15 Sep 2019

Moon Tiger Movie 1 (Maximilian Le Cain, 2019)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ out of 10☼

The mind-boggling culmination of Maximilian Le Cain's first two decades of filmmaking, Moon Tiger Movie is 'the electronic smudge of an inner life, the nocturnal residue of an existence half-dreamed', as the author himself describes it in his statement. The first out of its four parts opens with the titular character - Le Cain's weird and lonesome alter-ego - taking a sit in a comfy armchair, 'in order to see what he has become' (from the official synopsis). The audience are also about to discover what have become of them, while desperately trying to find their way out of the convoluted cinematic labyrinth.

Short films and impromptu sketches that have accumulated over the past years are broken into tiny pieces and re-arranged into an unsolvable VHS puzzle which appears as fragmented as its oft-undecipherable parts. Right from the get-go, the film's wildly experimental nature creates a distance between the viewer and itself, and whenever you come dangerously close to finding your own place in it, everything is suddenly covered in haze, and you're back in the state of inescapable disorientation. Your eyelids feel heavy and you're not sure whether you're still awake or already sleeping, surrounded by the ruins of the author's inland empire, to borrow the title of Lynch's 2006 feature. The images move towards themselves and on the way, they take unexpected detours, making and simultaneously breaking the rules of their irregular moving patterns, and clash against each other, evolving, dissolving, disinvolving... Their reality is of a ghostlike quality; it is a fragile memory, an elusive abstraction.

It goes without saying that MTM1 escapes both the genre and narrative conventions in its exploratory fervor or rather delirium, posing as the essence of a hypnagogic hallucination. A worthy spiritual successor to Scorpion's Stone, it spins you around until you're dizzy and asking yourself what a mermaid puppet has to do with a mannequin leg in a park. Each one of its flickers and soft focuses, dilapidated locations and diverse provocations, irreverent repetitions and ambiguous superimpositions, inter alia, emerges from and returns to what Le Cain and Rashidi dubbed Luminous Void. The experience it provides you with is slightly frustrating, but powerful nevertheless.

11 Sep 2019

Anime meets Experimental Film Society


A couple of months ago, I was approached by one of the greatest contemporary filmmakers and a dear friend of mine, Rouzbeh Rashidi, with a request to draw up a list of anime he could delve into, which elicited the article I had been contemplating to write for quite some time. Although it encompasses 250 titles, Mission Almost Impossible: Recommending Anime is not a definitive list, because I'm pretty sure there are many omissions, both unintentional and deliberate. The world of Japanese animation is so vast, that the space for exploration appears inexhaustible!


And if more than two hundred shorts, features, OVAs and series doesn't satisfy your appetite, maybe you'll find something to your liking amongst 20 anime-counterparts coming from other Asian countries, and sorted in order of personal preference.

1. Big Fish & Begonia (Liang Xuan & Zhang Chun, 2016)
2. My Beautiful Girl Mari (Sung-gang Lee, 2002)
3. Aachi & Ssipak (Jo Beom-jin, 2006)
4. The King of Pigs (Sang-ho Yeon, 2011)
5. Arjun: The Warrior Prince (Arnab Chaudhuri, 2012)
6. Chuang Tapestry (Qian Jiajun, 1959)
7. White Snake (Amp Wong & Ji Zhao, 2019)
8. Ramayana: The Legend of Prince Rama (Ram Mohan, Yuugou Sakou & Koichi Saski, 1992)
9. The Arti: The Adventure Begins (Wen Chang Huang, 2015)
10. Krut: The Himmaphan Warriors (Chaiporn Panichrutiwong, 2018) 
11. Have a Nice Day (Jian Liu, 2017)
12. Storm Rider: Clash of the Evils (Dante Lam, 2008)
13. The Legend of Muay Thai: 9 Satra (Pongsa Kornsri, Gun Phansuwon & Nat Yoswatananont. 2018)
14. Sky Blue (Moon-saeng Kim, 2003)
15. The Fake (Sang-ho Yeon, 2013)
16. Seoul Station (Sang-ho Yeon, 2016)
17. Yobi, The Five Tailed Fox (Sung-gang Lee, 2007)
18. Prince Nezha's Triumph Against Dragon King (Shuchen Wang, Jingda Xu & Ding Xian Yan, 1979)
19. L.O.R.D: Legend of Ravaging Dynasties (Jingming Guo, 2016)
20. Dragon Nest: Warriors' Dawn (Yuefeng Song, 2014)

8 Sep 2019

INTER:ACTION

My short, yet productive collage-making practice taught me that one of the most exhilarating sensations is when my own artwork takes control over me and leads me through and out of whichever subconscious recess it was conceived in. While transmuting into an increasingly puzzling entity, it gently reshapes my innermost self and makes me feel liberated from my life’s despair. For a while, I become a child who dreams equally vivid in monochrome and color; an architect of disorienting labyrinths, a poison-bearing medic and an insane alchemist; a wizard of many faces which all look the same in the mirror; a soulscapist who strives for the inconceivable as the transcendental form of truth. In the epilogue of creative process, it is not easier to face reality, but the bittersweet memory of the visit to some black hole of the universe alleviates the pain.

And although I still hear my muse whispering (and screaming, if I ignore her), I will conduct a small experiment and try to refrain from creating any new pieces for at least a week. The reasons thereof are varied and mostly related to my fears, frustrations and insecurities, so allow me to keep them to myself. My latest offering, INTER:ACTION, will serve as a test-animal, and I hope that everyone will be kind enough not to do any harm to it...

6 Sep 2019

Cinéma pur + AGITATE:21C + Rouzbeh Rashidi in Kino Klub Split

If you're an alternative cinema aficionado spending the last days of summer (and early autumn) in Split, Croatia, don't miss the opportunity to watch a neat selection of short films by “cinema purists” in Kino Klub Split, on September 13!

The web introduction article written by yours truly is posted right after the program which begins with Short(s) Petting powered by AGITATE:21C group of contemporary cinexperimenters.

19:15
SHORT(S) PETTING 
Powered by AGITATE:21C GROUP

Usama Alshaibi - The Flowering (USA; 2017) 04:25
David King - Lost in a Borgesian Labyrinth (Australia; 2018) 07:01
Takatoshi Arai - Color Sex Death/Quantity Amount Quality/Night Mother Scent (Japan; 2017) 25:50
Matt T Helme - Under the Sea (USA; 2018) 03:11
Matt T Helme - Intersect (USA; 2019) 01:35
Matt T Helme - A Dance In The Dark (USA; 2018) 03:25
Ivan Li - Finding Uranus (Canada/Hong Kong; 2019) 06:56
Jeff Zorilla - The Impossible Flowers (Argentina; 2019) 08:21

Program duration: 60:44
CO-SELECTOR: DAVID KING (Portarlington; Australia)

20:30
MAIN PROGRAM: CINEMA PUR ARCHIVE

Henri Chomette - Five Minutes of Pure Cinema (1925) 04:40
Walter Ruttmann - Lichtspiel Opus I-IV (1921-1925) 18:02
Viking Eggeling - Symphonie diaganale (1924) 07:29
René Clair - Entr’acte (1924) 20:08
Hans Richter - Vormittagsspuk (1928) 08:45
Hans Richter - Everyday (1929) 16:33

Program Duration: 75:37
WEB INTRODUCTION: NIKOLA GOCIĆ (Niš; Serbia)


Still from Entr’acte (René Clair, 1924)

Cinéma pur

A filmic answer to Dadaism, “cinéma pur” (lit. pure cinema) was born in “the City of Light” – the cradle of many artistic movements – as a counterpoise to traditional, narrative cinema. Being liberated from any literature, theater and even painting influences, it shifted focus from the elements such as plot, story, setting and characters towards form, motion, rhythm and visual composition. Although its existence is linked to the 20s and 30s of the last century, its spirit has survived the test of time, and it still shines brightly through the art practice of contemporary avant-garde filmmakers who propose the endless evolution or rather, mutation of the film language.

“... The cinema can draw from itself a new potentiality, which, leaving behind the logic of events and the reality of objects, engenders a series of visions that are unknown – inconceivable outside the union of the lens and the moving reel of film. Intrinsic cinema – or if you will, pure cinema...”

As quoted by René Clair in Cinema Yesterday and Today (New York, Dover Publications, 1972), Henri Chomette’s words are reflected in crystalline configurations of his 1925 abstract “fantasy” Five Minutes of Pure Cinema (Cinq minutes de cinéma pur). Suggesting clarity and eventually turning into scenes of nature, these formations, paradoxically, come off as opaque and mysterious, especially in their relation to the easily recognizable imagery they precede. Equally puzzling are Viking Eggeling’s white line “illustrations” of his Diagonal Symphony (Symphonie diaganale, 1924), resembling alien musical notation and operating as the earliest examples of real-time audio visualizers. The cacophonous “symphony” they accompany in an “aural before optical” twist may be identified as the fragmented cry of the distant future.

In a similar vein to Eggeling, Walter Ruttmann “choreographs” abstract shapes to sweeping symphonic orchestrations, indexing not only natural phenomena, as Jan-Christopher Horak notes in Discovering Pure Cinema: Avant-Garde Film in the 20s (Afterimage No. 8, 1980), but also man-made creations. Although it is highly probable that not a single segment of his hypnotizing Lichtshpiel opus is intended to connote any meaning, one cannot help but notice a struggle between the forces of nature and architectural colossi in the interplay between the curvy and angular forms, both vividly animated in a hand-colored spectacle that looks as if (the parts of) Suprematist paintings were brought to life.

