Sep 27, 2021

Everything but the Moon

A bitter remedy from my Moon-scented memory
Seethes in the Sun of their psycho-reality,
Killing the meekness of my dawn
Tearing apart the fawns named after you. So,
Hear their putrid cries and glazed lies
Ever so decadently electrified from the inside,
Meticulously purified from guilt
And tell me how the tower will crumble –
Divinely, suddenly or not at all?
Once they fall / if they fall,
No one will want to know, because
Everyone will gloat in their own mud, alone.

Sep 23, 2021

A Selection of Recent Artworks (IX)

Seven 'chapters' from my voluminous Bianco/Nero series of collages (August / Septembar).

Il Ritorno di Anubi / Повратак Анубиса / The Return of Anubis

Il Rinascimento / Ренесанса / Renaissance

Domenica Mattina / Недељно јутро / Sunday Morning

Mito nella Macchina / Мит у машини / Myth in the Machine

La Nascita del Diavolo / Рађање Ђавола / The Birth of Devil

La Storia della Farfalla / Прича о лептиру / The Butterfly Story

Priapo e l'Albero della Vita (Versione 9.21) / Пријап и Дрво Живота (верзија 9.21) / Priapus and the Tree of Life (Version 9.21)

Sep 13, 2021

3 x Nikos Papatakis

Impressions after first three encounters with the (magnificent!) work of Nikos Papatakis.

Oi voskoi / Thanos and Despina (1967)

A Shakespearean ‘tragedy’ goes completely nuts in Nikos Papatakis’s increasingly wild and weird rural ‘romance’ that has everyone from the Greek state to Orthodox church to both haughty rich and superstitious poor squirming under his sharp satirical blade. Given that this is my first (and most certainly not the last!) encounter with the director’s work, I can only (try to) describe it as an impish bastard child born from the orgies of Italian neo-realism, Felliniesque bizareness, Panic Movement-like chaos, and dark humor of YU Black Wave. Constantly moving into unexpected directions, with gorgeous B&W visuals and dissonantly haunting score serving as anchors, Thanos and Despina aka The Shepherds of Calamity is not only a highly sophisticated piece of cinema, it is also maddeningly entertaining!

Les abysses / The Depths (1963)

“Who is really guilty here?”

Anarchic energy, Buñuelian provocation, Nouvelle Vague audacity, and Beckettian sense of the absurd cross paths, intertwine and collide in this discomforting, nightmarishly surrealistic anti-authoritarian masterpiece shot with an artist’s eye for composition, directed with a confrontational verve, and propelled by powerful performances, particularly from real-life sisters Francine and Colette Bergé whose rebellious, rightfully defiant characters embody loud shrieks of the exploited and oppressed.

Gloria mundi / In Hell (1976)

“No one has the right to stop the game of life and death of those who have only that.”

Almost a decade after her big screen debut in Thanos and Despina, Olga Carlatos joins Papatakis once again, in an overwhelmingly unhinged and uninhibited performance that foreshadows Isabelle Adjani’s take on the demanding role in Żuławski’s cult horror Possession. Her Palestinian actress and revolutionary character, Galai, whose humiliating treatment may be easily misinterpreted as a misogynist transgression carries a great portion of the harrowing drama that bursts with anti-colonialist anger, reprimands (or rather, gleefully pisses on, pardon my French) petty-bourgeois hypocrisy, and throws a bunch of satirical darts at arrogant movie producers.

Inflammatory and unapologetic, Gloria mundi is not an enjoyable watch – it is a gritty, grating, visceral, no-holds-barred experience that mercilessly pushes you out of your comfort zone, and as its English title suggests, plunges you into the heroine’s hell where the boundary between reality and fantasy is increasingly blurred. Intensifying discomfort is the grim setting of deliberately deglamorized Paris whose earthy palette is only occasionally punctuated with vivid colors, not to provide relief, but rather to elevate provocation to a whole new level. Grainy cinematography and dissonant soundscapes towered by tormented screams further stir up the chaos of the film’s twisted world that is both radical and shocking even today.

Sep 1, 2021

Best Premiere Viewings of August

People usually go on vacation during August, but for me it has been the busiest and simultaneously most exciting month of 2021 so far. The open call for the third edition of Kinoskop - analog experimental film festival that I am co-organizing - has provided quite a number of (predominantly short) films to watch (unfortunately, I can’t reveal my favorites at this point), and I started another collaboration with composer and filmmaker Martin Gerigk, this time on the adaptation of a Walt Whitman’s poem. Being a film and collage junkie, I also managed to see more than 30 features and create a bit more than a dozen of new pieces of artwork. So, without a further ado, I present my August list.


1. Paul (Diourka Medveczky, 1969)

The first and only feature by Hungarian-born sculptor Diourka Medveczky (1930-2018) is a brilliant anti-materialistic allegory told (or rather shown, considering the sparseness of dialogues) from a perspective of a young man, Paul (portrayed with stoic reticence by renowned French actor Jean-Pierre Léaud), who embarks on a spiritual journey, searching for his place in the (unforgiving) society. Formally impeccable and brimful of stunning frames that appear sculpted rather than captured with the camera, Paul has a gentle, darkly melancholic heart beating under the surface of grimy grays and poetic silences. It also feels like a big step forward compared to many other New Wave pieces of the period... 

