January 23, 2014

Lerman's 14 For '14 Day Fourteen: TAXIDERMIA Is The Absolute Pinnacle Of Ler-Mania

"And if something comes to an end, then its beginning will also be important."
It all comes down to this.

In so many ways, Taxidermia feels like the perfect culmination of everything I expected out of these two weeks and exactly the kind of movie I think of when I think of Lerman.  It'd be easy to reduce his tastes down to nothing more than the most batshit crazy stuff imaginable, but it's important to remember that he was equally excited to about Little Shop or Babe as he was about A Serbian Film.  That takes a very special kind of person and I'm so grateful that he was willing and able to take the time to construct such an eclectic collection of cinema for my personal consumption.  I definitely would never have watched the vast majority of these films of my own accord and I totally fell in love with more than a few of them.  Besides, I'm always happy to have my tastes broadened in the widest manner possible.

Taxidermia is certainly a film that will challenge your comfort levels as well as your gag reflex.  It was also Hungary's official Oscar submission for Best Foreign Language Film, and the idea of Academy voters gathering together to watch a film that starts off with a guy shooting flames out of his dick is endless entertaining to me.  The story charts the lives of three men through subsequent generations of the Balatony family, each with his own fleshly form of obsession.  Morosgovanyi is a pitiful excuse for a soldier who's posted at a remote family farm in the dead of winter.  His chief concern in life is finding new ways to achieve sexual release; in other words, get ready for a lot of bizarre penis imagery involving fireballs, chickens, wooden boards and dead pigs.  His story comes to an abrupt halt when his commanding officer realizes that Morosgovyani totally banged the C.O.'s rather rotund wife, who soon gives birth to the little horndog's son.  And just for added porcine flavor, the baby has a vestigial tail that gets cut off with a pair of tin snips, in close up no less.

The story then jumps forward about 25 years where the now-grown baby Kalman has become a championship speed-eater, shoveling all sorts of disgusting slop down his gullet in record time and then dispassionately vomiting it all up into a collective trough along with six other behemoths.  But in the midst of a major competition he gets so distracted by Bela, a female champion eater in the crowd, that he gets lockjaw and collapses.  Luckily, Bela thinks there's nothing sexier than a guy choking on a spoonful of donkey meat and passing the fuck out.  So they get hitched, but while Kalman is singing drunken love songs during the reception, Bela is watching him through the outside window while also getting boned by Kalman's biggest speed-eating rival.  So clearly cuckolding is a theme here.

Speed eating goes somewhat out of fashion and Bela's pregnancy ain't easy, but eventually she gives birth to Lajoska, who grows up to become a skinny-fuck taxidermist who also looks after his aging father who has now ballooned up to a comically gargantuan size (pictured above).  Not only can the old man not leave his apartment, he can't even get up from his chair/perch, leaving Lajoska in charge of feeding pounds of butter to Kalman's tremendous cats.  It's an antagonistic relationship which unsurprisingly ends on a sour fucking note and finally leads Lajoska to transform himself into his own greatest creation.  It's a completely unhinged bit of surreality that caps off the film, depicted in exquisite detail and presented in such a manner that ensures you know exactly what's going on while simultaneously thinking to yourself, "What the shit is going on?"

Taxidermia is the quintessential Lerman film, chock full of truly deranged, often disturbing imagery that might feel at first like crazy for the sake of crazy, but eventually adds up to a unique, boundary-pushing experience that stays with you for days and changes your perception of what film is all about.  For me, it's not going to become my new favorite movie and I may never watch it again, but I'll always remember Taxidermia and years from now I'll be having drinks with a friend and they'll mention some creepy co-worker who's keeps a stuffed gerbil at his cubicle.  And I'll end up telling them about this crazy movie I once saw and the madman who made me watch it.

And I'll smile.


What's The Connection?  Fat people!  One of the hotel victims in The Happiness Of The Katakuris is a sizable sumo wrestler who dies while having sex with his diminutive mistress and subsequently crushes her to death.  But he's downright tiny compared to the elder Kalman, who prefers to eat his chocolate bars without removing the foil wrapper.

Up Next: Sanity.

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Title:  Taxidermia
Director: Gyorgy Palfi,
Starring: Csaba Czene, Gergely Trocsanyi, Marc Bischoff, Istvan Gyuricza, Piroska Molnar, Gabor Mate, Zoltan Koppany
Year Of Release: 2006
Viewing Method: Netflix DVD