Poison

1991

Drama / Horror / Romance

0
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 78%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 68%
IMDb Rating 6.4 10 4410

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Synopsis


Uploaded By: FREEMAN
May 06, 2022 at 10:47 PM

Director

Cast

John Leguizamo as Chanchi
Kelly Reichardt as Townsperson
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
786.16 MB
1280*720
English 2.0
R
23.976 fps
1 hr 25 min
P/S counting...
1.43 GB
1916*1078
English 2.0
R
23.976 fps
1 hr 25 min
P/S counting...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by gftbiloxi 7 / 10

Intriguing But Flawed

Filmed in 1990, POISON was an extremely obscure art house film--until Senator Jessie Helms, a hysterical homophobe, threw a public temper tantrum over the fact that it had been financed in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Helm's tirade had the effect of piquing public curiosity, and while it never played mainstream cinemas POISON did indeed go on to a wider release on the art house circuit, winning the Grand Jury Prize at the 1991 Sundance Film Festival and receiving an unexpectedly rapid release to the homemarket as well. Thereafter it rapidly returned to the same obscurity from which came.

In a general sense, the film is inspired by the writings of Jean Genet (1910-1986), a French author associated with the existentialist movement. A deliberate outsider, Genet spent so much of his youth in and out of prison that he was ultimately threatened with a life sentence as a habitual criminal. In his writings, Genet fused his homosexual, criminal, and prison adventures into a consistent point of view--one that championed freedom of choice (no matter how unattractive the choice), self-determination (no matter how unfortunate the result), and generally gave the finger to any form of authority (no matter how necessary.) POISON specifically references three of his most celebrated works: OUR LADY OF THE FLOWERS, THE MIRACLE OF THE ROSE, and THE THIEF'S JOURNAL, all of which were to some extent autobiographical.

At the same time, the film also references a host of other films--so many that it is sometimes difficult to know whether a single reference is deliberate or simply a fluke, an effect that Genet himself would have likely admired. The most obvious of these references is D.W. Griffith's 1916 silent masterpiece INTOLERANCE, for like that film POISON tells three distinctly stories, cross-cutting between them that they might heighten each other. Unlike INTOLERANCE, however, each story is also told in a distinctly different cinematic style, and these too seem to reference various other films.

The first of these stories, HOMO, is very specifically drawn from Genet. It tells the story of a constant criminal and homosexual who, while in prison, meets a man whose repeated sexual humiliation he witnessed when both were children in a reformatory. He forces the man, who is unwilling mainly due to fear than from morality, into an emotional relationship and later rapes him. The "present" sequences are shot in a murky half-light, the prison presented as a labyrinth of potential sexual destruction. When the prisoner recalls his youthful past, however, the tone changes to a surrealistic and extremely artificial beauty--not unlike that seen in such films as James Bidgood's PINK NARCISSUS and Fassbinder's QUERELLE. It is worth pointing out that these different styles are ironic in use: although shot darkly, the events of the "present" sequence are only mildly shocking in comparison with the events of the "past" sequence, which is shot in a bright and rather romantic style.

HORROR references the 1950s and early 1960s cinematic style of such "B" directors as William Castle and Roger Corman, and it frequently borrows cinematic ideas from Rod Sterling's television series THE TWILIGHT ZONE. In this particular tale, a scientist has labored to isolate the essence of the human sex drive--and succeeds only to ingest the element by accident. With human sex drive raging out of control in his body, he develops oozing sores, and his physical contacts with others spread the condition. It is difficult not to read this as a reference to the AIDS epidemic.

The third story, HERO, is actually presented very much like a modern television news story and is told through a series of interviews. Here, a young boy has shot his father--and then, according to his mother, leaps from the window sill and simply flies away. Neighbors comment: the boy exposed himself. School teachers comment: the boy was unnatural, the boy was normal, the boy was creative, the boy was a liar. A doctor comments: it is possible the boy had a, er, disease of the genitals. As the story progresses the layers add up--but it leaves us without clearcut answers, much less a clearcut response, and in this last respect it is exactly like the other two stories.

It is extremely, extremely difficult to know how to react to POISON. It has moments of remarkable beauty, but these are coupled with moments of equally remarkably off-putting disgust. It is often an erotic film, but the eroticism is tinged and occasionally saturated with revulsion. And in all of this it is remarkably true to its original source: Genet, whose works typically provoke exactly the same sense of beauty, disgust, sensuality, revulsion, and uncertainty of response. I cannot say that I like POISON, which was the directorial debut of Todd Haynes, presently best known for FAR FROM HEAVEN--but then, it is not that sort of film; it does not invite you like it, but rather to consider it both in whole and in part. It strives to be interesting, and in that it is often quite successful.

