Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"Shit List" Review: Begotten

I'm not gonna lie, I've enjoyed a fair amount of experimental and artistic films, but I can safely say there isn't a single thing of this planet that would convince me to watch Begotten ever again. This film is so infuriating that, after watching it, I spent the next hour trying to figure out why this film is hailed by critics. I would have preferred gargling a gallon of cat piss over watching this movie. While this may sound harsh and somewhat over-dramatic, I am prepared to make my case for putting "Begotten" on my shit list.

This story: Now before a bunch of art house film fanatics stumble upon this and decide to flank me with how I "don't understand" this movie, I must state that the movie made complete sense to me. The opening scene depicts God killing himself by repeatedly stabbing himself with something similar to a straight razor while piles of organs slowly slip from his body. After God dies, mother nature appears, walks around awkwardly, jerks off god, and then more or less gives birth to humanity (can you smell oscar?). This is the first ten minutes of the film (and arguably the most enjoyable part) and I felt it was at least a decent start. The next sixty or so minutes is filled with you watching this guy being dragged around a barren land scape and being beaten by some indescribable figures (not like the cool HP Lovecraft kind of "indescribable", its more of that squinting your eyes and going "what is that?" kind of indescribable).

This is suppose to represent the agony of the human race and its painfully futile existence. This wouldn't be a problem if it were a short film (then maybe I would have never heard of it or wasted my time watching...I could have made a pizza instead or read a book), but it is seventy goddamn minutes of this. After the first 20 minutes it offers no more insight and refuses to tell anymore of a story (like porn without the tits).

Film Grain: I understand the intent of the film grain, I am aware that he went through a process in order to make it appear the way it does, but it honestly doesn't do shit for me. I didn't mind it as first, but as the movie progressed (and I use that word lightly) I found it becoming more and more of a pain in the ass. It makes it almost impossible to see half the things going on in the film (not that I am missing much). Even if it was trying to pull off that "atmosphere of distress without seeing the actual event" it is a very poorly executed idea. (With this being said I do understand it was an experiment and experimenting is a main part of art films, but it is still an extension of my frustration with the film itself.)

I also feel the "independent black and white" has run its course thoroughly and can be put away for a little bit. Its not that I feel that Black and white film is stupid, I just feel purposely using Black and white film is more of a cheap trick to create false depth within the film (though there are films that do wear it very well).

Sound: There isn't a single reason to have the volume on for this one. No dialogue, no sound effects (besides crickets and wind), and no music through the entire movie. Again I mention that this would have been fine for a short film, but not a film where people will have to set aside some time in order to watch.

It also annoys me on the grounds that I wish to pursue sound production as a career and it really takes away from the film to really offer no audio stimulation to go with the film itself. Which in the long run might not seem like a big deal, but there are plenty of movies that could have been broken without a good soundtrack and proper mixing.

Hell, I would have taken two people having a conversation playing as the audio to the movie instead of the dull and lifeless soundtrack that didn't even seem to go that well with the movie. In fact, in order to get through the rest of the movie, I turned the volume off and just played some music to go with it. Nothing like barely being able to watch a guy get beaten to death while listening to your "best of rush" mixtape.

Now what really gets me: I decided to look up what IMDB thought of the film (a mistake on my part) and it had a somewhat positive review. Then I looked through their miniforum at the bottom of the page and saw someone with a fairly similar opinion to mine and he was more or less blasted by the IMDB crowd for "not getting it" and how he should go back to watching "Michael Bay films". I feel this was quite unfair, just because I didn't like it doesn't mean I am a cinematic neanderthal (I can't speak for the other person in this case, I have no real idea where his tastes are). I feel I have enough taste where my opinion is as reasonable as anyone elses.

0 out of 5
Interesting idea gone very very wrong and long. Everything worked against itself to create this film and I feel that everything in general could have been executed better to make a far more enjoyable film altogether. Its in a long list of experiment films, but its really the first one that I felt really had no point or entertainment value.

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