Wednesday, August 16, 2017

BETTER THAN HITCHCOCK: PASSION (THE PINK SMOKE)

I had a lot of fun writing my latest piece on Brian DePalma's Passion for The Pink Smoke. Click the link below to go to the article and please understand that my views on Alfred Hitchcock aren't as disrespectful as they may sound.

enjoy...


Monday, August 14, 2017

A LOOK BACK AT THE NEW FRENCH EXTREMITY: TIRESIA



This right here is prime New French Extremity cinema (a French film label/movement from the early 00's). It has everything you'd expect from the genre all in one: isolated moments of brutal violence, sexual repression/confusion, sex crimes, three-ways, full frontal nudity, etc.
This movie also features PINNLAND EMPIRE favorite Alice Houri who, in my opinion, is quietly one of the most important figures from the New French Extremity Movement. Names like Gaspar Noe, Bruno Dumont, Claire Denis, Bertrand Bonello & more are associated with this genre but those are all directors. They're behind the camera. With the exception of folks like Tiresia co-star Lucas Laurent & Marina De Van (who is also a writer & director) there are very few repeat ACTORS to pop up the the various New French Extremity films. Alice is an exception. And not only is she a New French Extremity regular, but she makes appearances in some of the better/more challenging films/scenes from the genre (even in cameos her presence is truly felt)...

ALICE HOURI IN THE FILMS OF THE NEW FRENCH EXTREMITY
The Pornographer
Trouble Every Day
Tiresia

I'm not sure if Betrand Bonello is a pervert (which isn't exactly all bad as long as it's to no one's detriment) or just very very open sexually. Sexual Lines are often blurred and/or crossed in his films. With The Pornographer (also co-starring Alice Houri) Bertrand used real pornographic actors & actresses having real sex on camera. In The Portrait Of An Artist (a film starring but not directed by Bonello) he essentially plays himself and we see him in bisexual orgies and other scenarios some might consider to be kinky and/or perverse. The House Of Tolerance delves in to the kinky and sometimes sadistic sexual desires of men and the movie of discussion, Tiresia, is full of awkward, cringeworthy and problematic issues concerning sex & sexuality.
It's difficult to not personalize & associate Bertrand Bonello with his own films. If he isn't playing a slightly fictionalized version of himself (The Portrait Of The Artist), his films are about his own life or the art of filmmaking (On War & The Pornographer).


In Tiresia we follow a trans prostitute who is kidnapped and held against her will by a priest. This priest is attracted to Tiresia but only as a trans woman. This becomes a problem because Tiresia needs to take her hormone medicine regularly in order to stay a women but she's held captive and has no way of getting them. The priest doesn't seem to get this and over time our protagonist makes the unwanted transition back to a male. Frustrated by this, the priest - who has now lost his attraction to Tiresia in her male form - disfigures her and leaves her for dead (she's eventually rescued and nursed back to health minus her new incurable disfigurement).
The second half of the film then shifts in to a story about religion, faith & transformation

Former New French Extremity all-star Bruno Dumont is often considered to be the heir to Robert Bresson's throne but I think Bonello deserves to share that throne. While Bresson would never make a film like Tiresia (or just about anything from the new French Extremity) his influence is all over Bertrand's film. Lucas Laurent's priest (along with certain specific scenes) are right out of Diary Of A Country Priest...

Tiresia / The Diary Of A Country Priest (Bresson)
or The Trial Of Joan Of Arc...

The Trial Of Joan Of Arc / Tiresia

Tiresia is also an example of The New French Extremity’s ability to be mature. True – a lot of these extreme films from the very late 90’s through the mid-00’s were partially about shock value, jump scares & other provocative moments (Tiresia certainly has plenty of that from unsimulated orgies to isolated moments of graphic violence) but filmmakers like Bonello & Dumont have a connection/fascination with the generations of French cinema that came before them which shows maturity and a respect for history.

