Pistol Opera

You can’t use a well defined drawing for a Rorschach test. If you show someone a picture that’s shaped and shaded like a dog then you’re not probing the edges of their mind, you are testing whether or not they can recognize a dog. You are going to get a lot more interesting responses when you show people something much more open-ended and then ask them what they see in that.

The same applies to movies. Getting someone’s opinion on a specific Marvel comics movie doesn’t necessarily indicate their aesthetic taste overall; perhaps they like blockbusters but weren’t into that specific example. But getting someone’s opinion on a more abstract (and debateably pretentious) movie like Pistol Opera will definitely tell you something about their taste.

In theory, Pistol Opera’s plot concerns a hitwoman who is trying to move up in the assassin’s guild’s rankings by killing the assassins who are ranked ahead of her. That sounds like the plot of an action movie, but the movie has such a strongly absurdist aesthetic sense that the movie feels nothing like a Jason Statham movie. The hitwoman uses what is clearly a toy gun to kill her foes, and at one point a character actually comments on how it’s a toy. Sometimes the scenery is clearly green screened in, and sometimes the action is taking place in front of the green screen with no scenery added in. The tone is somewhere in between being an existential joke and a weird for weirdness sake art project.

People that like conventional movies are going to hate this movie. People that love surrealism – people that enjoy Jodorowsky or Guy Maddin, for example – are going to love it. People that are in the middle – meaning people like me, people who can handle something that’s reaching for the stars depending on how well it’s executed – are probably going to be split. The shot composition is consistently beautiful, but the thinness of the story gets old long before the movie’s over, so people that are interested in stylized visuals will probably love it, but people that are interested in narrative will probably get frustrated. But regardless of which camp you fall in, it’s a worthwhile movie to see because it’s the sort of movie that tells you as much about you as it does about itself.

Winner: Push?

Pistol Opera on IMDB