Feb 5, 2009

The Wall Man

There's something entirely fascinating with watching absurdities and surreal ideas being transposed to the format of film. A strange necessity of awkwardness makes the experience a bizarre one; one that can't be mimicked by another format unless you're passionate enough. Such is the experience I had with watching The Wall Man. I'd attempted to watch it several times over the course of a night but always blacked out. This film doesn't really get interesting till 20 minutes or so in. The visual tirade known simply as The Wall Man does one thing flawlessly; it successfully alienates the audience in a way that can only be described as an out-of-body experience.

Imagine the general idea that Lynch has always aimed for but with an Asiatic mentality. The statuesque figures of wrinkled old men are replaced with Japanese men that photograph blank walls endlessly. If a film could ever bare the title of "Lynchian", this would be a definitive case. The Wall Man is a work reflecting what's great about David Lynch. The execution might not be top-notch but the atmosphere is dense; so dense that you could slice it with a knife. The only real blame could be lain on the wacky acting performance by lead actress Mayumi Ono. Her enthusiasm is the same illness that plagues many of the more aspirational Asian actor/ress.

A script this intense and thought out couldn't have been birthed directly as a script. If you must know, the original source data is derived from a short piece of Japanese manga, like most absurd stories. While the legendary Hideshi Hino mainly adapts tales of macabre grotesque horror, The Wall Man is more of an avant-garde psyche piece of supernatural fiction. A reporter for a rumor tabloid program receives a postcard telling the short, but sweet story of the Wall Man; an entity living in the walls that watches everything. The level of fiction is surpassed involuntarily on several occasions as the leads play off on many visual metaphors, many of which seem to proclaim us, the viewers, as the Wall Men. After all, we do watch their charades endlessly and we are everything.

Apart from the depth that at times feels contrived, The Wall Man is an excellent piece of bizarro fiction. Again, the film is not without it's flaws but the latter can be overlooked effortlessly as long as "slow" films don't overload your minuscule attention span. If you enjoy arthouse films, this deserves an immediate viewing. He's captured the general idea that Lynch has been chasing for years. Think the insanity of Inland Empire but honed to an earnest execution that amiably entertains while nourishing. The Wall Man is often unnerving and always mysterious. You might not get it and you never will. Art is rare and fallible. You must look past what you don't appreciate and scope it out from a different vantage. After all, who could really enjoy Begotten? That film serves more as lure for sexy "indie" females than a generous film experience.


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