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Irreversible - A Review by Kong

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It was beauty killed the beast.


Gaspar Noe's Irrevervisble has gotten a lot of attention because of its unblinking brutality. Kong is not exaggerating when he says it is one of the most horrifying, realistic, and devasting depictions of violence that he has ever witnessed. Most theater goers will be put off, and Kong suggests that you think about wether you can handle watching some of the most vile actions commitable before you fork over the cash for your ticket.

"Irreversible" is a movie so violent and cruel that most people will find it unwatchable. - Roger Ebert (Positive review.)

[There are some spoilers here, but it is impossible to describe the movie without them. Even knowing these spoilers will not fully prepare you for what is in the film.]

Irreversible has garnered mixed reviews from critics, and Kong can understand how people would intensely dislike the film, but Kong felt that this was gripping, and powerful cinema albeit very hard to stomach and painful to watch. The film is done in 12 episodes, each episode is only one take, and the episodes are played in reverse chronological order (like Memento). The reverse order is not just a gimick though, it is an extremely intergral part of the theme. The story is of a couple, Alexandra and Marcus, and their friend, Alexandra's ex, Pierre. The three go to a party, and afterwards Alexandra is brutaly raped and beaten (the scene is an excruciating 9 minutes, and the camera sits unmoving during the vast majority of it), afterwards Marcus and Pierre go out to exact revenge. Since it's in reverse the revenge (the most gruesome murder Kong has ever seen filmed) comes first and happens within the first 15 minutes or so. The rape scene is about halfway through, and the rest of the film is about what the characters did earlier that same day.

It sounds repulsive, and watching it is far worse, but it's not done for pleasure. Most films gloss over these actions, and we become numb to seeing people murdered or beaten in films as a result, but you will not feel numb here. The violence is as realistic as it can get, and it's very disturbing. The realism is not only a reminder to us of how awful these actions are, but also an attack on films that use violence without putting in its ghastly context.

After the first 50 minutes or so the film's brutality has passed, and the rest of the film is a portrait of who these people were by showing us what they did prior to going to the party. It's nearly an hour of time to witness everything that will never be again, everything that was wrecked and destroyed by the irreversible actions of violence. Almost an hour to reflect on what is lost when mankind acts so evilly. It's a startling reminder of the things we try hard not to be reminded of.

Irreversible is, without a doubt, not for everyone. It is agonizing, but that is the point.

**** of ****
[But also a film Kong will probably never watch again.]
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I must become Caligari..!
Great Review Kong!!!!
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It's a god-awful small affair, To the girl with, the mousy hair, But her mummy is yelling "No", and her daddy has told her to go, But her friend is nowhere to be seen, Now she walks through her sunken dream, To the seat with the clearest view, And she's hooked to the silver screen, But the film is a saddening bore, For she's lived it ten times or more...



"Irreversible" has only shown at festival screenings in Oz, it has been near the top of my must see list since its controversial Canne screening last year.

Monica Belluci is far more than just a beautiful sight, she's very talented actress and her husband Vincent Cassell is always great and is in several films I dig (Crimson Rivers, The Apartment etc)

Fingers crossed it arrives in my lap one way or another soon because I really am looking forward to this experience.

Thanks for another interesting review of a film I am curious about.
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It was beauty killed the beast.
Originally Posted by Hondo333
Great Review Kong!!!!
Thanks.

What did you think of Winged Migration? Kong thought it was rather good. Definitely a new experience, but Kong was a little bothered by some of the staged scenes (like the parrot). Luckily enough, at the local showing there was an ornithologist who gave his thoughts and hosted a lengthy, and insightful Q&A after the film. Kong gives it a *** of ****.

Have you seen any other documentaries from this year? Kong was thinking about starting a thread devoted to documentaries from 2003, but figured there probably wouldn't be much interest since the Stevie thread he posted didn't even get any viewings much less a response.



Hey Kong,

Is "WINGED MIGRATIONS" known by another name?? I just saw the fabulous film "TRAVELLING BIRDS" helmed by the team responsible for MICROCOSMOS and HIMALAYA, is this the same film??

Also saw two great film doco's this year THE KID STAYS IN PICTURES which is the auto biography of Robert Evans (Did a review for it but nobody cared)- The second was LOST IN LA MANCHA which has just been released her in Oz and tells of the ill fated Don Quioxte project helmed by Tery Gilliam and starring Johnny Depp.



It was beauty killed the beast.
Originally Posted by Deckard
Hey Kong,

Is "WINGED MIGRATIONS" known by another name?? I just saw the fabulous film "TRAVELLING BIRDS" helmed by the team responsible for MICROCOSMOS and HIMALAYA, is this the same film??
Yep, that's the same one. Some really great cinematography huh?

