Sunday, March 7, 2010

Forbidden Fruit: Püha Tõnu kiusamine/The Temptation of St. Tony

Püha Tõnu kiusamine/The Temptation of St. Tony (2009) - Õunpuu
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The film's first 2/3 is strong, filled with Roy Andersson-like wiry absurd humor with amazing black and white cinematography in a decaying, cold, barren world that is Estonia . Tony (Taavi Eelma) is a bird's-nest haired, mild mannered manager at a factory. He has good intentions and a good heart. But he constantly gets shit on by both his boss and workers alike. He is a typical middle man with the soul of a common merchant. With his defenselessness and a dorky appearance, Tony sticks out like a sore thumb wherever he goes. It is a dog eat dog world. Õunpuu delivers that message with bravado. This Kafkaesque tale is definitely a satire a la Buñuel. The fun is in the surrealistic visuals (from Tarkovsky to Lynch) and absurdist humor (including staging of the miserablest play Uncle Vanya). After Tony falls for a beautiful daughter of a factory worker he just fired, things take a drastic turn and he ends up in a grand, decadent club called Das Goldenes Zeitalter (The Golden Age). There Denis Lavant with his lizard like face makes an appearance as Count Dionysus Korzybski, the Chaplin-esque master of the ceremony, looking not unlike one of the grotesque creatures depicted in many paintings of The Temptation of St. Anthony. The film goes totally absurdistan from there- a chainsaw, running in snowy landscapes with only leather thongs on, ice skating link and cannibalism. But even with its (literally) messy ending, The Temptation is an experience to be had.

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