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Katrina, a music teacher, comes across an unfinished symphony that she becomes obsessed over and hopes to finish. Along for the ride is Katrina's brother, a borderline autistic scientist/inventor type who helps his sister out with the creative thing. Complicating things is the presence of Katrina's ex-husband, Pietro, a man with some issues who eventually shows up to lock Katrina in a cage.
From the creator of MAD COWGIRL, a film about a woman slowly going insane from a degenerative brain disease, comes VIOLENT BLUE. Pegged as 'a new study in obsession and madness', this is one of those films that takes viewers on a bizarre trip that mixes in hints of other avant-guard filmmakers while putting in a few spins from its director, Gregory Hatanaka. I say that because I honestly didn't know what to think of this film, other than it being one of those 'for fans only' types. That, and the film starts off with a pig being slaughtered.
Hatanaka sought to present a film that provides viewers with an insight into madness and obsession with VIOLENT BLUE. Mission accomplished. This is one weird film to sit through. All the characters speak in various languages (moving from English to Polish and Czech and back), various people have sex throughout the film in the background, and all of this is set against classical music. The acting is kind of inconsistent, though this works with the film's erratic happenings to keep things, well, erratic. It's certainly not a horror movie, but more closer to arthouse films like THE HOWL or *shudder* KISS NAPOLEON GOODBYE.
By far, the film's biggest shortcoming is its length. Usually, you'd expect an experimental film such as this to be a brief affair. Not here. VIOLENT BLUE clocks in at just over two hours, which is really far too long for a film this challenging. Making matters worse is the fact that the film is just, well, weird. The random nudity, odd characters, and music threaten to overwhelm viewers, leaving them lost as to what exactly is going on. All of these elements never seem to gel, and end up just 'being there', without communicating to the audience as a whole. Basically, it's as if someone made a tribute to David Lynch, but forgot to reel it in after throwing in as much bizarreness as they could.
After all of this, I'm still not sure what to think of VIOLENT BLUE. It's visually bizarre, with an odd story with odd characters that seems to ape David Lynch in its overall weirdness, but lack the restraint to reel viewers back in after being weirded out. Obviously, fans of Hatanaka's previous films will jump at this one, as will those types who enjoy films of this nature. For the rest of us, it'll be a different story, as the combination of the film's length and weirdness will probably have you scrambling for the remote.
Video: Presented in 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen, the film does show its low-budget origins. Colors don't exactly leap off the screen, nor are the black levels particularly strong. Still, given the source material, this is still an acceptable transfer.
Audio: The film's armed with an English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround mix, which also throws in some Polish and Czech, as noted above. Again, the film's low budget origins are apparent with the lack of action in the rear. Music plays a big part of the film, and as such is brought out in full. Dialogue is clear, which is integral when faced with a film of this nature.
First up are a set of interviews with actresses Silvia Suvadova, Andrea Harrison and actors Jesse Hlubik, Nick Mancuso, Barry O'Rourke and producer Clinton H. Wallace. The cast do the usual talk about the film and are quite informative about the project. The absence of Hatanaka and the crew is a let-down, though.
Following that are some deleted scenes that add more development to the characters, though lack context or reason as to why they were cut.
Also included are a couple of brief behind the scenes featurettes that consist mostly of production footage.
The film's trailer, the trailer for MAD COWGIRL finish up the extras, along with a gallery of titles that are available on DVD from Cinema Epoch.
Lynchian in its presentation, VIOLENT BLUE is a weird trip through obsession, mixing in random acts of sex and other bizarre weirdness. Unfortunately, the film's esoteric content won't appeal to everyone, and really the only folks interested in this one will be the arthouse crowd and fans of Hatanaka's previous efforts. As for the DVD, Cinema Epoch offer up a good set of extras, though Hatanaka's absence from them is puzzling.