5. Conspirators of Pleasure (1996) – dir. Jan Svankmajer
The name of Jan Svankmajer is one of the biggest ones in the world of surrealism, as well as in Czech cinema. Among other things, he filmed a handful of well known animated shorts (“Jidlo”, for example) and an adaption of Alice of Wonderland that remained his best known work to date.
Starting out in theatre, then transferring to clay animation, the influences of his early ventures are clearly seen even in his later, (mostly) live-action works, such as this one.
The lead characters are some extremely weird people, with even weirder kinks: their similarities ultimately bring them closer and they start a club of sort where they can indulge in all of their crazy fantasies.
It could be considered a tedious watch by some because of the focus on the visuals, but for the ones already familiar with the way Svankmajer handles his subject matter, it should be fairly easy to sit through. A thing worth mentioning would be that, despite its absolute weirdness and the strong sexual energy present throughout the film, it is not particularly graphic in depiction of (standard) acts of intercourse.
4. The Miracle of P. Tinto (1998) – dir. Javier Fesser
An exercise in weirdness, The Miracle of P. Tinto is as funny as it is absurd and will leave you laughing most of the time, even when you’re not quite sure what’s going on. Centering around a couple desperate to have a child yet completely clueless on how the process of making one works, it crosses genre boundaries while never feeling too flat or losing its remarkable tone that is so boldly consistent despite the crossing between themes.
Generally considered an unimportant piece in the illustrous career of Javier Fesser, a filmmaker held in very high regard in his native country (and a bit less so internationally), it takes his outstanding imagination to a brand new level, unseen in some of his more mainstream works.
3. Bad Boy Bubby (1993) – dir. Rolf de Heer
A man by the name of Bubby, a child of a cruel mother, a product of a mundane enviroment, spent a good portion of his life locked up by her, to be used for her demented pleasures, convinced that he will die the moment he steps outside. Once he comes to the conclusion that he can leave his tiny room without consequences, the fun begins.
Rolf de Heer resorted to some wild decisions in order to bring his chaotic vision to the absolute maximum. The Bubby project was wandering around his head for years, throughout the 1980s, and he spent a fair deal of time making sure everything went according to the plan.
Once the filming began, he wasn’t afraid of using unheard techniques to give us the feeling of absolute shock: he changed cinematographers throughout the shooting, used non-actors (sometimes unaware that they are being filmed) and, unfortunately, employed real animal cruelty to demonstrate the state of Bubby’s mind.
All of the above contributed to the nauseating experience that this film is, and the expected rough treatment at the hands of the critics.
2. Trailer Park Boys (1999) – dir. Mike Clattenburg
It is worth noting, to avoid confusion, that Trailer Park Boys achieved their mainstream success as a TV show, not a film and are probably more well known for the watered-down television gimmick than this gritty picture that appeared a few years before.
Analyzing the lives of ex-cons and their family, friends and neighbors in a documentary style, it is a brutally honest portrayal of the way things are with a major touch of comedy. There are similarities with its follow-up but it is generally a much more serious picture.
Shot in black-and-white on a tight budget, it looks like an exemplar student film and wasn’t made for the eyes of neither the critics or the wider audiences. It chiefly served as a blueprint for the series, and is now mostly known for being its lesser-known predeccesor, though it is by all acounts its equal, if not a superior.
1. Bullet Ballet (1998) – dir. Shinya Tsukamoto
The beautiful frantic style of Shinya Tsukamoto is an essential component of all of his films. Over the course of a fairly prolific career spanning 40 years, he took part in a handful of great films, both in front and behind the camera. Some of them carved out their names in the history of body horror (“Tetsuo, the Iron Man”, “Ichi the Killer”). This charmingly titled gem, though, never quite got the clout of its creator’s other hits.
A grim tale of a freshly widowed man in a desolate urban enviroment, it was shot in gorgeous black and white and showcases an awful lot of the shortcomings of the Japanese society between all the violence and frenzy.
Marked by wonderful acting, bizarre city scenery and a plot that, despite the short running time, doesn’t jump straight to the chase, but slowly drives the viewer crazy, Bullet Ballet is undoubtedly one of the greats of Japanese horror from a period when the genre had reached its peak in the country. The already mentioned slow pace could perhaps be a bit unnerving at moments for the ones who aren’t used to Tsukamoto at his most personal, but the waiting most definitely pays off in the end.