Wednesday, 2 February 2011

A Meddley Of Things I Looked at With My Eyes

I have been in a mixture of London and Bexhill for the last couple of weeks, in that time I watched a surprising number of things on screens. I do not understand how I did anything else, but I did a surprising amount of other stuff too. After the jump is a chronological list of the things what I watched.

I Love Alaska
It's just a voice over with pretty shots of Alaska, but the voice over is reading AOL user 711391's leaked search history. I assume its been annotated slightly but still it is amazing how it manages to contain a full on narrative just from a colletion of searches. It manages to be tragic, funny and incredibly personal. I could not help but worry what story my search history would tell, although unlike user 711391 I do not tend to just type random statements into search engines. There is a great deal of juxtaposing the banal with the heinously dramatic: the silly little searches about Alaska or the dislike of Oprah with searches about what to do about her crumbling relationship and hunting for advice about how to deal with the regrets of her affair. You can watch I Love Alaska in full on a great sounding website here...

The Ruins
Good horrorness, some people seem to like it a lot some people thing its kinda crap. I don't want to say too much, because a lot of the pleasures I got from it was drawn out of my expectations for the film. Four young pretty things off visiting some ruins in Mexico, something is going to go wrong and it does. It is an adaptation of a book, the studio bought the film rights before the book was even released and the screenplay was written by the author. I can imagine the book being better and I was a little disappointed by some of the changes that were mentioned in the special features. Apparently they changed which character something bad happens to from a male character to a female character because it would be sexier, and a lot about it feels a little too sexy especially considering what they are going through, apart from this slightly jarring feeling it is horrific enough to be interesting, amusing enough to entertaining and ever so slightly different enough to not feel like you've been on that journey a load of times before.

Ludicrously impatient editing makes this horror rattle along through a stunning cornucopia of scary clichés in a way which is oddly pleasurable. Ending is fun too.

Jean Painlevé Documentaries 
These were on at The Tate Modern so I just sat and watched all the ones they had. The documentaries demonstrate a fascination with the weirder elements of nature. The subjects are presented in surrealist vagueness which certainly challenged me to see reality in its most perverse and fascinating without trying to understand it all too much. The films sent me to an almost dreamlike state where they washed me to a reality of the perverse and fascinating. Acera or the Witches' Dance was particularly beautiful.

Session 9
I've talked about this before... Session 9 Review


Meet the Feebles
Peter Jacksons second film. There is better puppets being rude things out there but there is nothing with puppets that looks this grimey and disgusting. The fox is awesome.

There is a lot to like about this film. The insects, the music, the venture into the complete unknown. It just does not hang together well. I am told this is kind of the point. All the different elements should come together in the way they do in a dream but I think I could have done without the monkey.

The Return of Captain Invincible
I wanted to see it because I had heard it was written by Richard O'Brian. Turned out he only wrote three of the songs but they were the best three songs. The musical numbers were ham fisted into the story in such a way that they are usually a complete surprise when they start. The film was trying as hard as it could to be a cult classic, it is a weird Australian low budget musical but it all falls a little flat at times. Still if that combination of things appeals its probably worth a go as it will confuse you in a way that you will probably enjoy.

Electra Elf
TV Show by Nick Zedd and Rev. Jen, keeping transgressive punk filmmaking alive and kicking. It's definitely terrible but then isn't that the point.

Fishing With John
A fishing travel program from 1992 for people that don't care about fishing but do care about seeing a guy and his famous friends failing to fish. It subverts the documentary format at a slow pace and feels naturally influenced by Twin Peaks success. It should be really really dull, and it really really isn't.

Moving Portraits (Exhibition at the De La Warr Pavilion)
Plenty of things to see here. Highlights for me though were The Portrait of Ga, Andy Warholes Screen Tests, 2 into 1 and most of all Factum Misericordia which was so interesting to me as an editor. Two screens set in portrait each with a different identical twin, both twins dressed the same, sitting in the same location, it cuts too and from each twin contrasting their lives and responses with results that range from tragic to hilarious and often both. Unfortunately I could not sit and watch it all, but I will try and get back there and see it in full before the Exhibition closes.  Or I might just watch it all here on the artists Vimeo...

The Pirates of Penzance
The film version with Kevin Kline in is tricky to get hold of and was only released on DVD in America fairly recently. But its oh so very good. Well the lip syncing in the songs is at times appalling, but never mind. Kevin Kline swings his legs about lots.

80's grindhouse brilliance. It feels a lot like an adult version of Eerie Indiana.The front cover of the DVD is annoyingly revealing but wow that film takes you to a surprising and very silly place.

Not sure how to feel about this film. The opening scene is wonderful, and there are a lot of wonderful things but it doesn't sit right with me unfortunately. Lots of fun to be had though if your not looking for something morally justified.

Maid Marian And Her Merry Men
Still as good as it always was. Watched an episode from the 3rd season, it was weird and funny and surprisingly risqué for a children's show. No wonder I loved it so much.

Drag Me to Hell
Nice to see Sam Raimi returning to his horror routes. Interesting characters and imaginatively entertaining horror sequences overshadow the occasionally misplaced use of CGI and rather fractured nature of the plot.
The film is nothing like this.

Bad Lieutenant
I watched it in the cinema a little while ago. It was still as great as I remembered. The film meanders along, it's narrative arch is somewhat difficult to spot at times but each moment is so memorable. Nicholas Cage gets to do what he does best which is go crazy at every opportunity. It is unhinged and amusing. Herzog's directorial influence is washed over the whole thing, popping in wonderful little moments and stories that are beautiful in their own right but also add complexity to the characters (the story about the spoon is particularly poetic).  I have not seen the original film starring Harvey Keitel but I did watch the trailer. They seem like pretty different films. I certainly do not get the impression it will be as funny. This version of Bad Lieutenant is to me everything that so many Tarantino films try so hard to be: stylised, funny, black, cool and sharp, but unlike Tarantino films all these things are born out of original design and ideas rather than just paying homage to film after film just to prove how many films he's seen. I really like the lizards.

Romance and Cigarettes
This was a surprising film. I don't even think its very good but I enjoyed it a lot. It is odd to have a musical in which the characters sing, sometimes badly, over the original versions of famous songs. But when you've got a musical with a cast including Susan Sarandon, James Gandolfini and Steve Buscemi its difficult to not want to watch it.

The Office: An American Workplace
I found the original Office very good but not remotely watchable, much too tragic. The American Office takes it to a place which is different enough to appreciate for its own merits but also much more watchable by being just a little less tragic, which I guess is a good and bad thing.

The Hills Have Eyes
Troubling and interesting horror that dances through the genre with so much gusto and accomplished brilliance. Its painful to watch the journey some of the characters have to go on.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Flusquil, I borrowed your Alaska picture: