The Five Senses (2000) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Scoop's notes in white:

This film comprises several stories in the urban apartment environment, each of them based on one part of a related set.

Is it Kieslowski's "Decalogue"? Nope, instead of the ten commandments, it's based on the five senses.

The precise Robbins Recipe: "Decalogue" meets "The Sweet Hereafter".

This Polish-Canadian director obviously worships both the Polish Kieslowski and the Canadian Atom Egoyan. Well, by golly, if you're gonna choose a role model, those two guys are a sight better than Ed Wood, but you know you're going to choose the Art House Circuit.

Each of the tangential stories involves one of the senses in some way. One man thinks he can smell love. A doctor is losing his hearing. A cake designer is in love with a chef. You get the idea. A masseuse is there for the touch segment, and a voyeur represents sight. Some of the characters know each other. The stories are loosely held together by the fact that a little girl disappeared from their apartment building, and that story dominates the Toronto news during this time period. (For example, the voyeur is making a move on the woman who was babysitting the little girl when she was lost.)


Mary-Louise Parker is seen topless in a sex scene, a middling distance from the camera.

Molly Parker is seen naked when emerging from a sensory deprivation tank

I'm already written my own Kieslowski film. It is a requirement for anyone with a Polish last name. Since Three Colors, Five Senses, Seven Deadly Sins, and Ten Commandments are already taken, mine will be called Nine Positions. I will use the baseball diamond as my allegory for urban life, with Home representing Home. I toyed for a while with the idea of letting Second Base represent Home, but I'm just not capable of thinking outside the (batter's) box. Each of the nine players will have a story, and they will occasionally intersect, mostly when they run into each other trying to catch a foul ball. The pitcher will represent the forces that oppose us in life. The first baseman, brute strength. And so forth.

Finally, it will all come down to Home, the place where dwells the catcher, the ultimate symbol of the worker in the industrial revolution, forced into harsh conditions by his capitalist masters, struggling only to finish his job and protect his Home from those would violate it. Look for a brilliant cameo by DeNiro as the Third Base Coach. Some people say that the richly realized visual poetry of his bunt signal alone was touching enough to win him an Oscar nomination.

I'll have it finished as soon as I find the correct Celtic Folk Music, properly eerie, and evoking the feeling of loneliness each of the ballplayers feels when he's batting. I'm thinking of using the spooky Scottish moors to play the part of Right Field.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, and a standard 4:3 version. Beautiful transfer. Rich and vivid.

  • No features except a trailer

Oh, yeah, the Senses movie. If you like Kieslowski and Egoyan, you will like it. It takes a long time to get warmed to the stories, but once I did, I found them interesting, and quite touching in some scenes. The classical music is beautiful and often sad.

If you like more mainstream movies, pass it by, even though it is terrific. It's really about feelings, not the senses. Each of the characters is at an important point of passage in life, and they are trying to deal with it. Not really much of a storyline or any action. Some stories are left unresolved, as in real life.

By the way, is there a law in Canada which requires Molly Parker to be in every Canadian movie?

Tuna's comments in yellow:

The Five Senses (2000) is arty, slow paced, and has no single plot. It is actually several separate sub-plots rolled into one film. All of the characters live in, or have business in the same apartment building, and the disappearance of a little girl provides the time line, as well as some of the sub-plots. The five senses are the theme, each sub-plot representing one of the senses. We have a gay man that can smell love, a shrink who loves classical music and is going deaf, a massage therapist, and a cake decorator in love with her Italian teacher. The entire film is more about characters and moods then story. Its strength is in filmmaking and character development, but not story-telling. The director shows real ability to let us learn about the characters as they learn about themselves, rather than in some narrative form.

One of my criteria for a film is whether there is anyone in the story I can relate to or like. This is an entire film full of characters that meet that description. This is an excellent effort from Canadian director Jeremy Podeswa.. He also wrote and produced. I hope he tries another feature length film soon.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: three stars. Ebert 3/4, Berardinelli 3/4, Apollo 80.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 6.9, classic levels, Apollo users 77/100. These scores are consistent with the critical consensus, possibly even a bit better..
  • With their dollars ... Art house circuit. 40 screens, half million gross.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a B, with far wider appeal than a normal art house character driven drama.

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