Sunday, June 10, 2007

SEX MISSION / SEKSMISJA (Juliusz Machulski, Poland, 1984)

Juliusz Machulski is fast becoming my favorite Polish director. I’ve only experienced a few of his films but, thus far, they’ve all been extraordinary. SEX MISSION is Machulski’s entry in the “frozen in time” sci-fi pantheon. Much more akin to Woody Allen’s SLEEPER (1973) than Marco Brambilla’s DEMOLITION MAN (1993), SEX MISSION tells the tale of two men—Max Paradys (Jerzy Stuhr) and Albert Starski (Olgierd Lukaszewicz)—placed into hibernation that are supposed to be de-thawed in three years. Of course, forces conspire against them, resulting in a fifty year delay.

Upon revival, the fellows learn that they’re the last men on Earth. Everything with a Y chromosome perished from an “M-Bomb” decades before. The last remnants of the human race—self propagating females—reside in an elaborate underground fortress, unable to return to the planet’s poisoned surface. Even without men to muck things up, not everything is hunky dory in the gynocracy. Various factions of females bicker, all vying for control of power. The introduction of Max and Albert merely exacerbates the situation. One thing is certain, though, the male “threat” needs to be contained. It seems that things could go one of two ways for our heroes: they could be neutered or neutralized. Luckily, they find a friend in Lamia (Bozena Stryjkówna). She’s intrigued by the men, if only about their purpose, at first. While her rivals rally to castrate or kill the men, she begins an investigation into how such creatures could captivate her, especially the lumpy Max.

Sporting some laughably crude special effects, the clever writing and great performances are what make Machulski’s thoughtful “war of the sexes” an enjoyable farce.

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