Nov 30, 2022

Best Premiere Viewings of November

1. Tár (Todd Field, 2022)

A strong contender for the most razor-sharp performance of the year, Cate Blanchett dominates Todd Field’s impeccably helmed film, as all of its aspects, from Marco Bittner Rosser’s austerely modernist production design to Florian Hoffmeister’s meticulous lensing, seem to be finely tuned to match her nuanced character, maestro and self-proclaimed ‘U-haul lesbian’ Lydia Tár, who – albeit being one of the most unsympathetic big-screen ‘heroines’ – elicits admiration in the (spellbound) writer of these lines. 

2. Nattlek / Night Games (Mai Zetterling, 1966)

Freud would’ve had a field day with Mai Zetterling’s sophomore feature – a cinematic provocation that is in equal measures (irreverently) daring and (decadently) beautiful, with Rune Ericson confidently taking the place which Sven Nykvist held in the director’s 1964 debut Loving Couples. Revolving around a man virtually emasculated by ghosts from his past, particularly by a motherly specter, Night Games is a surreal psychosexual drama that erases the boundaries between the protagonist’s childhood and adulthood, as its glum, Bergmanesque tone is successfully dissolved by vigorous eccentricities à la Fellini. Freewheeling and borderline farcical in its approach to the protagonist’s struggle with impotence, both literal and symbolic, it sees captivating Ingrid Tulin having a whale of a time as a narcissistic, gleefully debauched mater familias. Her performance is so charming, that it’s somewhat difficult for a viewer to blame her uninhibited character for the boy’s sexual confusion (and for the man’s incapacity to deal with it), whereas Keve Hjelm’s subtle take on Jan – complemented by Jörgen Lindström’s wide-eyed curiosity – works like a charm in balancing things out. 

3. Sevmek Zamani / Time to Love (Metin Erksan, 1966)

‘Male gaze’ gets subverted by a hopelessly romantic twist in Metin Erksan’s quirky, highly poetic, and to a certain degree Antonioni-esque and Czech New Wave-like love story about a poor painter who falls for a portrait of a rich woman. Shot during the late autumn, with frequent downpours, persistent winds and barren trees establishing a thick atmosphere of melancholic longing, Time to Love is gorgeously photographed in high-contrast black and white (Mengü Yegin) which turns virtually every frame into a reason for admiration, complemented by Metin Bükey’s lavishly sentimental score, its roots deep in the Turkish traditional music. Sema Özcan and Müsfik Kenter reach just the right levels of ‘subtle artifice’ in two central roles, making us root for a happy ending, whereby the author often utilizes the strengths of filming locations to externalize inner workings of their characters, directing with a great sense of both pace and style.

4. Freaks Out (Gabriele Mainetti, 2021)

(read my review HERE)

5. Die Verlorenen (Reynold Reynolds, 2015)

Described as ‘a German film from the 1930s that could have been, but never was’, Die Verlorenen (lit. The Lost Ones) marks a fascinating solo feature debut for Alaska-born, Amsterdam-based filmmaker Reynold Reynolds. Both formally and aesthetically challenging, this bold 16mm experiment is a love letter to cinema history, particularly its silent era and early talkies, as well as a delightfully puzzling showcase of its author’s allusive approach to the pictorial language. It follows a young British writer, Christopher, on his stay in an eccentric Berlin cabaret where high art meets burlesque, and science is intertwined with parapsychology, all in a series of dreamlike vignettes that dissolve the Weimar reality. Opening with a ‘God shot’ of a train-set diorama which – if you pay attention – hints at a much faster passage of time, the film fiercely pulls you into a peculiar universe by virtue of its rich texturality and stunning cinematography (Imogen Heath) beautifully complemented by a quaintly avant-garde dialogue between a piano (Gerard Bouwhuis) and a violin (Heleen Hulst). Visually reminiscent of Guy Maddin’s oeuvre, Die Verlorenen also draws comparisons to Werner Schroeter’s work during its operatic bits, one of which is mesmerizingly sung by Croatian mezzo-soprano Tanja Šimić Queiroz.

The film is available on the director’s official Vimeo channel, HERE.

6. The Menu (Mark Mylod, 2022)

Mark Mylod – a chef whose earlier meals I haven’t experienced – serves a spicy anti-capitalist satire, glazed with delicately saucy imagery by veteran DoP (and David Lynch’s frequent collaborator) Peter Deming, and stuffed with slightly honeyed black humor à la Lanthimos and Strickland, as well as with fragrantly meaty performances, particularly from always reliable Anya Taylor-Joy and sardonically dignified Ralph Fiennes. It’s an acquired taste, yet it is as enjoyable as a lovingly prepared cheeseburger and Julienne-cut French fries as a side dish.

