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.

23 Aug 2019

The Flying Fish (Murat Sayginer, 2019)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ out of 10☼

The stuff that our wildest dreams are made of gets disintegrated, then crystallized into a strange, luminous matter, and finally filtered through whatever lies inside a black hole, to be assimilated into The Flying Fish. The question arises: What is the titular creature? Is it the embodiment of an eternal, restless spirit? A lost thought of some supreme entity? Or could it be the essence of an alternate, unparalleled universe about to be born? Whatever the answer may be, Sayginer's sublime, highly mysterious or rather, mystical fantasy pierces one's soul and gradually melts, creating a protective velum around it.

Thoughtfully composed of ten (very) short films created over the period of several years, The Flying Fish is not a simple sum of its parts, but a fusion of the highest order; a singular vision that burrows deep in the collective subconscious and plants the seed of the Great Unknown. Following its puzzling inner logic of blurred dichotomies and meta-mythological thought, it plunges you into an infinite, continuously mutating world, both compelling and somewhat frightening in its open-minded amalgamation of the mental, the physical, the virtual and the transcendental. During an uninterrupted series of neo- or cyber-alchemical processes, we witness, inter alia, the metamorphosis of a solid sphere into a liquid micro-universe, the birth of a brand new constellation preceding a psychedelic delirium, skeletons performing a ritualistic dance around an ominously looking deer-goddess, and a tower (silo?) of enigmatic hooded figures observing Ascension from their cryogenic capsule-like cages!

And somehow, one feels and intuitively knows that everything makes perfect sense - the abscence of words (for the most of the film's running time), the idiosyncratic utilization of glossy, hyper-stylized CGI, as well as the occasional pokes at contemporary society in an otherwise poetic, esoteric, symbolically charged narrative which crescendos in astonishing scenes of a neonized afterlife underscored by a pulsating synth music.

Official page:
The Flying Fish


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

21 Aug 2019

Emotive Transmigrations (Camelia Mirescu, 2016)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ out of 10☼


The epitome of Camelia Mirescu's inspiring body of work, Emotive Transmigrations speaks or rather, softly whispers directly to one's soul, as its very title may suggest. Dubbed 'experimental film retrospective' by the auteur herself, it gives an entirely new meaning to the 'recycling' of previously used footage, providing the viewer with the highly contemplative and difficult-to-describe experience. Think falling through the liquid embodiment of silence, or bathing in the crystalline sea of immaculate dreams...

It eschews plot and traditional narrative in favor of mood, lyricism and the elusiveness of feeling, and it does so magnificently. Replete with phantasmal and/or phantasmagoric superimpositions that turn everything from landscapes to human portraits into abstract sensations, this transcendental ciné-reverie is lensed in gorgeous, high-contrast black and white, and musically veiled with a delicate, somewhat melancholic piano piece, What If, composed by Marina Vesić (aka Black Marine). In other words, both aurally and visually it manages to conjure some peculiar magic, and leaves you wanting more...

Emotive Transmigrations can be viewed on Mirescu's official Vimeo channel.

20 Aug 2019

Furnace (Kent Tate, 2019)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼(☼) out of 10☼


There seems to be an undeniable continuity or rather, an unbreakable flow in the self-possessed, ecologically conscious art of the Canadian filmmaker Kent Tate (Catalyst), with each of his 'ciné-scientific' shorts adding to his never-ending exploration of the dichotomy between the natural and the manufactured. The same goes for one of his latest offerings, Furnace, which depicts the hypnotizing interplay of light and shadows under the conditions of 'Global Dimming'.

Shot in 'the vast interior of British Columbia' over the period of three years, as the official synopsis informs us, the film opens with a subtly altered B&W archive footage which could be (literally) interpreted as a symbol of an eye-opening warning, or as a nifty 'trick' to attract the viewer's attention, in a similar vein with the eye-slitting scene from Un Chien Andalou. Its 'docu-face' is revealed via a special (and visually wobbly) appearance by Jay Forrester who explains that the problem solving doesn't go along the straight line, but rather in loops, with both us and our environment (in the widest sense of the word) changing in the process.

What follows is a recognizable procession of images which beautifully capture not only the balance-retaining struggle between Mother Earth and men-made pollutants, but also the inexorable passage of time reflected in the solemn march of gray clouds above the silent fields and mountains. Although pervaded by the feeling of calm, with Tate's camera acting as a stoic observer, the ostensibly rigid compositions have a painterly quality to them that is simultaneously complemented and counterpoised by the pulsating music created by the author himself. His occasional digital interventions are delicately woven into what one may dub the prudent poetry of the Anthropocene.


