The Vanishing

It’s Tuesday, and I’ve just ordered Jimmy John’s for dinner. My cat is mad at me because I no longer have class on Tuesday evenings. So she’s moping under the comforter on my bed. I have been ostracized to my living room with my fresh cup of Darjeeling tea. I run a tired finger across a handful of movies I recently picked up from the library and land on…

Sploorloos

The Vanishing (1988) Original title “Spoorloos”
Starring Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, Gene Bervoets, and Johana ter Steege
Directed by George Sluizer
How I saw it: Rented DVD from the public library
In French/Dutch, Subtitles in English
First time seeing it, No previous knowledge of the film

Credits, credits, forgettable soundtrack that badly wants to be the synthesized version of the theme from “Love Story” then…

Behold, stick insect. I’ve often thought more movies should open with a good lingering shot of a stick insect. I mean, they’re a fairly photogenic creature. See?

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Oh how lovely…a road trip. Young couple in love… just a car, two bikes, each other, and a foreboding soundtrack.

Dialogue begins, wait, quick subtitles… I can’t understand what they’re saying…

“Animals with a ‘C'”… “Crow” “Crocodile” “Chameleon”

For some reason they’re listing different animals. Must’ve been a long road trip.

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Where is my Jimmy John’s sandwich? A girl can get hungry waiting for plot to appear.

Saskia: “My nightmare. I had it again last night.” Oh look, plot.

Oh dear, they’re out of gasoline…in a long dark tunnel. WHY?
I know, look for a castle, maybe they have a phone. That always brightens things up a bit. (I solemnly swear to work in at least one RHPS allusion in each post I make…So say we all.)

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This woman is still going on about her dream. She’s clearly obsessed with gold eggs and the idea that they’ll be run over. Turns out, her vision of these eggs, was actually headlights… or something. Pft.

Rex leaves her to look for a gas station.
Saskia: “You can’t leave me here alone.” Oh, but he did.
Saskia: “Rex, wait.”
You remember that, Rex. Remember she asked you to wait.

Rex returns with gasoline… annnnnd…*gasp*….she’s vanished.

You know where else people are very obsessed with eggs? The Great Gatsby….those people were all about East Egg, West Egg…scrambled eggs.

Oh, just kidding…. Saskia’s still here. She just walked out of the long dark tunnel and stood there on the road, holding a flashlight until Rex came back…because naturally.

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We now cut  suddenly to a new character. A shady ginger is putting on a fake cast while the soundtrack serenades him with jazzy saxophone motifs. Who? What? Also, why is his cast so big? No one will believe that’s real.

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Rex: “In the tunnel, when you called out to me, I felt I loved you more than ever.”
Saskia:”I hated you.”
Well, good. You two work that out, and for the love of all…stay away from the guy with the cast. I mean… look at him.

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Rex and Saskia make out in a field in matching shirts for awhile, and then she goes into the convenience store. (15:30) Never to be heard from again, except in brief flashback sequences.

There’s a huge 18 wheeler casually pulling through the frame. Is that important? You know, human trafficking isn’t a new phenomena. Rex looks around, OMG, Where is she? She’s in the truck! I bet the shady ginger clubbed her with his fake cast. Open your eyes Rex! Remember two minutes ago, when your life was perfect?

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As Rex panics, he opens the back door to the car and a sack of loose ping pong balls falls out. This nicely demonstrates his current state of disorganization and panic. Thanks for that, director. I was unclear about his current mental status.

Rex leaves a note for Saskia to wait in the car, then runs amok yelling for her everywhere. Seriously, this guy really wants an award for this role. Were there energy drinks in 1988? If so, he must’ve had seven before shooting this scene.
Rex: “I can’t find my wife.”
Random guy in the restroom: “This isn’t the ladies’ room.”
Clearly, but what exactly is a ladies room?

Rex has conveniently captured a glimpse of Saskia in the background of a candid Polaroid shot. Which reminds me, when is the last time I saw Memento? That was a crazy film… Thinking about Memento, thinking about Guy Pearce, Thinking about the last time I saw Guy Pearce in a movie…Wait, movie. I’m watching a movie.

Shady ginger and family live in a shady place, eat with shady spiders, and scream shady screams. Did he just start a stopwatch as he fell asleep? Are we introducing astral projection to the plot? Don’t go into the further…Patrick Wilson awaits you there. Do not go gentle into that good night. Nnnnnnooooo.

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Food’s here. *pause*
Contemplate the shady ginger above.
Would you trust him?

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Ginger just practiced his abduction routine like a dance. And he has a creepy little Moleskin that he records his times, like an athlete… or a bookie. Whhhhhat is happening?
1,2,3 – opens the door
4,5,6 – reaches across his victim to lock the door and cover her mouth with a handkerchief soaked with chloroform.
You know…just say ‘No’ to strangers who are too quick to invite you into their car.

We watch ginge do his thing a few times. See him scope out Saskia. Then we flash forward three years. Poor Saskia. This is what happens when you don’t get top billing.

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We catch up with Rex. He has a new woman with big hair, that doesn’t like being reminded what happened to the girl who came before. Rex is starting to look pretty serial killeresque himself. He is obsessed with finding out what happened to Saskia. Everyone seems to think this is unreasonable and that he should just forget her.

You know, if I had big hair and the last girlfriend of the guy I was dating mysteriously “vanished”… I think I’d want some answers too. I mean, take a look at Rex…he might’ve done it, at this point. Maybe he and ginger are adoptive brothers. If I was Saskia, I would vanish too. This guy is seriously “next week on Criminal Minds”. 

No, no, big hair…. don’t follow Rex up that hill. Use your billowing skirt to fly away to safety.

In retrospect, I would not pair jalapeno chips with Darjeeling tea. It’s a bit, awkward. My eyelid may have convulsed in response. The sandwich, was excellent. I know you were curious.

Rex is having a malarial dream on the hill about those golden eggs again. Maybe he wasn’t breastfed enough as a child. He’s either having a seizure or a spontaneous orgasm. I’m unsure of the need for either at this point.
Ok, he needs some serious medication to cope with his current life situation. It’s ok, Rex. We all need help sometimes. The first stage is realizing there’s a problem. If you need assistance coming to that realization, watch this film.

Ginger teaches chemistry. No wonder he’s a numbers person. Ugh. Numbers.

This movie is only half over…. I may need to spike my mug with something a little peppier. But not pepper-ier. We already tried that. No good. I need pie before this continues to spiral. Ohmygoodness… pie. Why is there never any pie?

What are guilders? Is that currency or a sub-sect of small Tolkien fantasy folk. Oh…Dutch coin. Neat.

Rex, stop with the golden egg already. We’ll find you a nice goose. If you wait long enough, she might just lay you one.

This is no time for a love triangle. Saskia is missing…. she’s not been seen since fifteen minutes into the movie. It’s been almost an hour. Find her!

In other news, if this kind of film seems right up your alley, might I suggest watching Hinterland on Netflix. The Welsh really know how to drown all your hopes and dreams. Then they drown their own…in whiskey. See: Dylan Thomas.

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Rex and the ginger meet. Fighting ensues. Rex is getting in the car. Aww ginger packed him a lunch. How considerate. I love sandwiches cut into triangles. Makes it taste so much better. But why stop with just the halves, Ginger? I mean, follow through, make two cuts…. everyone knows you want four small triangles, not just two halves. Sigh. Rex is so over this movie.

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This is quite possibly the longest car ride ever recorded on film. Though, I haven’t seen Driving Miss Daisy. So, this is the longest car ride that stretched out an hour of a two hour film. I’m now attempting to drown myself in the dregs of my tea.
Ginger and Rex stopped for a roadside chat…. Why?!

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Dear Rex, By now Saskia is 82 years old, and you will no longer recognize her. Please discontinue your search.

Zoned out for a bit…. Ginger showed us how he kidnapped Saskia. Told Rex he would face the same fate she did. So she is dead….ooooooh ok. Well, that’s disappointing.

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Then Rex woke up in a BOX. Is he buried alive? I swear, no. no. NO. He has a lighter. That’s all we can see, and he’s laughing like a crazy person, and screaming for Saskia. Oh, this is bad. This is very bad. Ryan Reynolds couldn’t even get out of this situation.

Am I to undersand that ginger is burying these people on his own property? As we watch his wife water the plants…. No, don’t pan across the ground slowly. I reject this ending. I demand another immediately.

