Let the Corpses Tan [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Kino Lorber
Review written by and copyright: Robert Segedy (23rd February 2019).
The Film

Yes, they don’t make them like that anymore or do they? Is that something that you find yourself saying when discussing the current state of cinema with friends? Then perhaps you need to cast your nets beyond the shallow waters of Netflix and Amazon streaming and venture out into some more adventurous, perhaps even dangerous, waters. With that in mind, I present for you a bold cinematic cocktail that might be just the thing to shake up your expectations and your appetite. This is definitely an acquired taste, the expressionistic film making style of the directors is steeped in a revered homage style; Italian Giallo, action packed Italian crime films, shadowy noir, sun drenched Spaghetti Westerns, all lovingly duplicated and reproduced, complete with appropriate soundtracks. Primary colors make up the film’s palette: red, blue, green, yellow. The sky is a cloudless blue, the blood is a deep crimson, the ocean is a perfect blue, and the stolen gold is bright yellow. Characters are simply introduced and are given zero personality; they are like the many ants that populate the film, there merely to be moved about, shot at and ultimately, violently killed. This is filmmaking as sensory experience, a feast for the eyes and ears with the plot being minimal and the dialogue limited. To anyone familiar with the duo’s previous films "Amer" (2009) and "The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears" (2013), the ultimate goal is to dazzle the viewer with the visuals and to populate the film with references to previous films. If you tire of Quentin Tarantino and his rabid fan boy approach to filmmaking, then this is not the film for you, but if you are familiar with Italian Poliziotteschi’s or Spaghetti Westerns, then perhaps this is fair game for you.

The plot is very simple and straight forward: an edgy group of hijackers are holed up on the sun soaked coast of a Corsican coast. After robbing and killing everyone involved, the bad guys are headed back to the retreat when the unexpected happens. Adapted from a pulp crime novel by Jean-Patrick Manchette and Jean-Pierre Bastid, published in 1971, this homage to European Westerns and Italian crime caper films of yesteryear, is a blood soaked affair complete with plenty of firepower, riveting suspense and arterial spray. Literally the smell of gunpowder will fill your living room as guns explode repeatedly, with and without purpose. This is not a film that you sit and ponder; you dive in and let the visuals captivate you, worry about the plot details later on. This is truly a splatter film in the best meaning of the word. Colors splatter across the screen, paint is applied in thick greasy streaks, bullets pierce flesh, and liquids flow. It is all about style, not substance.

The film starts out slowly with various personalities simply hanging out at the artist’s retreat; they are eating breakfast and there are plenty of screen filling close ups of eyes, masticating mouths filled with food, you don’t know who these characters are but you are certain that they are up to no good. The climate is hot, the wind blows hot breezes but nothing cool, and the sun beats down on the landscape like a hammer. Elina Löwensohn stars as Luce, she of stubby cigar clamped in the corner of her mouth; forget all about "Johnny Guitar" (1954) with Mercedes McCambridge as a gender bending character, Madame Luce is on the loose! An artist that paints in bright primary colors, she then has her pals riddle the painting with holes. The landscape is riddled with sculpted skulls on sticks. Heavy on atmosphere, it is difficult to gain one’s bearings in this nightmarish vision, but allow me to attempt to bring some clarity to the director’s high minded concepts. Bernier (Marc Barbé) is a burnt out writer, a somebody whose time has come and gone; he now lives in a drunken stupor of isolation in a crumbling decrepit villa. Bernier surrounds himself with well-wishers and other sponges, which include Luce, who provides some much needed entertainment. Entering the fray are these bad actors that have robbed an armor car loaded with gold ingots and they are now looking for the perfect hideout. But before you can say "Holy Noir", the hand of fate intervenes and three visitors are picked up while returning from the heist. Irony of ironies, they are headed to Madame Luce’s place! My, what a small world it is! And surprise, they turn out to be Bernier’s ex-wife (Dorylia Calmel) along with the nanny (Marine Sainsily) and his young son (Bamba Forzani Ndiaye). Suddenly the retreat is getting crowded, but wait there’s more. Two leather clad motorcycle riding gendarmes (Hervé Sogne and Dominique Troyes) show up searching for the gang that pulled the job. Now’s when things start to heat up, literally. The gang consists of grizzled veteran Rhino (Stéphane Ferrara), a dude named La Brute (Bernie Bonvoisin), a smooth talking lawyer (Michelangelo Marchese) and a younger fellow (Pierre Nisse). How they all know each other, their connections to each other, fugetaboutit; they are all pawns to be moved about and dispatched with, their lives and deaths of no further consequence.

Essentially once the cops arrive, the double and triple crosses begin amidst plenty of gunfire, and it is practically impossible to tell who is who or what side they are on is. It is left up to the glorious soundtrack to carry the film to its eyebrow raising conclusion. Making use of maestro Ennio Morricone’s deep cuts, the film jumps the tracks, leaving sensibility far behind. Shot on 16mm by cinematographer Manuel Dacosse, the film becomes a visual feast for the eyes, with the deserted backdrop acting as the background for a deadly game of cat and mouse between the villains and the lone surviving cop. As I had said previously, this is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, but for those with bold tastes and a willingness to forego plot and dialogue; this could be the adventure ride that you seek. Turn up the volume and blast yourself into a badass universe of sound and motion!

Video

Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 2.35:1 mastered in HD 1080p 24/fps using AVC MPEG-4 compression, the picture is excellent and the palette is primary colors a go-go! Plenty of screen filling close ups of mouths, eyes, and teeth; enough to make Sergio Leone blush with envy! The screen barely can contain the antics of this film as it explodes with an eye searing savagery!

Audio

Two audio tracks are included in French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround and French DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo. Hoo boy, this is the stuff of Spaghetti dreams, with the speakers rocking from the percussive assault of the various weapons being used. Featuring French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, the audio is full and badass! Optional subtitles are included in English.

Extras

The disc features an audio commentary by film critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Queensland Film Festival Director John Edmond runs the length of the film. Interesting to listen to but I would rather have had the filmmakers comment on their film.

The film's original theatrical trailer (2:00) is also included.

Packaging

Comes packaged in a standard Blu-ray case.

Overall

For using an unlikely combination of plot lines, I must give this film an "A" simply based on the hectic pace and frantic visuals. I wish that I could have seen this in a theater with surround sound Dolby turned up to 11!

The Film: A Video: A Audio: A Extras: B Overall: A-

 


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