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Winterstilte * Sonja Wyss (2008)

Even though German, this film seems to go under a Dutch title. Wyss’ debut is almost completely without talking and is a very slow and minimalistic film with a lot of focus on the visuals. Somewhere high up a snowy mountain in a tiny community lives a devoutly Catholic family with four daughters. We follow the daily pattern of the family, but the community seems to have a ‘dark’ underbelly in what appears to be an ancient men-bond. If that was meant to be such, Wyss portrays two conservative sides of a distant community. In any case, great imaginary of snowy landscapes, some darker scenes and a descent soundtrack make Wyss’ short debut (70 min) a very nice film. I do not think “Winterstilte” will be for everyone, but if you like minimalistic films without much story, you might want to see it.

Solyaris * Andrei Tarkovsky (1972)

SolyarisMy girlfriend read the book and then bought the film. Looking for the cover I noticed that there is also a 2002 American version with George Clooney. In any case, this film is usually presented as a science fiction, but besides the fact that a large part of this 3 hour film plays in some ship above the mysterious ocean of the planet Solaris, there is little scifi about it. The spaceship looks strangely earthly with statues, paintings on the walls, leather chairs and a library. “Solyaris” is more of a philosophical film about how humans react in different surroundings, what is reality, etc. For its time, this film of Tarkovsky must definately have been expensive and groundbreaking. Combining black and white and colour filming, elaborate stages, video-telephones, etc. makes this film not look oldfashioned at all. It is a bit long and slow, not really boring, but not as timeless as The Prisoner for example.

Room * Kyle Henry (2005)

RoomHm, we pulled this film off the new releases shelf, but it is already from 2005. A 4.6 out of 10 on IMdB… not too promising. But I must say that this short film (75 min) is really not that bad, it just does not lead anywhere, but in my opinion this is exactly the purpose of it. There is not much of a story, mostly a collection of scenes. We follow a woman not knowing what she wants with her life and that is exactly what we see in “Room”. Weird ‘real-life’ scenes and even weirder ‘other scenes’ and all leaving me pretty much clueless. I happen to like that, if you do not, you better not watch this film; if you do, “Room” is a nice film.

Intacto * Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (2001)

IntactoAnother film with the clue on the back of the box. The main characters have a gift that is more fun not to know when you start watching the film. It is a nice finding and makes an original story, but it gives the film away knowing beforehand. The gift results in the most crazy bets which gives this film a thrillerish atmosphere. Not badly done.

Youth Without Youth * Francis Ford Coppola (2007)

Youth Without YouthI rented this film because of the director and the information on the box, but when the opening titles started, I noticed that this film is based on a novel of Mircea Eliade. I knew that this scholar on the fields of comparative religion and comparative mythology also wrote novels and I even remember reading that one of them has been made into a film (three actually), but I had not connected Eliade and Coppola (I guess I forgot) or I did not remember this when I picked out the film. It immediately rose extra interest in watching it. Eliade’s book is called Tinereţe fără (1976) which supposedly translates exactly how Coppola named his film. We follow Dominic Matei (Tim Roth!, great acting), a student who later became a famous linguist always hunting for the origin of language. There is a lot that almost seems (semi)autobiographical of Eliade. Matei was born in Romenia, the story plays in the period of the two world wars, Matei is interested in different religions, particularly those of the East, he has to leave Romenia and continues his research using unconventional, even metaphysical methods. During the film you get all kinds of scholarly information on Eliade(-aligned) fields, dreamy esotericism, futuristic science, weird characters and deep philosophy. Coppola has managed very well to give his film an appropriate atmosphere and to make an interesting film with ‘difficult elements’. I think this film will appeal to people who like the “esoteric” novel and film genres that seem to be quite popular nowadays (but I do not have the idea that the actual books of Eliade are as well, even though this one for example, is available in English). “Youth Without Youth” surely is a good film, but be sure not to read too much about it before watching it, since even the back of the box gives away the ‘clue’.

Eraserhead * David Lynch (1977/2000)

It must have been decades since I saw this film, since I didn’t remember much of it. I got a Lynch release of the cleaned up 2000 version and I have no old version to compare, but the sound and visuals are indeed amazing. “Eraserhead” is a truely ‘industrial film’. The soundtrack would in terms of my music reviews section be called “industrial dark ambient” or something, the setting is in some desolate industrial landscape and the pressing atmosphere is amazing. Since this is a Lynch, there is hardly a story and the scenes get weirder and weirder. “Eraserhead” might not be Lynch’s best film, but it is a lot better than I remembered.

X-Files 9 series box * Chris Carter (1993- /2008)

I have wondered to post this as a review or as a “blog” post. I chose the first. I used to watch the X-Files since the first repeat of the first series. I taped most episodes, bought the VHS-tapes with double episodes, etc., saw the first film in the cinema and recently went to the second film. My brother started buying the old series, watch them and buy the next one. I had plans to start doing the same some time. After the awfull second film I felt more like watching the series when they were still good and then I heard about this box with all 9 series. I got it last week, we watched the pilot and first episode yesterday. I must have been a long time since I saw them and I enjoyed seeing them again a lot, even though the acting is rather poor and the overall atmosphere is rather cheesy. Next up is “Squeeze” and that is when the series start to get better. There seem to be European and American versions of the box, I got the nice looking evidence-box-looking one you see here. Nine boxes looking like VHS cases are in it with seven or eight DVDs each (!), a nice booklet with information about the episodes and short stories about the series and how the public reacted to them. Too bad the old ‘logo’ seems to be skipped, but overall the box looks very nice.

The Kingdom 1 & 2 * Lars von Trier (94/97)

Kingdom 1 & 2I already had the “Riget” series, the first on crappy UK import DVD and the second on VHS, read my reviews by “browsing” “Riget”. Last week my eye fell on a 20 euros 2 DVD box with both series. That is even cheaper than my videotapes and I would have them on DVD and the first series with subtitles. To my major enjoyment I can also tell you that this box left all episode intro and outros and this release left 8 uncut hour+ episodes and not cut back to 50 minute episodes. This is the ultimate “Riget” box! Every episode starts with the story about the swamp and every episode ends with a little story by the director; the way it should be! So I suppose all you “Riget” fans out there might also want to lay your hands on this box, even if you already have the series like myself. Country mates best go to the Free Records Shop, since it is cheaper there than elsewhere.

Nuit Noire * Olivier Smolders * 2005

I have a friend who should actually have a filmreviews site. He always has the weirdest films, most unknown titles and the rest a year earlier than most people. This time he brought me a Belgian film which premiered in France in 2005 and in most other countries in 2006. “Nuit Noire” (“dark night”) is a strange film of a director probably from French-speaking Belgium (the film is in French). At first sight it seems that the film goes back and forth the ‘real world’ and the mind of a man who thinks his sister died at a young age, but soon it becomes clear that the ‘real world’ isn’t quite normal either. The film is pretty dark and plays at night(s) and is very minimalistic in dialogue and sound. This creates a nice, pressing atmosphere which slowly works towards more a kind of mystery so it is not that strange to take David Lynch as comparison. The story (if there is any) gets more and more confusing and weird. Between the dark shots of the film, crystal clear close-ups of insects are put which are either symbolic or just have to add to the strange atmosphere. “Nuit Noire” turned out very well and I can recommend it to people who like dark thriller/horror movies and who do not need a straight and understandable story.

INLAND EMPIRE * David Lynch * 2007

Watching a David Lynch film is like listening to a power-electronics album. It is not for most people, because most people will be looking for melodies, lyrics and a feel-good atmosphere, rather than oppressive darkness, chaos and violence. The same goes for a film such as INLAND EMPIRE. Film critics have been looking for logic, a story, a nice atmosphere and a happy end, but they have found none of that and therefor slay this film to the ground. What INLAND EMPIRE brings you is a very ‘industrial’ opening, weird characters, strange filming, absurd dialogues, scenes that (apparently) have nothing to do with eachother, a story that is ‘incorrect’ and confusing (actually there seems to be a multitude of ‘stories’) and most of all: extremely dark scenes, eruptions of violence and disturbing images. Indeed, Lynch-fans can be reassured, INLAND EMPIRE is in the style of Lost Highway and Mullholland Drive. In a way, it continues the ‘path’ where the other two point to.Where Lost Highway had two stories (and ‘unconnected scenes’) and Mullholland Drive several, INLAND EMPIRE seems just a collection of short films rather than a film. It has elements of the sitcom “Rabbits” (that I haven’t seen), hallucinative scenes, typical ‘Lynchial’ close-ups with industrial background music, different stories that somehow seem to form a red line, but maybe that is not the case at all. You guessed it: I am not going to tell you a story, I will not going to analyze the different elements. The biggest mistake you can make with a film such as this, is to approach it rationally. Somehow everything has its place. Like the electronic noise terror of a power electronics release, the artist has carefully put it together, undoubtely with an idea, but if the artist leaves out an ‘explanation’, all you can do is undergo it and enjoy the atmosphere. Somehow I like one power-electronics release, but another not. In film there isn’t such a variety, there is Lynch and a few other ‘weird directors’ that don’t care about how things are supposed to be. I happen to like Lynch. His films are impressive and because they cannot be understood, I can watch them over and over again, like I can listen to music over and over again. Maybe a final note for Lynch-likers like myself: Lost Highway is magnificent, Mullholland Drive is very good, INLAND EMPIRE is good, but it seems like Lynch is trying to be weirder and weirder which makes it more and more difficult to ‘get into’. Of course I have only seen INLAND EMPIRE once now, but at the moment it seems that with Lost Highway Lynch has reached his peak for me and now it is slowly (and I say “slowly”) going down. No worries, because INLAND EMPIRE still is a film that you have to see if you can stand a film like this and I adivise you to see it on the big screen, even when it only plays in a few cinemas. A last thing about the camera work, as you know Lynch shot the film with digital handycames (that he partially handled himself!), this is sometimes irritating (shaky images, not too good quality), sometimes fitting. Concider it as a typical David Lynch experiment and don’t worry about it.