Feb 28, 2018

Animal Kingdom (Dean Kavanagh, 2017)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ out of 10☼

In a hidden compartment somewhere inside Experimental Film Society headquarters, there has to be a bottomless box which holds altered reality in distilled form and is opened whenever an EFS member is about to craft a feature film, because at the present moment, I can not think of a better explanation for the unique viewing experience provided by Dean Kavanagh's Animal Kingdom.

Or maybe I can? Imagine entering a thick forest, completely unaware of its vastness, the 'dangers' (or rather mysteries) lurking behind the trees and under the rocks, as well as the whereabouts of its other end (if there was one to begin with). Now, cast a long glance to the starless sky and just ignore the fact that you are about to get lost - you have already been lost for a very long time. Close your eyes and dream about falling through the abyss, as the invisible light fills your pores...

And if this does not work (after all, I'm not a trained hypnotherapist), you will just have to wait for the opportunity to see this genre-defying experiment yourself. Opening with a 30-second long pitch-black shot accompanied by the calming birds' chirping and crickets' clittering (soon to be interrupted by the rumble of distant thunder), Animal Kingdom pulls you, together with the unnamed protagonist (played with stoic intensity by Cillian Roche), into the volatile, ever-reinventing world replete with references to the history of cinema. Our 'hero' (an invader? a detective? a director's alter ego?) will attempt to transform it, only to eventually end up being transmuted himself by the unyielding indigenes (including Kavanagh's colleagues Rouzbeh Rashidi, Jann Clavadetscher and Maximilian Le Cain) who have already begun turning into 'animals'.

After his arrival which is depicted as some sort of meta-filmic, reality-dissolving teleportation during the prologue, he meets a woman (or a queen bee, embodied by Anja Mahler) and engages in what appears as a mating ritual. Paced to the rhythm of his rather futile interventions, his adventure in a land that's both familiar and unknown is part avant-garde horror infused by troubled couple melodrama, part lyrical (almost Tarkovskian) meditation interrupted by noir-esque thriller and all a dark phantasmagoria existing in 'the deep recesses of the very film', as the official synopsis notes.

Split in two chapters titled Ape Man and Rat King, the unconventional narrative is delivered purely via imagery captured in various formats (standard + Super 8mm, 9.5mm, 16mm, 35mm and 70mm) and eclectic score ranging from noise to droney electronica to classical music by the romanticist Max Bruch. Kavanagh utilizes various visual ticks, tricks and techniques to create often abstract, esoteric and mystifying eye-candy that will haunt you for days... Humans can be strange creatures, but some filmmakers are like aliens.

Feb 26, 2018

7 Loves of a Four-Armed Man

Initially, there was a loopy misunderstanding.

He said: "I shall come next week to fix your new lavabo. Don’t worry for the gravedigger's widow."

And with the confidence of a first-grade teacher, she replied: "Those boiled carrots you brought last year had the taste of lost dreams. Please, save the duckling from drowning in the shadow's leftovers."

Their chandelier wouldn't have broken and the Reverend-Referee would have christened the Light Ghost, if they had released the baby goats and their father – the Mother of A – from a little hole in the southern radiator.

Instead, they left for the Oracle where a fat Virgin-Cat had been guessing one's favorite prime numbers and eternal desires. The Sun of Three Crystals had to fall, because it was the only way to find another day.
"I can, Tas." – he whispered into her ear...

Tonal Disproportion of a Sugar Cube

No Silver Cutlery for Siren's Silence

A Pretty Hole to Unchain Your Soul

Square Is a Square, Mon Amie!

Aerodynamic Horse Leaves for a Harbor

Can You Fix the Boiler, Chap?

Imaginary Gods Care Not for Sapience

(click to enlarge)

Feb 25, 2018

Tasher Desh / Land of Cards (Q, 2012)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼(☼) out of 10☼

Have you ever contemplated the possibility of escaping your 'cage' and stepping into a whole new plane of existence, unaware of the dangers awaiting on the other side? That is exactly what a young hero - an unnamed prince (Soumyak Kanti DeBiswas) - experiences in Qaushiq 'Q' Mukherjee's trippy adaptation of Rabindranath Tagore's play.

