Mar 31, 2022

Best Premiere Viewings of March 2K22


1. Одинокий голос человека (Александр Сокуров, 1987) / The Lonely Voice of Man (Aleksandr Sokurov, 1987)

“The fish floats between life and death. That’s why it’s dumb... It knows everything. It’s a special being, a sacred one. Because it knows the secret of death.”

The deepest of melancholies drenched in all the pain, despair and misery of human condition, then liquefied and distilled into a slow-burning piece of pure cinema that reaches the darkest corners of one’s soul and/or subconscious with its sooty, bleakly poetic visuals, ruminative silences and moody, hauntingly elegiac music...

2. Dim / Smoke (Slobodan Kosovalić, 1967)

“You are mistaken, young man. No one knows history well!”

Co-penned by director himself and Borislav Pekić – one of the most revered writers from around these parts, and set in an unspecified German town covered by a heavy patina of past traumas, Slobodan Kosovalić’s fiction debut is an unorthodox piece of Yugoslavian / Serbian cinema, as well as an unusual representative of the revenge subgenre. Not even slightly exploitative, it is permeated by a deep sense of melancholy, loss and foreboding embodied in a reticent protagonist – young Jew Georg Anders (Milan Milošević, stoically composed) who is after a former concentration camp commander, Newermann (Janez Vrhovec, at his most repellent in a limited screen time), returning from prison after serving a minimum sentence. The film’s appropriately ‘smoky’ B&W visuals that at times bring to mind early Makavejev and Puriša Đorđević create the atmosphere of suppressed guilt and overarching sorrow, further intensified by the uncannily brooding score from Croatian composer Branimir Sakač. Appearing in supporting roles are always reliable Milena Dravić (as an unnamed, mysterious girl) and Pavle Vuisić (as a compassionate bartender) whose ‘subdued’ performances complement the solemn tone and moody poetics of Smoke

3. Dancing Lady (Robert Z. Leonard, 1933)

If the sparks between Joan ‘mesmerizing eyes’ Crawford and Clark Gable had been materialized (along with a strong sexual tension that culminates in a leg massage scene), there would’ve been a spectacular light show in my living room last night. And what a visually climactic performance that final act is – like a juicy, fiery red cherry on top of the cake! Not to mention that it would’ve been virtually impossible to stage in a theatre; only cinema allows all the wonderful ‘magic’ on display.

4. Salomé (Charles Bryant & Alla Nazimova, 1922)

One of the earliest pieces of American queer / feminist cinema and the last of Charles Bryant’s three features, Salomé is a deliberately hyper-theatrical adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s play co-written by ex-lovers Natacha Rambova (also credited as art director and costume designer), and star Alla Nazimova (who employs highly expressive mannerisms to convey a character almost thrice as young as she was back then). Minimalist in set design that channels the spirit of Art Nouveau style, the film shines a spotlight on emotionally unrestrained performances of the entire cast adorned in fascinatingly extravagant creations that appear like a missing link between Triadisches Ballett and Jean Paul Gaultier’s outrageous work for The Fifth Element. Its quirky, decadent beauty is further amplified by 2018 version score composed by award-winning Serbian musician Aleksandra Verbalov who open-mindedly experiments with everything from Byzantine chants (sung by the  Kovilj monastery monks) to intense bursts of cello energy and mystical musings of clarinet and piano.

5. Le Vampire de Düsseldorf / The Secret Killer (Robert Hossein, 1965)

It is with great subtlety, skill and insight that Robert Hossein approaches both the direction and his portrayal of real-life serial killer Peter Kürten (1883-1931) known as The Vampire of Düsseldorf (aka The Secret Killer) in a stylish, quietly impressive period piece which explores both the crimes and reclusiveness of a mentally disturbed individual against the backdrop of collective evil, revealing the hypocrisy and monstrosity of a fascist regime in 30’s Germany. Hossein’s modus operandi seems to be out of touch with the iconoclasm of La Nouvelle Vague movement, but also not quite like that of the classic filmmakers (one can sense the influence of Welles and Hitchcock), which results in an idiosyncratic blend of biopic/drama and thriller, in equal measures uncanny and melancholic, disturbing, yet strangely poetic. He avoids sensationalism by framing most of the murders from a distance or letting them happen off-screen, as if paying respects to the victims, and simultaneously emphasizing the coldness of Kürten’s acts. And through a romantic subplot that involves utterly magnetic Marie-France Pisier in the commanding role of cabaret singer Anna, he probes into his subject’s gentler side and makes the dance between Eros and Tanatos more hypnotic.

6. Sayehaye bolande bad / Tall Shadows of the Wind (Bahman Farmanara, 1979)

An eerie choral invocation heard during the striking opening sequence sets the uncanny tone for Bahman Farmanara’s mystery drama which was reportedly banned by both pre- and post-revolution regimes in Iran. Flirting with the subgenre of folk horror, the film plays out like a political allegory of power structures, as the fear of an idolized scarecrow grows among the superstitious villagers. Only a bus driver, Abdollah, who draws a face on the said object of worship seems to be immune to the anxiety-fueled hysteria that permeates the dense atmosphere of uneasiness. The overwhelming feeling of dread is intensified by Ahmad Pezhman’s doom-laden score, and Ali Reza Zarrindast’s beautifully morose cinematography dominated by earthy colors.

7. Ludwig – Requiem für einen jungfräulichen König / Ludwig: Requiem for a Virgin King (Hans-Jürgen Syberberg, 1972)

“Art is the serenest form of existence.”

The film's heightened theatricality, aesthetic artifice and playful anachronisms make it appear as a spiritual predecessor to Mark Rappaport’s Mozart in Love (1975) or Scenic Route (1978), Éric Rohmer’s Perceval le Gallois (1978) and João César Monteiro’s Silvestre (1981), as well as to a great deal of Jarman’s and Greenaway’s opuses. Not as wild as Ken Russell’s madly creative biopics with which it also shares some similarities, but still a fascinating, if demanding watch.

8. A Taste of Honey (Tony Richardson, 1961)

A lovely, exquisitely shot ‘kitchen sink’ (melo)drama which marks the brilliant big-screen debut for round-eyed Rita Tushingham, and intricately weaves a number of themes into a socially conscious story populated with authentic characters. Although based on a play, the film rarely feels stagy, and despite the depiction of working class’ trials and tribulations in a bleak environment, it surprisingly gives off uplifting vibes.

9. El fantasma del convento / The Phantom of the Convent (Fernando de Fuentes, 1934)

A fine example of early Mexican Gothic, The Phantom of the Convent blurs the boundaries between a ghost story and character study, creating a dense, immersive atmosphere of silent dread through a tight symbiosis of expressive, shadow-infested cinematography, sweeping orchestrations, and labyrinthine setting of dark secrets where the trio of protagonists is forced to spend the night.

10. Carevo novo ruho / The Emperor’s New Clothes (Ante Babaja, 1961)

Completely filmed in a white studio, with only a few colorful props and extravagant costumes breaking the illusion of infinite space, Ante Babaja’s feature debut is a singular piece of Croatian / ex-YU cinema. A witty adaptation of H.C. Andersen’s well-known fairy tale, it also takes cues from Orwellian fiction in its biting mockery of autocratic idiocy, marrying its experimental, deliberately cartoonish visuals to over-the-top histrionics.


1. Пiсня пiсень (Єва Нейман, 2015) / Song of Songs (Eva Neymann, 2015)

As if possessed by the spirits of Tarkovsky and Parajanov, the former guiding the camera during admirable long takes, the latter ‘flattening’ numerous scenes into breathtakingly beautiful tableau vivants, Ukranian director Eva Neymann and her DoP Rimvydas Leipus paint an inspired, highly romanticized portrait of life in a shtetl at the beginning of the 20th century. Borrowing motifs from several stories by Yiddish author and playwright Sholom Aleichem (1859-1916), Neymann comes up with a poetically rambling / Sokurov-esque screenplay that – softly spoken or whispered by her reticent characters – transmutes into a hypnotizing aura of half-remembered dreams and memories shrouding the meticulously composed imagery. She knowingly captures the emotional naivety of her main protagonist Shimek’s childhood, as well as the lyrical power of his love for a girl next door, Buzya, initially expressed through fairy tale-like narratives, and later, by way of youthful yearning and hazy nostalgia. ‘Song of Songs’ is also another triumph for Leipus who has already proven to be a reliable visualist working on films such as The Corridor (1995) and The House (1997) by Šarūnas Bartas, and Khadak (2006) by Belgian duo of Brosens and Woodworth.