Unfortunately, it may also be a little too interesting for its own good. While it certainly has its visceral moments, occasionally to the gag point, it asks us to solve a puzzle from which pieces are missing. This not a necessarily a bad thing, but in the case of POISON too many pieces have gone astray; it seems deliberately unsolvable. This may actually be intentional, but if so it was a mistake. A sense of mystery is one thing, but mystification is another, and given its overall strangeness--not to mention the subject matter--I think it very, very unlikely that it will ever have more than curiosity appeal outside an art house audience.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer

Reviewed by lasttimeisaw 7 / 10

as an experimental juvenilia, POISON throbs with vitality, ambition and knowing archness

Queer filmmaker Todd Haynes' debut feature POISON dazzles as a multi-faceted cinematic triptych, three segments: Hero, Horror, Homo, all inspired by Jean Genet's novels (with his texts sporadically materialize on the screen as inner beacons), are intertwined altogether yet each is bestowed with a sui generis visual style that speaks volumes of Haynes' eclectic idioms.

Hero takes the form of a grainy and slipshod pseudo-documentary, interviewing sundry characters about a deadly homicide further confounded by a surreal twist, a 7-year-old boy, shoots his father dead and then wondrously flies away from the window witnessed by his mother Felicia (Meeks), various interviewees recounts the boy's aberrant deportment before the incident, some are startlingly perverse, finally, through Felicia's account, the boy's ascension smacks of something punitive and defiant in the face of family dysfunction and violent impulse, rather dissimilar in its undertone and timbre from that WTF upshot in Alejandro González Iñárritu's BIRDMAN (2014, 7.6/10).

Horror, shot in retro-monochrome and abounds with eye-catching Dutch angles, namely is a none- too-engrossing pastiche of the erstwhile B-movies and body horror, a scientist Dr. Thomas Graves (Maxwell), accidentally ingests the serum of "human sexuality" which he has successfully extracted, starts to transmogrify into a leprosy-inflicted monster, and his condition is deadly contagious, which threats lives around him, especially his admirer Dr. Nancy Olsen (Norman), who against all odds, not daunted by his physical deterioration. In comparison, this segment is less savory owing to its own unstimulating camp, where Hero ends with a subjective ascending, the upshot for a beleaguered gargoyle is nothing but plummeting.

Last but not the least, Homo is plainly a more self-reflexive treatment conjured up à la Fassbinder's QUERELLE (1982), another mainstay of queer cinema derived from Genet's text. A prisoner John Broom (Renderer), grows intimate towards the blow-in Jack Bolton (Lyons), whom he has met before during his stint in a juvenile facility of delinquency, Jack's humiliated past emerges inside John's mind, now it is his turn to exert his suppressed libido. This chapter is as homoerotic as one can possibly imagine, a maneuver Haynes would have unwillingly relinquished en route pursuing mainstream acceptance, one tantalizing sequence of Broom groping an asleep Jack is divinely graphic and atmospherically transcendent.

Credited as an experimental juvenilia, POISON throbs with vitality, ambition and knowing archness, though the end result is far from flawless, it potently anticipates many a Haynes' modus operandi, say, the segmental structure and interview-style in I'M NOT THERE. (2007, 8.0/10), his distinct prediction for the photogenic period setting and outfit in FAR FROM HEAVEN (2002, 9.2/10) and CAROL (2015, 8.9/10), not to mention his latest sortie into black-and-white mystique and paralleled storytelling in the Cannes-premiered WONDERSTRUCK (2017).

Not many can embrace perversity as plucky as Mr. Haynes has done, whether it is a tragedy can easily take place around us in real life, or a man living through his most egregious incubus, or a blatantly idealized contest of one's sexuality (motifs like wedding, saliva and scars are all defying their accepted norms), just like a child's stretching hand in the opening credit, Haynes' first directorial outing jauntily treads through many taboo subjects and in retrospect, vindicates that it will be our profound loss if his talent fails to be acknowledged and utilized in full scale.

Reviewed by punishmentpark 8 / 10

Strange, but fulfilling feature debut.

Well, this is indeed a pretty weird mix of three seemingly unrelated stories, the debut feature film by Todd Haynes. I had seen nothing by him before, but I've been interested in seeing 'Safe' (1995) for a while now. And his recent film 'Carol' really seems worth a watch as well. I have 'Velvet goldmine' on DVD as well, but I'm not sure about that one, for more personal - rather inexplicable - reasons, I suppose.

Back to 'Poison'. I found the whole thing to be pretty intriguing, though I'm not sure how it should all relate (other than the obvious human state of misery). A quote from the film, a certain statement about something being a lie and the truth at the same time, struck a cord with me; the film seems to be the director's attempt to put something really personal out there, but at the same time he hopes it pertains to something essential. A bit vague, I'll admit, but I'll comfortably leave it at that: I liked it quite a bit, even if things (altogether) didn't make sense, completely.

The individual stories, about a boy killing his father, a man in prison meeting an 'old' friend and a scientist who simply makes a big mistake, somehow blended together well enough, reminding me of several other directors' films, such as Guy Maddin (haven't seen much of him - shame on me), Tom Kalin^ and John Paizs.

So... a fine little gem it is: 8 out of 10.

^ Strangely enough, Kalin made a rather cult-ish debut film a few years before Haynes did, then Haynes did a much more straightforward (but certainly not mainstream, either) follow-up drama with Julianne Moore in the lead, and then - guess what - years later Kalin did the just the same...

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