Much more concrete than all of the previously mentioned films is Hans Richter’s Everyday (1929) – a poetic docu-drama (for the lack of a better term) that often feels like a condensed version of Dziga Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera (Chelovek s kino-apparatom) released in the same year. What these two have in common – apart from the utilized visual techniques such as quick editing and machine close-ups – is their closeness to Marxist ideology. While Vertov idealizes Soviet model of socialism, Richter criticizes capitalism and sharply portrays the human-grinding monotony of routine office work. On the other hand, his Ghosts Before Breakfast (originally, Vormittagsspuk, 1928) is an entirely different, occasionally toothless animal whose “voice” was destroyed by Nazis, being condemned as “degenerate art”.

Nonsensical, irreverent and somewhat ironic, this Dada-phantasmagoria plunges the viewer in the world ruled by the absence of logic. If there is any plot to be found in a jocular parade of non-sequiturs, then it’s about the four hats desperately trying to get back to the heads of their rightful owners. Time flies inevitably, and neither a sequence slow-motioning in reverse, nor a clock breaking in half can stop it, yet Vormittagsspuk appears timeless in its anarcho-absurdist zeal which makes it a great companion piece to René Clair’s masterful fiver ciné-dream Entr'acte (1924). Produced as the second act overture of Francis Picabia’s ballet Relâche, Clair’s debut is essential viewing for undserstanding or rather, feeing the traits of “cinéma pur”, not to mention that it features one of the most astonishing chase sequences ever to grace the silver screen. Its oneiric superimpositions, frenetic montages, upside-down shots and disappearing acts are all magically and disorientingly set to the proto-minimalist score authored by the French composer Eric Satie whose eccentricity parallels that of ciné-purists. 

Just like the heads of those three air-dolls standing before what may be the inside-wall of a railcar, Entr'acte inflates and deflates itself, sometimes simultaneously, with many inanimate objects revolting against man’s supremacy, to paraphrase Horak, and deliberate self-mockery / self-destructive impulse defining the name of the game. In conclusion – after the encounter with it, you should not be surprised to get hit by a vision of a camel-propelled hearse the next time you nibble on your bagel... 

***

Still from Phantom Islands (Rouzbeh Rashidi, 2018)

Only a week later, the visitors of Kino Klub Split will be able to immerse themselves into Rouzbeh Rashidi's masterful docu-fantasy Phantom Islands, preceded by All Female Evening.

19:15
SHORT(S) PETTING
Powered by AGITATE:21C GROUP
“All Female Evening”

Marie Craven - Rodeo Days (Australia; 2019) 03:40
Donna Kuhn - Make America Great Again (USA; 2019) 03:26
Salomé Lamas - Extraction: The Raft Of The Medusa (Portugal/Switzerland/Italy; 2019) 07:28
Sarahjane Swan/Roger Simian - Alphonso’s Jaw (Beauty And The Silver Mask) (Scotland; 2019) 07:59
Camelia Mirescu - Nacre Fields (Italy; 2018) 04:15
Camelia Mirescu - Wings from Somewhere (Italy; 2018) 03:08
Camelia Mirescu - Promised Clouds (Italy; 2019) 02:44
Susanne Wiegner - The Light - The Shade (Germany; 2017) 07:07
Laura Huertas Millán - El Laberinto (France/Colombia/USA; 2018) 21:06

Duration: 60:53
CO-SELECTORS: MARIE CRAVEN (Queensland, Australia) and NIKOLA GOCIĆ (Niš; Serbia)

20:30
MAIN PROGRAM:
ROUZBEH RASHIDI – PHANTOM ISLANDS (2018)

A Pictorial Film By Rouzbeh Rashidi
Produced by Experimental Film Society 2018
Funded By The Arts Council Of Ireland / An Chomhairle Ealaíon under the Reel Art scheme

Duration: 86 minutes / Country: Irska / Language: English
WEB INTRODUCTION: ROUZBEH RASHIDI (Dublin; Ireland)

All programs are curated by Darko Duilo.

1 Sep 2019

Cinematic Favorites of August

These monthly listicles has already become traditional here on NGboo Art, so I won't yatter much in the introduction, and will cut to the chase right after warning you not to read my impression of Tarantino's glorious ode to ciné-magick and ye olde Hollywood (at the bottom of the article), if you haven't seen it yet.


Features:
2. Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)
3. Sudoeste (Eduardo Nunes, 2011)
6. Battledream Chronicle (Alain Bidard, 2016)
8. Another Day of Life (Raúl de la Fuente & Damian Nenow, 2018)
9. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (André Øvredal, 2019)
10. Bird Island (Maya Kosa & Sergio Da Costa, 2019)


Shorts:
8. Islands (Yann Gonzalez, 2017)



Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood

I didn't know a hippy could be so darn creepy, and that beating the crap out of creepy hippies could be at once so funny, yucky, heartwarming and quintessential not only to the film it's happening in, but to the (magic of) cinema as well. Watching Tarantino's latest offering feels like there is only you and the big screen, and that pretty much nothing else matters, which is most probably why I couldn't wipe off the smile on my (45-minute-long) walk back home. Just like it's title suggests, Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood is a fairy tale, a dark and twisted one at that, in which a small, but crucial part in the history of 'The Dream Factory' gets rewritten in the most irreverent and satisfying fashion, with the exceptional Margot Robbie being its 'Princess of the Sun' who has the 'male planets' - Brad Pitt, ever-reliable, and Leonardo DiCaprio, slightly overacting his heart out - as well as all the 'satellites' revolving around her. The bittersweetness of this 'throwback to the groovy 60s' dramedy is deeply felt, whereby its 'oxymoronic' nature comes off as inimitable. A wonderful experience!

The Riddle of Jaan Niemand (Kaur Kokk, 2018)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ out of 10☼

The arresting two-minute-long opening shot which is masterfully counterpoised by the profoundly effective final frames depicts a mass of jagged rocks covering a beach bathed in winter sunlight representing the last beacon of hope, as we are about to learn very soon. A couple of figures approaching from a distance appear as some forlorn souls wandering with no sense of direction, their ragged clothes betraying their social class and historical setting likewise. They turn out to be Hinrik (Peeter Volkonski) and Tiidrik (Pääru Oja), a local baron's most trusted servants who discover an enigmatic man lying unconscious at the shore, and bring him to their lord's manor. After waking up, the wretch (excellently portrayed by Meelis Rämmeld) realizes that he can't remember who he is or how he got there, which renders him a stranger not only to everyone around him, but to himself as well. Many questions arise, but the circumstances for seeking answers are far from ideal, because the land - Estonia at the beginning of the 18th century - has been ravaged by war, plague and famine, with a sad bunch of survivors scraping for bare sustenance.

The first hint at the titular protagonist's identity arrives in the form of a well-equipped doctor's traveling case which belonged to someone called Jaan Niemand. Initially confused, the uninvited guest is bound to accept the 'man of medicine' role, especially after fluently reading and instantly recognizing the Latin names for muscles in a book provided by his blue-blooded host (Andres Lepik). For the two of them, this hypothesis works as a blessed convenience, given that the aged baron's only child has been in a near-catatonic state of shock for a while, with no medic around to treat him. However, both Jaan's presence and scientific knowledge happen to be a curse in the eyes of superstitious villagers whose anxiety and despair keep growing rapidly... And the way Kaur Kokk - a young Estonian filmmaker of lavish talent and skill - weaves all these elements into a puzzling, deliberately paced story is just astounding.

Possessing great confidence and firm directorial grasp which gives him full creative control over every single aspect, he leaves the impression of an experienced / old-school film veteran who effortlessly brings his atrabilious vision to life. From the entire cast, he elicits magnetic performances that primarily rely on actors' physiognomy and body language due to the sparseness of dialogue, and long periods of brooding silence. The latter becomes a powerful tool in establishing a dense, deeply immersive atmosphere of pre-apocalyptic darkness and hopelessness amplified by claustrophobic interiors and depressing winter scenery of leaden skies, bare trees and muddy grounds. Gorgeously captured by the brilliant DoP Mart Taniel (The Temptation of St. TonyNovember), the imagery of physical and spiritual dreariness finds its faithful sonic counterpart in the ominously humming score by Ülo Krigul who also worked on Veiko Õunpuu's fascinating neo-surrealistic drama The Temptation of St. Tony.

A cinematic equivalent of some slow-tempo gothic-doom metal album (let's say, A Dream of Poe's An Infinity Emerged), Kokk's debut feature may not be 'a grandiose costume drama', but it sure is a magnificent 'kammerspiel mystery', to borrow the phrases employed in the official synopsis. Part feverish journey of self-discovery and part sullen tone poem, The Riddle of Jaan Niemand (originally Põrgu Jaan, lit. Jaan from Hell) is the work of an author more than worth keeping an eye on.

29 Aug 2019

Every Sun That Died

Composed of seven pieces, the last of which amalgamates the preceding six, my latest collage series, Every Sun That Died, is an attempt at transmogrifying bio-organic forms into an introspective dreamscape - a living flesh boat sailing across the void...

Hi-res images available for my Ko-fi supporters.

Bliss I


Bliss II


Bliss III


Bliss IV


Bliss V


Bliss VI


E.D.E.N.