Friday, October 7, 2016
JEFF OF THE CINEFILES & UNFINISHED BUSINESS: HALL OF FAME: FILE #0048: LIQUID SKY (1982)
Directed By: Slava Tsukerman
Written By: Slava Tsukerman, Anne Carlisle & Nina V. Kerova
Cinematography By: Yuri Neyman
Editor: Slava Tsukerman & Sharyn Leslie Ross
Cast: Anne Carlisle, Paula E. Sheppard, Susan Doukas, Otto Von Wernerr, Bob Brady, Elanie C. Grove
Invisible aliens in a tiny flying saucer come to Earth looking for heroin. They land on top of a New York apartment inhabited by a drug dealer and her female, androgynous, bisexual nymphomaniac lover, a fashion model. The aliens soon find the human pheromones created in the brain during orgasm preferable to heroin, and the model's casual sex partners begin to disappear. This increasingly bizarre scenario is observed by a lonely woman in the building across the street, a German scientist who is following the aliens, and an equally androgynous, drug-addicted male model. (Both models are played by Anne Carlisle, in a dual role.) Darkly funny and thoroughly weird
The movie's "Liquid Sky" title is a phrase which is a slang term for heroin.
A film that seems almost like a misdirected student film with a sci-fi twist and a better budget.
A film that if not for it's rough edge and objectionable subject matter wouldn't feel too out of place on MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000. Though the film is purely 80's. It seems to go for a futuristic look though obviously then modern New York. Where most of the main characters seem to be addicts and strangely In The fashion industry, but are artists. Which would account for the colorful, make-up and costumes.
The films tone feels more avant-garde and underground with a new wave circus inspired sounding score.
The film is a highly sexualized movie that has an uncomfortable amount of sex and even more sexual assault, that moves the story forward somewhat, but as most of the characters are so complacent and used to the weirdness around them. It doesn't seem that strange to them.
I will admit the fashions and style are eye catching and inspired. Even if the film and story as crazy as they are, go on strange wavelengths that are hard to follow or believe. They do work, as it truly does give the film it's own personality and identity. Setting it apart.
This is definitely a film that is hard to truly get into and understand, but you find yourself thinking about a lot and maybe even obsessing with once it is done. As your mind has a hard time making sense and explaining it away.
I won't say I liked the film entirely, but I found watching the film to be an experience that is hard to define and feels like we are on a ride that really challenges your brain and senses. It is original.
I'll say if anything this film certainly has style and confidence. That is visual but clunky. Another beautiful time capsule of early 80's New York.
It seems like the film would be no stranger in an art gallery. It feels like a valentine to new wave. That would have fit perfectly in the movie presentation show NIGHT FLIGHT.
Strangely it seems to have a masochistic side that has junkies continuously challenging each other.
In the end, the storyline and plot don't even really matter too highly. As they seem just a reason for scenes and actions to exist and connect. A very sexual film that involves sex, but is never sexy or erotic.
Though the film and the director seem to love it's lava lamp inspired visuals which seem to over empower certain scenes and sequences. That represent murder or death scenes.
As the line readings by some actors seem over the top, So unemotional and just plain bad. Like they are being read in the spot with strange emphasis.
The film is worth watching once. Just for the experience as it is a cult classic. Maybe the film it is like a drug. As you get a certain high though not quite sure if it's enjoyment it more fascination to see where it's going to go. Either way it can't be too good for you.
Though at times the film is so warped it's supposed to be unintentionally funny, yet seeks like it wants you to laugh at some of it. You can look at this film in many ways, as a horror film, as in it seeks to be seen as a film that preaches against the dangers of drugs and sex like 80's horror films tended to (FRIDAY THE 13th) or a rape revenge take as the main character slowly exterminated those, (usually accidently) who have hurt her and kept her a slave or at least under their thumb emotionally, with drugs and through this power it ability granted her. She uses it to her independence to a degree. Believing it's a gift gained, almost a wish.
The side story of the scientist watching gets dropped for s good chunk of to get the action going. It also just seems there to give some kind of explanation as well as set up the ending.
The film also helps the side story characters intersect as the woman whose apartment he spies on from belongs to another characters mother. And Even though other character is Jimmy’s mother, she never finds out or worries about him even though she can see inside the apartment and that is the crowd her runs with --Some visuals are inspired and unforgettable. Like the glow in the dark make up application during a fateful monologue.
The movie was a rarity in that it was filmed in the USA by a small core Russian production team from the Soviet Union.
According to the movie's official site, the picture spent twenty-eight weeks on Variety's top grossing films box-office chart and was the longest running title on it for the year of 1983.
The film is many things and embraces many styles punk, experimental, underground, campy, sleazy and of course most of all new wave, while lacking a new wave score, but it is also one of a kind. The film feels like a rock n roll movie minus the music as it has a rebelliousness. Filled with nihilism, sex and narcissism.
The film could easily be an early portrait or allegory of the AIDS epidemic.
Surprised Lead actress Anne Carlisle didn't go onto stardom or noteworthy roles in bigger films. As here she plays dual roles and though I thought the characters looked similar couldn't tell she played both. Though is obvious in hindsight, but never realized while watching even with his fey voice.
Editing, quirky dialogue, bizzare plot line, creative Russian filmmaker and crew let loose filming in New York. Which could explain the films seeming disconnect and odd nuance.
Slava Tsukerman performed a number of roles on this movie. Tsukerman was the main producer, a co-writer, an editor, the director, a composer and a lyricist for the track "Me and My Rhythm Box".
Where everyone reacts rather calmly to the strange things that are happening.
This is a film where different audience members will internalize it in many different ways. Some will see it as just bad and they have that right others Will see it as a piece of art. A perfect representation of that time. A time capsule only to be appreciated late.
The film in it's own way has a similarity with the film TEETH, but literally a whole different animal. Though the film might not be right for everyone you should still give this film a chance.