May 20, 2013

I Stand Alone

Gaspar Noe, 1998

          The butcher has fallen into some hard-times. His meat shop went under after he had to serve time in jail, and after his release he cannot seem to get back on track. His struggle to find employment is not the only conflict in his life - he is living with a woman he deeply resents and also hasn't seen his institutionalized daughter in some time.
          It's difficult to say that you LIKE a Gaspar Noe film. I don't believe his films are intended on being liked, or disliked. They are intended to be processed, and interpreted in different ways. A Director tied to the New French Extremity, Noe is not afraid to approach taboo subjects such as incest, rape or abortion. At this point I've seen all three feature length films he's directed and they have all left me with the same feeling. That feeling is indescribable in a sense. For lack of a better word, I will just say that I've been affected by them. That being said, these three films all seem to have a certain theme to them. I Stand Alone examines morality. Irreversible examines impulse. Enter the Void examines consciousness. They all perform these examinations with little to no filter. And Noe certainly has a lot to say.
          I Stand Alone, while completely raw and graphic, is a well crafted film. Impressive camera work, such as the gunshot sound effect followed by the snap zoom. The music fueled truck ride when The Butcher hitchhikes. The claustrophobic scenes in the cheap apartments. The pan & tilt Paris street-shot at the end of the film. The narrative dialogue in the film could quite be the most graphic feature. Almost entirely in The Butcher's nihilistic thoughts, you are present for his all-consuming, unfocused anger that is projected toward anyone and anything that has challenged him.
          The Butcher is a proud man. He is an old school, blue-collared orphan who has a passion for his meat-cutting and that only. Nothing can compare, and he refuses to take on any occupation that he considers would be under-employing himself. Not everybody loves Paris, and he is one of them. Not one to hold back his disgust for the city, he traverses the gloomy slums and frequents the smoky dives for his small glass of vino. The Butcher's insurgent philosophical ranting displays Noe's raw but superior writing ability to the not-so-good screw-it-all soliloquies such as Ed Norton's character Monty in Spike Lee's The 25th Hour (over-rated). The Butcher is riddled with so much anger I wonder what kind of person he would be if things fell into place for him. What if he got hired by a prestigious meat-shop? What if he met the love of his life in some strange coincidence? But this doesn't happen. The Butcher seems to be destined for bad luck, and things seem to only get worse and worse for him. In that sense, while he is a man of many mistakes, there is a sympathetic side to his character.

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