Also saw two great film doco's this year THE KID STAYS IN PICTURES which is the auto biography of Robert Evans (Did a review for it but nobody cared)- The second was LOST IN LA MANCHA which has just been released her in Oz and tells of the ill fated Don Quioxte project helmed by Tery Gilliam and starring Johnny Depp.
The Kid Stays in the Picture was released last year over here in the states, but Kong hasn't seen it. Kong also hasn't seen Lost in La Mancha, he has been looking to rent it everytime he goes to the video store, but it's always been checked out. Hopefull Kong'll be watching it soon, and will definitely share his thoughts on it.



All I can say about Irreversible is that it's the worst movie of the year...

Have at me.
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I must become Caligari..!
I really enjoyed Winged Migration, I have never seen any thing like it before. Ii must have been very hard to get some of the shots. I didnt like the way they sped up some of the mass flock shots to make it seem like there were more that there were and some of the shots did look a bit blue screenish.

Over all: School grade mark: B

Originally Posted by Kong
Kong was a little bothered by some of the staged scenes (like the parrot).
Was that the one were it opens the cage???? What were some of the others???

Originally Posted by Kong
Kong was thinking about starting a thread devoted to documentaries from 2003, but figured there probably wouldn't be much interest since the Stevie thread he posted didn't even get any viewings much less a response.
I read the thread but i honest didnt know what to say. (iam not saying the review was bad)

Originally Posted by Kong
Have you seen any other documentaries from this year?
Not many others have been released over in the West (Of australia). But iam egar to see the two Dackard Mentioned. There is also a Film/Docco called The Magdalene Sisters Wich i have wanting to see



Yeah Kong, The cinemtography in Travelling Birds was amazing. have you seen the French crews earlier works HIMALAYA & MICROCOSMOS?? Both are amazingly shot and surreal in ther own ways. Totally recommend.

BARAKA still takes the cake as the finest shot doco film ever witnessed by my eyes. (ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER still takes the prize for all time fave doco.)

own all these and watch em quite regularly. None will diappoint....

Next Doco on my list is DEVIL'S PLAYGROUND which had one screening here but comes out on DVD this month....all about being raised Amish, released into society and then returning after experiencing sin.



there's a frog in my snake oil
Originally Posted by Deckard
Yeah Kong, The cinemtography in Travelling Birds was amazing. have you seen the French crews earlier works HIMALAYA & MICROCOSMOS?? Both are amazingly shot and surreal in ther own ways. Totally recommend.

BARAKA still takes the cake as the finest shot doco film ever witnessed by my eyes. (ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER still takes the prize for all time fave doco.)

own all these and watch em quite regularly. None will diappoint....

Next Doco on my list is DEVIL'S PLAYGROUND which had one screening here but comes out on DVD this month....all about being raised Amish, released into society and then returning after experiencing sin.
Yeah, got to say i enjoyed Microcosmos a lot. (haven't seen t'others i'm afraid), though i did think putting those caterpillar trails into a circle was a bit cruel [mind you, you should see some of the stuff the french get up to when they're going to eat the food. Tying other birds to trees on bits of string is one of them. They pull the strings and the flapping birds make the tree looks inhabited and safe. Lovely lads ]

Baraka, i've got to agree, is the most breath-taking observational doc i've ever seen. (I put it on expecting to just browse the opening and got sucked in)

Devil's Playground looks interesting. (Laurie Anderson's got a great quote about staying with an Amish family. She'd been stuck in the sitting room for several days, thanks to rain. The mother goes: "I told you never to speak to me like that again" to the husband, which was fine, but nobody had spoken for three hours previously.) (Man, they'll all be hooked on caffeine and attention-span reducers like tv surely )

Anyways, just wanted to recommend "The luckiest nut in the world" by Emily James (a Californian living in England), which is by far my favourite doc now, just because it combines awkward economic information with a highly accessible format. It explains some of the actions of the IMF and friends over the past fifty years. Believe me, it's worth watching. A little bit of "genius" as the Guardian newspaper put it.

BTW, about Lost in La Mancha: i read a very peculiar thing in John Cleese's biography. The writer claims Gilliam had mentioned the idea for this film to Cleese about 20 odd years ago. But, what he said was that he wanted to do was make a failed version, and film the failure, as some sort of ironic/Cervantian statement. I'll try and find the bit again - still, it would be MOST bizarre if he did set out to do this, and lose the studios etc all that money (he has always had a hate/hate relationship with his funders it seems tho, so who knows An interview with the two doc makers i read didn't hint at any shenanigans, but why would they? They did say that Gilliam often came up with perfectly telling expressions/scenes etc for them to film, casually i.e. the moment when he puts a paper-nose on semi-absentmindedly (t'would be an insane action to orchestrate this, but by a fairly anarchic man, so it might make sense). Ok, conspiracy theory ends.
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It was beauty killed the beast.
Originally Posted by Deckard
Yeah Kong, The cinemtography in Travelling Birds was amazing. have you seen the French crews earlier works HIMALAYA & MICROCOSMOS?? Both are amazingly shot and surreal in ther own ways. Totally recommend.
Seen Microcosmos and enjoyed it quite a bit, but Kong hasn't seen Himalya.

