a land, this is a sanctuary of loneliness and nothingness, where fear swells within the breasts of its vastness.
The taking of your older brother´s life for the saving of your youngest: This is the unwholesome proposition coerced to Guy Pierce’s character in reiterated exhortations. There was a time, within the peripheries of this continent, when it was impossible to recognize a man from a beast.
The Proposition is showered with an unapologetic and unpolished style. The film offers a breathtaking panorama of cognitive images, but it does so through the filthy, rugged process of chaos and catharsis. The characters in this film are not afraid to wallow on the dang and the dirtiness of unspoken violence. Other western heroes and anti-heroes do not athwart that line.
The Proposition is a proposition of brilliant narrative, that if given the chance to take a different course, it could savagely strangle the format of television, with audacious hands of grungy cleverness.
5. There’s Something About Mary (Farrelly Brothers, 1998)
Mary is a pronounced, sturdy character, soundly constructed under the premise of bad taste, but with unequivocally, elegant simplicity.
Her hair is made out of short slants of morning light; they slide down her head like a crown of melted gold. She is tall, almost mantis shaped, but her voracity comes only in outlines of kindness, not in goals of devouring. She does devour men, but not intentionally, she is just unaware of the venom in her tantrums. The fire within her, blazes to rival the sun.
The truth is that it is neither her physical mysticism nor her sunny personality what leads her infuriating charm. She is an entrancing character because she is encircled by mad fucks, far more erratic than her.
The film is an intelligent comedy about the tragedy of losers, and the superior forces that mock them as they tumble from the clouds of their expectations.
Life is a fucking bitch. Life is as grotesque as a zipper ripping our balls. Life has absent thought of mercy when decided to unleash the whip of stupidity, upon the desire of our most fervent dreams. But life´s misery does not always equal suffering and pain.
Misery as a decompressing tool for the demands of life was the thick field of thought, from which the Farrelly brothers created such simmered wings of character introspection, for Mary and her rally of crazed bastards. A storytelling ideal, that was still missing in their attempt with Dumb and Dumber, and one that with Me, Myself, and Irene, became only a shuddering, broken memory.
6. Election (Alexander Payne, 1999)
Mr. Mcallister staggers idiotically through the backyard of his neighbor’s house: the lonely, single mother with the vacuum mouth that seems to suck the sapping strength of already weakened men. Mr. Mcallister looks for her through the stilled windows. She is not at home but he keeps staggering, perhaps driven by the adrenaline of the tiny revenges bubbling up inside his stomach like boiling oil.
Maybe it is just the need for her perverted eyes, those dead locusts that have been stirring his desires in loquacious thoughts of raw sex for the past year. She is the ex-wife of his ex-colleague and best friend, and a close friend of his wife.
Suddenly, a bee stings him in the eye, and everything goes fuzzy. A bulging protuberance grows on his eyelid like a bloody peach. The idiot man becomes a frenzied Cyclops.
Much like Freaks and Geeks on TV, and Dazed and Confused in film, Election is an abnormal bug within the dreadlocks of teenage com-roms. This is a story of ambushed, little bugger-like men and women, tormented and crushed by the giddy spells of nubby vixens.
The leader of the pack is Tracy Flick. She carries the weight of her greed and the anchor of her purpose, deep within her genetic code. It was probably this burden what made her fall out from her mother´s womb in the first place. She is a lonesome voice that soars beyond reason.
Nevertheless, she is not a villain and Mr. Mcallister in not one of her victims. Both of them are charismatic monsters damaged by contradictory impulses. They are both enemies. They hate each other, but secretly, in an almost ludicrous, teenage fantasy, they desire each other as well.
If respected on its very core, Election could still make a terrific TV show. There is nothing more to say.