17 Jan 2019

Nainsukh (Amit Dutta, 2010)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ out of 10☼

Channeling the spirits of two great poets of cinema, Sergei Parajanov and Mani Kaul, Nainsukh - as unconventional as a docu-biopic can be - traces the life of the eponymous 18th century Pahari painter through his own works, by bringing the artist's brilliant miniatures to life as a series of contemplative, often breathtaking, meticulously composed tableaux vivants. Almost wordless (it's a shame that those few lines weren't scrapped) and gently draped in the ambient gauze embroidered by the sublimely beautiful traditional music (composed by Dishari Chakraborty), the entrancing images (many kudos to DP Mrinal Desai) tend to defy the rules of our (three-dimensional) reality, slowly moving to the rhythms of a dream...

15 Jan 2019

Krysař / The Pied Piper (F.A. Brabec, 2003)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ out of 10☼
 
Shot in only 24 hours around the New Year's Eve, as reported in the opening epigraph, Krysař marks F.A. Brabec's return to folk legends, following his visually inspired fairy tale omnibus Kytice (Wild Flowers). It shares the title with Jirí Barta's expressionistic stop-motion masterpiece (from which it is only a few minutes longer), whereas its raw, anarchic energy and New Wave-ish attitude make it somewhat comparable to Juraj Jakubisko's then-controversial film Vtáckovia, siroty a blázni (Birds, Orphans and Fools, 1969).
 
Relatively simple in narrative terms, it revolves around the bet between the titular hero (Petr Jákl, bringing stoic physicality to his role) and the Devil (portrayed with manic theatricality by Karel Dobrý). The former is supposed to purify the city (of Prague) from the sinful ones before the stroke of midnight, when the latter plots to reclaim the stained souls of citizens who are completely gripped by the festive mood. However, the beefy musician falls for a lovely (not to mention pregnant) bride-to-be, Agnes (Ester Geislerová, painting her heroine with subtle melancholy and naive saintliness), with her overly possessive, increasingly drunk betrothed Kristián (a commendable performance by Richard Krajco) unwillingly swept into a romantic triangle.

Through the wintry streets of the beautiful, yet deglamorized Czech capital, these archetypal characters are followed by a jovial bunch of masquerading youths (credited as DAMU group and looking as if they walked away from the set of some Jodorowsky's feature) whose costumes are dominated by the foreboding red. Their childlike, or rather utterly infantile behavior has the impish, improvisational qualities attached to it, whereby Brabec directs his rascally 'flash mob' with the playfulness of a jester. Given that his camera is in constant, feverish, disorienting motion, the cinematography comes off as (deliberately?) chaotic or in other words, not as arresting as in Kytice, but the slightly experimental tone of the entire enterprise renders it acceptable, even poetic in a certain way. One prominent (some might say, gimmicky) trait of the 'panicked' visuals is the use of stage spotlight in addition to the available light, which often unnaturally encircles the action and feels like an attempt to break the fourth wall. The restless imagery is accompanied by the eclectic score taken from the musical of the same name written by Daniel Landa, the tracks ranging from accordion ballads to rock anthems which establish a peculiar atmosphere.

14 Jan 2019

A Year Shrouded in Collages!

Intended as a Dada-esque joke or rather, a well-intentioned parody, A Composition with Skeletor (originally, Kompozicija sa Skeletorom) turned out to be the spark that would trigger my on-going collage obsession. And on this day a year ago, I published an experimental, balloon-free comic / quadriptych of sorts titled O (Of Lights and Parasites) which marked my first serious approach to the aforementioned technique. Since then, I created more than three hundred collages and the latest twelve are presented below, showing a wide variety of influences, ranging from the Serbian folk tradition to Bauhaus art to movies.

If you appreciate my work, you can support me @ Ko-Fi, make an order @ Fiverr, purchase a product with my design @ Society6, or some of my PDF art-books @ Itch (Glum Glamour, The Grain of Ultimate Silence, The Instructional Manual for the Superstitious and Mythomachia EX). And don't forget to follow me on Facebook.

Svet(l)ost


Tma


Right in the Eye of the Universe


The Answer Was Stopped at the Doorstep


The Audacious Reconfiguration of Memories


Nostalgia, Version 1.9
(dedicated to Sergei Parajanov)


The Oracle


Demiourgos


On the Edge of the Chasm


Supernova Migraine


In Heaven, Everything Is Fine
 (... which is why Adam and Eve decide to treat themselves to an exotic journey)


Pleasant Coversations With the Unknown

(click to enlarge)

10 Jan 2019

12 Favorite Oldies of 2018

The following list includes some (precisely, twelve) of the best 20th century films that I watched for the first time last year, with the emphasis being on cultish and lesser known titles, rather than the critically acclaimed ones. According to the most entries' production years, the 70s appear to be my favorite era when it comes to the cinema.
 

