Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Void

It may be true that the first thing to suffer when you are busy doing other things is the act of blogging. Why would you bother telling the world what you're up to when you're enjoying just doing it. This is the first post of August however and I promise to be more diligent in future. Something's better than nothing right?

First off a huge shout out to Howard Feinstein, critic, film fan and benevolent father figure for having Colony included in his outstanding 'Panorama' section at the Sarajevo Film Festival last week. Great city and some great movies.

Among the stand out efforts that I managed to catch at this Balkan cinema extravaganza were Simon Brumley's smart, lean and brilliantly executed hipster shocker 'Red, White & Blue'. Someone and by someone I mean you Harvey Weinstein should give Simon a three picture deal asap.

A scathing look at the nature of American laziness and the culture of violence that seeps from within it's greasy, Budweiser drinking, flag flying heartlands, Red, White & Blue was not for the feint hearted or the weak stomached.

Needless to say neither were the check golfing pants that Simon selected to wear at his Q&A.

He's a true original all the way and I have no doubt that great things await Simon as a writer/director and horror meister supreme.

Here's actress Amanda Fuller discussing the film. Nice to finally see her with some clothes on...



Next up was 'The Temptation of St. Tony' by Estonian auteur Veiko Õunpuu.

An existential black comedy that I would happily tout as the Estonian 'Big Lebowski', this was a film to be seen on the big screen. Shot in mindblowingly beautiful black and white, 'Temptation' is one that audiences will either love or hate.

Structured in chapters rather than following a traditional linear plot it reminded me of being a kid and turning on the television late at night and seeing a film with subtitles in black and white and people...just talking.

It's only now, as an adult, that I feel able to embrace these things that I may not quite understand and enjoy what I'm seeing...rather than changing the channel to watch 'Tango & Cash'.

I loved this film and Veiko's admission that after the success of his sophomore effort 'Autumn Ball' his discomfort at being touted as 'the savior of Estonian film' prompted him to make this movie as 'a big Fuck You to all of those people' was typical of the bone dry humor that fills the movie.

Full of self-deprecating comments, Veiko claimed to have stolen many of the films shots from masters such as Pasolini and Tarkovsky but I just think he was being modest. It's fair to say that movies like this just aren't being made anymore and it was wonderful to see something with a true love of cinema, philosophy and comedy up there on the big screen.

It's such a beautiful film that I'm just not sure why this youtube clip is so rubbish: there's enough moments of transcendental black and white cinematography in this film to make a year's worth of car commercials out of.

Here's a taster none the less:



Among other films that I managed to see were mischievous Columbian helmer Oscar Ruiz Navia's 'Crab Trap', Canne Palm D'Or winner 'Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives' and finally I got a look at Lixin Fan's doc masterpiece 'Last Train Home'. Thank you to Lixin for one of the most incredible films I have seen this year. Having met the guy it's hard to imagine a more earnest person, full of integrity and talent. It's truly an amazing documentary film.

Taking the cake however was the long awaited 'Enter the Void' by perennial 'enfant terrible' Gaspar Noe. Introducing the film and saying it was inspired by his drug experiences kind of put me off and I shifted uncomfortably in my seat for a while before the film started. There's perhaps nothing sadder in my mind than some geezer in his early forties asking where you can score a few 'E's and talking up his love for the odd acid trip but in the end all credit is due as the film absolutely blew me away.

Inspired in part by innovative first-person perspective 1940s noir 'Lady in the Lake', 'Enter the Void' impressed me so much firstly because it completely eschews any of the kind of cinematic shoe gazing bullshit that is so prevalent in the 'auteur' filmmaking that fills festival schedules these days.

From the first frame it drops you straight in to a kaleidoscopic world that is part dream, part nightmare beginning at a million miles an hour with this Manga fueled title sequence scored by old techno supremo Thomas Bangalter. Classic stuff.



Noe is one of the most honest directors working today for my money and that's why I enjoy his films so much. Although 'Irreversible' remains nothing more than a video nasty for some, I still maintain it's the film 'Eyes Wide Shut' just didn't have the guts to be.

In many ways perhaps 'Enter the Void' is Noe's '2001'. Full of beautifully rendered visual effects, wild, dimension bending camera moves, flashing neon, dreamy sex and a healthy preoccupation with death, 'Void' may perhaps be on the verge of ruining the French film industry but I loved every minute. Well...almost every minute.

Props to all at the Sarajevo Film Festival.

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