Riots for Stravinsky and cheers for Hanatarashi. How do you get from the tritone as “the devil in music” to an audience facing a wall of white noise with smiles on their faces?
“It’s amazing, really, how little sound comes out of something you’re smashing with all your might” – Yamatsuka Eye
The adventurous Noizu fans who came to see crackpot noise-makers Hanatarashi (meaning snot-nosed) at Tokyo’s Toritsu Kasei Super Loft on August 4th 1985 expected a raucous show. What they didn’t expect was a ferocious performance of industrial-grade destruction, with a back-hoe bulldozer as the lead instrument. Handed waivers upon arrival that relieved the band of any responsibility for injury, or worse, the audience watched as frontman and HDV operator Yamatsuka Eye burst through the doors of the hall atop the bulldozer.
Read more at Litro
Before the advent of digital cameras, the time limit of a take was set by the length of the film in a reel. Now that cameras can run the clock in excess of any celluloid reel, standard feature length films without cuts are possible. However, only a handful of releases have ever attempted such a feat. The process is certainly a gamble and it takes a confident or foolish director to eschew the all-important coverage that might save a sequence in the edit. Editing is more than simply a safety net, but, when falling through a single-shot shoot, the filmmakers might wish they had one.
Mistakes aside, a filmmaker's purposive narrative, meaning and style will most often change dramatically in the editing suite. Despite what originally might have seemed settled in the script and on the set, the keen focus with hindsight in the editing process has a way of turning what initially seemed prescient into the myopic. To go forward without the benefit of an editor requires that the puzzles that might present themselves in post-production are solved before you call action. Fortune favours the bold, though, and sometimes a limitation is a blessing. Certain films show that the create a distinct experience. While Hitchcock's Rope and Iñárritu's Birdman are masterpieces of single-shot fakery, they're to be disqualified for the advantages of hidden cuts and digital stitching. The focus here is on those audacious films that attempt to never require splicing of any kind.
This week sees the UK cinema release of German actor-director Sebastian Schipper's film Victoria. A two-hour thriller constructed as a single take, Schipper's daring gambit is just the latest in a short but remarkable line of single-shot feature films. Victoriasees the eponymous lonely soul, played by Laia Costa, meet her first friends since moving to Berlin, subsequently careening from nightclub flirting to armed robbery in the course of one relentlessly heady night. The film was plotted but not scripted or blocked, which meant improvisation from both cast and crew during each take. The production spent three months preparing and rehearsing, fastidiously working out the logistics, even down to how small issues like the opening of a door might derail an entire night's work. The hard graft paid off, three takes was all it took and the last one was a keeper.
Read more at The 405 here
A PTSD-afflicted soldier on leave, but desperate to return to warfare, is granted his wish during a bodyguard job for a politically connected family in Alice Winocour's paranoid thriller.
Disorder is yet another addition to a long, tired line of spartan thrillers featuring troubled, quiet men of violence. Leavened by great acting and spectacular sound design, though, it packs enough suspense to be more engaging its peers.
Read more here
I've written a piece for The 405 about Hank Corwin's editing of The Big Short. It's on his use of footage in which actors are unaware they're the focus of the camera, and how this relates to authenticity in acting.
Read it here
Films about death that seek profundity run the obvious risk that bleakness will sink things below an audience’s limit for an emotional dive. Those concerning assisted suicide, perhaps doubly so. In Your Arms, a Danish drama on the subject by writer/director Samanou Acheche Sahlstrøm, manages a fairly deft dance through the gloom by means of finely observed naturalism, prickly humour and a touch of melodrama.
Read the whole review here at The Flaneur
Vaudeville was the nest that birthed cinema, as Edison and the Lumiere brothers moved from kinetoscopes to audience projections in vaudeville houses. In return, film and television would dethrone staged variety entertainment, turning Orpheum theatres into RKO cinemas, and push it from the dominant form of mass entertainment in the early 20th century into kitsch eccentricity. In this context, The Show of Shows acts as cinema’s mea culpa. The film is a discreetly structured montage of late 19th- to mid-20th century archived footage of vaudeville, fairground and circus performances, scored with original music from Sigur Ros and composer Hilmar Orn Hilmarrson. Introduced first to performers backstage during construction, preparation and rehearsal, we then join the audiences funnelling into the tents to watch an assembled variety show medley, arranged into innominate thematic sections. Tumbling, lion-taming, blind-boxing, burlesque striptease and other antiquated arts are brought back from the dead via the mass medium that helped kill them.
Read the whole review here at The Flaneur
Review I've written for The Flaneur on indie adventurer slog-doc Karun: Misadventures On Iran’s Longest River, which follows two plucky Brits down/around/beside the mighty Iranian river Karun, with added hijinks. Somewhere in between It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and Michael Palin, but not nearly as good as that sounds.
The 68th annual Cannes Film Festival is scheduled to be held from 13 to 24 May 2015. This year's jury president Uwe Boll will not announce the line-up until later in April, but here are three films that I hope are included:
Garden of Storms - Dir. Frank Fustian
Let me know in the comments below what films you think should be welcomed to the red carpets of Cannes this coming May. Or don't. Whatever.
"When you're with someone, it's like a mirror."
Dir: Michael Almereyda
Prod: Michael Almereyda, Robin O'hara, Bob Gosse
Starring: Barry Del Sherman, Isabel Gillies, Bob Gosse, Elina Löwensohn, Paula Malcomson
Since it's available nowhere else - online or off - I've uploaded a rip of my VHS of Another Girl Another Planet from director Michael Almereyda. I picked this up in an Aberdeen Global Video bargain bin back around 2004 and watched multiple times. The ghostly image and quote of praise from David Lynch on the front of the box was all it took.
The film is a dreamy, conversational drama about Bill and what he learns through a succession of women in his life who have all been touched in some form by the death of another. Starting with its feet planted in New York indie realism, it moves step-by-step into more surreal territory. Most remarkable for being shot on a Fisher-Price PXL toy camera, it also succeeds through immersive use of sound and music, and absorbing dialogue that manages to mostly skirt pretension despite concerning itself with lofty themes of spirituality and death. Seeing it again now, for the first time in 8-or-so years, it still holds up. Apologies for the less-than-perfect quality of the copy, but it's an old VHS player dealing with an old VHS and couldn't be helped. Call it extra texture.
"I have the feeling Michael Almereyda is one of the best American New Wave directors" - David Lynch
From the box blurb:
"Filmed entirely on a Fisher-Price PXL 2000 toy camera Another Girl, Another Planet goes way beyond most uses of this camera and hits its mark in the impressive form of a full-blown feature film. Almereyda (of recent HAMLET and past NADJA and TWISTER fame) has virtually always included the use of the Pixel camera in his films, but this was his first time committing to it exclusively.
Using a clearly defined narrative form and excellent scripting, director Michael Almereyda has enticed superb performances from the whole cast. The striking almost ghostlike visuals created by Pixelvision only enhance the films dreamlike atmosphere. The simple but richly crafted story concerns the relationship between East Village neighbours: Nick, anxious and married, and Bill, whose life appears to be a constant stream of encounters with strange females. The ghostly monochrome results work best on an intimate scale, giving Almereyda's Lower East Side drama a dreamy intensity as it's boho participants float through a late night haze of romantic pessimism and aching longing." (Trevor Johnston, Time Out)
Copyright seems to be held by Nabu Productions, but a US Copyright Office search found no record. If anyone with an interest wants me to take it down, I'll happily do so. I just think it needs to be seen and there is no current or expected release.
Still Prefer Paper
Getting from Barton Fink's blank page to Jack Torrance's minimalist masterpiece, one blog post at a time
Art & Design
All contributions by Kieran Gosney unless otherwise stated.
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