Monday, 8 July 2019

Midsommar


The tale of a grieving girl’s glacial descent into the ancient, arcane rituals of harmless old Sweden- Midsommar was a movie I rushed to see before it left theatres. The detestable stench of up-and-coming director Ari Aster’s indie darling Hereditary had bored me to headache-infused tears twice over with its monotone verbiage of horror cliché dressed up in an art-movie Halloween mask and finished off with a delightful course of Toni Colette’s ceaseless screaming… but his sophomore promised something different. I’m never someone who wishes a director whose work I’ve disliked to stop making films, in fact I encourage it almost as much as the ones I love because with every new movie there is the chance that everything will change- That lessons will be learned and out of nowhere a complete 180 would be drawn out of me. I’d have leapt at the chance to absolutely love Midsommar, but some things it seems are not (yet) meant to be. I don’t enjoy ‘picking on’ bad films but when a movie garners enough popularity or praise I feel rightly invited to the conversation. In spite of being increasingly alone in my repulsion to the sickeningly safe ‘horror’ films of Ari Aster I should at least start by saying I truly appreciate what he, and more importantly A24, are doing. Every picture this sophomore horror star brings under his belt could be a step further to a full-blooded genre classic and with each movie’s success comes more new blood into A24’s rapidly growing and infinitely alluring indie film-maker fold. So in spite of two film-making failures turned box-office successes I’m still hugely excited for Aster’s third movie, in whatever form it may take, for one thing because any new, exciting artist is worth watching because every step has the chance to land forward- and for another because the bar couldn’t possibly be set any lower.

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Long Day's Journey into Night


The mercurial tale of a man, a woman, and some other people vying for life and some semblance of reality in the murky Chinese underworld- Long Day’s Journey into Night is becoming a sleeper favourite in spite of its thorny reception at a packed but perplexed Chinese premiere and I can’t say I wouldn’t side with the innocent spectators who started walking out half-way through.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Gaspar Noé


Accused by many of being excessive, exploitative and overly explicit, I stand by the belief that these traits (absent of how they are percieved) are part of what make Gaspar Noé such a fascinating (and vitally: Moral) film-maker.

Mortality is crucial when discussing the man because the infamy that sadly defines many of his works  within the public conciousness needs to be addressed and swept away so they can be addressed properly. People threw up and stormed out and demanded bans after Irréversible's ten minute single-take rape premiered at Cannes, yet I think he was entirely justified in showing the full extent of that horror.

Why? Because Noé holds. He doesn't just linger, nor does he waver and cut away. He holds on shots of things most people couldn't bear to look at for more than a second because that's what they demandHolding makes us consider implications. It lets cruetly and pain take root beyond simple physicality. Watching a young girl bleed out from a bullet-wound in her neck in I Stand Alone is honestly near impossible to stare straight at because the magnitude of the situation, both in terms of the violence and how it affects the characters' lives, is laid out in full. Fast-cut, choppy action montage is the exploitation. The considered nature of Noé's direction pays them the attention they deserve, as exhausting as it might be. At his best Noé knows what he's doing, knows what is effective and, crucially, always knows what is necessary.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Sergei Parajanov


Accessing many of Parajanov’s earliest films (as well as emerging Georgian cinema in general) is incredibly difficult and as a result I will add to this retrospective as time goes on and I can unearth works like The First Lady (1958), Ukrainian Rhapsody (1961) and the somewhat infamous Flower on the Stone (1962)- controversial given Parajanov was merely hired to complete the project after a former director with pitiful regard for safety on set facilitated the tragic death of Inna Burduchenko, a rising star. Ultimately, Parajanov dismissed every single film he made before 1965 as complete garbage and it is with his breakout feature- still sending shockwaves through high-art cinefan circles- that the artist seems to have almost divinely summoned his signature style. A Parajanov picture is an unmistakable beast of music, choreography and topographical whirlpools of image that suck you into some deeper subliminal narrative strand: Opaque, enrapturing and, in front of the right set of eyes, absolute magic…

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Pedro Costa


Pedro Costa's first film will see its 30th anniversary this year and ever since he started making movies the man has conjured spirits in the dark, duelling with his own uncompromising vision to find both intensley controlled dramas and skeletal stories sketched out of the shadows that fuse naturalism with tugging aesthetic grasp. He is the first of what I hope to be several dives into the giants of Portugese film-making and a modern artist whose work stands almost beyond compare. Lets dig in.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

The Man Who Sleeps


The Man Who Sleeps, adapted from a novel by Georges Perec,  is an abyss-gazing indictment of the dream. Charging faintly through fields of time, its delerious invention of intensley present cinema wrestles with a backbone of distant absentia that electrifies its lifespan with often chilling, rarely joyous purpose. Like The Promised Land its a movie I had missed for years, and yet again this odd patience has been rewarded with a work that will rest in my heart for many more to come.

Friday, 28 December 2018

The Promised Land


I had a near impossible time deciding which still was worthy of representing this film, because one frame fails utterly to justify its irresistible enormity. The Promised Land, a movie by venerable Polish artist Andrzej Wajda, will perhaps prove to be my last great discovery of 2018. I have both hunted and diverted it for over three years and finally settling down with it gifted me with a beautiful companion to my memory of seeing Theo Angelopoulos' The Travelling Players for the first time: Exhausted in the early hours of the morning and yet so utterly transfixed I could only do as much as blink. Wajda's film had me, hexed, and even now I am yet to be free from its spell.