I’ve never seen a film as jam packed with cinematic acrobatics as Let The Corpses Tan. Its a hyper-stylized, over the top, morass of filmmaking. Its unabashed, unrelenting, ludicrous movie-making with a vengeance. Half way through I needed a rest.
Its like watching Sergio Leone telling Sam Peckinpah about a dream he had starring Quentin Tarantino. I don’t know what to say about the film as a whole. Some of the crazy cinematic spectacle is truly fabulous. There are numerous moments that are just wonderfully creative and exciting, but as a whole there isn’t much meat to it, heaps of spicy sauce but not much meat.
Let The Corpses Tan, was shot in 2018 by co-directs Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani. It is essentially a pulp movie inspired by everything cheap and gritty. Its characters are all heroic scale, hardboiled and ready to die. Machine guns, short cigars, motorcycles, harsh sunlight and dirt make up the atmosphere. Layered into this mannered lasagna of murder and bravado is what appears to be Shakespeare’s Tempest. Prospero is now a sex crazed female artist and the sailors are robbers with a lot of gold in the trunk.
Much of the film is shot in extreme close up. Its a cross between a collage and a montage. The images not only add together to make a narrative, but they fit together to visually represent a larger whole we never see. We see an eye, a drop of sweat, a gun, gnashing teeth, the flash of a gun muzzle, and some blood splatter on the dirt and we are left to construct the s scene ourselves.
It can all add up to a thrilling moment or a ridiculous parody of a thrilling moment. I don’t think any of it is meant to actually be parody, the directors are just allowing themselves a lot of room to play within a genre that is partially defined by excess. There is no denying their talent, its just a question of what it all adds up to.
You could call it an homage to pulp, an unabashed cinematic revere, or an experiment. Whatever it is, its undeniably fun. It does get tiresome after awhile. Its like someone singing, and juggling, and riding a flaming unicycle on a tightrope for hours on end, eventually you disengage.
The sound design is equally ambitious. It reminded me a little of Ren and Stimpy, where sound was used in unpredictable ways. The sound often exaggerates whatever was on screen. Instead of matching sounds with images the sound is sometimes juxtaposed instead creating something unexpected and new.
Traditionally pulp concerns itself with cheap, easy, entertainment. Sex and violence sell, add a little suspense and you will make a profit. Let The Corpses Tan aspires to more than just pulp but it does not aspire to an Orson Wells epic either. Its a simple story with simple characters told in the most overblown and baroque manner possible. I might hesitate to call it a great film but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend seeing it.
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