7. Anguish (Bigas Luna, 1987)

An off-kilter meta-slasher brimming with unsettling close-ups, and edge-of-the-seat tension, while evoking the memories of some vastly different films, from Un Chien Andalou to Psycho to (Lamberto Bava’s) Demons. And yet, it provides you with a one-of-a-kind viewing experience that makes pigeons and snails appear much weirder than usual...

8. Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon (Ana Lily Amirpour, 2021)

Once again, a girl walks alone at night, but this time her destination is not home – it is unknown. She wears a straight jacket, possesses a mind-control ability, and her true origin is even more mysterious than the smile of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa. Is she an alien? A demon? A result of a secret experiment? Nobody knows. And yet, in a wonderful portrayal by Korean actress Jeon Jong-seo, Mona ‘Lisa’ Lee is a character that you root for right from a get go when you see her bullied by an unethical nurse. She embodies a peculiar combination of childlike innocence, superhero potential and simmering danger, finding a feisty counterpart in a hardened, if opportunistic single mom stripper, Bonnie Belle (an engaging performance by Kate Hudson), and a couple of buddies in frequently high DJ Fuzz (an amusingly eccentric bravura by Ed Skrein in a supporting role) and Bonnie’s 10-yo metalhead son, Charlie (up-and-coming Evan Whitten). Against the bohemian milieu of modern-day New Orleans, these sympathetic outcasts get on with their day-to-day lives the best they can, as Ms. Amirpour washes them in a thick solution of colorful neon light and extremely diversified tunes. There is more style than substance to be found here, but the film’s smooth pacing, actors’ combined energies and easy-going nature somehow keep you invested all the way till the end.

9. Blaze (Del Kathryn Barton, 2022)

In the feature debut from fine artist turned filmmaker Del Kathryn Barton (2015 Crystal Bear Nominee for animated short The Nightingale and the Rose), a twelve-year-old girl, Blaze, struggles to come in terms with a gruesome crime which she accidentally witnessed. Portrayed by Julia Savage whose (micro)acting talent far surpasses her age, the titular heroine escapes into an imaginary world where an army of porcelain figures comes to life at her command, and a sequin-covered dragon embodies her strength, also metaphorizing her transition into womanhood. These phantasmagorical reflections of Blaze’s inner workings is where Barton’s skills as a great visualist really shine, even though they often veer into a music video territory, as she wraps her protagonist’s trauma in glitter without diminishing its indelible impact on the troubled, still-developing psyche. However, it is during the reality bits that her script co-written by Huna Amweero shows the signs of heavy-handedness and on-the-nose-ness, hampering her well-intentioned approach to sensitive topics such as rape, and sexual awakening. Despite its shortcomings, Blaze marks the birth of a unique new voice in modern arthouse cinema, one that is unafraid to speak boldly and angrily, as well as to surprise us with a Wes Craven reference in a film that is much closer to Jim Henson’s and DaveMcKean’s sensibilities.

10. The Lair (Neil Marshall, 2022)

A surprisingly enjoyable, briskly paced and B-movie-esque creature feature that takes a cynical attitude towards both American army & the Soviet past in relation to Afghanistan, demanding to suspend your disbelief about an abandoned, 30-year-old underground facility still being powered by electricity. (Maybe it’s the alien?)

Nov 29, 2022

Freaks Out (Gabriele Mainetti, 2021)

Fellini’s love for circus meets historical revisionism à la Tarantino in Gabriele Mainetti’s sophomore feature which confirms the director’s penchant for deconstructing the superhero subgenre. Passionately antifascist, the film sees brilliant Franz Rogowski jumping into the role of a psychotic Nazi pianist junkie, Franz, whose six-fingered hands make him unfit for the army, but whose virtuosity and lucid visions of the future allow him to perform a cover of Radiohead’s Creep for the visitors of Zirkus Berlin in occupied Rome. (The anachronistic bits, which also involve Moonwalk dancing and the drawing of a Playstation gamepad, may owe to Ken Russell’s gossip-based biopics of famous composers.)

