Sunday, 25 November 2018

Stanley Kubrick


Kubrick is an icon. A brand. He's a name stamped on every slice of cinematic discussion you can name and in a sense I'm kind of sick of it. I think recently the prevailing stance surrounding the term 'Kubrickian' when deployed by his most avid fans is not one of admiration but ownership. Some people I know seem to try and claim movies with this monocher, and often compliament a flick only to quickly rencounce it as being a fluke the man himself would have handled far better. This is a pokcet of personal experience but in truth I think our all-too avid worship for the man as a collective has gone too far, and cinematic canon needs to make a real effort to de-deify Kubrick and blunt the coinage of his influence with a little perspective. If you aren't happy to simply see a film-maker you adore settled as being less than a god, that's a little worrying. I've lived with his work for nearly a decade, poured over it exhaustingly and discovered a triptch of masterworks, messy crap and deeply troubling projects along the way. In an effort to close the book, here's what I thought.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie


Luis Buñuel cheerfully abandoned a luminous creative grasp so vivid at the turn of the 1960s for the role of a cerebral court jester as the new decade was dawning and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is arguably the apex of this acid-tongued late period, at least for the jester. Having forged his name in sparkling surrealism in partnership to Salvador Dalí the man returned to this remarkable strand of filmmaking, I think informed by the sharp bitterness of co-penning on Dalton Trumbo’s equally uneven Johnny Got His Gun, and made one of his most spiny, complex and, ironically, overwhelmingly full features.

Cemetery of Splendour


Apichatpong Weerasethakul is, in the main, an extra-sensory filmmaker. He is intrigued by inter-human patience and colours simple tales with the vivid mythology of his native Thailand. It was sad to sense Cemetery of Splendour emerged under some duress, having been attached to seemingly dozens of production companies desperate to be rewarded with the artist’s unique vision once more; and it also seemed Weerasethakul’s most delirious fusions of Thai folk and fantasia were invested in the masterful Tropical Malady and Uncle Boonmee who can Recall his past Lives… but as with only the purest artists the man seems to have founded this story in his heart, and crafted something that evokes the numbing pressure of progress with stark serenity.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Santa Sangre


Shot nine years after his previous feature, the ill-received Tusk, Chilean mad-maverick Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Santa Sangre traces two decade of artistic reflection back to his earliest works- the kind that drew the backing of the then-broken Beatles and singularly started the Midnight Movie phenomenon. Flash-forward to now and the world is at war with drugs. The Berlin Wall is three short years from keeling over and Jodorowsky finally has carte-blanche to summon another maniac-monk epic. What he did, and what he discovered, would shape his creative career forever.

Aguirre, Wrath of God


It has taken me seven watches to unearth the genius buried like ancient treasure beneath the hulking maw of Werner Herzog’s Aguirre, Wrath of God: The scratched-up saga of a murky Conquistador mutiny turned suicide mission… and I find few things cinema has given me more warm and fulfilling than sticking with a flick you just aren’t there with yet, however long it takes, until you are ready to reveal the wonders lurking within its wicked world.