2002 new favorite movie contender

Rating: 17/20

Plot: A very old, very wrinkled man has the hiccups or, as some people spell it, hiccoughs. Meanwhile, life and death go on around him. Pigs have sex. A shepherdess is leered at. Insects do insect things, and a policeman urinates. And oh, snap! Redrum! Redrum! Hiccup. Hiccup. Hiccup. Hiccup. Hiccup. Hiccup. Hiccup. Hiccup. Hiccup.

Sometimes I take notes on the movies I watch, especially when I get behind and know I'll forget something when I finally get around to writing about it. I wrote "Fahrtmester" in my notes for Hukkle, and apparently that was important enough to draw a box around. Fahrtmester. I don't know what that's about.

I do know that I loved this movie. I tried to watch it about a week before I did, but my wife was annoyed with the repetitious sound of the hiccuping guy. The titular hukkle, I guess. And you do get to see this heavily-wrinkled, half-grinning old man hiccup more than you can probably tolerate it. But that hukkle is just one of a flurry of sound effects. I can't remember a movie I've seen like this where the sound effects are at least as important as the visuals. There's this musicality or rhythm to the sounds going on in this nowhere village, and although there's almost no dialogue in this movie, there's plenty to listen to. Not to say the visuals aren't important or impressive because they are. There are a lot of "special effects" in this movie, things that made me wonder how the heck they pulled it off. There are lots of bug close-ups, recalling Microcosmos actually, and a whole lot of scenes where animals are in places where I don't think the animals would want to be. And there's that aforementioned pig sex scene if that's your thing. There's one scene during what I initially thought was an earthquake--it wasn't--that was really cool despite some dopey CGI. I also liked some stylish scenes involving an x-ray and some gyrating foliage that I liked even though they kind of clashed with the simple nature of the rest of the film. This is a sneaky film, one where nothing significant seems to be going on. You've got the hiccuper, a ladybug flying from a shepherdess to her stalker's nose, a bunch of insects, some guys bowling, that large-balled pig, a dying cat, a urinating policeman, a frog, somebody watching a soap opera. You almost just give up trying to find a plot, but then there's a striking imagery that reminds you that big things usually happen in movies and you start to piece together the clues and it's all so quietly shocking that you almost poop in your pants. I loved it, and the parts of me that loved it are the same parts that love the work of Jacques Tati and Twin Peaks. And movies with close-ups of insects.

See this one, Fahrtmesters! And when you do, stick with it and let it seep into your pores.


Shane said...

Ha! I just saw a poster (well, dvd box) for this movie that quotes somebody as saying it's 'Microcosmos' meets 'Twin Peaks'...awesome. No mention of Tati though

I forgot to mention that there's an awesomely insane song that played over the closing credits. Wild Hungarian folk music.

CinemaPat said...

Nice review, I really enjoyed this film.

CinemaPat said...

Did you notice the song at the end explained the story? I thought that was interesting since it was the only dialog in the entire film.

Shane said...

Yeah, and it was one of those weird moments for me when something that isn't shocking at all really jolts me. I was so used to the sound effects and the ambience that human voices singing the song seemed shocking.

At what point did you realize there was a story? For me, it wasn't until that great shot with the guy in the water where I started to figure out that I was supposed to be putting pieces together...

Josh said...

Ok...just finished it and I promised that I would find SOMETHING in it to like. Well, I did!

I'll admit that it's not my favorite movie I've ever seen, and I certainly wouldn't recommend it to just anyone. It's not a "for anyone" kind of film. But, it was pretty brilliant in it's own right. You're right, it did hit me just like you said it would (I'm wondering what other powers you possess...)

The creature close-ups were very intimate. I think that was a huge theme in this movie. Most of the shots were intimate shots where the camera was "looking in" on someone, or during a dinner scene where we shouldn't be just watching people eat. A lot like that guy peering at the girl who attracts lady bugs, the audience was peeping in on this village.

What I loved about this movie is that it's timeless. It could be told in any generation anywhere in the world. And, I don't think any dialogue would have helped the narrative (which is why the director must have taken the risk to just leave it out all together). Very creative. The sound editing would have to be spot on -- which it was. It was the dialogue of the film.

Shane said...

Timelessness, peepage, sound effects...yeah, I think that covers what I liked about it, too. I watched a little of this last night since I'd reminded myself of it yesterday. Was doubting my recommendation a little because I don't think it's exactly gripping for most normal people. Glad you don't hate me for wasting 80 or so minutes of your life.