let the corpses tan

 

At any one moment, there are likely a dozen stories going on within your immediate vicinity. From moment-to-moment, so many individual decisions affect so many others. To chronicle them all, you’d have to back up five minutes at a time agin and again and again.

Wednesday night’s Midnight Madness selection did just that.

LET THE CORPSES TAN is the story of a quick smash-and-grab that is pulled apart thread by thread in the night that follows. A car travelling down the Mediterranean coast is liquidated of its haul of gold, and the crooks take shelter at the villa of a conceptual artist. It’s no spoiler to say that the law soon comes knocking, as do old acquaintances , and honour amongst thieves soon gets thrown out the window. The film illustrates the evening’s goings-on, often backing up in time to show a singular moment from several different perspectives.

Shot with gloriously grainy 16mm stock, the film echoes grindhouse movies of the past. It doesn’t have a compassionate bone in its body, and isn’t interested in whether you “get” the art it is creating…only that the piece was created at all. That might work for conceptual artists (like the one that halts the action for several “performances”), but it doesn’t allow the audience any fun. The film doesn’t waste a single bullet when time comes to throw down, but it seldom wants to show us what they hit.

Things don’t get any clearer in the films quietest spells. It delights in drawing us in closer and closer with every cut, closing its grip on a conversation with us as an unexpected third wheel. We are forced to consider every single shift of their weight, since leather sleeves and seats creak with the volume of thunderclaps. However, while we cannot escape their gestures, and eventually realize that their words are essentially meaningless.

So very much is fetishized within the movie. Bullets, booze, smokes, and skin. The camera lusts after all of it (and more) but seldom seems to love any of it. Without any love, there is very little joy…and without any joy, a film like this is difficult to truly latch on to. It’s occasionally intense, always handsome, and sometimes even deeply sensory.

But it’s never joyful.

 

“Moment-to-moment” is a good way to describe this film, since several of the individual pieces of time is usually better than the sum of them all put together. There’s paint, there’s piggies, there’s bullets, there’s blood.

There’s burning embers falling like snowflakes, but little joy to be taken in the flurry.

LET THE CORPSES TAN provides precious little to truly bind these moments into something cohesive. It’s too arty to be fun, but not clever enough to be arty.