2. Strawberry Mansion (Kentucker Audley & Albert Birney, 2021)

In their second collaborative effort which marks my initiation into their (highly whimsical!) cinematic world, Kentucker Audley (who also stars as a mild-mannered dream auditor, James Preble) and Albert Birney (in a supporting role of a baritone frog waiter who plays the sax) let their imagination run wild, naked and free, fetishizing analog technologies and pretty much all things vintage. Set in a retro-futuristic dystopia in which the government imposes taxes on people’s nighttime adventures, Strawberry Mansion comes across as a sparkling satire of corporate advertising that is seamlessly blended with an eccentric star-crossed romance of picture-book-like qualities, and a love letter to the art(ifice) of filmmaking written or rather, illustrated from the perspective of an 80’s child high on the 40’s detective flicks, 50’s sci-fi and 60’s pop-art and fantasies featuring Harryhausen’s creations. As preciously old-school as it gets, the film wonderfully and effortlessly captures the irrational nature of dreams, and kaleidoscopic disintegration of the near-future reality in its deliberately ‘outmoded’ special effects handcrafted with utmost care, ‘scratchy’, candy-colored visuals shot digitally then transferred to 16mm, and absorbing synth-heavy score that enhances the plasticity of images.

3. Lingui, les liens sacrés / Lingui, the Sacred Bonds (Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, 2021)

Quietly and leisurely told from the perspective of a single mother, Amina, and her 15-yo daughter, Maria, Lingui is an unobtrusively poignant, yet powerful drama that delivers poetic justice with a heavy blow, all the while employing dazzling, beautifully captured colors and patterns of women’s clothing to put you under its spell. Sensitive subjects of (unwanted) teen pregnancy and abortion in a society which condemns it both legally and morally are approached with utmost care by writer/director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun who proudly waves a feminist flag in his exploration of tight-knit solidarity in times of need, simultaneously warding off the stench of colonial breath. 

4. Midnight (Oh-seung Kwon, 2021)

An impressive calling card for Oh-seung Kwon, Midnight is a nail-biting, adrenaline-pumping, edge-of-the-seat thriller laced with sharp social commentary, and elevated by performances so convincing that you often want to smash Wi Ha-joon’s poster-boy face to a bloody pulp, as he channels pure, wolf-in-the-sheep-clothing evil in his role of a murderous psychopath. Equally praiseworthy is Ki-joo Jin in her portrayal of a sweet and vulnerable, yet resourceful deaf-mute heroine, Kyung-mi Kim, whose silent world the viewer is often plunged into through the clever sound design, making her plight quite palpable. And all the night-time tension and creepiness of suburban back alleys are beautifully captured by cinematographer Taek-gyun Cha.

5. Bo we mnie jest seks / Autumn Girl (Katarzyna Klimkiewicz, 2021)

Quite possibly the most vibrant representation of socialist era Poland, Autumn Girl is a breezy and sensual musical biography about ‘the Polish Marilyn Monroe’ – actress and singer Kalina Jędrusik (1931-1991) who ‘subverted cultural norms’, as noted by Mikołaj Gliński in the article for Soaked in soft pastels contrasted by juicier, more saturated colors, the film takes cues not only from the facts, but also from rumors, depicting events that ‘did not necessarily happen’, and according to the thanks in the ending credits, with support and trust of Jędrusik’s descendants.

Opening with an eye-catching sequence of retro-stylized collage animation, this irreverently glitzy portrait of the free-spirited sex symbol often brings to mind the audacity of Ken Russell’s biopics, and Anna Biller’s keen sense of camp, with a dash of Wes Anderson’s whimsical aesthetics. Brimful of life, it pulls you into its borderline fantastical world of the 60’s, all the while being carried on the shoulders of Maria Dębska who shines through and through in the leading role that marries feminine charm to libertine insolence, as well as nerve to vulnerability in a male-dominated show-biz environment. In the final song – a sultry jazz-pop tune which gives the original title – she performs the ultimate act of seduction using both her body adorned in a backless dress, and tricky soul whose power is felt in her delicate, dreamy voice. 

Mar 27, 2022

Izložba kolaža Hypnos II

Moja četvrta samostalna izložba pod nazivom Hipnos II otvorena je 24. marta u Centru za kulturu i umetnost Aleksinac, a trajaće do 6. aprila, i moguće ju je posetiti radnim danima, od 8h do 22h. Kratak izveštaj sa otvaranja možete pročitati na portalu ALPRESS, ili pogledati VIDEO reportažu.

Hipnos II predstavlja nastavak prošlogodišnje izložbe održane u Galeriji Niškog kulturnog centra, a obuhvata radove nastale u periodu 2019-2022, uključujući delić opsežnog ciklusa Bianco/Nero (Belo/Crno) kao okosnicu. Njegova monohromatska estetika prestavlja omaž klasičnim i avangardnim filmovima, a primenjena je sa ciljem produbljivanja misterije i u isti mah stvaranja otklona od objektivne stvarnosti. U začudnim jukstapozicijama, sudaraju se i prepliću sajber- i stimpank motivi, bajkoviti elementi, brutalistička arhitektura, ezoterični motivi, ljudska i nebeska tela iz kojih se rađa neprestano mutirajuća fantazmagorija čija „poglavlja“, sva izvorno naslovljena na italijanskom, obrazuju onirički narativ.

Svi kolaži štampani su na platnu, a među njima je i par radova, Biser (La Perla) i Kraljevstvo (Il Regno), sa kojima učestvujem na konkursu ARTBOX.PROJECT Venezia 1.0 koji se održava u okviru bijenala u Veneciji.

„Umetnost je najspokojniji vid postojanja.“ – kaže jedan od likova iz filma Ludvig: Rekvijem za devičanskog kralja (1972) režisera Hansa-Jirgena Ziberberga, a ova tvrdnja nije daleko od istine, pogotovu u vremenu straha, laži i licemerja. Za mene lično, ona je neraskidivi deo svakodnevnih „obreda“, spona sa stvarnostima izvan našeg poimanja, odnosno sa nedokučivim tajnama uma i kosmosa.  Smisao u uporno narastajućem besmislu.

Stvaranje posmatram kao nasušnu potrebu i dok stvaram, preispitujem ono što (mislim da) znam, a snagu i inspiraciju često crpem iz onog što ne znam, ma koliko se to rizičnim činilo.  U nastojanju da zamaglim ili možda u potpunosti izbrišem granice između materijalnog i apstraktnog, telesnog i duhovnog, ljudskog i božanskog, oslanjam se na sopstvenu intuiciju, kao i na mitove i snove, sva kulturna dobra koja su nam ostala u nasleđe i „glasove prošlosti“ koji do mene dopiru posredstvom upotrebljenog arhivskog materijala.

Starim fotografijama i ilustracijama sa višedecenijskom istorijom pokušavam da udahnem novi život, a sam proces njihovog preobražavanja u kolažne kompozicije doživljavam kao alhemijski. Slučajna otkrića do kojih dolazim tokom izvođenja ogleda igraju značajnu ulogu u oblikovanju konačnog izgleda svakog kolaža, ali i u preoblikovanju mog unutrašnjeg sopstva i iscrtavanju putanja kroz nedogledne lavirinte podsvesti.

Mar 17, 2022

A Selection of Recent Artworks (XII)

La Sindrome di Dalì / Далијев синдром / The Dalì Syndrome

Attraverso il Caleidoscopio / Кроз калеидоскоп / Through the Kaleidoscope

Lei Piega il Tempo / Она савија време / She Bends Time

A Portata di Mano / На дохват руке / At Your Fingertips

Il Sesto Elemento / Шести елемент / The Sixth Element

Dietro al Muro / Иза зида / Behind the Wall

La Testa di Giovanni / Глава Јованова / John's Head

Mar 1, 2022

Best Premiere Viewings of February 2K22


1. Nicht mehr fliehen / No More Fleeing (Herbert Vesely, 1955)

Possessed by the restless spirits of surrealism and early avant-garde, Herbert Vesely’s feature debut works as a crystal ball through which one can glimpse certain points in what was then the future of cinema. A post-apocalyptic meta-film, it precedes (and dare I say it, outshines) French New Wave offerings, and with its punkish attitude and absurd properties, foretells of the filmmakers such as Ulrike Ottinger, F.J. Ossang and Davide Manuli. There’s a strong de Chirico vibe to its desolate landscape setting in which sparse structures and objects throw elongated shadows, and an admirable attention paid to the frame composition, with the deliberate and inspired cacophony of both (jazz to ambient) music and (tricky) montages emphasizing the strangeness of visual juxtapositions. A few of the characters – lost and detached from ever-dissolving reality, and portrayed by non-professionals – act as nothing more than often silent ciphers in a doomy dream pervaded by the mood of ambiguity. A singular, visionary experiment deserving of a wider recognition!

2. Yōsō / Bronze Magician (Teinosuke Kinugasa, 1963)

The second to last offering from Teinosuke Kinugasa – the author of silent cult classic A Page of Madness (1926) – is a near-masterpiece of slow-burn cinema and is directed with unerring conviction. Part ‘historical fairy tale’ and part political drama, it revolves around a Buddhist priest, Dokyo (magnetically stoic Raizō Ichikawa) – both a messianic figure and a proto-communist, and his increasingly romantic relationship with the ailing Queen (Yukiko Fuji, solemnly gorgeous) against the backdrop of unscrupulous scheming of her ministers. Although the action takes place in the court, Bronze Magician is strikingly minimalist in its (irresistibly elegant!) production design, with the starkly beautiful B&W cinematography and rhythmical interplay of deep silences and ominously haunting score turning it into a ‘mystical noir’. As the purity of supernatural forces clashes with human wickedness, the ideas of equality fall through the generational gap and get buried under the slime of greed and pretense that ruling isn’t as simple as the (tragic) hero of the story imagines it. 

3. Руслан и Людмила (Александр Птушко, 1972) / Ruslan and Ludmila (Aleksandr Ptushko, 1972)

One of the highest amongst high fantasies, Aleksandr Ptushko’s final film is a wondrous adaptation of his namesake Pushkin’s epic fairy tale chronicling brave knight Ruslan’s perilous mission to rescue the daughter of prince Vladimir, Ludmila, from the clutches of an evil wizard, Chernomor, who abducts her on the first wedding night. Lavish in production values and grandiose in scope, Ruslan and Ludmila is familiar in its simple and sincere account of romantic chivalry and magical interventions, yet it rarely loosens its firm grip on the viewer’s attention, bewitching you with its continuous stream of stunningly beautiful, larger-than-life imagery. Many of its shots appear as if lifted from the oeuvre of Russian illustrator Ivan Bilibin (1876-1942), with saturated colors piercing the darkness of an enchanted forest and flowers blooming in stop-motion after Ludmila’s release from Chernomor’s kingdom of coral and crystal gardens, chambers lit by upside-down fountains, and caverns whose walls and ceilings are supported by semi-nude, Titan-like figures. (The latter scenery brings to mind Mario Bava’s sword-and-sandal film Hercules in the Haunted World which would make for a great companion piece to Ptushko’s swan song.) Underscoring its surreal, dreamlike qualities is a straightforward approach to the depiction of extreme violence which, albeit bloodless, doesn’t shy away from multiple decapitations and spear impalements in the heat of the battle, not to mention a traitor sliced in two by a court jester...

4. Breza / The Birch Tree (Ante Babaja, 1967)

It has always been difficult to be ‘a birch among beeches’, to quote the key line, especially in the Balkans where the ones who think or act differently are usually ridiculed, ostracized or silenced by the vocal majority. For gentle souls, the hardship is even more severe, and leads to their destruction. One such soul that belongs to a beauty, Janica, surrounded by beastly bumpkins including her burly husband, Marko, is in the center of a tragic, poignant story which satirizes the village life with all of its superstitions and hypocrisy, and reflects on the position of an artist in a society of ‘rugged’ mentality. Gorgeously capturing the exuberance of life and bleakness of death are Tomislav Pinter’s mesmerizing cinematography inspired by naïve paintings, and Anđelko Klobučar’s highly poetic and evocative score interspersed by traditional songs and heart-breaking lamentations of Janica’s mother. 

