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Taxidermia (THR)

Taxidermia (THR)

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By Duane Byrge
Bottom line: Bunuel meets "Brazil" in a peculiar saturnalia of gross bodily functions.

For those with a cinematic stomach for huge bowls of vomit, "Taxidermia" should sate the aesthetic appetite.

CANNES -- Cannes cineastes will conjure up recollections of early Bunuel and Wertmuller: Bloodied slabs of meat and huge flabs of female buttocks. Such is the visual poetry of this pungently graphic assault on the viewing senses in "Taxidermia," which is likely to be viewed in its bloody entirety by only thoracic surgeons and maniacs.

As such, those who reveled in such cinematic synapses as the eyeball being slit in "Un Chien Andalou" will gravitate toward this outrageous, and frequently hilarious, piece de film. Similarly, those whose delectations run toward defecation will be perversely tantalized its aberrant abstractions. It will be hardly anyone's cup of tea, but for those with a cinematic stomach for huge bowls of vomit and innards, "Taxidermia" should sate the aesthetic appetite.

Assuredly, the MPAA would rate this one NC-17 for nearly each and every second and, accordingly, it might win some rebellious appreciation as a Midnight Madness.

To spare our gentle and highly-desirable reading demographic from the tawdry minutiae of the plot (such that it is), suffice it to say that "Taxidermia" bursts along via a series of bodily functions: rutting, vomiting, slogging, farting, copulating and every other "ing" too impolitic to print. After a while, you tend to get the feeling that filmmaker Gyorgy Palfi views mankind with the same level of regard he holds for barnyard animals.

Indeed, the two sometimes intersect: In one remarkable scene, an avid military masturbator (Csaba Czene) finds a tantalizing hole in a barn wall, layers the opening with burlap and moistens it with spittle. He then begins his eager thrusts; on the other side, the barnyard rooster spots the heaving appendage and begins to peck away. Hereafter, the participants will be referred to as the "pecker" and the "peckee."

Get the picture? If you do, stay far away.

Yet, in its crudity there are brainy bursts. With a "Brazil"-like midsection that lampoons the brutish culture of the former Communist bloc, "Taxidermia" churns with some delicious dollops of social and psychological satire. There's some shrewed Monty-Pythonish satire, with scads of mordantly nutty images.

It's also lubed with scads of absurd, Dusan Makavejan-type comedy, including a screwy subplot involving eating champions from the Bulgarian Liberation Front. To boot, there's a dose of romance between two of the biggest Commie gobblers ( Gergo Trocsanyi, Adel Stanczel). The big couple's frisky frolics at a beachside resort are a delirious lampoon of perfume and jewelry commercials.

Rotund romps aside, even those who have special capacities for non-redeeming grossness, such as film critics, will be likely sickened by some of "Taxidermia's" excremental excesses. Narratively, screenwriter Zsofia Ruttkay seems to have shot his thematic wad just past midsection, as the barn-yarn oozes downward into a bloated and juvenile heap.

For a film so pessimistic about mankind, "Taxidermia" erupts with some light-hearted technical inspiration: Cinematographer Gergely Poharnok's compositions are wickedly hilarious, while production designer Adrien Asztalos' concoctions are peculiarly gross.

Taxidermia
Fortissimofilms
Eurofilm Studio
Amdur Fou, Memento Films and La Cinefacture
In co-production with Arte France Cinema

Director: Gyorgy Palfi; Screenwriter: Zsofia Ruttkay, Gyorgy Palfi; based on the short stories of Lajos Parti Nagy; Producers: Gabor Varadi, Peter Miskotczi, Alehander Dumreicher-Ivanceanu, Gabriele Kranzelbinder, Alexandre Mallet-Guy, Emilie Georges; Cinematographer: Gergely Poharnok; Production designer: Adrien Asztalos; Costume designer: Julia Patkos; Editor: Reke Lemhenyi; Music: Amon Tobin. Cast. Vendel Morosgovanyi: Csaba Czene; Kalman Balatony: Gergo Trocsanyi; Lajos Balatony: Marc Bischoff; Gizella Acsel: Adel Stanczel.

No MPAA Rating, running time 90 minutes.