14 Aug 2018

Paskutinė atostogų diena / The Girl and the Echo (Arūnas Žebriūnas, 1964)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ out of 10☼
 
 
A great companion piece to František Vláčil's debut feature Holubice (White Dove, 1960), Paskutinė atostogų diena (lit. Last Day of Summer Vacation) enchants the viewer with its highly poetical simplicity. Set in an unspecified coastal area of the Lithuanian south, this mesmerizingly beautiful (family) drama evokes the sense of a 'paradise' we lose after transitioning to adulthood.
 
 
Draped in bittersweet nostalgia, and colored with childlike innocence 'guarded' by a seagull and a dolphin, the film revolves around a young girl, Vika (the endearing first-timer Lina Braknyté), and her short-lived friendship with a new kid in town, Romas (Valerijus Zubarevas), before his betrayal and her departure back home. 
 
 
She is in perfect tune with nature, whereas he rejects the harmony over a group of local rascals, because, well, boys will be boys. Once they go separate ways, there's no turning back, and Žebriūnas awakens his inner feminist to console the little heroine, without ever resorting to sentimentality. 'Arming' her with a little horn, he turns her into a siren of sorts - a herald of liberty and immaculate dreams. All the while, the sea rustles quietly and the rocks that oft-appear as petrified mystics answer in secret codes, but only to those who know how to catch the echo. The sun-bathed black and white cinematography (many kudos to Jonas Gricius) most lovingly captures both the craggy colossi and the children's playfulness, turning the mundane into a miraculous reverie.
 
No, they don't make them like this anymore...

10 Aug 2018

Eros Grieves / Thanatos Experiences Sex Change

“So, how come I am the only one insane here?”
“Your truth is higher than mine, I guess.”
“It is the lie you are talking about.”
“Whatever. The heavens can’t tell the difference. You can’t do anything about it, unless...”
“Erode... Yes! I must erode to overcome this unexistence.”

(click to enlarge)

Jorogumo Invites Anansi to a Cup of Tea

In the ninth mythological reverie, spidery characters from the Japanese and West African myths and folktales meet under the drab skies of a disenchanted post-apocalyptic world.

(click to enlarge)

8 Aug 2018

Mythological Reveries (August 6/7/8 '18)

One collage a day keeps despair at bay. The latest three artworks of mine focus on female figures from Slavic and Japanese myths, in a kind of an 'apples and oranges' situation... 
 
Vila Yearning for a Hero


Morana Invokes Czernobog in an Awkward Moment
During the Summer Solstice


Amaterasu Delights in a Landscape Film

(click to enlarge)

Touha zvaná Anada / Adrift (Ján Kadár & Elmar Klos, 1971)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼(☼) out of 10☼


Based on the 1928 novel Something Is Drifting on the Water (Valamit visz a víz) by the Hungarian writer Lajos Zilahy, this little-known gem is considered one of the last films of the Czech New Wave movement. A great result of a troubled production which involved the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, Touha zvaná Anada (lit. Desire Called Anada) is a noir-esque, thought-provoking psychological drama/mystery imbued with potentially supernatural elements.

Its challenging, retrospectively told story focuses on the tumultuous inner workings of a glum fisherman, János (an excellent performance by Rade Marković), whose quiet, wearisome life is turned upside down after he and his kind wife, Zuzka (Milena Dravić, radiant and brilliant), save an enigmatic young woman, Anada (the ethereal presence of Paula Pritchett), from drowning and welcome her into their humble home. As the conflict of his conscious and subconscious mind grows and his guilt rears its ugly head(s), the tragedy seems imminent...

Providing us with subtle hints to Anada's (divine?) origin, as well as to where reality ends and János's imagination takes over, Kadár and Klos create convincing characters, deliver a nuanced, engaging, borderline surreal narrative, and aptly visualize their (anti)hero's unhinged psyche (to paraphrase Denis Grunnes). The stark contrast of the hut's dimly lit, claustrophobic interior compared to the lush, liberating, yet somewhat intimidating openness of the sweeping Danube's surroundings reflect the 'small' man's struggle between maintaining the dull status quo and taking a risk to pursue the personal happiness - in other words, leaping into the Unknown. And though the bits of humor, unsolved rebuses and Vladimír Novotný's cinematography may not suit everyone's tastes, one can not deny the intermittent moments of sheer beauty supported by Zdeněk Liška's grandiose score.