5. Agatha et les lectures illimitées / Agatha and the Limitless Readings (Marguerite Duras, 1981)

“Her body’s indecency has all the magnificence of God. It’s as though the sound of the sea covers it with the sweetness of a deep wave.”

There is silent cinema and then, there is the cinema of deep, ruminative silences and soft, silently spoken words that – glacially absorbed by skillfully ‘painted’ negative spaces - put you in a peculiar sort of trance. As it breaks the ‘show don’t tell’ rule, Agatha and the Limitless Readings hypnotizes with its incredible formal discipline of long, largely static takes, and nostalgia-driven poetry written by both the rustling waves of the sea, and cold, autumnal light shrouded in the fond memories of summer. A most subtly told tale of incestuous love between a brother and a sister, this experimental drama ignites the viewer’s imagination through the verbalization of a forbidden romance, simultaneously dissolving the notion of time.

6. The Picture of Dorian Gray (Albert Lewin, 1945)

The epitome of (gothic) elegance, Albert Lewin’s adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s novel casts a spell over you by way of the highly expressive B&W cinematography, sumptuous production design, meticulous direction, and outstanding performances, particularly from George Sanders as cynical Lord Wotton, and Hurd Hatfield who brings to soulless life the titular anti-hero re-imagined as a cold, reserved and eerily mysterious character.

7. Beduino (Júlio Bressane, 2016)

A formally delirious, deliberately affected and amusingly absurd experiment in meta-filmmaking, with a couple of actors – Alessandra Negrini as ‘Surm’ and Fernando Eiras as ‘Beduino’ – enacting the search for ‘singular metaphysical desire’, as noted in the official synopsis, through dreamlike vignettes which take cues from the history of cinema. Quite possibly the one and only film that turns pickpocketing into a sexual act and features the burial of an ambitious cactus who deemed laughter as demonic, and was devoured by Zoo crocodiles under the cold moonlight.

8. Sei donne per l'assassino / Blood and Black Lace (Mario Bava, 1964)

If great lighting could kill, all the viewers would be dead during the very opening sequence.

9. Die seltsame Gräfin / The Strange Countess (Josef von Báky, 1961)

Klaus Kinski has his creepiness elevated to P. Lorre level in the supporting role of a psychiatric sanatorium escapee making threatening phone calls in a wonderfully pulptastic ‘krimi’ beautifully photographed in the best noir tradition, with the elements of humor typical of the genre significantly toned down in favor of heightened tension. Brigitte Grothum is great as a damsel-in-distress heroine, Margaret Reedle, who gets pushed down the spiral of madness by unenviable circumstances, and Joachim Fuchsberger saves the day as inspector Michael Dorn who uses pseudo-karate chops to incapacitate his opponents, and even manages to escape the straitjacket. The Strange Countess provides a perfect balance between artistically crafted visuals and twist-driven fun, making it a blast of a swan song for its author, Josef von Báky.

10. Sister, Sister (Bill Condon, 1987)

Jennifer Jason Leigh is utterly magnetic as the younger, gentler, more sensual, yet mentally unstable sister, Lucy, in Bill Condon’s intensely atmospheric debut which blends romantic / psychological melodrama, and Southern Gothic noir with the elements of erotic and supernatural thriller to immersive effect, as a shadowy Louisiana villa and the surrounding swamp which looks straight out of a horror flick act as characters in their own right. Opening with a brilliantly conceived dream sequence which sees sultry love making gradually transformed into a personal apocalypse, Sister, Sister may not be revelatory story-wise, because we have seen most of those twists emerging from the dark past countless times, but it is surely an aesthetic triumph, densely packed with beautifully moody visuals and accompanied by a suggestive score.