And…cut to black. I hate you. I hate that this just happened to the last two hours of my life.

– SH

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Harold and Maude

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”

More accurately, in a small apartment ever-so-slightly adjacent to a prominent mall in Dallas, there lived a cat…and her human. Being the second of December the modest living room, furnished with a luxurious three foot pre-lit Christmas tree sat bedazzled with MARVEL superheroes and the endearing Castiel. The tree smelled faintly of Victoria’s Secret perfume because the human hoped the scent would dissuade the feline from munching on the accessible branches. Now the apartment smelled less like the holiday season and more like the “beauty” aisle of a sketchy convenience store. And so the human brewed her tea, curled up on the couch and began to watch a movie…Harold & Maude.

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Harold & Maude (1971)
Starring Ruth Gordon and Bud Cort
Directed by Hal Ashby
How I saw it: DVD borrowed from a friend
First time seeing it, No previous knowledge of the film

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The opening doesn’t pull my attention away from my phone until there is music…. “Songs performed by Cat Stevens”. Well, this should be good. Puts phone away

“I suppose you think that’s very funny.” – First line spoken

What the hell am I watching? As a young boy (Harold) with a tragic bowl haircut attempts to hang himself. Woman proceeds to ignore this dire situation, exiting the room. Naturally.

I feel like this would make a great play, how the scenes are set up, the dialogue, even the presentation of the characters to camera.

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Harold, when asked how he amuses himself: “I go to funerals” then cut to car graveyard. At times this has a very Rocky Horror aesthetic. Not complaining. ‘I would like, if I may, to take you on a strange journey.’ How strange was it? Oh, just wait.

At some point I realize this kid is just going to keep killing himself, maybe I should keep track….rewinds

** Harold “suicide” total: hanging, slit throat in shower, drown in pool, shoots himself in the head, death by sword, self-immolation…
Then I gave up. As Harold himself says, “An accurate total would be difficult to gauge.” **

Cue appearance of kooky old woman at funeral… Oh, is this Maude? Who is this actress? Wait, didn’t she have something to do with Satan’s baby (Rosemary’s Baby). Oh my. Neither of them knows the deceased man. So, why are you both at the funeral?!

Then it all got so intriguingly oddly uncomfortably wonderful, that I couldn’t look away. A train wreck flowered before me. My tea grew cold, but I drank it anyway. Is this friendship, is it family, is it love, what…is it?

Now they’re driving in a hearse. How are they not dead after driving like that? Seriously, who drifts in a hearse? This completely blows away any of the Fast and Furious films…because…hearse.

Maude to Harold: “Let me show you a painting I love. This is ‘The Rape of Rome’.” Tepid tea shoots up nostrils

At 37 minutes into the film, as Harold and Maude discussed the kind of flower they would like to be, my cat projectile vomits on my dress shoes to acknowledge the touching moment. Sighs…sips tea.

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I won’t ruin the film for any of you who were equally ignorant of the film until now.

Though, in the future I plan to ruin plenty of them. You’ve been warned. This is your one free pass. Spoiler free.

It will be helpful if you appreciate dark humor. I will say that the performances and chemistry between the actors is wonderful. It is still relevant to cultural issues we still face today, and I was profoundly impressed. This would be a fascinating film for a group to watch together and discuss….As you can see, my cat was largely unhelpful in this endeavor.

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I will watch it again. and again, etc.

Harold: “I haven’t lived, but I’ve died a few times.”

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to listen to Cat Stevens “If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out” in honor of true love.

– SH

Why, Hello there.

Hi there.

I’m Stephanie. And when I’m not working or editing assignments for my grad school classes, I tend to watch movies and drink tea. I drink a lot of tea.

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I started this blog to talk my way through the Criterion Collection (because I was astonished to find out how few I’d seen). And since I tend to have a cuppa in hand, why not talk a little tea too.

So, Cuppa Criterion was formed.

Not familiar with Criterion? Find out more about it here.

** I am not sponsored by anyone, nor am I paid to advertise by anyone. Any film, tea, or whatever that I mention on my blog is there simply because I came across it and felt like sharing it with you. **

Thanks for stopping by.

– SH