Monday, April 1, 2019

Very Little In Daisies Makes Any Sense And That's Why It's So Funny

Of all the things I expected Daises to be, a precursor to The Eric Andre Show was not one of them. Though this hallmark of 1960's Czech cinema lacks Hannibal Buress, numerous other hallmarks of that Adult Swim TV program, like random outbursts of graphic violence, disorienting editing, generating comedy by way unwitting civilians reacting to all kinds of depraved mayhem. All of these elements are around in abundance in Daisies, an off-the-wall 1966 directorial effort from iconic filmmaker Vera Chytilová. Another trait Daisies shares with The Eric Andre Show? It’s absolutely hysterical.

Marie I (Jitka Cerhová) and Marie II (Ivana Karbanová) are two women who live together in an apartment and spend their days doing...whatever catches their fancy. Playing around with scissors? Duping wealthy older man into taking them on expensive dinners? Dancing around in public without a care in the world? Anything goes for these two whose lives basically serve as excuses for rampant debauchery that comprises the entirety of the plot of Daisies. Any semblance of a three-act structure is gleefully eschewed as Daisies just hops around from various sequence of ribald Marie I and Marie II antics to the next with these antics being constantly depicted through the lens of avant-garde filmmaking.

Such filmmaking manifests as a way to depict just how rowdy the antics of these two characters can get. Shenanigans involving scissors soon, naturally, involve the individual body parts of each of the Marie’s being chopped off yet, somehow, continuing to be alive. It’s an utterly surreal sequence populated by numerous still functioning disembodied body parts just floating around a room, an image that feels like it could have come straight out of Hausu or Mystics in Bali. At first merely baffling to watch, one begins to laugh at the darkly humorous element of how casually both Marie’s are reacting to this gruesome scenario.

Their disposition here is par for the course for their behavior in all of Daisies. Both of our lead characters seem to have a pretty chill attitude towards whatever bizarreness they encounter. Of course, it’s easy to maintain for the Maries to keep such a temperament when they’re the one responsible for much of the madness in Daisies. Sometimes this comes from using scissors for extremely gruesome means, but sometimes they create confusion by dropping humorously frank pieces of dialogue. In one of the most hilarious examples of this, the fact that one of the Marie’s openly expresses their admiration for eating, for instance, sends a male stranger into a fit of confusion. The Maries clearly don’t care about adhering to societies norms and the way they causally rebel against those norms both makes for great comedy and makes them engaging protagonists.

It's impressive how riveting the Marie's are even without having any substance as characters. That's normally a sentiment meant as a critique of a movie, but for Daisies, it feels like a compliment since both of these individuals are clearly not meant be fully fleshed out human beings but rather physical manifestations of youthful anarchy. Why else would they be both given Marie I and Marie II monikers that make them sound like the designations for robots rather than traditional individual names that could separate the two to a greater degree? The idea of this duo being a source of humorous chaos rather than conventional human beings is reinforced in the hysterical lead performers by Jitka Cerhová and Ivana Karbanová that throw caution to the wind and revel in unpredictable mayhem.

The natural comedic chemistry between these two in the middle of so many absurdist visual flourishes at times make their rapport feel like what would happen if Laurel & Hardy found themselves in the middle of a drug trip. Speaking of absurdist visual flourishes, cinematographer Jaroslav Kucera makes great use of bright colors during various sequences throughout the film. It's both amusing and admirable how Kucera, like so much of the movie, eschews logic for just whatever appeals to him. Abruptly covering an entire frame in bright yellow coloring may not make much sense but it sure is nice to look at. A similar sense of creative gusto can be found in the sound work, which frequently has the tiniest movements of the lead characters be accompanied by random sound effects, like the sound of a squeaky door opening accompanying the movie on a pair of knees, for example. Writing down parts of Daisies, this movie sounds like a work of madness, and to a degree, it is, but it's also highly amusing fare whose absurdist creativity is impressive. As a cherry on top, it also seems to have helped pave the way for The Eric Andre Show!

No comments:

Post a Comment