Little Otik (aka OtesÁnek)
Director: Jan Svankmajer
One of the first things you'll notice here is if you've watched some of Svankmajer's earlier material, that this uses some more "commercial" film stock and processing (ie more 'natural' presentation of colors, not some odd-looking high-contrast film that looks like it's a bad military film or early 70s Super-8 home movie). That and the majority of this film is live-action. Animation does definitely come into play, but for the most part we have some pretty straight-forward cinematography with the seamlessly integrated inventive shot. It's the story itself that makes this movie so fucking odd. Like "Holy Bugshit Crazy" kind of odd.
The tale revolves around a rather timid couple's inability to sire a child. One weekend, while at a cabin retreat, the husband digs up a root from a tree. He half-jokingly trims it down so that it looks like an odd-shaped baby and presents it to his wife as such. Much to his chagrin, she takes it quite literally, forcing him to compensate for her actions in increasingly bizarre ways to keep the situation from the public eye. In the meantime, the neighbor's young daughter watches the odd display, ultimately knowing the truth but no one will believe her, plus the fact she is lonely and desires a playmate for herself. Obsessions and perceived realities(?) turn normalcy into bugshit crazy from thereon out.
There's a pretty clear indication the direction this film is going to take, but then it schizoids out and moves sideways. It really is a weird combination between Czechoslovakian folklore, modern social commentary (and not just of the Czechs circa 2000), and homage to the old Hollywood-era monster movies. It even throws in a lecherous old man in endless search of naughty bits, just to throw you off (usually to humorous affect, but mainly just creepy). It's a different take on the fairy tale, by way of Jeunet, Del Toro or even Cronenberg. Definitely could be trimmed down a bit time-wise, but still quite the dark ride nonetheless.
Great Scene: Fucking hilarious, the main couple when walking out of the movie multiplex, a poster of (roughly translated) "Cannibal: Part 4" poster in the background, the husband makes the comment, "What a stupid film. Why don't they make something decent? Something about ordinary people. We should have stayed home."
DVD Notes: Zeitgeist put this out, a good presentation of the film with interesting if not a bit annoying menu transitions. Sad to say, though, the disc was pretty beat up, thus Cursed by the Scratched DVD. While I was still able to make it through the movie itself with a relatively few number of interruptions, it did render the Extras section unreadable. While I'd like to get a new copy of this to see them, my deadline looms. Perhaps at a later time, I have no qualms revisiting this down the road sometime.