Originally Posted by Deckard
BARAKA still takes the cake as the finest shot doco film ever witnessed by my eyes. (ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER still takes the prize for all time fave doco.)
You probably know how much Kong loves Baraka from his "Top 3 Documentaries of the 1990's" thread. It's an amazing movie and the cinematography is drop dead gorgeous. Kong has also seen One Day in September which he found to be interesting (*** or ***1/2 of ****), but at the same time Kong wasn't too crazy about the way it was composed. It was sort of set up like a thriller or something.

Originally Posted by Deckard
Next Doco on my list is DEVIL'S PLAYGROUND which had one screening here but comes out on DVD this month....all about being raised Amish, released into society and then returning after experiencing sin.
Yes! Kong remembers hearing about this on Nation Public Radio, and it sounds very interesting. It's already on DVD over here, but Kong hasn't seen it yet.

Deckard, have you seen Alain Resnais' short documentary Night and Fog? It's about the holocaust, and it's devasting. Check it out if you haven't already.



there's a frog in my snake oil
(um, conspiracy theory cancelled from previous potty post. Can't find the ref. to pre-planned La Mancha debacle under Gilliam, and they don't list Cervantes or whatever. Must've dreamt it - tho i'm sure, i am sure i read something like that in there....heigh ho)



Enemies are so stimulating.
where i go to uni (southampton) there is an art cinema so i went to see this film there. i thought it was really good. although i seem to remember at the begining when they were walking through the club the way the camera moved made me feel dizzy lol. plus is was hard to actually see anything but it was a good effect in relation to the characters emotions i thought. the rape seen wasnt as bad as i expected but still awful. plus i liked the way the movie was put together all backwards. the films in reverse but what happened is irreversable. cool cool.
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It was beauty killed the beast.
Originally Posted by sisboombah
where i go to uni (southampton) there is an art cinema so i went to see this film there. i thought it was really good. although i seem to remember at the begining when they were walking through the club the way the camera moved made me feel dizzy lol. plus is was hard to actually see anything but it was a good effect in relation to the characters emotions i thought. the rape seen wasnt as bad as i expected but still awful. plus i liked the way the movie was put together all backwards. the films in reverse but what happened is irreversable. cool cool.
Kong felt the wild camera movements, which were most extreme at the beginning, fit perfectly into the film. The movement, combined with the music, physically effect us by be dizzying, and headach inducing which helps us feel the movie and foreshadows, in a way, the physical torment we are about to witness. Not only that, but the camera also seems to reflect our confusion. At that point in the film we don't know the characters, what they are doing, or where they are, and the camera almost seems to be frantically searching for a way out of the nightmare.



Enemies are so stimulating.
Originally Posted by Kong
Kong felt the wild camera movements, which were most extreme at the beginning, fit perfectly into the film. The movement, combined with the music, physically effect us by be dizzying, and headach inducing which helps us feel the movie and foreshadows, in a way, the physical torment we are about to witness. Not only that, but the camera also seems to reflect our confusion. At that point in the film we don't know the characters, what they are doing, or where they are, and the camera almost seems to be frantically searching for a way out of the nightmare.
i totally agree with you kong. it just took a bit of getting used to and im saying that the frustration i felt towards it was acknowledged by me as the purpose of the camera effect blah blah.



Kaiser "The Devil" Soze
I watched this film today and came here to see what people had to say about it... I like its Memento like backwards format... however I would have liked to have seen the unraveling of events carry on Longer ... after the party scene the movie began to die down and focus more on character development and tying up loose ends and stuff which started to bore me.

But Overall still quite a good film.
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And like that .... he's gone



I am having a nervous breakdance
Where the hell is Kong??
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The novelist does not long to see the lion eat grass. He realizes that one and the same God created the wolf and the lamb, then smiled, "seeing that his work was good".

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They had temporarily escaped the factories, the warehouses, the slaughterhouses, the car washes - they'd be back in captivity the next day but
now they were out - they were wild with freedom. They weren't thinking about the slavery of poverty. Or the slavery of welfare and food stamps. The rest of us would be all right until the poor learned how to make atom bombs in their basements.



Lets put a smile on that block
Brilliant review Kong. I miss his third person view of himself. My oh my that film flabbergasted me though....
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chicagofrog's Avatar
history *is* moralizing
Originally Posted by Piddzilla
Where the hell is Kong??
exactly, he did write great reviews!
come back, Kong! we're waiting...