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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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When vaginas attack

teeth.jpg

Love bites.

My review of "Teeth" is in the Chicago Sun-Times and on RogerEbert.com. (Also: "21" and "CJ7.") Here's an excerpt:

"Teeth" sinks its incisors into a cross-cultural myth known as vagina dentata. Or, as Juno might call it, "Vaggie D." Depending on who you ask (not that you should bring it up in polite intercourse), it is said to represent the male fear of castration and of feminine sexuality in general. It also symbolizes the woman's anxieties about penetration, and/or her desire to devour her mate, who is attempting to fulfill his own bio-mythological destiny by returning upstream to spawn in the womb from whence he originated. (Or, as the movie puts it, "the dark crucible that hatched him.")

Whether you view it as a primordial image from the collective unconscious or a practical warning against promiscuity, vagina dentata makes an indubitably memorable impression -- and an ideal premise for a tongue-in-cheek thriller about uncontrollable urges.

Writer-director Mitchell Lichtenstein's teen horror-(of)-sex comedy begins with a big visual pun about a different portion of the feminine anatomy: An impressive pair of atomic power-plant silos protrude from the horizon like... you know. The camera tilts down to the lawn of a suburban home where nuclear family fusion is about to occur. Bill (Lenny Von Dohlen) and his son Brad (John Hensley) are about to join Kim (Vivienne Benesch) and her daughter Dawn (Jess Weixler) to form a single-household zygote. Mutations ensue....

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