Wednesday, May 17, 2017

ZEBRAS IN AMERICA EPISODE 9!!



On the latest episode of Zebras in America Scotty and I start out building on Claire Denis' Bastards and then branch off to everything from Suicide Squad to various fighting movies...

Enjoy...

(please don't forget to subscribe, download and share on iTunes)


Friday, May 12, 2017

THE CINEMA OF PHILIP RIDLEY TOLD THROUGH (MOVING) IMAGES & STILLS


After the last entry on Patrick Horvath & Dallas Hallam I figured we'd stay in the horror genre and focus on a horror(ish)-based filmmaker whose cinematic body of work, although small, does span over three decades...

This entry might seem a little random to some of you. As a filmmaker, Philip Ridley may not be on the same level as David Lynch, Claire Denis, Michael Haneke or Paul Verhoeven (or as active) but some of his films have left a lasting impression on me.
The Reflecting Skin is, without a doubt, one of my all-time favorite movies. As heavy-handed as some of the symbolism & imagery may be, it's still one of the strangest looks at everything from coming of age & mental illness to the (sometimes) boredom of being a lonely child (how many films mix horror, dark humor and psychological elements and actually make it work?)

Now...the rest of his movies haven't exactly measured up to The Reflecting Skin but that doesn't mean he hasn't done some interesting & unique things behind the camera post 1990. 
Besides writing the script for The Krays (a movie that has been re-adapted, re-imagined & redone many times over), he's put his own unique stamp on the horror genre by incorporating themes like depression (Heartless) & humor (The Universe Of Dermot Finn).

Yes, this is another filmmaker included in this series that isn't a personal favorite of mine but his body of work thus far is worthy of a spotlight.

FYI - I'm getting a little liberal with this one by including The Krays which Ridley wrote the script for but did not direct.

Enjoy...


"IT'S A STRANGE WORLD"
You can't discuss Philip Ridley without discussing the (sometimes) incredibly weird shit that happens in his movies. It's what makes his films unique. Random weird stuff happens in his movies. Period. That may be intriguing to some and off-putting to others but no matter what, you never know what to expect in the cinematic universe of Philip Ridley...
The Reflecting Skin
The Universe Of Dermot Finn
The Passion Of Darkly Noon




TWINS & DUAL IDENTITIES
Whether it's something obvious like the creepy twins in The Reflecting Skin or the very real Kray Twins (The Krays), the idea of doubles & doppelgangers clearly fascinates Philip Ridley. The nameless twins in The Reflecting Skin are essentially one person (they move & speak at the same time) and while the Krays fight with each other they're still inseparable (a typical trait of most twins).

Ridley also takes the idea of dual identities/personalities to another level in films like Heartless where our protagonist takes on a new life/identity.
*SPOILER* And it is heavily implied that our young protagonist in The Reflecting Skin is suffering from multiple personality disorder and is killing everyone in his small town. If you notice, he's always the only person around when someone is killed.
Heartless
The Krays
The Reflecting Skin




HEAVY-HANDED RELIGION
It's hard to tell if Philip Ridley is religious or not. One minute he's making on-the-nose, seemingly pro-biblical references. Watching his last film you'd have to believe that he thinks heaven & hell are real places (*SPOILER* in the story our protagonist makes a deal with the devil and by the end he joins his father in heaven)
But other times Philip Ridley is super critical of organized religion. In The Passion Of Darkly Noon he essentially paints evangelical Christians as cult members (but at the same time he plays in to the idea that things like Adam & Eve, the burning bush & Jesus are real).
The Passion Of Darkly Noon
Viggo Mortensen as "The Carpenter" in The Passion Of Darkly Noon
Ashley Judd as a seductress eating an apple in The Passion Of Darkly Noon (an obvious nod to Eve)
Baby Jesus in a manger in The Universe Of Dermot Finn
"The Devil" In Heartless
Crucifixion (blade through the hand) in The Krays
The Reflecting Skin
The Reflecting Skin
Open Hand prayer in Visiting Mr. Beak





VISUAL SIMILARITIES & (POSSIBLE) INFLUENCES ON PHILIP RIDLEY
Destiny / The Reflecting Skin

Twin Peaks / The Reflecting Skin

2001 / The Reflecting Skin

Eraserhead / The Universe Of Dermot Finn

Blue Velvet / The Reflecting Skin

Persona / The Passion Of Darkly Noon
The Brood / The Reflecting Skin
Faust / Heartless
The Artwork of Andrew Wyeth / The Reflecting Skin
The Shining / The Reflecting Skin
Night Of The Hunter / /The Reflecting Skin
Badlands / The Reflecting Skin
Scarifice / The Passion Of Darkly Noon
The Reflecting Skin / IT





PHILIP RIDLEY'S (POSSIBLE) INFLUENCE ON OTHERS
The Reflecting Skin / Ratcatcher

The Reflecting Skin / Mad Max Fury Road

The Reflecting Skin / Jeremy (Pearl Jam)

The Passion Of Darkly Noon / The Great Beauty






RECURRING IMAGERY: CATASTROPHIC FIRES
Fires happen in a lot of movies. I know. But fires in the films of Philip Ridley are associated with major turning points or significant changes in the story. After Seth's father kills himself in The Reflecting Skin (by setting himself on fire), the tone switches and Viggo Mortensen's "Cameron" immediately enters the story and becomes the man of the household. In Heartless, our main character goes through a metamorphosis by being set on fire only to come out on the other end as a newer/"better" version of himself. And The Passion Of Darkly Noon is entrenched in the "fire & brimstone" side of Christianity (the finale involves a house going up in flames)
The Passion Of Darkly Noon
The Reflecting Skin
Heartless

RECURRING IMAGERY: MIRRORS & REFLECTIONS
Heartless
The Krays
The Reflecting Skin

RECURRING IMAGERY: SIGNATURE CLOSE-UP SHOT
The Passion Of Darkly Noon
The Universe Of Dermot Finn
The Reflecting Skin
Visiting Mr Beak





SPYING & VOYEURISM
Ridley's characters are always spying & creeping on one another. In his early short film Visiting Mr. Beak we see a young boy spying on an older man he's fascinated with. This transfers over to his first feature film (The Reflecting Skin) where our young protagonist spies on a woman he believes to be a vampire. And all throughout The Passion Of Darkly Noon we see Brendan Frasier spying on Ashley Judd whenever she's having sex, masturbating or changing clothes...
The Passion Of Darkly Noon
The Reflecting Skin
The Reflecting Skin
Visiting Mr Beak
Visiting Mr Beak





MENTAL ILLNESS, DEPRESSION & SUICIDE
Philip Ridley has spent a lot of time working with youth suffering from depression and other various forms of mental illness (for those that don't know he has an extensive career as a playwright and sometimes works with troubled youth as actors in his plays). This clearly comes through in every single one of his feature films. There is always at least one character who commits suicide (The Passion Of Darkly Noon & The Reflecting Skin) or offers up their body in a kind of sacrificial way (Heartless)
death by self-inflicted shotgun blast in The Passion Of Darkly Noon
contemplating suicide in Heartless
death by gasoline in The Reflecting Skin





THE MALE PHYSIQUE
With the exception of Ashley Judd in The Passion Of Darkly Noon, Philip Ridley focuses his lens on the sweaty, shirtless male physique with a highly sexual gaze...
The Passion Of Darkly Noon
Heartless
Heartless
The Krays
The Reflecting Skin





DEMONS, VAMPIRES & UNCONVENTIONAL MONSTERS
While it may not seem so at first, Philip Ridley is very much a horror director. He may not follow down the same path as filmmakers like Wes Craven or Roger Corman but every one of his feature films has some kind of demon, monster, ghost, supernatural being or a combination of all...
The Passion Of Darkly Noon
The Passion Of Darkly Noon
Heartless 
The Krays
The Reflecting Skin





MEMORIES & FLASHBACKS
The characters in Ridley's cinematic universe often live in the past because they aren't satisfied with their current lives.
"Roxy" (The Passion f Darkly Noon) lost her family years ago and hangs on to photos so she can cope. The family in The Reflecting Skin cant wait for their eldest son to return home from war (they cant seem to function without him), and "Jamie" (Heartless) constantly thinks about his late father who he was extremely close to (*SPOILER* He doesn't find peace until he actually joins his father in the afterlife).
The Passion Of Darkly Noon
The Universe Of Delmot Finn
Heartless
The Krays
The Reflecting Skin
The Reflecting Skin





AMERICAN GOTHIC
Even though Philip Ridley is English, half of his film work is specific to southern/midwest American Gothic. The Architecture in his movies cant be mistaken for anything but classic American style reminiscent to the work of Andrew Wyeth
The Passion Of Darkly Noon
The Passion Of DarklyNoon
The Reflecting Skin
The Reflecting Skin





TEMPTATION & SEDUCTION
From Lee fighting his sexual urges & desires towards Ashley Judd's Callie in The Passion Of Darkly Noon to Cameron slowly falling for Delphin in The Reflecting Skin (which happens to coincide with his failing health), The male characters are always tested sexually by a sultry (usually) female seductress...
The Passion Of Darkly Noon
The Passion f Darkly Noon
picking up a John in Heartless
Heartless
The Reflecting Skin




FAMILY TIES
While most of the families in Ridley's films are highly dysfunctional (The Reflecting Skin & The Passion Of Darkly Noon), they still remain connected/close in some fashion.
There's also glimmers of hope within the dysfunction. The father/son relationship is incredibly strong in Heartless, the Kray brothers have a strong (twin) bond and Seth idolizes his older brother in a positive way.
The Passion Of Darkly Noon
The Universe Of Delmot Finn
Heartless
The Krays
The Reflecting Skin


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