The Temptation of St. Tony

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The Temptation of St. Tony
CLUBBED TO DEATH Levant croons a lounge-lizardly dirge.

Should anybody propose remaking the art-house monolith Satantango as a pitch-black comedy-cum-biblical-parable, we'd like to inform you that you've been beaten to the punch. That's the easiest way to describe Veiko unpuu's surreal black-and-white fable of one man's attempt to ascend above the earthly muck; it's as if someone perfected the chemical combination of Beckett-like absurdism and Bla Tarr's Eastern European dourness.

In a funk after his father's death, Tony (Eelmaa) questions whether his middle-management job at an Estonian factory and its accompanying middle-class luxuries are spiritually fulfilling. An encounter with a mysterious woman (Kurkova) sends the yuppie on a quest for salvation, represented by non sequitur set pieces, including a funeral procession interrupted by a car accident and a priest demonically walking up walls. Then Denis Levant shows up to sing at a cannibalistic cabaret, and things really start to get weird. unpuu's tendency to embed his satircal jabs with everything from Kubrick homages to macabre slapstick (henchmen with chain saws should really watch where they're going) occasionally veers into weirdness for weirdness's sake. But even the tangents feel like pieces of an old-school apocalypse slowly coming into focus. It's tempting to call this stunning sick joke the work of a true visionary.---David Fear

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