Sep 27, 2021
Sep 23, 2021
Sep 13, 2021
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!
“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
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.
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.
“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.
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.