25 Sep 2019

In the Arbor of the Bitter Orange (Sarahjane Swan & Roger Simian, 2017)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ out of 10☼


One of the most alchemikal collaborations between contemporary experimental filmmakers, In the Arbor of the Bitter Orange exudes with joy and love for creation. Beautifully shot on monochrome Super 8 by Scottish duo of Sarahjane Swan and Roger Simian aka Avant Kinema, it stars Daniel Fawcett and Clara Pais of The Underground Film Studio as a dandy, enigmatic couple harboring a great desire for the titular fruit which grows in the secret garden of a seemingly abandoned house.

Part (neo)surrealist exercise and part poetic exploration of the moving images' power, this seven-minute 'fantasy' enchants with its cinematic purity and sublime simplicity. The locations of the small seaside town of Espinho, Portugal, have a timeless quality attached to them, and the same goes for the quaint black and white visuals that give the impression of a long-lost film from the last century. They have a perfect accompaniment in the haunting, meditative soundscape - Gustav Holst's Venus reconstructed by The Bird And The Monkey (Swan & Simian's music-producing moniker) - lending the film its mysterious appeal.

Daniel & Clara have a whale of a time in their roles, especially during the orange-devouring scene which elicits a comedian out of Mr. Fawcett. Although credited as performers, they do not act, but rather live the slightly twisted reality from their colleagues' (impromptu) vision. After the super-grainy footage rolls backwards, their characters disappear in the rippled surface of the water (in a barrel?), suggesting their short adventure was but a slippery dream.


(The review is based on the private screener provided by the authors.)

10 Years of NGboo Art

Tomorrow marks the 10th anniversary of NGboo Art, as well as the opening of the 17th International Comics Festival which I will be attending, given that my experimental collage-comic F Mode has been selected for the exhibition. If my records are correct, this is the fifth piece of mine that has been honored by the jury, following in footstreps of Disappearing... (2010), Avant-Garden (2014), Eternal (2016) and Exhausted Peace (2018)...

Now, instead of looking back at the blog's beginning and development that has been supported mostly by my enthusiasm and passion for alternative cinema (and will hopefully be partly supported via Ko-fi in the future), I am going to remind the readers of some (chronologically sorted) articles which have led to / been inspired by successful collaborations, as well as friendships, both online and real-life, that I couldn't even dreamed of and that I highly appreciate.

Divna budućnost ljubavi moja (Marko Žunić, 2014) - the translation and adaptation of this text is included in of my (30) Taste of Cinema listicles, HERE.

Sleep Has Her House (Scott Barley, 2017) - "... there's no conventional narrative or characters in this exploration of cloaked, tenebrous, impenetrable 'otherness'. The very notion of those aspects is obscured by the Moon's timid rays, an owl's piercing eyes, the stillness of roe's corpse, the soaring thunder which announces the End and even by the small intrusions of light..." (When you watch Barley's film on the big screen, the presence of the abovementioned 'otherness' is felt so strongly, you can barely resist it.)

Alchemy on the Amstel (Janja Rakuš, 2016) - "... A whole new world of rich textures and simmering lights lies beneath its surface, waiting to be explored. Our reality perishes and über-reality emerges..." (This is a great opportunity to send another thank you to Ms Rakuš and journalist Melita Forstnerič Hajnšek for the special mention of my name in the article for Slovenian web portal Večer.)

Üres lovak / Empty Horses (Péter Lichter, 2019) - "... the selected sequences, ranging from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to Alien, are always in tune with both the protagonists' words, as well as with the author's personal reflections on filmmaking, though at times they do slip into the 'phantasmal domain', to remind us of cinema's ghostly qualities and the fantastical dimension of this respectable meta-creation..."

Luminous Void: Docudrama (Rouzbeh Rashidi, 2019) - "... a medium between our world and the domain ruled by the specters of cinema; it is a session during which the ghosts of many film pioneers are simultaneously invoked, celebrated, communicated with and expelled..." (Crossing fingers to attend the 20th birthday of Experimental Film Society next year in Dublin.)

Notes from a Journey (Daniel Fawcett & Clara Pais, 2019) - "... A bewildering formalistic exploration of inner and outer landscapes via both visual and aural means, it poses a great challenge to the viewer attempting to put the hardly describable experience into words..." (I find Daniel & Clara's sensibility extremely close to mine, which is why I 'dream in exile' and sincerely hope our journeys will cross paths some day soon.)

In a Nutshell: Takatoshi Arai - "... Remaining secretive about the themes and meanings behind the oft-puzzling and dialogue-free juxtapositions of moving images and sounds, he asks the viewers to be active / open-minded and leaves plenty of space for their own different interpretations..." (Looking forward to meeting Arai-san this Friday.)

