It’s not that often I am surprised by the strangeness of a film. Mostly everything that can be done has been done. This has been true for years, but the challenge that filmmakers face is taking all the raw material that artists prior to them have created and transforming it into something new. Mickey Reese succeeded fairly well at this task with his entire oeuvre, which has included 31 films over the course of 10 years, which is a similar trajectory of the genius auteur Rainer Werner Fassbinder, who directed over 40 films in 15 years until his untimely death in 1982.
Like Fassbinder, Reese has a grand knowledge of the filmmakers who came before him, creating films that are love letters to others, STRIKE, DEAR MISTRESS, AND CURE HIS HEART being no exception. The darkly beautiful Autumn Sonata by Ingmar Bergman (Which I love mentioning is the only Ingmar Bergman film in which Ingrid Bergman stars) is said to be the inspiration for STRIKE..,thematically and aesthetically they are incredibly similar. There is a late-middle-aged mother, Dianne Herbert (Mary Buss; Found Objects) who comes to visit her now grown daughter, Madeline Middleston (Audrey Wagner; Daughter) and her husband, David (Jacob Snovel, Mickey Reese regular).
Just as in Autumn Sonata, STRIKE, DEAR MISTRESS, AND CURE HIS HEART, the mother, in this case Dianne is a concert pianist who abandoned her children at a young age, (unlike Autumn Sonata) after a horrible incident that occurred with her husband/their father. She never even returned when her other daughter, Bailey (Elise Lagner; The Choo Choo Bob Show) had an accident that rendered her physically and mentally disabled. Madeline is furious with her mother, but also longs for her approval and love.
STRIKE, DEAR MISTRESS, AND CURE HIS HEART is really exciting for me because it’s one of the weirder films I have seen in a while. Characters, especially David, speak in a slow stilted ceremonial way, as though they’re in a stage production of The Seagull while on Ketamine. There is a lot of obvious homage to Bergman that sometimes veers into parody. There’s a short, yet pivotal scene that has a distinct horror element, in the midst of a period piece that actually isn’t a period piece. In between the scholarly narration, provided by Cate Jones (The Jurassic Games), there are random out of place outbursts of Tourette’s-like swearing. There’s a doctor who’s bad with money who smokes a pipe, and there’s a motivational speaker named “Charles Grodin”. Additionally, Bailey and Madeline’s deceased fathers name is…Frank Herbert.
I had a really good time watching this film and now have to acquaint myself with Mickey Reese’s 30 other films. Mickey Reese has somehow combined all the pop-culture ephemera over the course of his lifetime into a unique hilarious aesthetic, much like Harmony Korine who came before him. Unlike Korine, however, Reese seems to look at the fantastic through the eyes of the mundane, as Korine does the opposite. This is a unique perspective that should be appreciated and explored, and I hope to see Reese only gain success and popularity over time, without losing what makes his films unique.