1. Paskutinė atostogų diena (Arūnas Žebriūnas, 1965)
2. Touha zvaná Anada (Ján Kadár & Elmar Klos, 1971)
3. Deux Fois (Jackie Raynal, 1968)
4. Salomé (Téo Hernandez, 1976)
5. Catch-22 (Mike Nichols, 1970)
6. Pink Narcissus (James Bidgood, 1971)


7. Bérénice (Raúl Ruiz, 1983)
8. Spirits of the Air, Gremlins of the Clouds (Alex Proyas, 1989)
9. Radio On (Christopher Petit, 1979)
10. Jaune le soleil (Marguerite Duras, 1971)
11. Zoo zéro (Alain Fleischer, 1979)
12. Quick Billy (Bruce Baillie, 1971)

6 Jan 2019

'Plavi Demanti' non-Tryptich

Retrograde Romance on a Blue Backdrop (Milk Accidentally Spilled)
 

The Sun Rises for the Lovers (in the Middle of Nowhere)
 
 
Ascension Is Always the Other Way Round

(click to enlarge)

4 Jan 2019

'Art Is... (the Void?)' Triptych

"To understand nothing. That is the key."
(9 doigts, F.J. Ossang, 2017)

Art Is a Freak of Super-Nature

 
Art Is a Highly Pressurized Universe


Art Is a Triangular Ænigma of the Light Abyss

(click to enlarge)

2 Jan 2019

Gabbeh (Mohsen Makhmalbaf, 1996)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ out of 10☼

'Life is color. Love is color. Man is color. Woman is color. Child is color.'

And what defines the first entry in Mohsen Makhmalbaf's Poetic Trilogy which also happens to be my first encounter with the said filmmaker and the first piece of cinema I watched in 2019 is also color. Labeled 'subversive' and banned in its home country of Iran, Gabbeh - a type of a Persian rug, as well as the name of the film's heroine (Shaghayeh Djodat in a brilliant debut) - plays out like an anthropological documentary alchemically transformed into a timeless folk fairy tale.

Its simple, yet universal, highly lyrical and somewhat mysterious story is a rapturous ode to nature which celebrates desire and pays a loving homage to the art of storytelling itself. Intricately weaved just like the old couple's tightly knotted kilim on which the big-eyed beauty Gabbeh magically appears, it takes the viewer on an unpredictable and unforgettable journey across the breathtaking landscapes - verdant steppes, rocky mountains and sandy deserts. The (meta)tale of forbidden love which sees Gabbeh both as the narrator and (tragic?) protagonist twists time and expands or rather, explodes space, with the central theme skillfully and playfully re-shaped into abstract designs and arcane symbols.

For Makhmalbaf, directing comes off as natural as breathing - in a way, he takes the perspective of a naïve artist and dips his brush into the sea water, sun-bathed skies and petals of poppy flowers in order to paint some of the brightest pictures ever to grace the screen. The stunning costumes of his nomadic characters (portrayed by non-professionals who imbue the film with a great sense of authenticity) create a kaleidoscopic patterns that pave the labyrinth corridors of Gabbeh's coarse, but warm three-dimensional tapestry. The most integral parts of Makhmalbaf's loom are Mahmoud Kalari's camera which wonderfully captures the imagery of Parajanov-like grandeur, and Hossein Alizadeh's ethereally melancholic score informed by traditional music.

1 Jan 2019

Short(s)list 2018

When it comes to short films, I will remember last year by Rouzbeh Rashidi’s ‘night life’ magnum opus Homo Sapiens Project (created between 2011 and 2015, but released in its impressive entirety during 2018), as well as by the equally ambitious Studio Diary series by Daniel Fawcett and Clara Pais who also finished the shooting of their soon-to-be-released feature Plot Points, and not to mention the amazing VHS artifact Telekinetic Pleasures, the Super 8 wonder Espectros da Terra and their collaboration with Maximilian Le Cain on Two Storms Collide (inter alia).

Unforgettable are the moments from The Unforeseen and Alternative Film/Video festivals, with the big-screen screenings of Atoosa Pour Hosseini’s mesmerizing Antler, Kent Tate’s increasingly confounding Catalyst, Michael Fleming’s visceral Never Never Land and Scott Barley’s sensually cosmic Womb as some of the numerous highlights. Sylvia Schedelbauer’s Wishing Well flickered me into a parallel (filmic) dimension, whereas Anne Breymann’s dark stop-motion gem Nocturne (Nachtstück) (kudos to Festival Scope) provided me with one of the most mysterious experiences.

I wasn’t surprised to find Bertrand Mandico’s Apocalypse After (Ultra pulpe) – a sexy & sticky love letter to the cinema and the 80s glitz – seductively intoxicating, and David Lynch’s Ant Head ... well, as Lynchian as it gets.

Quite memorable are a violet doppelgänger nightmare of Martin Del Carpio’s I, Dreaming (for which I created the official poster), bodily disintegration and spiritual ascension of Aleksandar Lazar’s Monstrosity of the Body, primeval power and delightful glitch aesthetics of Janja Rakuš’s Poem for Loa, and modern age fears and anxieties explored in David King’s Exit. Honorable mentions go to the mystical fantasy Panta Rei, Roger Deutsch's personal documentary Fathers and Sons, a formally stoic effort Alfaião by André Almeida Rodrigues, and Dalibor Barić’s weirdly astonishing collage animations which I was introduced to by my dear friend Marko Žunić whose debut feature I’m eagerly anticipating.

For the end, a blast from the past (or rather, Oberhausen archives) - a hippy adventure set in the urban jungle, U pravcu početka (Towards the Beginning, 1970) by Dejan Đurković.

Still shot from I, Dreaming (Martin Del Carpio, 2018)