I accidentally ran into a cult classic! I am reading a book with texts of John Dee (reviewed soon) and the compiler in passing mentioned that Dee is portrayed in this film. My regular rental proved to have this oldie. The box announces it as “Brittains first punk film”. That is nothing like the Medieval setting that I expected! That is to say, “Jubilee” opens with the historically incorrect scene in which John Dee and queen Elizabeth I conjur angel Ariel who shows them a glimpse of the future. This future is some sort of punk version of “A Clockwork Orange”. With weird music (punk opera?) and strange characters, Jarman obviously tried to push the limits of the permissible in his days. Nudity, sex, strong language and useless violence are the elements that make up the story. Some other controversies are added. Overall, “Jubilee” strongly reminds of “A Clockwork Orange”, but then with a punk(-like) attitude.
We follow Jesco White, a trouble-kid who has been sniffing (lighter) gas since the age of 6. Frequently sent to reform school and even an asylum of the insane he grows up with “bad thoughts” and “evil in [his] blood”. He tries to be good, but keeps getting problems with what is going on in his head and that usually results in violent outbursts, both to himself and to others. He has a few periods of “good times” such as when he runs into Cilla, but in the end, no good time lasts. Murphey has his film grow darker and darker when Jesco becomes more violent, resulting in disturbing and very vague scenes. There is a thick religious overtone with preachers that interupt the film and Jesco’s turn towards the faith at the end. Jesco’s father was a dancer and he taught it to Jesco too to keep him on the straight path. That dance is some kind of hillbilly-version of tap dancing, so the soundtrack is made with the all-American hillbilly music, but also here Murphey managed to get it pretty dark.
“White Lightnin'” is not an overly weird film, but sure has some moments that many viewers might not enjoy. I found the end quite impressive myself.
“Calvaire” (or “the Ordeal” as the international title goes) starts as a ‘normal’ film in which an artist gets stuck somewhere in the Ardennen (the Belgian mountainous area). His path leads to a remote inn where Marc is taken in friendly by Bartel, the owner. It is a strange character (Boris) who leads him there, but Marc does not think much of that yet. Bartel gives Marc shelter, breakfast and offers to fix his truck. Meanwhile Marc takes a walk, stumbles upon a near village where he witnesses a strange excess of the local population. Returning to the inn, not only Bartel, but also the film gets stranger and stranger. “Calvaire” brilliantly derails with incomprehensible characters, violence and nightmarish scenes. Nothing much can be made of the characters after a while and the film suddenly ends. Indeed, this film is pretty disturbing and pretty good. “Calvaire” reminds me a bit of “Mørke“, but where “Mørke” remains a drama, “Calvaire” is closer to horror. For the lovers of the weird stuff.
“La Vie Nouvelle” is somewhat of a cultfilm. It is almost impossible to find outside French-speaking countries and there seems to be no version with subtitles, not even French for the parts that are spoken in (I think) Bulgarian. There is not that much talking in the film, but it would have been nice to know what the Bulgarians say and the French parts are not very easy to follow either. In a David Lynch style and with quite a few ‘Lynchian’ elements, “La Vie Nouvelle” seems to give fragments of a story that plays in the dark underworld of Bulgarian organised crime. Out-of-focus and shaky camera work for the more shocking parts, a very minimalistic style with a dark rumbling soundtrack for most of the other. Grandrieux has created an interesting film that will mostly appeal to people who like David Lynch and not to people who enjoy a straightforward story and flashy action scenes. The film is dark, sometimes disturbing, but not really as shocking as some seem to find this film. The term “drame sentimental” that appears on the back of the box is a vast underrating too of course. There is some violence, a lot of nudity, beautiful images and strange camera and montage experimentations; not as good as Lynch, but a nice film to search for of you like this style. Try French and for example Canadian sources to find this film.
It does not happen often that I turn off a film, but this was not the right film for a hot summer night. The director of depressive teen-films seemingly wanted to make a peek into the head of a schizophrenic young woman. Since the very first second a woman’s voice is constantly rattling incoherently and with a soft, almost whispering voice. I had an import version without subtitles, not even English (the film is spoken in English) and with outside sounds of neighbours, etc. this was way too hard to follow. What the woman whispers is shown in weird and disturbing black and white images with strange effects and montage. Normally I like the weird and experimental kind of filming, but the incomprehensible voice started to work on my nerves. I think I need to see this film again some winter night, at the moment I will not rate it.
With a lot of attention this Hungarian film premiered about 2,5 years ago. It received several awards and reviews were raving. I do not think that this is something for a large audience though, not even the larger arthouse audience. “Taxidermia” is a pretty bizar film with three stories showing three generations leading up to the person that the title refers to. First you see a small ‘community’ (of only a few houses) in the middle of nowhere how they survive, live and fullfill their sexual needs. This story ends with a pig-tailed boy who in the second story is a speed-eater who in his turn is the father of the taxidermist of the last part. “Taxidermia” is extremely explicit and disgusting with a sick sense of humour and weird characters. This film is certainly something I have never seen, especially the end. I had some good laughs though, but the crisps did not always taste very good!
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.
I 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.
“Destricted” consists of seven short films that supposedly hold the middle between arthouse and pornography. This description may be applied to two or three of the films, but not to the rest. I had noticed the film at the rental, but put it back every time until the last. The box has some nice images, the idea could interesting, something different from those boring ‘right-on’ films, but would it really work? Well, there is a film about a man with a machine fetish, which is interesting from a cinematographic viewpoint. Also there is very fast compilation of images accompanied with fast drumming music. A weird pulsating film with very busy filming and montage that shows a man’s weird sexual preference and now and then a very nice girl. All alright, but nothing too interesting. Worse than that are downright pornos or a simple film of a man masturbating in the desert. Actually there is only one film that I found interesting both as a film and for the content. It is called “Balkan Erotic Epic” (by Marina Abramovic) which is presented as some sort of documentary about some very strange Baltic erotic folklore habbits (no idea if they are factual). The film has very bright colours, nice settings and a lot of humour. Another documentary contains interviews with young men who grew up with pornography (because their parents posess films or because they started watching the films with friends at an early age) and in the end, one is picked out to choose an actress to do something with which he wanted to try. Perhaps this one is interesting for sociologists and it shows a few things around the whole subject, but like almost any other of the films, it is just of a minor level and not too good a watch. Not knowing what to expect, the project still disappointed me. I don’t know for what audience the film is, since some films are too explicit for an arthouse audience and most others are not straight forward’ enough for people who enjoy the other genre. I will leave it to you if you are interested enough to go and see it. With seven very different films, there could also for you be one that is enjoyable.
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.