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

17 Aug 2019

The Prince's Voyage (Jean-François Laguionie & Xavier Picard, 2019)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼(☼) out of 10☼

Armed with a simple, yet compelling, subtly nuanced story of both societal and intergenerational tolerance, The Prince's Voyage (originally, Le voyage du prince) marks a new milestone in Laguionie's five-decade-long career, welcoming the audience into an alternate, steampunk-ish world inhabited by 'simius sapiens', and providing them with the meticulously composed visuals of soft, desaturated colors gracefully complemented by Christophe Héral's elegant, mellifluous score. The connoisseurs of the 'French school' of animation will certainly find a lot to enjoy here (and be left with wanting more!), whereby the omnipresent 'Golden Age of Hollywood' vibe and a handful of classic cinema references (from Alexander Nevsky to Planet of the Apes) may act as a lure for the film buffs.


The film is playing for free on Festival Scope until August 31, 2019!

16 Aug 2019

Ko-fi Exclusive

Today, I upgraded my Ko-fi account to Gold which essentially means that now I'm able to offer exclusive content to the most loyal supporters of my creative work. For the minimum price of  'one coffee', you'll have access to hi-res / print-ready versions of my collages, and if everything goes well, I may start selling commissions (at the moment, available only through my Fiverr gig) and provide other benefits. The first 'offering' is a sort of a minimalist experiment titled The Day They Arrived... 

I would like to express my utmost gratitude to every generous soul who has supported me so far, and promise that I'll try to keep the 'artwork or two per day' pace. You can contact me via e-mail (nikola [dot] gocic [at] hotmail [dot] com) or my Facebook page on which dozens of my pieces are exhibited (in their web-optimized size), and make a Ko-fi request.


Triglav's Rebirth

12 Aug 2019

Ralf's Colors (Lukas Marxt, 2019)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ out of 10☼

"A total void, that’s all I’ve learned."


Neither a documentary, nor a (science) fiction film, Ralf's Colors (originally, Ralfs Farben) can be described as a wry, deadpan, eco-friendly "half-fantasy", to borrow the term coined by the titular protagonist. It may also be labeled as a pre-apocalyptic mono-drama somewhat comparable (yet superior) to Nikolaus Geyrhalter's Homo Sapiens, as well as a spiritual younger brother of In Praise of Nothing by Boris Mitić. 

Whatever you choose to call it, one thing's for sure - Marxt's feature is a strange beast. At first glance, it doesn't bite (although it features an enigmatic black and white dog in several scenes), but when you approach it from a tilted angle, it suddenly sinks its teeth into your preconception of it. Dyed with Ralf's meandering musings - often elusive ramblings of a schizophrenic recluse - it is an intriguing portrait of a man whose inner workings are shaped by his desolate surroundings.

The windy locations of Lanzarote, Canary Islands, are beautifully captured in austerely magnificent compositions interrupted by glitchy psychedelics halfway through the film, and a dizzying superimposition involving an old, scratched helmet and a flickering shot of volcanic rocks. Time seems to stand still in Marxt and Michael Petri's imagery, and physical space turns into a puzzling abstraction. An extra dose of mystery is injected by an evocative, sparsely employed flute tune which eschews the meaning in favor of a disorienting feeling best reflected in Ralf's following words: "I still haven’t really arrived in this world."


Ralfs Farben is playing as a part of Locarno FF selection on Festival Scope until August 31, 2019.

10 Aug 2019

A Selection of Recent Artworks (II)

Inspiration comes in many different forms - sometimes disguised as the backyard darkness, and other times, through a pallid dream about to be born. She is the burning whisper of a summer heat, and a liminal space between meandering thoughts; the devil's acidic spit and the sanguine touch of angelic arms...

Stardust Pirouette


She Said 'I'm Your Death', but Refused to Show Me Her Licence


The Third Law of Ancient Magic


Ascension


(Un)born


Chaos Sisyphus


Starchild's Vampiric Dream

(open in a new tab to enlarge)

6 Aug 2019

Little from the Fish Shop (Jan Balej, 2015)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ out of 10☼

Czech cinema has a long tradition of stop-motion animation, Jan Švankmajer being one of its most revered representatives, and the latest feature from Jan Balej (One Night in a City) appears as its logical continuation. Quite similarly to the abovementioned auteur's oeuvre, it is decidedly an adult affair which treats its source material with an extra dose of grittiness and bleakness, as it simultaneously strives to keep the original message(s) intact.

An adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's signature fairy tale, Little from the Fish Shop (originally, Malá z rybárny) comes with a modern twist co-written by Balej and Ivan Arsenyev who refrain from sugar-coating and opt for the exact opposite approach. It opens on an ecological note, along the first of very few instances of computer generated imagery, introducing us to the once wonderful ocean depths now polluted by the land-dwellers' toxic waste. The royal merfolk family - a disabled mater familias, her son, the king, and his three daughters - are forced to move into the nearest port town and conform to the new lifestyle, their exile accompanied by a fish orchestra's solemn performance.

In a "drastically macabre betrayal of their natural environment", as Guy Lodge notes in his Variety review, they start a fish-selling business in one of the harbor's seediest districts, their shop surrounded by night clubs and frequented by men of loose moral. One of them is a cocaine-dealing waiter whose face is a physiognomic equivalent of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari sets, and the other is Bogan - a smutty brothel owner whose disheveled Don Juan-esque looks and appreciation for techno beats make him a charmless prince stand-in, yet somehow act as a bait for the Sea King's youngest child simply referred to as Little.

The 'love is blind' phrase pretty much applies to Little's infatuation, though it could be her naiveté and childlike curiosity that lead her down to the tragic denouement. After all, her knowledge of the outside world is limited to fancy re-interpretations of her older sisters' stories and she is not allowed to leave the confines of their store until after her sixteenth birthday. Now, despite the fact that she and the last of her kin have adjusted their tails for walking the mean streets, our heroine still has to make a sacrifice, because Bogan finds legs more to his liking. Thankfully, there's a witch in the sewers ready to make a magic concoction in exchange for a pearl and 'hair extensions', because voice-selling would be unbefitting of this dialogue-free rendition...

Under the surface (no pun intended) which clearly reflects some of the contemporary social issues, such as immigration and the (unjust) treatment of women, Balej's narrative remains fairly faithful to that of Andersen's, eschewing the spiritual, Kingdom-of-God dimension of Little Mermaid's death in favor of a more down-to-earth conclusion. "No matter how far, how stormy the ocean, chase your dreams, risk it all." - in his wise old man tone, eventually advises the narrator (Oldrich Kaiser) whose soothing and resonating voice brings John Hurt's performance in The Storyteller to one's mind.

Where Little... shines the brightest is the delightfully grotesque design of its unique world brimming with life, albeit a suffocating one as the depressing palette of desaturated colors superbly conveys. A great attention to details is paid in both the construction of scenery, and the creation of puppets who are often given fish-like features in correspondence with the central character's origin. Their pale complexion and dark circles around their eyes are almost certainly caused by the smoggy air of the imaginary town they live in - on several occasions, we can see a forest of factory chimneys towering in the background. A couple of extra layers of vividness are provided by grungy, tangible textures, and the whimsical, eclectic score by French musician Chapelier Fou (also credited under his alias Louis Warynski).

1 Aug 2019

Cinematic Favorites of July

For the latest edition of Cinematic Favorites, I shall pull focus on recent offerings, honorably mentioning Antouanetta Angelidi's Variations on the Same Theme as the best of (only four) 'oldies' I saw in July. The features list comes off as a mixed bag, with the first and only film in Haida language, Edge of the Knife (originally, SGaawaay K'uuna), being its most exotic entry, whereas the list of shorts is reserved for outstanding cinexperiments, whether they're shot on 16mm or sculpted in CG. Some of the included works were 'discovered' through a recently formed group of avant-garde artists AGITATE: 21C.

FEATURES


1. Seduction of the Flesh (Júlio Bressane, 2018)
(I talk about Bressane's idiosyncratic (mono)drama in the interview for Film Panic.)
2. In Praise of Nothing (Boris Mitić, 2017)
3. Krasue: Inhuman Kiss (Sitisiri Mongkolsiri, 2019)
4. Edge of the Knife (Gwaai Edenshaw & Helen Haig-Brown, 2018)
5. Five Stories (Roger Deutsch, 2019)
7. Ten Years Thailand (Aditya Assarat, Wisit Sasanatieng, Chulayarnnon Siriphol & Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2018)
9. The Cannibal Club (Guto Parente, 2018)
10. Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds (Yong-hwa Kim, 2017)

SHORT FILMS


4. Obatala Film (Sebastian Wiedeman, 2019)
9. SD103: Snakes & Ladders (Daniel Fawcett & Clara Pais, 2019)