mon 14/10/2019

Oslo, August 31st/ The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) | reviews, news & interviews

Oslo, August 31st/ The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence)

Oslo, August 31st/ The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence)

Two outsiders. One portrayed with sensitivity, the other a vehicle for the deliberately disgusting

'Oslo, August 31st': Anders contemplates coming to the end of the line

Oslo, August 31st and The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) share more than a release date. One is a melancholic existential meditation and the other ostensibly a horror film, but both openly draw from earlier films, focus on an outsider unable to connect with society and use capital cities as background noise rather than window dressing. One is wilfully unpleasant.

But first, Oslo, August 31st, an elegiac reflection on coming to the end of the line. It reconfigures Louis Malle’s 1963 film The Fire Within (Le feu follet), itself based on La Rochelle’s novel. In the book and the earlier film, the path of an alcoholic is traced in Paris after leaving the confines of the clinic he’s been in. Oslo, August 31st transfers it to the Norwegian capital, focusing instead on a heroin addict who is now clean.

Spending time with Anders is an affecting experience. He’s looking in, not passing through the doorAnders (Anders Danielsen Lie) arrives in Oslo on day release to attend a job interview at a literary criticism magazine. The interview goes badly, but this isn’t the film’s centrepiece. His reconnection with old friends, former fly-by-night acquaintances and his disconnection from the city, its people and his family are what drive the film. Sequences gathering fragmented reminiscences of his past bring home Anders’s distance from his own history.

Spending time with Anders is an affecting experience. He’s intense, charming and eloquent. But he’s looking in, not passing through the door. You know where he’s going. What could have been an exercise in Strindbergian melancholy is instead like experiencing someone else’s dream. Director Joachim Trier has pared things to a minimum while retaining an emotional complexity. Anders's arrival at the apartment of a friend who's now married with a kid, and the subsequent interactions, are revealingly uncomfortable. This spare, elegant film manages its mood so well that the sense of detachment lingers after it's finished. Its impact isn’t immediately obvious.

Watch the trailer to Oslo, August 31st

The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) is hardly understated. It was initially refused an 18 certificate after the BBFC rejected it as “sexually violent… potentially obscene [and] no amount of cuts would allow them to give it a certificate”. However, it hits cinemas after 32 cuts.

I’ll admit this up front: I could not watch all of The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence). What it had been leading up to began 55 minutes in and, after a further eight minutes, I’d got the point. Discovering what the hammer was for gave a fair idea how the staple gun and carving knives would be used. The funnel? No idea. But I did not want to see Laurence R Harvey’s Martin (pictured right) use them on his victims. No doubt blogs and genre websites will go into it, but I couldn’t deal with any more.

The Human Centipede (First Sequence), released last year,  features as the vile Martin’s inspiration and guidebook. He’s a sexually abused London car-park attendant who extracts his victims at random from its nightmare concrete interior to enact what he’s seen in The Human Centipede (First Sequence). This black-and-white nastiness has some parallels with David Cronenberg’s body horror, but it isn’t horror. It’s just gross, although some might argue it’s so over the top it’s funny. It isn’t. With his self-referencing, Dutch director Tom Six has his marketing worked out. Don’t bother feeding it.

Watch the trailer for The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence)

Discovering what the hammer was for gave a fair idea how the staple gun and carving knives would be used

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