Sunday, August 28, 2011

Stream a Little Stream

I love Kindertrauma's Stream Warriors posts because they tell me what disturbing, non-sucking movies are available to watch instantly on Netflix. I think I'll be a copycat, as is my wont, and start my own series of streamer reviews.

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover is the equivalent of walking into a fabulous-looking mansion and discovering it's littered with human shit. A bunch of classless English gangsters with increasingly repulsive revenge tactics and the lead gangster's tormented wife gather at an opulent restaurant for dinner every night, where their Gautier-designed costumes change with the color of their environment to synch moods, the wife goes to great lengths to continue an affair with a patron, various adorable poochies wander outside, and a bleach blonde eleven-year-old sings soprano at the sinks before the gangsters torture him into unconsciousness:

The movie is gorgeously shot and staged to clash with the base, grotesque behavior of the characters. Having the good silver out doesn't matter when Tim Roth is vomiting on it. With all the slicing up and stripping of dignity that the gangsters do to the undeserving, it makes sense that the movie ends with the wife forcing her husband to cannibalize the roasted corpse of her murdered lover. Bon appetit! Three and a half stars.

Otesanek, a bit of horror/surrealism from the Czech Republic, is about a childfree couple who, because the husband is stupid enough to carve a tree-stump baby in jest while his wife is in shambles over their dual sterility, and because the wife's batshit-crazy waves are apparently strong enough to animate objects, become parents to a flesh-eating tree monster. No tenant in their building (or meddling visitor) is safe, even after the parents have locked the monster in the basement; a neighbor tot "adopts" the monster and keeps it fed, which at one point involves leading the pedophile who's stalking her to his death (she accomplishes a lot in a day).
She also has to work to outsmart a prophetic fairy tale that says her elderly neighbor will lay the death smack on the monster with a garden hoe.

I think the theme of the movie is parenthood as a disease. The ever-growing tree stump monster is disgusting, violent, and uncommunicative, and is ruining its parents' marriage and already meager sanity, but the parents' love and devotion hang on and ultimately cause their deaths. The monster's appetite is never satisfied, it leaves skeletal remains in its wake, and it ends up in cahoots with another child, the only one who really understands him. Sounds like the suburbs to me! Three stars.

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