Though wunderkammern and curiosity cabinets came too early in human history to feature cinematic wonders, it is the considered opinion of Joshua Avram & His Cabinet of Curiosities that the works of artists and naturalists like Tod Browning, Werner Herzog, and Sir David Attenborough would have been highly prized and greatly enjoyed by acquisitive collectors. The use of opium by decadent writers (who are of great interest to this site) and the concomitant hallucinations they experienced could also be seen as analogous to the vicarious and transportive pleasures of the cinema. In short, we consider the indulgence of a Film Reviews section in this online wunderkammer to be wholly justified, and disputers of our logic may go to Hell–which is the dysphemism we've fondly given to our demon-ridden Contact page.

 

Weird science fiction films, foreign films, and arthouse films will be the primary–but not exclusive–foci of this page. The current list of reviews will be updated periodically with new writings on obscure, noteworthy, or thought-provoking films in the above categories. Cinematic reflections may also appear in Joshua Avram's Literary & Pictorial Log of Naturalia & Artificialia, which catalogues in a desultory way all manner of things, from odd creatures and plants and the explorers who discovered them to obscure literature and authors.

 

3 Women

The dream-inspired culmination of Robert Altman’s string of ‘70s classics.

 

Japanese Story

Maudlin art-house weeper from Australia starring Toni Collette.

 

Mr. Klein

Joseph Losey directs a tale about moral apathy in the face of inevitable destruction.

 

The Son

From the Dardenne brothers comes a poignant tale of a carpentry instructor and his neck.

 

Stray Dog

An early film from Akira Kurosawa that anticipates his 1963 masterpiece High and Low.

 

Fausto 5.0

A pornographic theater troupe adapts the Faust legend.

 

The Leopard

Burt Lancaster gives one of cinema’s finest performances in Luchino Visconti’s masterpiece.

 

City of God

Fernando Meirelles refashions DePalma and Scorsese in the slums of Rio.

 

Mamma Roma

“O flower of shit”: the earthiness of Anna Magnani and Pier Paolo Pasolini.

 

The Celebration

Thomas Vinterberg’s wickedly funny tale of sexual abuse disclosed at a family reunion.

 

Crimson Gold

The capitalist strivings of an Iranian pizza delivery man.

 

Port of Shadows

The poetic realism of Marcel Carne, Jacques Prevert, and Jean Gabin.

 

Showgirls

Calling it a guilty pleasure would imply a sense of shame.

 

Millennium Mambo

Hou Hsiao-hsien goes contemporary -kind of- in a future-narrated tale of lost time.

 

I Vitelloni

A middling work from Fellini that nonetheless inspired Scorsese's Mean Streets.

 

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring

A “Buddhist” film from Korean director Kim Ki-Duk that just kind of… exists.

 

Baadasssss!

Mario van Peebles tells the story of his father’s X-rated independent hit.

 

THX 1138

George Lucas decides that his 1984 would be a better film if it had digital monkeys.

 

Young Adam

Ewan McGregor, Tilda Swinton, and Peter Mullan in a tale of sex and sociopathy.

 

Tess

Roman Polanski tries to adapt Thomas Hardy’s classic novel.

 

The Mother

James Bond gets it on with a 60-something grandmother in a provocative, intelligent film.

 

I'm Not Scared & Intermission

A pair of derivative films that deserve neither your time nor your attention.

 

The Return

An elegant, moody Russian film from first-time director Andrei Zvyagintsev.

 

Eyes Without a Face

Georges Franju’s lurid yet understated horror classic about face transplantation.

 

The Saddest Music in the World

Critical darling Guy Maddin leaves me cold - again.

 

Jigoku

A silly but visually interesting morality play that concludes in a carnivalesque Buddhist hell.

 

The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes

The Brothers Quay somehow make curiosity cabinets kind of boring.