Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Bruno Dumont's latest, HORS SATAN, gets ten days at NYC's Anthology Film Archives

Bruno Dumont is back. He of Hadewijch, Flanders, Twentynine Palms, Humanité and The Life of Jesus has now returned with HORS SATAN (which translates to something like Outside Satan). Here we go again with the "spare" dialog: "I can't take anyone," says she. "There is only one way," notes he. Oh, yeah? One way to what? Skin a cat? No, actually: to get rid, as is going on below, of an unpleasant father (or maybe he's a step-father). Who knows? Who cares? Certainly not the moviegoer who sits through yet another pile of ordure from the pretentious shit-king of cinema, M. Dumont.

The fellow with the rifle, above, is yet another of this filmmaker's very odd "heroes," a man, as usual, of mystery. Is he saint or sinner, healer or killer, chocolate or vanilla? I'll have a scoop of both, thanks. Because, as usual, things are so loosey/goosey, whatever-you-want-to-make-of-them in this Dumont film that you (and he) can have that cake and eat it, too -- along with the accompanying ice cream.

In his new movie, the filmmaker (shown at right) proves he has as little understanding of how a police investigation works as he did of a religious order (Hadewijch), wartime (Flanders) or the operation of an ice cream stand (Twentynine Palms). In the universe of this writer/director, everything and anything happens solely because M. Dumont wants it to.  'Nuff said. My big question in all of his films (since the better Humanité) is this: When have you ever seen people, living in anything approaching a recognizable society, act like this? The answer is never, and that, I suppose, is the appeal of Bruno's work. You want something different? (And don't bother me with questions of logic.) Here it is.

Symbolism, metaphor, and what have you are all fine. But if you are going to present something with a veneer of the real -- like the lovely French countryside, shot so vibrantly by Yves Cape -- it might help to people it with some reality, too.

Here we get that taciturn hero, played on one note by David Dewaele, given to praying, slaying and maybe some healing (though that last one's kind of iffy). This poor guy is constantly being offered a little sex by our insistent heroine (played with a bit more life by newcomer Alexandra Lemâtre) -- whose dad he has already rubbed out and whose would-be boyfriend, a little-too-pushy older guy, he also takes care of in nasty, bloody fashion.

After several tries at seducing our sinner/saint, and repeatedly being put off by him (I guess you could call him "the loner sans boner"), our girl remains frustrated, and our guy plods on gloomily. At this point in the film --- about 75-80 minutes into it -- the DVD I was sent ceased to function. I tried everything I knew to get it to continue to play, including ejecting it, inserting it and starting all over again (you can image how happy that made me). But still, when the disc reached the same point, it simply shut down again.

Now, I realize that M. Dumont seems to think of himself as a movie-maker who deals with religion.  Or spirituality. Or something. So perhaps he will take this as god's punishment on TrustMovies for my profane attitude. I, of course, see it as something else: a kind of reprieve for which I can only mutter, Merci, mon dieu.

Hors Satan, from New Yorker Films and running 109 minutes opens this Friday, January 18, and will play through Sunday, January 27, at New York City's Anthology Film Archives -- with screenings at 6:45 & 9:15 nightly with additional showings on Saturday & Sunday at 4:30. Click here for tickets, and here for directions.

No comments: