Directed by Leos Carax and released in it’s native country of France in 2012.
An incredibly powerful yet light-hearted film that centers around a character who lives his life living the lives of others, played magnificently by the ever-challenging Denis Lavant. Even when his character is being sincere, it’s very hard to tell. The film runs back and forth between surrealistic imagery and beautiful fashion statements. That’s not to mention a dream sequence that starts to look and feel like you’ve just taken some magic mushrooms. The motion capture sequence is like nothing I have ever seen in the cinema before. A truly encompassing experience that I would kill to have again.
While the ending was unexpected, humorous, light-hearted and in full spirit of the films title… it was not the way I was hoping it would end. Despite that, this is one of the best films of the year and it’s good to see experimental artsy films with a heart, and made passionately by it’s creator, making a comeback into cinema.
Something I’d also like to note, is the throwback to a previous film of Carax’s Tokyo!. The film was a portmanteau of three short films and Lavant’s character from Carax’s segment makes an appearance in Holy Motors. I can’t remember exactly how much of Tokyo! appears in this but I know that the character is lifted directly from that so there’s sure to be more. A rewatch of that film will definitely come soon.
Directed by Aleksei Fedorchenko, Harmony Korine & Jan Kwiecinski, the film made the festival rounds in early 2012 and was released via Vice’s YouTube Channel earlier today for streaming.
A portmanteau piece from three directors from different countries. Each short takes notes from a manifesto of sorts created by Harmony Korine and the films producer; Vice’s Eddy Moretti. The three segments are distinguished only by quotes from the manifesto itself that basically say you have to forget everything you know about making a film and start from scratch making a film that challenges the idea of the fourth dimension.
The first piece – The Lotus Community Center – stars Val Kilmer as a warped version of himself and is directed by cult indie filmmaker Harmony Korine (who’s wife Rachel also stars). The film is lit like liquid and is clearly a pre-cursor to Korine’s next film Spring Breakers, although I’ve not seen it, as many quotes from the film have formed into how he approached the filming of that. The short piece switches back and forth between Val riding through the streets of Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife Rachel and a motivational speech he is giving at the titular community center. There are also scenes in a video store (which was pretty pointless), telling a story to two shirtless old men and the married couple playing Kill Freak 2 for the Xbox. Definitely a culmination of Korine’s foray into commercial cinema and it looks like he’s finally achieved the look he’s been striving for for years with television commercials for the likes of Thorntons and Budweiser.
The second piece – Chroneye – is directed by the Russian Aleksei Fedorchenko and while it is in a completely different language and aspect ratio from the first piece, they flow together very well. It touches on many similar themes as the first place – mostly focusing on reaching a higher place in your life aswell as trying to reach other planets and beings on those planets. The cinematography is often static and scarce of cuts – a Russian trademark ever since the days of Tarkovsky. There is also a much more vibrant soundtrack that sucks you into it’s surroundings and characters. While there are also songs in the first piece, they aren’t as striking or oftenly placed as they are here. The lead role of Grigory the time-travel-experimenting pervert is played very well, by Igor Sergeev. Without fear but with much trepidation; much like Kilmer’s in the first part.
The third and final piece – Fawns – is directed by the Polish Jan Kwiecinski and tells the story of four teens, three guys and a girl. These characters are all by themselves in a barren landscape which gives you the feeling that they live in their own fourth dimension, away from everyone else on the planet – but it’s not the case as we see planes flying overhead and the sounds of klaxon and sirens blaring sporadically. The water levels are rising and everyone is being evacuated as we are told over radio and television signals. Most of the kids really don’t care to begin with but as the film draws to a close however each of the characters slowly begin to accept their fate while still trying to live out the last days of their ever-so-fragile lives to the fullest. This final part to this film is undeniably the most loyal to manifesto on which the films were created and it shows deeply. Another thing I find interesting is that Kwiecinski clearly saw Korine’s recent short film Snowballs; as the female character in this wears almost identical headgear to the girls in that short film by Korine.
The Fourth Dimension is a clear reminder that portmeanteau films can and do work when the essential themes at the heart are abided by. It’s rare in this day and age that you get a film like this so you really have to embrace it, take it at face value and appreciate the sporadic-ness of each story – all three of which are shot beautifully and play out just the opposite of what you expect them to.
Directed by Ingmar Bergman and released in it’s home country of Sweden for Television in 1984.
After The Rehearsal is the closest I’ll ever get to seeing an Ingmar Bergman play. Much like a play (and I’m sure Bergman or someone else has already made this into a play) the film takes place in one setting, a rehearsal studio. Despite the limited setting Bergman manages to span decades and helping that along are, as per usual, three splendid performances from Bergman regulars Erland Josephson, Lena Olin and Ingrid Thulin. Josephson and Thulin spend a good portion of the film arguing in a flashback while Olin sits, unconsciously aware of the argument (the film flashes back and forth between a younger version of her character and an older version).
While it’s weird to see a Bergman film that doesn’t at least in part touch on religious themes, he does explore many other familiar themes present in most of his films – including family and marriage. The exceptional screenplay is just another in the long line of incredible screenplays from a man who is, undeniably, the greatest writer in the history of cinema.
Directed by Peter Strickland and released in it’s home country of the UK in 2012.
Berberian Sound Studio is a film about a British man who is hired by an Italian company to produce the full sound mix and effects for their latest Giallo offering, The Equestrian Vortex – a film he thinks is about horses. What he doesn’t realize, however, is that the film is a horror movie – full on goreified. He also doesn’t realize the eccentricity of just about everyone involved in the project. The life he’s living begins to interfere with the film he’s helping create the sound for and in true Lynchian fashion the two blur so much it’s hard to distinguish between the two.
The film is influenced by the Giallo films of Mario Bava and Dario Argento; the ’70s and ’80s works of David Cronenberg; the entire filmography of David Lynch; and a Czechoslovakian expressionist film from the ’60s entitled The Cremator, which director Peter Strickland has openly admitted to being influenced by. The influence of the Czech film is so clear that most of the editing and transitions are lifted straight from this film – even the main characters share strikingly similar appearances and moralistic values. As much as Strickland takes from these wonderful pieces of art he gives just as much back and it’s an undeniably rewarding process as usually with a horror film they don’t give back they just take.
As the films reality blurs with the films fiction, it becomes increasingly hard to tell which is which and despite the fact that there is an incredibly abrupt change in the narrative it is still pretty clear what is going on. The film is spearheaded by an exquisite performance by Toby Jones who does so little but still manages to carry the entire film on his back. Cosimo Fusco gives an awesome performance as the mean-spirited producer Francesco, the main antagonist of the film; Antonio Mancino appears as the famed director of the film within the film and shines very well. Tonia Sotiropoulou is also worth noting as she gives a completely emotionless performance as the secretary of the Berberian Sound Studio who doesn’t even know what she’s supposed to be doing.
While the performances are obviously spectacular, it’s really the direction and the sound that are the main attractions here. The film is about analogue but is filmed on digital and somehow it manages to stay true to all the ethics of the ’60s and ’70s horror films of the day and brings it to the screen some fifty years later still with such an elegance and trueness to the original genre it’s so dearly influenced by. The cinematography is also a revelation – the camera moves so gracefully and lingers on to the most pointless of things but that is a clear influence by the Giallo and the Lynch films. I’m a big Lynch fan so I loved seeing these little nods.
This is one of the best horror films in recent years and when I saw it in the cinema I had no choice but to go back the next night and see it again. It left me in such a trance state that it wasn’t my choice to go and see it again but my brain was telling me I had to. Just an absolutely fantastic film that is so ambiguous that you really have to listen to the film aswell as just looking at it – something most films these days don’t even require.
Directed by Sang-Soo Hong, and released in it’s home country of South Korea in 2012.
After being impressed with all of the works I’ve seen from Korean director Sang-Soo Hong I am sad to say that this disappointed me. As much as I appreciate his minimalistic approach to filmmaking I think that, after seeing the same techniques used in four consecutive films, his style is waning on me. Despite that, I did enjoy the plot and it’s always interesting to see how Hong approaches filmmaker characters – in this case a female. An impressive performance from Isabelle Huppert too who seems to be doing just about anything she’s given.
Hong displays the same themes as he always does: relationships, infidelity and alcoholism – and there are no qualms from me in terms of his improvisational skills when it comes to screenplays. In typical style for the filmmaker he repeats scenes, dialogue, characters and locations but this time there is a plot point that elevates the repetition – in actuality this is a film about a film and we see the scenes acted out as the female filmmaker character puts her self into her work.
Overall it is a good film but, as I mentioned before, I was disappointed simply because his techniques are beginning to become a little tiresome.