7 Aug 2018

Chappaqua (Conrad Rooks, 1966)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼(☼) out of 10☼

In his mind-altering debut feature (the first of the two films that he made), Conrad Rooks joins forces with the counterculture figures such as Allen Ginsberg (playing Messiah) and William Burroughs (personifying addiction itself) in order to introduce us to his own experiences in drug and alcohol abuse, fiercely plunging the viewers into the 'beat fantasy' of psychedelic non-sequiturs, fourth wall breaking, cleansing rituals (?), rapturous dancing (which involves a druid-like character grooving at the Stonehenge) and ethereal visions of transcendental beauty (gorgeous non-professional actress Paula Pritchett, credited as Water Woman), all to the sublimely delirious score by the Hindustani virtuoso Ravi Shankar (in the role of the Sun God).

6 Aug 2018

Mora's Nightmare

In Slavic mythology, Mora is a malicious spirit who - transformed into a fly - enters the household through the keyhole and sits on sleepers' chest, strangling them and giving them nightmares. She is repelled by garlic, elaborate prayers, broom turned upside down and sharp objects thrusted into the door.

(click to enlarge)

5 Aug 2018

4 Aug 2018

Mythological Reveries

With the trio of collages included in this post, I'm opening the door to Mythological Reveries - the planned cycle of artworks inspired by world myths and borrowing the color palette of Glum Glamour artbook which you can purchase on itch.io for 5. And if you appreciate the content of NGboo Art, please consider a small donation. I also remind you that you can commission a collage from me via my fiverr gig.

Pygmalion's Microcosm


Athena's Contemplation


Dazhbog's Harvest

(click to enlarge)

2 Aug 2018

Stereoniria: The Island of Exiles and Eidolons

It's no secret that I admire Rouzbeh Rashidi's latest opus Phantom Islands (you've read about it twice on these pages) and that the radiant phantasmagoria In Search of the Exile made me fall for the works of Daniel Fawcett and Clara Pais. That is why I'm using my latest collage to pay a loving homage to the said films and their authors, though there are certainly some other influences involved here as well.

***

When the Alchemist opened the door of their hut, the Lovers had already reached the Whispery Approximation of the Stars’ Paradox, with the entire room turned into the Seventh Key of Yonder during the process. At the very same moment, his sigh pierced through the ear of Chronos...

(click to enlarge or click HERE to download
the image in its original size, 60x30cm 300dpi)

1 Aug 2018

Belle Dormant / Sleeping Beauty (Adolfo Arrieta, 2016)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼(☼) out of 10☼


A prince smoking while still being charming and jamming his heart out on his set of drums is probably the last thing you would expect to see at the beginning of a famous fairy tale adaptation. But, that is exactly what Adolfo Arrieta - the pioneer of independent film in Spain - wants you to see, snatching your attention right from the start.

The royal beau is played by Niels Schneider whom you might remember from You and the Night (Les rencontres d'après minuit) or Polina - the dance choreographer Angelin Preljoçaj's directorial debut. With his curly hair and chiseled, 'Greek statue meets Schiele-like illustration' face, he seems like a perfect choice for the role of a prince living at the tail end of the 20th century. His name is Egon and his country Litonia is fictitious, just like the kingdom of Kentz where princess Rosemunde (an ethereal portrayal by the lovely jewel designer Tatiana Verstraeten in her first film appearance) fell asleep in 1900, on her 15th birthday... at least according to the Litonian legend.


As you've probably guessed already, Arrieta tells the familiar tale from the modern-day perspective, with the 100-year long dream closing to an end. In doing so, he manages to awake not only the passive heroine for the 'happily ever after', but also the inner child in his viewers, all the while keeping them on an ironic distance by way of a peculiar, slightly cheeky sense of humor. Over his cast comprised of non-professionals and actors whose names are often seen in auteur projects, he casts a spell of deadpan performance, 'sparing' only the German veteran Ingrid Caven whose Evil Fairy emanates the 'queen of camp' glow.

In re- / deconstruction of Perrault's story, he goes as far as turning the curse-breaking fairy, Gwendoline (the magnetic presence of Agathe Bonitzer), into an archeologist, Maggie Jenkins, who works for UNESCO and has secret agents (or rather, legend keepers) all around the world, one of them being prince Egon's tutor, Gérard Illinski (Mathieu Amalric, demonstrating some low-key greatness). Playing with the idea of old vs. new and real vs. imaginary within the context of (time's) transience, simultaneously mocking the aristocracy with fine subtlety, he avoids as much special effects as possible and relies on rather modest production values, as well as on dreamy digital cinematography by Thomas Favel (Diamond Island). There is something pure, Nouve Vague-ish and even Eugène Green-esque about his simple, yet effective magic...

Onerous Night, Astral Nought

“Let me get you that shiny triangle out of your head.” – he suggested reluctantly. However, her third angle had already been eaten by an emancipated ladybug.

(click to enlarge)

Glum Glamour PDF artbook on ITCH for only 5.00€
Commissioned collages on FIVERR for $10