Auricular Confession (Martin Del Carpio, 2019) - "... Once again, Del Carpio orchestrates a successful collaboration with photographer William Murray who provides the film with the exquisitely composed and tightly edited B&W visuals, making the most of a claustrophobic shooting location." (Not only one of the best shorts I've seen this year, but also one of MDC's films I've designed the official poster for.)

Furnace (Kent Tate, 2019) - "... 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..."

Emotive Transmigrations (Camelia Mirescu, 2016) - "... both aurally and visually it manages to conjure some peculiar magic, and leaves you wanting more..." (Mirescu's body of work is worthy of the 'soulscaping' label.)

In conclusion, I present a small selection of my collages from the recently started 'B&W vs. Red' series which sees me feeling comfortable out of my comfort zone. You can follow me on Facebook and, as of late, on Instagram.

That Time Despair Went for a Swim


The Perks of Being an Ostracized Martyr


It Will End in Tears


Snow White and the Seventh Perforation of the Void


A Vanishing Street Miracle


Resistance


Wide-Eyed Curiosity

24 Sep 2019

Moon Tiger Movie 3 (Maximilian Le Cain, 2019)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ out of 10☼

Once again, Moon Tiger takes his seat in an armchair, silently suggesting we do the same, because the lights are about to be turned off, just like in the movies, marking the beginning of another arduous inward journey or rather, its continuation. The most accessible of the bunch, the third installment in Le Cain's latest opus feels like a fractured psychological drama of an enigmatic woman portrayed by several actresses, each representing their heroine's specific state of mind.

In the opening, she is an aged lady in what appears to be a retirement home or even a hospital, because cinema is an incurable disease, especially when it comes to EFS filmmakers. It is hard to decide whether she is Moon Tiger's figment of imagination or vice-versa, but it is pretty easy to recognize her deep melancholy in the austere black & white imagery drenched in a humming noise. After she goes to sleep, we are introduced to her 'second self' (or the first of a few dream-selves?) - a mademoiselle in a bright coat who wouldn't be out of place in a Godard(ian) / New Wave-ish flick. Surrounded by concrete structures of an urban environment, she wanders and ponders, subtly externalizing her (suppressed?) emotions - at one point, she speaks with an irresistible Irish accent, and that sole instance of verbal expression fills you with warm bitter-sweetness. At her most confident, she is replaced by performance artist Vicky Langan - Le Cain's frequent collaborator who starred in his 2017 feature Inside.

The lingering shots of skies and pastures, and later, of power-lines, hotel rooms and abandoned, debris-littered places, as well as a recurring frozen frame of a nude woman in ecstasy serve as a connective tissue in this fragile, gradually mutating film-organism that sees Moon Tiger as an intruder of sorts. He can also be held responsible for the fourth wall occasionally crumbling and revealing the author's perseverance and stubborn insistence on cinema as the medium for extremely subjective exploration and solipsistic contemplation. His stream of thoughts are reflected in the gloomy, evocative, hyper-grainy visuals which hold the strangely compelling beauty of abundant desolation, evanescent in its permanence. Minimalist soundscapes of soft crackling, wind blowing, cowbells clinking and sirens wailing in the distance wonderfully complement their obfuscating charm.

Moon Tiger Movie 3 can be viewed HERE for free until September 30.

19 Sep 2019

Moon Tiger Movie 2 (Maximilian Le Cain, 2019)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ out of 10☼

After devouring Star Duck that infected his first film's finale with some twisted humor, Moon Tiger continues his journey toward the Deep Blue. He walks along the dark streets of an unidentified town, with the particles of light flickering in his palm. Brooding silence and ominous droning accompany him on the way, as the sea rustles nervously. A lost soul who escaped from a Jean Rollin's fantasy attempts to climb the graveyard gate and seems unfazed by her failure...

The line between (classic) cinema and (inner) life, (horror) genre and (excessive) experimentation gets blurred, and once again, the viewer is steeped in perplexity. Extremely grainy, the texture of the main blurring factor - the quivering visuals - gives the film the appearance of a long-lost artifact unearthed in the distant future, then sent back through time to be witnessed by a lucky finder. Even more arrhythmic than its predecessor, Moon Tiger Movie 2 sees its creator as a mad, stubbornly uncompromising scientist who works and meditates simultaneously. The (un)blinking eye of his camera creates the illusion of a Malevich-esque simplicity and Brutalist power, but only occasionally - the images are mostly as fragile as a water-filled bottle's bottom that turns into a snow globe-like universe, during the zoom in.

A strong feeling of loneliness pervades the phantasmal 'proceedings' which flicker encrypted messages into one's subconscious. On the other hand, Moon Tiger may be the Devil, but the Devil is not only in the details of his own art performance - the movie in self-exile. Across the ruins of omni-cinema, he and we encounter countless restless ghosts. The question 'I lost my body, can I use yours?' raises the levels of uncanniness. Will the Sun ever rise?

Moon Tiger Movie 2 is available FOR FREE on Experimental Film Society's Vimeo channel, but for a limited time (a few days left). The first part can be rented HERE.

'Amarelo' Diptych

As seven golden pearls glitter, a couple of voices speak silently...

VOICE 1: How did you turn your black into green?
VOICE 2: I don’t know. It just... happened. Out of the blue.
VOICE 1: Did you see the stars?
VOICE 2: Stars? No. Only their former selves, veiled in the mist of our nothingness.
VOICE 1: I don’t understand. Aren’t we supposed to be alive?
VOICE 2: Perhaps we are. Why don’t you ask your death?
VOICE 1: (reveals the true form of light and vanishes through a triangular rift in time)

Green Is in the Eye of the Withholder


Drama Queen and the King of Solitude

18 Sep 2019

Paradise Hills (Alice Waddington, 2019)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ out of 10☼


Wearing her influences on the haut couture sleeve, Alice Waddington debuted with a fascinating short Disco Inferno (available at Vimeo on Demand) in which she seamlessly blended baroque excesses à la Jean Rollin's fantastique, a Maddin-esque homage to silent cinema, a few Kubrickian references and some delightfully twisted humor. Oh, and let's not forget the Mephistophelian musical interlude! Four years later, in her first feature, she follows similar approach with just slightly less success, delivering a deliciously campy sci-fi fairy tale that feels like a breath of fresh air, despite drawing inspiration from various (obvious) sources.


Through the kaleidoscopic, 'crystal chandelier turned mandala' portal in the opening, Paradise Hills pulls you into its magical, anachronistically organized world, effortlessly grabbing your attention and keeping it undivided all the way to the closing credits. We find ourselves at a sumptuous, aristocratic wedding that wouldn't feel out of place in a Tarsem Singh's film, given that the spirit of his frequent collaborator, the late Eiko Ishioka, inhabits the bride's pearly, fencing mask-like headpiece, as well as the guests' garments. Even after we're transported to a remote (Mediterranean?) island where most of the story (told in flashback) takes place, the costumes' captivating extravagance (many kudos to Alberto Valcárcel) remains one of this fantasy's strongest points. The traces of Victorian and Lolita fashion are clearly visible in the 'uniforms' and nightgowns worn by the sassy heroine Uma (Emma Roberts, tolerable as a rebellious 'Upper') and her friends who are all the unsuspecting protégés of a 'center for holistic and sustained healing' - think offbeat boarding school modeled upon the one from Lucile Hadžihalilović's Innocence.


Now, this is a proper moment to mention the headmistress of the said establishment, the enigmatic Duchess portrayed by Milla Jovovich who seems to have a whale of a time chewing the scenery and channeling she-wolf in sheep's clothing or rather, a rose well-versed in concealing her thorns. While her true identity lays dormant behind the yards of silk, satin and tulle, some of which is utilized for an eclectic 'kimono meets Southern belle' dress, she and her 'white knight' minions go about their daily jobs of transforming young ladies into better versions of themselves, 'to fit their surroundings' exact desires'. The most bizarre of the methods they employ involves a Renaissance-inspired altar equipped with a merry-go-round horsey and state of the art system for holographic projections, so it's safe to assume that Waddington plants her tongue deeply in her cheek to tackle the themes of identity, feminism, individuality, (counter)conformity, public image and (dualistic) class stratification.


However, the emphasis is most definitely not on the narrative, messages or characters who come off as archetypal, but rather on the refined, decidedly feminine visuals laced with gentle irony and beautifully complemented by Lucas Vidal's unobtrusively evocative score which heightens the otherworldliness of the atmosphere. Laia Colet does wonders with her production design, borrowing from M. C. Escher's work, Art Nouveau and Retrofuturism for the eclectic architecture of the titular institution, and looking up to Argento's Suspiria for the lighting solutions in certain scenes of the film's final third. The critically acclaimed horror also serves as an excuse of sorts for the flexibility / looseness of inner logic and for the eschewing of substance in favor of the aesthetically pleasing form. And one cannot help but notice bits and pieces of Disney and Japanese animation being built into the surreal universe of Paradise Hills. Neatly capturing all that splendor is DoP Josu Inchaustegui. Alice Waddington sure has a knack for inviting imagery, so her next project will be noted as worthy of anticipation in this writer's book.

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 seat 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.