29 Nov 2019

Cinematic Favorites of November

The monthly listicle for November comes earlier than it should, because the beginning of December will certainly be marked by more talks about Kinoskop inaugural edition which is happening this weekend! Considering the activities regarding the festival organization and my ever-growing obsession with collage art, the number of watched films dropped significantly, yet I did manage to compile a diverse selection of nine features and one (animated) short which left me with a strong impression (in one way or another).


The most alchemical piece of cinema / absolute fascination:

A different kind of Russian magic / stylish & jovial rock biopic-musical: 
Leto (Kirill Serebrennikov, 2018)

The finest oldie / a younger, jazz-obsessed brother of The Medusa Raft (1980):
Rdeči boogie ali Kaj ti je deklica (Karpo Aćimović Godina, 1982)

The best short / Surrealism meets film noir in a metaphorical puzzle:

Austere art served unapologetically cold / a glum take on mental illness and suppressed sexuality:
The Mountain (Rick Alverson, 2018)

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned / a solid, but not flawless revenge double bill:
Ready or Not (Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett, 2019)
The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent, 2019)

Fantasy pack / a bunch of winged creatures & animated, bloodthirsty demons:
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (Joachim Rønning, 2019)
Constantine: City of Demons – The Movie (Doug Murphy, 2018)

Cheesy, derivative and somewhat diverting / psychotic imaginary friends or the evil within:

28 Nov 2019

Autumnal Sleeps (Michael Higgins, 2019)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ out of 10☼

How do you begin to describe a beautiful (celluloid) dream, one you can't remember in its entirety, yet you're absolutely positive about the firm hold it had over you? Maybe with another turn of an old vinyl whose soft crackling transfigures your memory?

A hushed voice which may be an emanation from another world tells us: "I've been here a long time. How long, I have no idea. I don't remember." And right from the get-go, it sets the ethereal atmosphere of wonder. We don't know where exactly is here, and neither who or what lies beneath the pile of dry foliage on a sofa, yet we feel the warmth of hazy imagery of earthy tones in the subsequent montage which suggests hypnagogical illusion.

Very soon, we are introduced to the strange characters existing at the dawn of cinema, yet simultaneously belonging to one of its many dusks. A wealthy eccentric right out of a steampunk fantasy, Dr. Epstein (Alain Servant), conducts a series of uncanny experiments, subjecting his own adopted sons wittily named Pete and Re-Pete (Henrik Garo and John Linnane), as well as his "darling flapper" Baby Dee (Natasha Everitt) to various tasks. Together with a lady credited as The Somnambulist (Ambra Gatto Bergamasco) whose mental state appears to be deteriorating, they inhabit a remote rural estate. The arrival of The Whisperer (Conn Rogers) and a mysterious couple (Enda Moran and Trish Murphy) who wouldn't be out of place in some diabolic carnival leads to the awakening of an creepy figure, The Widow (Cillian Roche), whose haunting presence brings forth the nightmare...

All the while, Michael Higgins - "the Vagabond of Experimental Film Society" (according to Donal Foreman) - demonstrates the magic of creating hypnotizing moving images on an expired 35mm film loaded into a 50-yo Soviet camera! Although the silent era is where the bulk of his inspiration comes from, one can't help but recognize a myriad of other possible and seamlessly assimilated influences, ranging from Italian horror to Wojciech Has or even Seijun Suzuki. ('Tis all just an assumption, but for some reason, The Hourglass Sanatorium and Taishō Trilogy popped into my mind more than once.) The strong fragrance of nostalgia that both the antiquated technology and cinematic role models emanate with never wears off - instead, it is gradually infused with sharp hints of (post)modernity, which as a result has Autumnal Sleeps transforming into a timeless work of esoteric avant-garde. In other words, while relying on the ghosts of the past, Higgins invokes the phantasms of the future.

Bleeding colors, grainy textures and striking compositions make virtually every shot worthy of framing and mounting on the wall of an art gallery, whereby the overwhelming power of the lavish visuals is further enhanced by the somber gothic-industrial score laced with effervescent vintage tones. In the alchemical fusion thereof, the evocative, sublimely lurid phantasmagoria is born.


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

26 Nov 2019

Listen Little Man (Marko Žunić, 2019)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ out of 10☼


One of the most experimental Serbian films not only of our but of all time, Listen Little Man (originally, Čuj mali čoveče) marks a significant milestone - inscribed with 'feature debut' - for up-and-coming independent filmmaker Marko Žunić. A follow-up to his short and wordless dystopian romance, Bright Future My Love, which boasts superb aesthetics, this film breaks the shackles of an orthodox narrative in favor of interconnected series of surreal, angst-fueled vignettes. We follow a young man credited only as Nenormalni (lit. abnormal / aberrant; a bold, uninhibited, largely physical performance by Filip Galen) whose world is turned upside-down and inside-out, as he refuses to kneel before the God of Conformism.


A universal story of a struggle against the currents of widespread babbitry is seasoned with local flavors, especially during the sequences of a high middle class dinner (not unlike the Slava) which unapologetically mocks the small-talk banalities, gradually transforming into a perturbing homage to the orgiastic Vienna actionists séance of Dušan Makavejev's inimitable Sweet Movie. (A comparison with the funeral feast of Ilya Khrzhanovsky's 4 wouldn't be out of place either, but Žunić haven't seen it yet.) The naïveté of the non-professional cast provides these scenes with a sort of a low-key humor and brings the films of Želimir Žilnik to one's mind, whereas the subsequent dubbing adds the layer of Felliniesque strangeness to the dizzying proceedings.


Developing in (justified) discordance with the irreverent, if a bit overt parody of our reality are phantasmagorical reflections of the sapped and anguished protagonist's inner workings occasionally dipped in metafilmic interventions (shot at the cinema venue of Student's City Cultural Center in Belgrade). At one point, they are externalized in a volcanic burst of exasperation which joins guerilla performance and mockumentary in an unholy matrimony. Often dialogue-free, draped in deep shadows and imbued with Lynchian madness, these bizarre, nightmarish flourishes operate as 'enhancers' of the film's YU Black Wave-like nature, adding a spicy 'je ne sais qoi' ingredient to the wild and weird mix.


A white catsuit which Galen wears in his character's twisted world makes him almost naked in appearance - he is a tabula rasa on which the audience can project their own thoughts. The costume also makes him look fragile, soon to be crushed under the pressure of the oppressive surroundings, or rather, under the influence of archetypal characters such as Businessman (Strahinja Bičanin), Priest (Vukašin Kerkez) and Girlfriend (Jovana Kerkez). He desperately tries to escape the ugliness and hypocrisy of so-called normality which are captured in gloomily beautiful, hectically edited monochromatic imagery, with a few shots in color emphasizing the author's contempt for certain new age phenomena. Abrasive soundscapes of brooding drones and ear-piercing noise complement the visuals and establish a delirious atmosphere.


Taking all of the creative control in his hands, as writer, director, producer, cinematographer, editor, sound artist and even actor, Marko Žunić demonstrates an enviable level of artistry (and energy!), and despite the budgetary constraints, delivers a highly recommendable piece of work bound to provoke polarizing opinions.

21 Nov 2019

Dobrodošli na KINOSKOP!

Baš kao što slikarstvo nije nestalo sa pojavom fotografije, tako ni snimanje filmova na traci nije ugušeno mogućnošću da video zabeležite mobilnim telefonom. Ako je suditi po velikom broju ostvarenja nastalih u poslednje dve godine, a pristiglih na konkurs prvog izdanja KINOSKOPa (preko dve stotine naslova!), analogna kinematografija je itekako životna... bar kada se pitaju filmadžije sklone eksperimentisanju. Iako kratka, njihova dela u sebi nose magiju i kanališu duhove pionira alternativne sedme umetnosti, i to ne samo kada je reč o „alhemijskoj“ selekciji, već i o programskim celinama posvećenim dokumentarcima, (multi)žanrovskim poigravanjima, fantazmagoričnim izletima u životinjski svet, kao i lirskim „iščašenjima“ stvarnosti i pronađenih / arhivskih snimaka (tzv. found footage).

Velika mi je čast biti jedna polovina kustoskog dvojca KINOSKOPa, uz energičnog i entuzijastičnog muzičara i sineastu Marka Milićevića, ali i deo posvećene ekipe umetnika koji učestvuju u pratećim programima, Live Soundtrack i EndFrame(s) (Poslednji kadar), ili kao članovi žirija (nezavisni filmski režiser Marko Žunić, muzičar i filolog Nevena Popović, i filmska montažerka Nina Lazarević). U Live Soundtrack-u koji obeležava svoju petu godišnjicu moći će da uživaju ljubitelji analogne elektronske muzike, a nastupiće Tearpalm, Falling Elevator Music i brazilski muzičar Elefante Branco, kao i Aleksandar Lazar i Marko Milićević koji će predstaviti kosmičko-postapokaliptični „expanded cinema“ performans pod nazivom „Elementarne čestice / Od koga smo nastali?“ Na tematskoj izložbi EndFrame(s) koja zatvara festival, a donosi niz poslednjih kadrova imaginarnih filmova, analognim fotografijama će se predstaviti Darko Ilić, Elizabeta Petković, Dina Radović, Milica Nikolić, Svetlana Mladenović i Vladimir Ilić, a kolažima Jelena Perišić i moja malenkost.

Ulaz na sve projekcije biće besplatan, pa ovo sažeto predstavljanje KINOSKOPa prihvatite kao poziv da nam se pridružite, 30. novembra i 1. decembra u prostoru Kvake 22, na čiju adresu Marko i ja šaljemo posebnu zahvalnost! Celokupan program i raspored projekcija (na engleskom) možete pogledati na zvaničnoj stranici festivala, a više informacija možete dobiti putem fejsbuka, gde je sam događaj nedavno najavljen. Uskoro će biti objavljene dve verzije kataloga, na srpskom i na engleskom. Dobrodošli!

14 Nov 2019

Kinoskop: The Main Program Announcement!


United colors of Kinoskop
Deep Waters (Alice Heit, 2019) | Prologue to the Tarot: Glenna (Brittany Gravely & Ken Linehan, 2018)
Aleph (Antonia Luxem, 2019) | Who Wants to Fall in Love? (Emily Van Loan, 2019)

"Analog filmmaking needed more love so we've decided to show why it is still so vital today - in Belgrade, of all places. 😻

I'm thrilled to announce that the first edition of Kinoskop will be taking place in Belgrade's hot spot for alternative, independent and underground culture - Kvaka 22 on 30th November and 1st December.

Results of the selection for the Main Program are finally out - fellow cinema junky Nikola Gocić and I have programmed 41 films in total of 7 Selections.

This years program is rather a breathtaking dive into the aesthetic world of filmmakers who work with celluloid today (Super 8, 16mm, 35mm, and found footage), extending through stories and motives which cover a lot of historical association with pioneers of avant-garde and independent cinema, but also impregnate them with a lot of vibrant energy and new ideas.

There's shades of mysticism and psychodrama of Deren, dealing with esoteric "thingamijigs" and alchemy of Anger, magically mundane secret diaries of Mekas, but rest assured this will be no sheer nostalgia trip... We will watch documentaries on subjects which haven't been touched upon in the history of cinema and witness peculiar deconstructions of sci-fi and horror genre through the creative lens and poetics of experimental film, take a trip inside nocturnal visions of the non-human world, oneirically sabotage H/B/ollywood on a found footage level and take on you on a rollercoaster ride in the realms of non-commercial, non-compromising, personal cinema. 👌

Take a sneak peak of things to come in this teaser album! Congrats to all filmmakers in this program, the entire festival schedule, catalog and Facebook event will be published on Monday! 🎬"

~Marko Milićević / Kinoskop curator~

"The first edition of Kinoskop is quickly approaching, so it’s about time we reveal this year’s main program! In seven selections, there are forty one (yes, 41!) films that will enchant and mystify you, speak directly to your subconscious, subvert your genre (and many other!) expectations, and take you to the world(s) where myths and realities collide, blur the lines which separate them, and then coalesce into a dense medley of aural and visual stimuli. Experience it firsthand in art space Kvaka 22, Belgrade, on 29th November and 1st December! Welcome!"

~Nikola Gocić / Kinoskop curator~

Once again, congratulations to all filmmakers! 💗

7 Nov 2019

The Blessed Depressed

We mysteriously disappeared on the 12th of Dek Du, just a moment before our father created the word for the world. At the beginning, there was literally nothing, but then the first imagery emerged from our liquid subconsciousness... With their minds hanging from their ears, Kunikloj were wandering around the ancient ruins of Labirinto. They didn’t know what they were searching for, which is why we didn’t want to interrupt their silence. However, Flustre betrayed us, and the birds of Para-Noah whisked them away.

That is why we asked Mr. Luno where would the Tic of the Toc strike and he told us to consider lowering our expectations. It was the day after, yet yesterday didn’t have any objections. Besides, we killed ourselves on great many occasions, so one of our suicides might not have been imaginary. Our children were well-behaved, even during the sudden outbursts of naked luck – they had never barked like those white Korvoj who gathered on the roofs of faux innocence.

When the candy-flavored bubbles burst, everything went back to Normala where three Sunoj shone upon the graves of our ancestors. The road towards Destino was permanently closed and no one explained why.

1 Nov 2019

Apocrypha: A Prelude to Inferno

Apocrypha: A Prelude to Inferno references the Third Book of the avant-garde, multi-genre novel titled The Burlesque of Mr. Perun the God of Thunder (originally, Бурлеска господина Перуна бога грома) by Serbian writer Rastko Petrović (1898-1949). It takes a lot of artistic liberties to depict a scene in which archangel Michael paddles a boat by which mother of God travels to Hell, because she yearns to visit it and meet the Satan himself...

Cinematic Favorites of October

During October, I checked out (and in great many cases, enjoyed) almost 200 short films, by virtue of the great response to the Kinoskop call for entries which, I remind you, is still open, until the 10th of November. I won't reveal my Kinoskop favorites on this month's best of list, but you will find some hints, if you follow the festival's Faceboook page. As for the features, the number is much smaller (barely over 20), with one of a few re-watches being a great nostalgia trip to my childhood - namely, Filmation's cartoon Flash Gordon: The Greatest Adventure of All (1982). But, let's get back to the present. Top three big-screen experiences are reserved for Joaquin Phoenix's delightfully deranged one-man show Joker, and a couple of striking debuts - Marko Žunić's angsty, surreally disquieting, neo-Black Wave phantasmagoria Čuj mali čoveče (lit. Listen Little Man), and Susanne Heinrich's hyper-stylized, cynically deadpan post-modern dramedy Das melancholische Mädchen (aka Aren't You Happy?).

FEATURES:


1. Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019) 
2. Čuj mali čoveče (Marko Žunić, 2019)
3. Das melancholische Mädchen (Susanne Heinrich, 2019)
5. Once Upon a Time (Xiaoding Zhao & Anthony LaMolinara, 2017)
6. Gwen (William McGregor, 2018) 
7. Prospect (Christopher Caldwell & Zeek Earl, 2018)

SHORTS: