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Taxidermia

Taxidermia

So nice we reviewed it twice?

Or so gross we had to boast?

First, Eric Hynes in indieWIRE on Gyorgy Palfi’s Taxidermia:

A three-course ordeal of icky sex, Olympian gluttony, and autoerotic dismemberment, Gyorgy Palfi’s Taxidermia is consistently vile. Yet it’s also a sustained, unique work of art, and well worth the mess. A triptych, the first two sections of which are based on stories by Hungarian writer Lajos Parti Nagy (the third is an original story by Palfi and his wife, Zsofia Ruttkay, and they also cowrote the screenplay), the film chronicles three generations of men led and tormented by primal desires. A nervous, reclusive World War II soldier can’t control his burning sexual urges; his hulking son, a competitive speed eater in postwar Hungary, ravenously pursues success and respect; and a haunted grandson cares for his now massive, immobile father and plans for the ultimate in taxidermal preservation. Taxidermia operates as fable but communicates in viscera, a bracing contravention of flesh and fantasy.

Palfi’s aesthetic evokes the work of fabulists like Tim Burton, Terry Gilliam, and Jan Svankmajer, but he’s actually a more fluid filmmaker than those three; his approach is less dioramic and more breathlessly associative, more thoroughly surrealist. He rarely showcases his moments of genius, instead trolling deeper into unconscious impulses and visions. And though his decadent, dystopic, life-of-the-decaying-flesh worldview feels second hand and pat, his insatiable camera belies a hunger for life, a celebration of visual possibility. It’s this joy in creation that makes the film so compelling even as it transmits a steady, quite literal stream of bodily refuse and produce. Judging by sheer vomitous, bloody, ejaculative volume, Palfi’s second feature is easily the grossest film of the year. In terms of shot-making, it’s also one of the most impressive.

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Then, for a reverse shot, Elbert Ventura:

Taxidermia is a drunken, lumbering lout of a movie. It grabs you by the scruff of the neck, gives you a noogie, belches in your face, and slaps you on the back. It is critic-proof—either you like the succession of genitalia, entrails, ejaculate, body parts, and nausea in impeccably arranged compositions, or you protest and reveal yourself as a whimpering bourgeois prig. Hungarian director Gyorgi Palfi perfects a kind of Gilliam-esque magic miserablism here, but to what end? He certainly proves his chops as a conjurer of the fantastical, an imagist of the first order. But his images are so repellent, his misanthropy so strident, that the true measure of his talent may be how unpleasant you feel at the end of his movie—if you make it that far.

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