11. Saving Sally (Avid Liongoren, 2016)

A passion project 10 years in the making, Avid Liongoren’s feature debut is an unstoppable flood of visual inventiveness that more than compensates for by-the-numbers teen romance in the heart of the story, and somewhat shy, low key performances from the leading duo of Rhian Ramos and firsttimer Enzo Marcos. In order to show us the world from the (wildly imaginative) perspective of his nerdy hero the filmmaker goes for unapologetically quirky vibes of films such as Tears of the Black Tiger, Amélie, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and seamlessly blends live-action with matte-painted backgrounds and retro-styled animation to a dazzling effect. Virtually every frame is brimful of details that often reflect mental and emotional states of the protagonists, as well as their unrestrained creativity and chaos they strive to control as they come of age. 

12. Deux / Two (Werner Schroeter, 2002)

(read my short review HERE)

13. Gingakei / Galaxy (Masao Adachi, 1967)

A fine piece of Japanese avant-garde / underground cinema, Galaxy plays out like an experimental psycho-drama of a Möbius strip-like structure revolving around the identity quest, and following the dream logic. An unnamed protagonist’s bizarre journey into his subconscious involves multiple killings of his other self ‘from that time’, his girlfriend dressed in white, a demonic Shinto monk, queer undertones, and a series of morbid drawings intensifying the viewer’s bemusement. The film’s tinted, cleverly edited visuals coupled with a cacophonous score of jazzy improvisations and distorted voices enhance the atmosphere’s oneiric or rather, nightmarish quality.

14. This Island Earth (Joseph M. Newman & Jack Arnold, 1955)

Complemented by Rex Reason’s rich baritone, vivid colors and psychotronic effects pop out of the screen in a dreamlike fashion, laying out the foundation for campy sci-fi flicks such as Barbarella (1968) and Flash Gordon (1980). The film gets increasingly bizarre, with its third and most imaginative act compensating for the shortcomings of the first two.

15. Night of the Demon (Jacques Tourneur, 1957)

16. The Living Idol (Albert Lewin & René Cardona, 1957)

17. Laokoon & Söhne / Laocoon & Sons (Ulrike Ottinger & Tabea Blumenschein, 1975)

Taking cues from silent films and circus attractions, the first collaborative effort of Ulrike Ottinger & Tabea Blumenschein is a deliberately goofy ‘fairy tale’ of a ‘blonde magic’ sorceress, Esmeralda del Rio, and her continuous transformations, set in a mythical land of Laura Molloy inhabited only by women (as well as a few men in drag posing as women). Heavily drunk on life, permeated with a childlike abandon, and quite possibly shot with both of the authors’ tongues deeply planted in their cheeks, Laocoon & Sons brims with vivid DIY imagery in which deconstructed myths and twisted reality blend to produce some strange, utterly absurd magic. It is a punkish, ritualistic piece of gives-no-damn-for-rules cinema that proudly wears its exuberant weirdness on the sleeve.

18. Bible! (Wakefield Poole, 1974)

Biblical myths have never been sexier than in Wakefield Poole’s provocative, delightfully bawdy renditions which dance on the tightrope between art film and softcore pornography, with dialogue eschewed in favor of colorful, handsomely framed imagery and the classical music accompaniment. Opening with the tale of Adam and Eve – a sensual, proto-Blue Lagoon vignette shot among cavernous formations and on an exotic beach, the film throws an apple joke to continue with Bathsheba’s bath while Uriah (wearing a nipple-and-sixpack-revealing armor) is not at home (and King David turns into a Peeping Tom), only to take a mystical turn with somewhat Jodorowsky-esque take on the love affair of Samson and Delilah who look like young Tom Savini and Grace Jones, respectively. A short, dreamlike coda featuring Virgin Mary and Angel adds some extra fabric fluttering in the wind, until a neon-lit punchline puts a naughty smile on your face.

19. AI Love You (Stephan Zlotescu, 2022)

(read my short review HERE)

20. ... a pozdravuji vlaštovky / And Give my Love to the Swallows (Jaromil Jireš, 1972)


1. Rainbow Dance (Len Lye, 1936)
2. Hamfat Asar (Larry Jordan, 1965)
3. Boswellia Sacra (Stefan M. Mladenović, 2022)
4. Nevermore (Maria Korporal, 2012)
5. Leviathan (Nick Cross, 2021)
6. Zangkom Redux (Maurice de Bruijne, 2022)
7. Life Is but a Dream (Park Chan-wook, 2022)
8. Oiseau Bleu (Mylène Cagnoli, 2021)