It goes without saying that Franz is the archvillain of the story which takes its cues from magic realism and The Wizard of Oz, with its four protagonists – Matilde, Cencio, Fulvio and Mario – acting as counterparts to Dorothy, Scarecrow, Lion and Tin Man. This time though, ‘Lion’ possesses great strength and doesn’t lack courage, it is insect-mastering ‘Scarecrow’ who has to find it; perverted ‘Tin Man’ clowns around even in the most dangerous situations, and ‘Dorothy’ is ridden with guilt for accidentally killing her own mother, still learning to control both her gift and curse that is the electrically charged body. The unlikely quartet of quirky outcasts – sympathetically portrayed by Aurora Giovinazzo, Claudio Santamaria, Pietro Castellitto and Giancarlo Martini – probably couldn’t save the whole world, as they need some help of crippled (not to mention eccentric) partisans led by Max Mazzotta’s chatty Il Gobbo to win the final battle against German army, and they do it with a bang!

Mainetti creates a rich and colorful gallery of characters, continuously emphasizing that they shouldn’t be ashamed of their ‘freakishness’, but rather fully embrace it and utilize its power against evil, while relying on togetherness. Yes, it is a very simple message sent many times before, yet Freaks Out never pretends to be something more than a dark ‘fairy tale’ of friendship against (pathological) ambition, and in that regard, it delivers plenty of charm and a measured dose of spectacle, imbuing its gentle drama with prickly humor, and not shying away from violence, nor turning it gratuitous. The feature’s 140-minutes running time may turn off some viewers, but the technical competence at display – best reflected in the air raid sequence – and well-balanced style that marries the classical and modern keep you glued to the screen.

Nov 17, 2022

Melancholia (Non) Grata

I find it a daunting task to write about my own work, and yet I felt the need to put one of my recently completed (and most personal) series into words, not to provide answers or explanations, but rather to confirm the presence of restless ‘phantasms’ that I came across while assembling these collages. The following paragraph can be viewed as a synopsis for a lost, imaginary film existing only in the remaining 26 frames.

A transmutation of despair into evasive shimmers of incessantly crumbling hope, ‘Melancholia (Non) Grata’ strives to capture (the artist’s) transitional states, both mental and emotional, veiling them in the persistent silence of clouds / light, and wistful blissfulness of sepia tones. The square format of each piece may create and maintain the illusion of stability, but the oneiric nature of compositions betrays and emphasizes the unwavering uncertainty of exploratory wanderings. On the dirt road towards the void of the future, amongst the ruins of half-remembered memories, inside the locked rooms of the subconscious mind, and above the reflecting surfaces of comforting dreams, dust-covered ‘marionettes’ perform an endless play for death...

Anemoia Paranoia: A Chronicle of Despair

Implosive Ascension According to the Boy's Dream

The Incredible Flexibility of Her Fancy

A Portrait of Longing Painted with Clouds

The Absence of I in the Egg of the Universe

A Secondhand Band-Aid for the Lost Time Drifter

Looking for Hope Lost During the Last Eclipse

Rejoice! The House of Cards Is Crumbling Down

Triangular Resentment of the Innocents

Her Mind Was Bright, His Heart Was a Piece of Junk

Three Wisecrackers on Their Way to Meet the Void

Primordial Phantasm, or the Perks of Puppetry

Hopelessness, the Most Effective Modus Operandi

Sitting There Alone, Searching for the Storm

Following the Snail's Trail in the Morning of the Zero Day

The Insidious Consistency of Wrong Moves

She Never Revealed the Secret of Her Undying Obsession

The Seventh Configuration: A Dual Soul

That Peculiar Specimen in the Butterfly Collection

Can't You Hear the Sweetest of Whispers?

An Elliptical Delusion of a Heavy Heart

A Hidden Message Left in a Suicide Note

Like Walking on Water, Only Faster

The Day Icarus Forgot to Fly

The Futility of Pulling 'X' Towards Oneself

... in Which the Children's Voices Are Never Heard

Nov 16, 2022

Kinoskop u Čačku

Na poziv Predraga Živkovića, kustosa Umetničke galerije Nadežda Petrović u Čačku, Marko Milićević i ja predstavili smo dosadašnji rad Kinoskopa, međunarodnog festivala analognog eskperimentalnog filma, 14. novembra ove godine. U nastavku možete pročitati kustoski tekst o 12 filmova koje smo izabrali za malobrojnu, ali zainteresovanu publiku, ilustrovan nekolicinom fotografija sa projekcije.

Za ovu priliku pripremili smo dvanaest kratkometražnih filmova koji su bili prikazani tokom prve tri godine festivala, nastojeći da obuhvatimo što je više moguće tematskih celina. Eklektičan program započinjemo ostvarenjem Ektadome čiji naslov je neologizam nastao od Kodak-ovog brenda Echtachrome i „dome“ što se prevodi kao kupola, a potiče od naziva hamburškog luna-parka gde su pokretne slike zabeležene. Putem razigrane montaže, kao i dijaloga između neonskog svetla i noćnog mraka, nemačka rediteljka Laura Trager postiže gotovo hipnotički efekat, pozivajući gledaoca u treperavi svet snažnih boja. Njen asistent, kamerman Kristofer Gorski, autor je sledećeg filma, Neprestana agitacija, koji u sinergiji melanholične elektronske muzike, strukturalne apstrakcije i momenata iz svakodnevnog života stvara odu prolaznosti. Tematski blizak, ali znatno energičniji je Zub vremena finskog režisera Hanua Nieminena koji nemirni duh panka donosi kroz dinamičan spoj pulsirajućeg skora i intervencija, odnosno grebanja i slikanja na traci.

Susu Laroš / Završiće se u suzama, 2018

Uz režanje distorzirane gitare, Brazilac Kristijan Šnajder nas u svojoj provokativnoj minijaturi Tako je bilo 90-ih vraća u vreme dial-up interneta, i rekonstruiše sex-chat između mladića i devojke, prekidajući ga pre „vrhnuca“ na vrlo duhovit način. Suptilniji, a možemo reći i duhovniji u prikazivanju obnaženosti je Džerod Majkl Sobotka koji dušu i sopstvo istražuje polazeći od jungovskog koncepta, te od čuvenog psihologa pozajmljuje termin Anima za naslov svog kontemplativnog opita. Multidisciplinarna umetnica egipatsko-francuskog porekla Susu Laroš kroji buntovničku poemu bez rime Završiće se u suzama u kojoj crno-bela fotografija abrazivne teksture i tmurni ambijentalni dronovi uspostavljaju začudnu atmosferu na tragu post-apokaliptične fikcije. Oslanjajući se na rane radove Dereka Džarmana i aludirajući na Poludnicu, vešticu iz predanja istočnoevropskih Slovena, Kamila Kuk u Utvarnom bluzu prepliće zlokobne kinegrame Albrehta Direra sa osmomilimetarskim snimcima žene u beloj haljini na sveže pokošenom polju, i na taj način evocira strahove iz detinjstva.

Britani Grejvli i Ken Lajnehan / Prolog za Tarot: Glena, 2018

Ezoterični motivi prisutni su i u Prologu za Tarot: Glena autorskog dueta Britani Grejvli i Ken Lajnehan, ali su ovde iskorišćeni u cilju ispoljavanja mitskog aspekta ličnosti, i ugrađeni u dvostruko eksponirane vinjete koje, nežno obavijene eteričnim vokalizacijama, dobijaju oniričku dimenziju. Domenu snova pripada i Alef Antonije Luksem koja opisuje konflikt između žene i njenog alter-ega, lisice, a najverovatnije pod uticajem avangardne psihodrame Maje Deren. U Svetlucanju, Austrijanka Beti Blic koja će i ove godine učestvovati na Kinoskopu sugestivno priziva priče o duhovima uz pomoć jednostavnih sinematskih trikova i krhkih staklenih struktura, napuštenih prostora i stop-motion animacije, ali i gotovo avetinjskih zvučnih pejzaža svog stalnog saradnika Dejvida Šuha.

Trio koji čine Nona Katusanu, Ketrin Kastro i Liza Gipsova bavi se aktuelnim temama izolacije i krize identiteta u prelepo uslikanoj monodrami Zora koja nam dopušta da zavirimo u spoljašnji i unutrašnji svet jedne usamljene žene, u sjajnoj interpretaciji Nikol Markez. A za kraj ostavili smo još jedan ženski portret, dokumentarac Čvorak sa severa Trevora Moučana i Denijela Gersona koji bez ijedne reči govore o životu na ivici siromaštva, produbljujući egzistencijalni ponor zimskim okruženjem u kanadskom gradu Vinipegu. Dinamičnom montažom i stilskim doskočicama oni nagoveštavaju da ipak nije sve tako crno.

Trevor Moučan i Denijel Gerson / Čvorak sa severa, 2019

Nov 12, 2022

Les Fleurs du Mal

Experiments in darkness, out of my comfort zone.
The first 12 pieces of my recently started series of ‘negative’ collages.
The title is borrowed from Baudelaire’s book of poetry.


The Mind of the Universe

A Word Written by Darkness

The Blind God of the Mirror

Three Lupine Sunsets

The Celestial Body of Fear

2 Things Bloom in the Devil's Womb

The Spectrogram of Inner Voices

Archangels Cry for the Lost Eye

The Bleeding Unknown Breaks the Boundary

A Supernova in the Truth Seeker's Path

The Nightmare Doesn't Recognize Me

The Moon Is but an Illusion