4 Dec 2016

The Eyes of My Mother (Nicolas Pesce, 2016)

 
Gorgeously shot in digital B&W and veiled in deep silence and unnerving drones, The Eyes of My Mother is, technically speaking, an impressive calling card for the 26-year-old newcomer Nicolas Pesce. However, it is a difficult film to recommend, whether you are a horror fan or belong to the most patient amongst the arthouse crowd.

The evil, slow beating heart of this brooding psychological drama with suppressed slasher & torture porn undercurrents is Francisca - a pretty sociopath raised on a remote, Portuguese immigrants' farm which could be situated somewhere on the outskirts of Neo Twin Peaks. (There's a place called Donna's Bar in the nearest neighborhood.)

As a little girl (gracefully portrayed by the first-timer Olivia Bond), she learns the basics of human and animal anatomy from her elderly, former eye surgeon mother (Diana Agostini) who gets killed in front of her not quite innocent eyes. When a reticent daddy (Paul Nazak) returns home, the body of the dead woman is buried in the forest and the perpetrator (named Charlie and played by Will Brill) becomes Francisca's chained pet.


Years later, the (anti)heroine (the conspicuous low key performance by Kika Magalhaes, ominously ethereal) indulges in daughterly necrophilia tendencies (possibly cannibalism as well) and believes that murder feels amazing as Charlie told her before she took his eyes and tongue. Her lonely existence and deranged mind make for a deadly combination, especially for those wretched, unsuspecting souls lured by Francisca's misleading naiveté.

Frighteningly methodical, just like his protagonist, Pesce splits the spare, cryptic and lethargic narrative into three acts which pervert the very idea of 'mother', 'father' and 'family'. Considering the story is told from the fucked-up individual's POV, he manages to set the right (or rather, awkward) tone to it and yet, sporadically, it seems like the film's short running time should be even shorter. Why? Well, it is hard to pinpoint - maybe it is not interesting enough as a characters study, in spite of Magalhaes being committed, or maybe it's the minimalist plot stretched almost to the breaking point.

On the other hand, DP Zach Kuperstein's meticulous framing make the young aspiring auteur's stylistic exercises in subtle indications, precise cuts, overcoming the location limits and letting the viewer to connect the dots (with plenty of missing ones) a real pleasure to watch. The gloomy, hauntingly enthralling imagery evokes a funereal atmosphere, while fado interludes inject a healthy dose of melancholy and elevate The Eyes... to poetic levels.

If there's a moral to Pesce's debut feature, it must be: "Thou shalt not raise thy child in the middle of nowhere, with no friends and a chained murderer in a barn."

27 Nov 2016

La tortue rouge (Michaël Dudok de Wit, 2016)


Dugometražni prvenac višestruko nagrađivanog holandskog animatora Mišela Dudoka de Vita vizuelni je trijumf, a kako trenutno stoje stvari, i najbolji animirani film 2016. Veličanstvena u svojoj jednostavnosti, ova belgijsko-francusko-japanska koprodukcija rezultat je devetogodišnje posvećenosti koja se ogleda u svakom brižljivo skrojenom frejmu.

Odbacujući dijaloge, de Vit sigurnim i laganim potezima slika arhetipsku priču o ciklusu života i smrti koja deluje kao da postoji od praiskona, a koja se može posmatrati iz najmanje dva ugla. U isti mah, ona je oda ljudskoj istrajnosti i alegorija o turbulentnom odnosu ništavnog čoveka prema ćudljivoj Majci Prirodi ili šire posmatrano, misterioznoj Vasioni.


Usredsređuje se na brodolomnika koga prvi put susrećemo u nezavidnoj situaciji, među divljim i teškim talasima koji prete da zdrobe svaku kost u njegovom telu. Na njegovu sreću, dospeva na obalu pustog ostrva gde započinje (sizifovsku) borbu za goli opstanak sa kojom svako može da se poistoveti. Dok ga pratimo u potrazi za izlazom, uviđamo da su njegovi snovi bliski našim i osećamo gnev prema misterioznoj sili (kako kasnije saznajemo, džinovskoj crvenoj kornjači) koja mu lomi splavove. Nakon osvete junaka, film dobija bajkovitu/mitološku dimenziju koja sa sobom donosi niz novih univerzalnih tema prožetih simbolima čija značenja autor ne nameće, već prepušta gledaocu da ih otkrije. 

Kontrastom između znalački iskorišćenog negativnog prostora i likova (protagoniste, 'Venere' koja se rađa iz oklopa mrtvog gmizavca, kao i njihovog sina) čiji dizajn je oslobađen suvišnih detalja, de Vit naglašava monumentalnost okruženja koje, kako u zatišju, tako i tokom bure, oduzima dah. Zelenilo bujne vegetacije, plavetnilo nedoglednog mora, toplina zalaska sunca i srebrom optočene noći stvaraju čistu poeziju u slikama koje, u potpunoj harmoniji sa eteričnom muzičkom pratnjom, pružaju nezaboravan gledalački doživljaj. A neodoljiv retro šarm Crvena kornjača duguje zrnastoj teksturi minimalističkih kompozicija i samoj animaciji koja najčešće odaje utisak da je izvedena kakvom tehnikom majstora starog kova.

Obavijena prozirnim velom melanholije, ova "nema", ali iskrena fantazija je poput moćne tihe vode iz čuvene sprske izreke, a savršen je par podjednako divnoj podvodnoj avanturi De profundis.

23 Nov 2016

Muzički predah uz öOoOoOoOoOo


Kako ne voleti bend (zapravo, duet) koji svoje ime Chenille (Gusenica) opisuje duhovito-slikovito, bešavno spajajući obilje različitih, najčešće nesrodnih žanrova na svom debiju Samen? (A da ne spominjemo to što je i sam naziv albuma eklektičan, budući da znači 'seme', 'zajedno' i 'isto' u prevodu sa nemačkog, holandskog, odnosno škotskog.)

Iza jednostavnog omota skriveno je dvanaest kompleksnih avangardnih numera u kojima se sudaraju, prepliću i nezaboravni "eargasm" izazivaju pop, rock, disco, hardcore, neo-classic, electronica, R&B, death, black & sympho/gothic metal, uspostavljajući krajnje neobičnu (apstraktnu?) atmosferu. Već i sami naslovi pojedinih pesama (Meow Meow Frrru, Purple Tastes Like White, Chairleg Thesis) nagoveštavaju "sređeni haos" koji pevačica Asphodel i multiinstrumentista Baptiste Bertrand stvaraju sa neverovatnom lakoćom u snažnom naletu kreativnog ludila, a uz pomoć studijskog bubnjara Aymerica Thomasa.

Samen koji će vas voziti od Nežnosti, preko Gneva, do Bezobrazluka i nazad možete preslušati preko zvaničnog stream-a Apathia Records-a.


18 Nov 2016

Taste of Old-School Anime and Mamoru Oshii's Works

In case you like retro animation, check out my list of twenty old-school anime that you might have missed, and if you are into (or haven't been introduced to) Mamoru Oshii's oeuvre, then click for the twelve of his best works that are not Ghost in the Shell (at Taste of Cinema). 
 
(Patlabor movies are not included, because I find them uninvolving on many levels. And Urusei Yatsura 'dyptich' is also omitted, since I'm not very fond of the original author Rumiko Takahashi's style.)

Avalon (2001)

13 Nov 2016

M (Part II)

"M" as madness, moonlight, multi-dream...



 (click to enlarge)

Danijel Kiš as Blu / Sanja Kokanov as She / Branko Radaković as Mr. M

M (Part I)

"M" as maiden, malice, mystery, Mephisto, monstrosity, mind-trip...

The first half of a fantasy comic M which is based on a low-budget short film Lice istine (The Face of Truth) by Branko Radaković.



(click to enlarge)

To be continued...

9 Nov 2016

Crumbs (Miguel Llansó, 2015)


Prior to high-fiving the Universe, both literally and metaphorically, the Spanish-born director Miguel Llansó takes us on a surreal adventure across the post-apocalyptic landscapes of Ethiopia. As his unlikely hero Candy (Daniel Tadesse) attempts to find a way to board a mysterious hovering spaceship, we are treated to one of the most deliciously absurd cinematic experiences.

In the world where human race has significantly decreased and mass production, globalism and consumerism have taken their toll, Candy lives with his pregnant darling Birdy (Selam Tesfayie) in an abandoned bowling alley. They worship and pray to Michael Jordan in a small shrine decorated with artificial flowers and keep a low profile from Nazi (who probably doesn't even know the meaning of the word) and other human scavengers. After Candy sees something (actually, someone, as we later find out) through the hole of a ball machine, he decides to visit the Witch (Shitaye Abraha) and ask her for advice... or rather, divination. Armed with a toy sword (a replacement for the previously lost Ninja Turtle talisman), the protagonist starts his bizarre journey. 


Only sixty-something minutes long, Crumbs compensates its simple plot and archetypal characters with idiosyncrasies which seem like emerging from the Afrofuturistic dreams of Alejandro Jodorovsky, Terry Gilliam, David Lynch and Llansó's compatriot Sergio Caballero. A prominent use of pop-cultural artifacts as the objects of great spiritual and historical value plays a big part in this sardonic, mythopoeic and self-ironic satire on idolatry and human stupidity. The ultimate stage in the downfall of ill-informed mankind is portrayed as a low key sci-fi film - simultaneously sad, funny, bold, weird, even philosophical in its irreverence.

The author's twisted sense of humor is complemented by the naïve, yet committed performance of the non-professional cast who contribute a lot to the feature's unique charm. Their "playground" is reminiscent of the Zone from Tarkovsky's Stalker with dilapidated objects scattered around sulphurous wastelands and lush, dense greenery that points at the Earth's recovery from its sparse inhabitants. Also memorable are the beautiful wide-screen cinematography (kudos to Israel Seoane) and the brooding ambient score by Atomizador, in an almost seamless synthesis.