Shunning the royal lifestyle, he frowns at the attention he gets from everyone around him and desperately wants to break the gilded chains and 'fly away' far from 'a staccato rhythm of conch-shells, drums and bells'. Together with his best friend, son of the Merchant (Anubrata Basu), he 'sails from the port of his mind' and arrives on an island ruled by Fascists (who look as if they were former butoh dancers disciplined by Wonderland's Queen of Hearts). Armed only with charm and smiles, he incites a revolution...

His peculiar adventure is chronicled by Storyteller (Joyraj Bhattacharya, also playing despotic Tash King) who encounters Ace of Hearts (Rii Sen) - the first card to rebel - in the alternative version of our world. As you might have already guessed, there's a 'meta' quality to this dreamy, liberating, somewhat anachronistic 'fantasy' that could be described as Tarsem meets Julie Taymour (in her Titus element) on psychedelic mushrooms sold to them by Shūji Terayama's ghost.

Probably one of the sexiest and most experimental Indian films, Tasher Desh (lit. Land of Cards) is first and foremost a fascinating exercise in high, counter-culture style or rather 'an overdose joint', as the director himself puts it in the closing credits accompanied by an upbeat song inviting you to 'let your mind break free'. When entering it, do not by any means expect a rational and coherent narrative (though all of the messages do come through very clearly), because Q is mainly interested in exploring the visuals. In doing so, he puts his trust in DoP Manuel Dacosse of Amer (and later, Evolution and Double Lover) fame, his art director Mridul Baidya and editing duo of Nikon and Rajarshi Basu who all let their imagination go wild as free, just like the characters.

Whether black and white, bursting with color, covered in 'glitches' or decorated with on-screen text, Q's imagery is hypnotizing to the point where you just stop asking yourself: "What the fuck am I watching?" As delightful as the eye-candy (reaching its zenith during the stunning Gopono Kothati sequence) is the assorted soundtrack which marries traditional to modern (electronic) music in the grooviest fashion.

Feb 21, 2018

To FEST or not to FEST, pitanje je sad

46. FEST nam je pred vratima, a ono što sledi je moj subjektivni izbor od ukupno 30 filmova - 13 koje ću overiti ako stignu do niških bioskopa (nada umire poslednja), kao i 17 koje sam već odgledao, sa ocenama.

~ Na prvi pogled ~
2. Zrno / Buğday (Semih Kaplanoğlu, 2017)
3. Jupiterov mesec / Jupiter holdja (Kornél Mundruczó, 2017)
4. Životinje / Tiere (Greg Zglinski, 2017)
5. Doviđenja, tamo gore / Au revoir là-haut (Albert Dupontel, 2017)
6. Legenda o konkubini / Kūkai (Kaige Chen, 2017)
8. Dovlatov (Aleksey German Jr, 2018)
9. Vampirska glina / Chi o sū nendo (Sōichi Umezawa, 2017)
10. Eva (Benoît Jacquot, 2018)
11. Arkadija / Arcadia (Paul Wright, 2017)
12. Crna kocka / Black Hollow Cage (Sadrac González-Perellón, 2017)
13. Klub ljudoždera / O Clube dos Canibais (Guto Parente, 2017)

~Been There, Done That~

1. Dvostruki ljubavnik / L'amant double (François Ozon, 2017) (8)
2. Mardžori Prajm / Marjorie Prime (Michael Almereyda, 2017) (8-)
3. Božija zemlja / God's Own Country (Francis Lee, 2017) (7+)
4. Zabava / The Party (Sally Potter, 2017) (7+)
5. Tri bilborda ispred Ebinga u Misuriju / Three Billboards Outsude Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh, 2017) (7+)
6. Skrivena ljubav / Call Me by Your Name (Luca Guadagnino, 2017) (7)
7. Afera: Nil-Hilton / The Nile Hilton Incident (Tarik Saleh, 2017) (7)
8. Oblik vode / The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, 2017) (7)
9. Skver / The Square (Ruben Östlund, 2017) (6)
10. Telma / Thelma (Joachim Trier, 2017) (6)
11. Vraćen u život / Realive (Mateo Gil, 2017) (6)
12. Vernost / Le Fidèle (Michaël R. Roskam, 2017) (6)
13. Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig, 2017) (6)
14. Tragom kostiju / Spoor (Agnieszka Holland, 2017) (6)
15. Ja, Tonja / I, Tonya (Craig Gillespie, 2017) (6)
16. Podivljali / Mayhem (Joe Lynch, 2017) (5+)
17. Fantomska nit / Phantom Thread (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2017) (4+)

Feb 20, 2018

'Pas de Deux' Triptych

Inspired by ballet, sweets, Twin Peaks, fairy tales, et cetera.
A B-Day present for Jelena Perišić (Ezoterijum / Kemmer).

