Jan 26, 2020

Sweep Away Hungry Ghosts (Zhang + Knight, 2020)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼(☼) out of 10☼

Zhang + Knight (the moniker of Linden Feng and Hannah Palumbo) emerge from the world of music videos most of which share the exceptional art direction. Prime example of their talents is Projector - a loving homage to both Hopper and Turrell created in collaboration with the Irish musician EDEN (Jonathon Ng) who provided a brooding score for their short Sweep Away Hungry Ghosts. At its core is an off-kilter and dialogue-free ghost story that revolves around a young man (portrayed with gentle humility by Takuro Hama Cheung) who 'struggles to come to terms with his deceased father's transvestitism'. The contrasting themes of traditional Chinese filial piety and shifting gender roles are tightly and skillfully interwoven into the soft tapestry of the moody, deliberately paced narrative imbued with a sense of mystery.

Gorgeously shot in a boxy aspect ratio by Ruben Woodin Dechamps, this stunning little film reflects Zhang's unfulfilled desire to become a classical oil painter in virtually every frame, whereby Knight's dream of an opera singer career can be sensed in the unhinged, delightfully theatrical performance by Ken Mai who embodies the father's ghost. Meticulous visual compositions of deep shadows bring to mind many masters of cinema, from Yimou Zhang to David Lynch to Takashi Miike, yet they come off as fresh, not to mention awe-inspiring in their delicate beauty. Dominated by fiery reds which blur the boundaries between the living and the dead, they make you yearn for more, so the up-and-coming duo of Zhang + Knight is one to keep an eye on.

Jan 25, 2020

What Did Jack Do? (David Lynch, 2017 / 2020)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ out of 10☼

During the 17 minutes of his short What Did Jack Do? which premiered in Paris three years ago and was recently released on Netflix, David Lynch redefines the 'monkey business' phrase as the activity that marries silliness to first-class filmmaking, and neo-noir to surreal comedy. Casting a stylishly dressed Capuchin as a murder suspect, Jack (of many trades, one of them being a plastic bag specialist), and himself as a hard-boiled, heavy-smoking detective who may be Gordon Cole of a parallel universe, he turns the cinema's most enduring cliché - a police interrogation scene - into an absurdist battle of wits that is simultaneously unsettling and hilarious. The reason thereof lies not only in Jack's human mouth overlaid on his adorable face in a distracting, outdated-VFX fashion, but also in the lines coming out of the very same gob, carried on a distorted voice most probably owned by Lynch himself. (Not to mention the vintage-esque song our little perpetrator bursts into during the procedural's climax!)

Set on a train station 'crawling with hungry passengers and cops', as we are informed by a waitress (Emily Stofle) who brings a cup of black coffee (which the director is obsessed with), the film boasts some delightfully moody B&W cinematography (kudos to Scott Ressler), as well as the austere 'industrial' production design that couldn't get more Lynchian. The complete absence of music until the aforementioned interlude that, by the way, is dedicated to a hen named Toototabon, creates the atmosphere of palpable, yet illogical tension akin to an irksome dream you don't want to end. And once it does, you're left with many questions that need no answers, not even when a red herring becomes a red rabbit...

Jan 22, 2020

Untold (Nikola Gocić, 2020)

In an Elysian universe, the twisted geometry of archetypes breaks the third rule of the Word, and the Image emerges from the purity of Nothingness.

Concept, Collage Art & Animation: Nikola Gocić (Nicollage)
Music: “The Word” by Kemmer (Jelena Perišić)

Jan 16, 2020

Why Don't You Just Die! (Kirill Sokolov, 2018)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ out of 10☼

When we are first introduced to a protagonist, Matvey - a naive, somewhat enigmatic and, as it later turns out, death-resilient young everyman - he is standing at the doorstep of an apartment in a residential building, hesitating to press the doorbell and concealing a hammer behind his back. Judging by the quivering of both of his hands, he has never done what he is about to do, and 'what' is most definitely not borrowing some sugar from his fellow neighbor. And after we finally meet the neighbor, a grumpy police chief, Andrey, who also happens to be the no-good father of Matvey's actress girlfriend Olya, Sokolov delivers a dialogue so tense that the following, brilliantly staged duel of the living-room-crashing proportions comes off as its logical continuation.

One of the reasons Matvey and Andrey engage in a Mortal Kombat-esque fight gets revealed once a shotgun is put to use, and it won't be a spoiler to tell that it's related to big bucks, because the thrashing happens during the opening fifteen minutes. A lot of blood and many secrets are yet to be spilled in Sokolov's promising feature debut that bursts with youthful energy and eye-popping style in equal measure. Split in several (retrospective) chapters through which we learn more about each character's motivation (or rather, dirty laundry), Why Don't You Just Die! (originally, Papa, sdokhni) bears a resemblance to a Tarantino film (Pulp Fiction) in structure, whereas its twisted humor is reminiscent of a Spanish (Álex de la Iglesia's) black comedy and its saturated palette of fiery reds, acidic greens and dirty yellows brings Jeunet's Amélie to one's mind. There's even a bit of Guy Ritchie's DNA in there as well, yet all of the influences are skillfully assimilated, so you can't help but enjoy this 'chamber thriller' for its increasingly frenzied plotting, cartoonish, over-the-top violence, and edgy, cheeky, satirical self-awareness.

Although the beauty of the visuals have already been hinted at, it won't hurt to add that the film looks absolutely mesmerizing in any given moment, by virtue of the vibrant art direction and DoP Dmitriy Ulyukaev's resourcefulness in finding new camera angles and overcoming set limitations. Now is probably the right time to mention that the great majority of scenes are shot in just one room of Andrey's flat, yet the staginess that is to be expected from such a situation is never felt, and Sokolov's tight editing also helps in keeping the viewer glued to the screen. Another talent the up-and-coming filmmaker demonstrates is grossing you out when he's not reveling in blood, but that you'll have to (un)see yourself...

Jan 14, 2020

Two Years in the Sign of Collage Art!

Two years after O (of Lights and Parasites) which marked the birth of my passion for (or rather, obsession with) collage-making, I am delighted to say that my opus has grown into more than 750 pieces, some of which have resulted from collaborative efforts, such as the film posters and single covers for NYC-based musician and filmmaker Martin Del Carpio, art-book adventure The Grain of Ultimate Silence starring directorial duo Daniel & Clara, Snow White-inspired heptaptych Glow Night and the Seven Owl-Men for which my friend Elizabeta Petković embodied the titular heroine, as well as the Minus Zodiac series based on nude studies by Kenyan visual artist Njoroge Kelvin. Recently, I even took a stab at (very basic) animation with The Escaping Thought and SOS: Eternal Dance, both of which have been met with positive reactions. A couple of my short collage comics, Exhausted Peace and F Mode, were exhibited at the 16th and 17th editions of International Comics Festival in Belgrade, and in February of 2019, my first solo exhibition took place in Niš University Library "Nikola Tesla". The closing ceremony of the inaugural Kinoskop festival was preceded by a small-scale showcase of analog photography, EndFrame(s), during which a dozen pieces of my artwork were projected on the wall of the gallery space in Kvaka 22. And let's not forget an online multimedia artzine Plima which included three of my collages, The Third Law of Ancient Magic (cover), The Spectre of Marko Kraljevic Disguised as a Rooster at Vila Ravijojla's Bal Masqué and Vila Ravijojla Guards the Mirror of the Universe on the Rooftop of the World. Persistently, I continue to create, guided by my intuition, advocating deeply personal, highly poetical and unapologetically puzzling art...

Incessant Battle: Hebi 8 vs. Rose Thorn

Jan 13, 2020

SOS: Eternal Dance

Once again, I turn to Mubridge's locomotion experiments in order to bring some of my collage artwork to life. EZGIF converter which I used to turn images into animation offers sepia filter, so I just couldn't resist to make an old movie-like version of this simple piece. Both videos are set to play on loop. Enjoy!


(Retro Edit)

Jan 12, 2020

The Escaping Thought

By popular demand, I present my first stab at collage animation! The Escaping Thought borrows from Eadweard Muybridge's Man ascending stairs (1884-85) and burrows into the subconscious from where it brings a bare dream and a puzzling dichotomy.

Jan 11, 2020

Towards the Sleep of the Last Number

After Comrade G slew the Dragon and pulled out its sweet tongue, there was no equality left in the crystal heart of Princess Finesse. The weary hero asked for her hand, but she only handed him a smile, a glow from her left eye and a whisper of the wind rushing through her hair. All of the sudden, the motionless body of the Beast melted, and the infinite field of inverted teardrops surrounded the couple. In every single tear, a blue caterpillar of pristine pleasure was sleeping, and deep within each larva, an embryo of Void was concealed...

Jan 6, 2020

On the Outskirts of Oblivion

● O ● O ● O ●

The first pear was injected with the poison of his inner scars, the second one smelled like the illusion of flawlessness. His loyal mare was already exhausted and his helmet couldn’t absorb more that a single dream per thought. Nothingness had devoured the crumbs of his memories, plunging him into a vast, bottomless sea of uncertainty. It was in the last re-configuration of the truth that he glimpsed the sign, ostensibly small and shimmering one, yet larger than his miserable life, and darker than the pupil of the universe. Although the chilly breeze of the 13th month was caressing his skin, he was basking in the warmth of a headless riddle...

Jan 3, 2020

Cinematic Favorites of December

Given that I have already published the lists of both favorite features and shorts I watched last year, citing December darlings may feel a bit redundant, but I'm doing it anyway in order not to break the chain of monthly reviews. This top 10 encompasses, inter alia, a couple of oldies which I haven't been familiar with prior to 2019 - the directorial debut, Holy Sand, from Serbian poet Miroslav 'Mika' Antić, and a blast from the Estonian past, Madness (originally, Hullumeelsus) - a visually eloquent, Nouvelle Vague-esque satire of the Soviet regime packed as a darkly humorous mystery set in a remote asylum of an unspecified country under the Nazi-occupation during the WWII.

Still from Kino Clinic (2019)

1. Kino Clinic (Jann Clavadetscher, 2019)
2. The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)
3. Pig (Mani Haghighi, 2018)
4. Little Joe (Jessica Hausner, 2019)
5. Madness (Kaljo Kiisk, 1968)
6. Holy Sand (Miroslav Antić, 1968) 
7. Beanpole (Kantemir Balagov, 2019)
8. I Lost My Body (Jérémy Clapin, 2019)
9. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Céline Sciamma, 2019)
10. The Forest of Love (Sion Sono, 2019)

Still from Madness (1968)