2. Batokin Yasokyoku / Nocturne of the Horse-headed Fiddle (Takeo Kimura, 2007)

(read my short review HERE)

3. War Requiem (Derek Jarman, 1989)

A riveting mélange of painterly tableaux vivants, distressing found footage and Benjamin Britten’s mournful opera, War Requiem pushes the boundaries of a traditional film, and infuses the viewer with its strong anti-war sentiment and phantasmagorical beauty. And that five-minute-long take of Tilda Swinton braiding her hair and gently emoting is pure genius. 

4. Pădureanca / The Forest Woman (Nicolae Margineanu, 1987)

Rural setting. Taut direction. Dedicated performances. Oneiric cinematography. A self-destructive (anti)hero. Heavy atmosphere portended by a nightmarish opening. And script simmering with emotions so strong you can almost smell or taste them, in wine, tears, sweat, blood, grass, smoky bar and freshly harvested wheat... 

5. The Goddess of 1967 (Clara Law, 2000)

Whimsically charming is just the right way to describe this borderline-surrealist road-movie by Macau-born, Australia-based filmmaker Clara Law, and the same goes for the leading duo of Rose Byrne portraying a blind redhead girl with a harrowing family history, Deirdre, and then first-timer Rikiya Kurokawa in the role of a Japanese IT expert and hacker, as well as a herpetophile, Yoshiyashu, who travels all the way from the Land of the Rising Sun to the Outback to buy the titular Goddess, i.e. a Citroën DS (Déesse) car.

However, the things don’t go as planned for Yoshiyashu, because he finds the car owner’s and his wife’s brains spilled all over the living room, their little daughter left with a mysterious cousin who will take him on an unusual road trip, after leaving the kid at a service station, instructing her not to trust anyone. Through a series of flashbacks, we will learn about their emotionally turbulent pasts, and feel almost as if we’re at the backseat (of the third main character), as silent companions on their journey of reconciliation.

At turns bitter and sweet, funny and disconcerting, quirky and familiar, uplifting and sad, The Goddess of 1967 touches upon some sensitive topics, yet by virtue of Law’s and her co-writer husband Eddie Fong’s clever and gentle approach, the darkness and human evil get either draped in a cloak of stars, or swept away by a pack of dingoes. Directed with a sense of ethereal lightness and shot with a keen eye for composition, capturing the breathtaking beauty of untouched nature, and the noirish intimacy of shadow-filled interiors, the film beats with an honest heart, and brims with delicately off-kilter style.

6. The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf (Kwang Il Han, 2021)

Storywise, Kwang Il Han’s feature debut may not be a prime example of inventiveness, but it is one of the most visually arresting dark fantasies of recent years, displaying the exquisite world-building, and boasting superbly animated scenes of demon-slaying and magic-conjuring action accompanied by lavish musical score, and supported by solid voice-acting. Highly recommended!

7. Cryptozoo (Dash Shaw & Jane Samborski, 2021)

“Without dreams, there can’t be no future.”

And that is exactly why Lauren Gray – a vet and the keeper of cryptids – embarks on a rescue mission to save the dream-and-nightmare-eating being Baku from the US military that wants to weaponize its (or rather her) power. Following the adventurous story that feels Hollywood-familiar, yet sets to undermine capitalist ‘values’ and practices, Cryptozoo boasts highly trippy visuals that correspond with its late 60’s setting in an alternate universe where mythological creatures walk, slither and fly amongst us. Featuring the voice talents of ensemble cast including Grace Zabriskie, Peter Stormare, Michael Cera and Yorgos Lanthimos’s frequent collaborator Angeliki Papoulia as Medusa, this adult fantasy is a non-stop sensorial barrage of vivid patterns and kaleidoscopic hallucinations. Its off-kilter artwork and jerky, cutout-like animation take some time to get used to, but once you do, your imagination will run wild, keeping you in a state of wide-eyed wonder.

8. Splendor (Gregg Araki, 1999)

You know how the story goes – two boys meet a girl, and then the third boy comes along, but threesome’s too cool to turn into foursome, and the third boy is just too perfect for the girl to marry, so she decides to live happily ever after with a double dose of imperfection (and let’s not forget her lesbian, voice-of-reason friend). In their hip, colorful, sugar-coated, Jules-and-Jim-for-the-MTV-of-the-90’s-generation world, youth appears to be eternal, and everybody is incredibly sexy, particularly Kathleen Robertson with her cute snub nose and lips of a Roy Lichtenstein’s lady. What I’m trying to say is that sometimes, you just need a glazed, jelly-filled doughnut instead of something highly nutritious, so I found Splendor immensely enjoyable.

9. Zacharaiah (George Englund, 1971)

I am not a big fan of westerns, but when you mix one with a rock musical that sort of breaks the fourth wall as the bands perform on sets, and with a soul-searching, Siddharttha-inspired road-movie introducing an old hermit as a spiritual guru (a captivating portrayal by William Challee whose smiling eyes also mark the most poignant moment in the movie), then you have my attention. It is a daring, bizarre and some might even say a goofy combination, but there’s also a sensitive, surprisingly coherent story about the power of (bromantic) friendship lying beneath its surreal, tongue-in-cheek, decidedly anachronistic surface. There are plenty of imperfections to be found here, yet director George Englund succeeds in turning them to his own advantage, and so do at the time young and obviously inexperienced actors John Rubinstein as Zachariah and Don Johnson as the hero’s best buddy Matthew. And besides, where else would you see the fastest gunslinger in the Wild West playing a killer drum-solo (the courtesy of jazz drummer Elvin Jones) after winning a duel?

10. Annette (Leos Carax, 2021)

Between the anti-illusionary prologue and post-credit scene that also breaks the fourth wall, lays a satirical musical fairy tale fondly embracing filmic artifice and puppetry, while boasting excellent performances by the entire cast (although Simon Helberg seems like an awkward choice, and I’m not a big fan of Adam Driver who pretty much carries the story). During the first half, it feels unique in its loving correspondence with the history of cinema, but the irony-fueled novelty gradually wears off, with pacing issues and watch-checking ensuing until Annette becomes a real girl (the adorable big-screen debut for Devyn McDowell) and saves the otherwise anti-climactic ending.

11. Sensuela (Teuvo Tulio, 1973)

If you ever wondered what may be common to Tchaikovsky, reindeer-neutering and surreal passage of time, you will find the answer in the provocative swan song by Finnish filmmaker Teuvo Tulio. Loosely based on Pushkin’s story The Stationmaster, as noted in the opening credits, Sensuela is a high camp combo of a cautionary tale, (s)exploitation and feminist statement that appears like a spiritual predecessor to films of Anna Biller. Dipped in saturated colors, it eroticizes Swan Lake, Op. 20, Act 2: Scene (Moderato) and jumps from the WWII Lapland setting to sexually liberated Helsinki of the 70’s, with characters ageing not a single day, let alone a quarter-century. Over-acted and directed with a twisted sense of cinematic artifice, this florid (anti)romantic melodrama may not be a masterpiece, but its lurid visuals get easily imprinted into your brain.


1. Saint Flournoy Lobos-Logos and the Eastern Europe Fetus Taxing Japan Brides in West Coast Places Sucking Alabama Air (Will Hindle, 1970)

With a title like this, do you really need anything else said?

2. Wade (Upamanyu Bhattacharyya & Kalp Sanghvi, 2020)

An impressive calling card for first-time helmers Upamanyu Bhattacharyya and Kalp Sanghvi, Wade is a gritty, breathtakingly beautiful short which plunges the viewer into a post-apocalyptic version of Kolkata where tigers roam the flooded streets and prey on climate change refugees. Eschewing dialogue for grim, yet stunningly animated imagery, and foreboding, tension-rising silences, it pulls no punches in its portrayal of the highly probable future, with a few pinches of mythology intensifying the already strong flavor. In terms of both style and content, there’s an enormous potential lying in ten minutes of Wade, so let’s hope its authorial duo returns with a much longer offering next time.

3. Beauty (de Schoonheid) (Johan van der Keuken, 1970)

This short got me utterly baffled (which is the very reason why I loved it!), and it often felt like a proto-version of a piece created in the laboratories of Experimental Film Society.

4. Cocolors (Toshihisa Yokoshima, 2017)

An impressive directorial debut for Toshihisa Yokoshima, Cocolors sucks the viewer into a bleak world of the post-apocalyptic future when toxic, flesh-melting ash falls from the sky, and people – wearing protective suits with huge, reflective helmets – are forced to live in an underground city. In such an unwelcoming, almost colorless environment beautifully designed in the vein of cyber/steampunk aesthetics, some of the greatest treasures are the intact innocence of childhood, unbreakable friendship, and rediscovering of art. Mute Fuyu and his best pal, meek Aki, are perfectly aware of these facts, and it is from their viewpoints that we follow an emotional, increasingly heart-wrenching dystopian drama. Although we never see their faces, until the very end which introduces us to sickly Fuyu who communicates solely through three tones of his flute, they are neatly fleshed out, and we find ourselves caring for their well-being. On top of that, the animators of the Kamikaze Douga production provide us with the immersive, hyper-stylized visuals created through the technique of cel-shading, and accompanied by a delicate, unobtrusive score that make this medium-length gem of an anime a pleasurable watch.

5. Doble astral (André Ruiz, 2021)

6. Les Dieux Changeants (Lucio Arese, 2021)

7. Leopard Man Study (Duo Strangloscope, 2017)

8. Site visit (Maïa Cybelle Carpenter, 1998-1999)