Once Upon a Timeless Dream...

 Within Deep & Sweet Temptation

... and They Lived in Morning Ever After

(click to enlarge)

Feb 18, 2018

This (C)old Soul Is in Desperate Need of Astral Remont

... because the complexities of post-supper time are difficult to explain
and the less you know, the better you will find the way
right into the mousetrap with no cheese set.
(click to enlarge)

Feb 16, 2018

A Dragon Arrives! (Mani Haghighi, 2016)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ out of 10☼

"It was full moon, a poetic light was cast over everything, which threw mysterious shadows and glistening sparkles on the river, as if eternity were being created."

What do you get when you blend a western-esque noir look-alike with a talking heads mockumentary and then wrap it up in a tinfoil of folkloric mysticism and superstition that has previously been sprinkled with a handful of odd humor, political undertones (or rather overtones?) and the 60s grooviness? Well, the answer is this - a bizarre magic realist spy thriller that bends the genres and blurs the boundaries between fact and fiction with the greatest ease.

At the beginning that's set day after the assassination of Iranian prime minister in January of 1965 (and in one of the film's 'true event' twists), our dandy, ahead-of-his-time detective protagonist Babak Hafizi (Amir Jadidi, brilliant and with a voice to die for) takes us to an abandoned cemetery next to a shipwreck in the middle of Qeshm Island's nowhere. The ride couldn't be more pleasant (even if you're not a fan of riding across wasteland), because he drives an orange Chevy Impala - a vintage machine that is just as gorgeous as the sandy landscape spellbindingly captured by Hooman Behmanesh. (With a cinematography like THAT you can get away with the most banal of stories which is not the case with this delightful mind-boggler.)

Anyway, Babak has been tasked with the investigation of an ostracized prisoner's suicide appearing to be a homicide despite the 'wall diary' that just screams: "Madman!" Warned by his colleague of local legends regarding ghosts and strange earthquakes whenever a body is buried, he still decides to have an overnight stay. However, on the very same evening he learns that there might be some truth in the tall tales he was told, so he leaves the island only to return in the company of a geologist, Behnam Shokoohi (Amir Homayoun Ghanizadeh), and a hippie sound engineer Keyvan Haddad (Ehsan Goodarzi), to find out why the earth opens its mouth only at the old (and cursed?) graveyard without affecting the nearby village.

These three men's peculiar 'adventure' that might have supernatural elements attached to it is presented in a non-linear fashion, with bits of information revealed via ominous secret service interrogations, as well as the pseudo-documentary interviews including the witty director himself. One of the reasons Haghighi chose to make this film is, in his own words, a time capsule-like metal box he found at home and the involvement of Keyvan Haddad who supposedly worked on a 1964 drama The Brick and the Mirror helmed by his grandfather filmmaker, Ebrahim Golestan. He invites us to play a sort of 'meta' game with him and his team, subtly and occasionally pulling the rug beneath our feet, as his narrative veers in unexpected directions. The viewing experience - enhanced by the pulsating score that bridges the gap between modern electronic and Iranian traditional music - is quite absorbing, especially if you prefer your cinematic dish served with some extra mystery gravy and absurdly sweet, almost Kafkaesque desert.

Although it is hard to figure out the meaning of the whole proceedings and whether Haghighi speaks in metaphors or simply attempts to out-troll both Lynch and Lanthimos, there's a lot to admire in his bold and unique, somewhat Ruizian smorgasbord.

Feb 14, 2018

Phantom Thread (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2017)

☼☼☼☼(☼) out of 10☼

Brilliantly acted, especially by the scene-stealer Daniel Day-Lewis (tho' his character who goes by the suitable last name of WoodCock is an obnoxious prick) and often looking like a masterfully executed painting worthy of hanging in a museum, PTA's latest film is a tedious Oscar bait, a cinematic equivalent of vanity fair, a pretentious exercise in (posh) style, a hollow, repetitive, elegantly contrived melodrama heightened by sappy score, so please allow me to be the boy who will scream: "The Emperor has no clothes!"

Feb 13, 2018

Angelic Dadality

Where there's Dada Combat, there's Angelic Dadality - a sophisticated, highly absurd parody of Mortal Kombat 'Fatalities', as well as 'Astral Heat' moves from the BlazBlue series.

(click to enlarge)

Feb 12, 2018

Dada Combat

DADA meets Mortal Kombat
~a character selection screen from a fictional 2D fighting game~
(which takes inspiration from Guilty Gear series as well)
Lilith du Fit
Lox O'Donta..........?..........Ub-Sikh-Ban
Jolly Ghost..........Innu

(click to enlarge)

Feb 9, 2018

Exit (David King, 2016)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ out of 10☼
Is it a dream or a nightmare, (virtual) reality or a (vivid) hallucination? Or is it an error (+6606) in some cosmic/divine system? Jumbled thoughts of a dying man or prenatal memories of a deranged (artificial) deity?

The puzzling (anti)narrative of David King's existentialist sci-fi mystery Exit won't give you any clear answers, but it will continuously make you question almost everything you've ever seen, heard, touched, smelled or tasted. Appearing as if it were adopted from a non-adaptable literary source, the story is structured around an immortal, Y (portrayed by King himself), who lives in paradise, as the official synopsis informs us, or is forced to believe that his world is paradise. But, once the voice of his presumably dead wife, U (Andrea Parke), reaches him, this simulacrum he has been trapped in starts to dissolve.

"If you want to know the truth, you have to die." - tells U to Y at one point, suggesting that Y's agent (and psychotherapist?) R (Ed Mylan) and everybody else have been feeding him with lies. As their names ask you "Why are you?", your senses are assaulted by incessant stream-of-consciousness images which might only reside inside Y's head (does that renders them less real?). Riot footage, media reports, neural synapses, mathematical formulas, a girl with a Sheryl Lee-like smile and the flock of jellyfish superimposed over the sky, inter alia, are juxtaposed with our troubled protagonist's seemingly mundane everyday which involves interviews with R and a lot of computer work - programming his own paradise, perhaps?

Pressing "Esc" button on a keyboard does not bring him peace of mind, something else does and whatever it is, it has to be revelatory to the point of putting him into a sort of catatonic state... King's or rather Y's Exit could be described as cyberpunk meets philosophical and highly experimental cinema of lo-fi, yet pleasing aesthetics, with the creative montage, diverse filters, rear projections, textual intrusions, animated vignettes and whatnots providing a unique viewing experience.

(This review is based on the YouTube screener provided by the author.)

Feb 8, 2018

Double Lover (François Ozon, 2017)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ out of 10☼

Cronenberg's Dead Ringers clearly ring throughout Ozon's latest film - a sexy, classy, twisty, fetishistic psychological drama/thriller which wears its high-brow camp on its meticulously designed sleeve, featuring bold, uninhibited, well-rounded performances by Marine Vacth and Jérémie Renier in a kinky, dangerous, reality-splitting game of mental disbalance whose rules seem to be written under the heavy influence of Polanski, Verhoeven and De Palma (maybe even Satoshi Kon) and which is played out mostly inside impeccably furnished suites filled with mirrors or in a museum of foreboding, somewhat intimidating modern art, all shot with a keen eye for oft-symmetrical composition.

Feb 6, 2018

'Milk & Apocalypse' Triptych

A cocky eschatological phantasmagoria.

A Supper for Four and a Half White Devil

Please Unf*ck Me, Antichrist!

For the Love of Cthulhu's Wife, Die Already!

(click to enlarge)

Feb 4, 2018

Animalia Triptych

Once upon a time, in a Land of Perpetual Wondering lived five tomcats and the oldest one was a Woodcutter. During his penultimate dream, Brother Deer was accidentally killed on the very wedding-day. The poor soul almost reincarnated into a Clown, because the Bitch Goddess was meditating to the sounds of Hound-Oro...


Buck's Wedding

Canine Kanon
(click on the images to enlarge)

Feb 1, 2018

Zeus's Dream of Amun-Ra's Eternal Memories

"Hide your face forever,
Dream and search forever...
... Open your eyes, open your mind,
Proud like a god, don't pretend to be blind.
Trapped in yourself, break out instead,
Beat the machine that works in your head..." 

(click to enlarge)