In the Basement

2014 human interest documentary

Rating: 14/20

Plot: A look at several people and what they hide in their basements.

My brother (anonymous) recommended this. I don't know who director Ulrich Seidl is, but after watching this, I'm intrigued. The documentary style is a bit like an Errol Morris or somebody like Errol Morris. There's something very artificial about the whole thing with some shots staged in a way that reminded me visually of Roy Andersson, and you know Seidl is edited all this footage almost like he's a sculptor. Hilariously, there are several shots where it looks like the subjects were told to pose for a still photograph and then filmed. Still, without any narration, it has an objective and hands-off feel where the viewer just gets to see what the subjects have to show us and hear their stories individual stories directly from their mouths. Most people watching this would probably think almost everybody shown in this thing is strange and that we are seeing skeletons in the basement, so to speak. If there had been commentary, I'd imagine the words, "But we all have secrets in our individual basements" would have been in there somewhere.

Be warned, especially since I wasn't, that there's some R-rated material here. There's an S&M couple, their scenes containing a little more scrotum than I usually like in my movies, and there's the little twerp at the top of the poster up there who claims he's popular with prostitutes, presumably because of the powerful load he can ejaculate. There's also an extended spanking sequence that seems to go on forever. I'm not sure I would have minded if the spanker wasn't wearing lederhosen. Juxtaposed with the more kinky basement dwellers are a guy who collects Nazi memorabilia, a guy who sings opera and operates an indoor shooting range, a dude with a ton of hunting trophies, a couple snippets of a guy with a toy train, and women with a washing machine and dryer. The most intriguing of all might be a woman who visits a very realistic (and creepy) baby doll that she keeps in a box and seemingly stores in different locations each time.

I'm not sure why Seidl arranges things like he does or what the central message of this is, but the visual style and dry humor kept me amused. And I'm definitely interested in seeming more from Ulrich Seidl.

Here was my favorite shot out of a lot of these very staged, but very cool, shots:

Unless I'm missing something, these women weren't featured in the rest of the movie. I don't know. Maybe one of them is the one with the doll? And the random insertion of this three in a very-typical basement, a shot that is maybe 10 or 15 seconds and not really odd at all, might be the oddest thing about this movie.

No comments: