Saturday, July 25, 2009

wizards . millennium actress . the children’s book . opera java . tren de sombras. in which annie gives it those ones. mindgame.

the collage like madness of the war sequences that splice nazi war footage with the exaggeratedly cute and evil brothers and their war between normal people and the mutants. the real villain is of course the movie projector that blinds the mutants under the supreme commander – the bad brother in the darkness hatching his evil plots to take over the world.

the pop singer in ‘perfect blue’ is now a reclusive actress hiding away from the media glare. a filmmaker fan follows her to her house and become embroiled in the telling of her story as characters in her history on and off screen. not really as maddening and beautiful as perfect blue but still gorgeously made.

the music in opera java was divine even though the pieces did seem to go on a little too long – as did the story of ravana and sita in indonesia. here too the performed and the lived lives of the characters intermingle and blur. typically the ravana character stole the show with his creepy dance in the abattoir and the tango on top of the bar table. ram as usual is the most boring and only becomes interesting somewhat in the threesome with ravana and sita and when he kills sita. the ugly subtext about the story being an allegory of american imperialization was awful and clumsy but i still loved the movement of arms and the watery layered sound of the music.

regardless of the conceits of ‘experimental film’- the concern with the act of film making and representation or the ‘truth’ o the image, or the texture of film itself- ‘tren de sombras’ was pretty much a colour by numbers kind of mystery story. the film is arranged in three or four sections. in the beginning is the ostensibly found footage of a photographer who disappeared in 1930. the trouble is that besides the artificial cracks and blurs of the footage much of it is not framed like it was shot in that ea. at least not to my untrained eye. the second half looks for clues to his disappearance in the house and the garden while the third rewinds the footage and discovers possible leads in what really happened.

also about a family splintering apart at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century is the gorgeous new novel by a s byatt ‘the children’s book’, as the community of artists live out their bohemian lives considering modernity through the arts and crafts movement into art nouveau flourishes of marionettes, fairy tales and beautifully decorated pots.

complete anomaly that i am i had never seen that cult architecture film ‘i which annie gives it those ones’. finally getting my hands on it i sat down to watch and was curiously disappointed or rather saddened by its perpetual cynicism about architecture itself. not that taking the systems apart is not necessary but all we get in return is a tired old 70s flower child rant about ‘poor people’ punctuated by (naturally) music stolen from the beatles. but then again my reaction might stem from pure self defense. it must be because i spend so much of my time on the side of the table that was being taken apart. what is strange is the odd inversion- the violent (often simplistic) ranting about ‘poor people’ nowadays happens from the faculty while the students speak the language of the market.

like ‘wizards’ the anime ‘mindgame’ is happily unhinged switching between all kinds of animations styles- sepia tinted rounded characters in a flattened landscape, to long angular lines, to photographs. the story follows nishi and two girls as they choose life while running from the law and a drug mafia who are inexplicably dressed up as football players. while running away the group gets swallowed up by a giant whale from which they escape into their many possible futures. 

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