Not only does Bertrand Bonello tip his hat to his elder Claire Denis by casting two of her regulars (Alice Houri & Alex Descas)…

But he also throws in some visual references to older French filmmakers like Jean Cocteau…
The Blood Of A Poet / Tiresia

Our priest character (played by New French Extremity regular Lucas Laurent) is a new take on the bad/sexually repressed religious figure (I was going to say a "breath of fresh air" but that wouldn't sound right). Instead of children, a trans woman is his victim this time around. while it is my opinion that children do make up the majority of the victims of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, all types of people can be and are victims of sexual abuse both inside & outside of the church. It should be noted how excellent Laurent plays his part in this film. While he certainly is the "villain", he plays the priest character like he's the victim or someone worthy of sympathy. If you taken certain isolated scenes from that movie out of context you'd think you were watching a film about a lonely priest going through an existential crisis.

LUCAS LAURENT IN THE FILMS OF THE NEW FRENCH EXTREMITY
In My Skin
Tiresia
Pola X

Large sections of society like to act as if the trans/LGBT community doesn't exist. Furthermore, trans women are being attacked, abused & murdered at an alarming rate. But mainstream media platforms rarely ever report this because, like I just said, the trans community is often ignored. this is one of the few films that gives an unflinching look at the abuse trans women face.


ZEBRAS IN AMERICA EPISODE 22!



This week we're talking Okja, Moana, Bye Bye Monkey (along with my disdain for New York City and Scott's love for New York City) & Flying Lotus' feature film debut.

enjoy...

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

ZEBRAS IN AMERICA EPISODE 21!



We talk some about John Carpenter, not so much about his rival John Demolisher. Scott compares New Rose Hotel to Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Marcus likes that. Slavoj Zizeck explores filim. 
Therapy and self care is the bomb.

Enjoy

-Scott

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

WRONG REEL EPISODE 304: THE CINEMA OF ALAN CLARKE



I'm back on Wrong Reel to discuss the films of the influential yet underrated Alan Clarke. Click the image above to go to the episode. Enjoy...

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

THE CINEMA OF PETER GREENAWAY TOLD THROUGH IMAGES & STILLS: PART ONE (ARCHITECTURE, ART & DESIGN)


To say Peter Greenaway has an appreciation for the arts would be an understatement. A large majority of his films are loaded with overly obvious art references (A Zed & Two Noughts & The Belly Of An Architect) and sometimes not so obvious art references (Drowning By Numbers & The Pillow Book). I'm certain that if Peter Greenaway did not find cinema he would have been a painter or a sculptor. And if not that - surely he'd be an architect considering his filmography.
The Belly of an Architect may be Greenaway's only film on the subject of architecture, but his work before and after is still rooted in that profession. In The Pillow Book, Greenaway delves in to the world of calligraphy, which used to be an integral part of the architectural drafting process. Even though it's hardly practiced anymore, architects and aspiring students were once required to have excellent calligraphy skills for their drawings. In The Draughtsman's Contract, Greenaway follows an artist who's been commissioned to draw a series of landscapes. And some of Peter Greenaway's non-film/installation work is rooted in architecture (his installation piece titled; "steps" is a three dimensional large scale model of a staircase).

Not that it makes or breaks the enjoyment of his films, but if you really want to go deep in to the cinema of Greenaway you do have to have a little knowledge on the history of art, architecture & design beyond just Frank Lloyd Wright and you have to be familiar with the lesser known Rembrandt paintings to catch some of his visual references. On one hand, that is a little unfair. Why should you need pre-requisites in order to simply watch & understand a movie? Those unfamiliar with architecture, classic art or art house cinema may find Greenaway's references and name-dropping to be a tad bit elitist at times. But on the other hand, you could take that as Peter Greenaway giving his audience some credit and making the assumption that they know a thing or two about classic art or the differences between a robust column versus an oblique column.


Peter Greenaway's filmography spans over five decades so it would be too much to cram his entire body of work in to one entry. This will be the first of an on-going series (part two will focus on Greenaway's fascination with animals, the human anatomy and other various cinematic influences).


Enjoy...



ART INFLUENCE/ART APPRECIATION

I always think that art is one of the most wonderful exciting curious ways to learn. I have no worries or apologies about art being used as a teaching medium - Peter Greenaway

The Belly Of An Architect / "The Death Of Murat"
The Belly Of An Architect / Rene Magritte
The Belly Of An Architect /  "The Kiss"
The Belly Of An Architect / "The Thinker" / Atlas
The Belly Of An Architect / "The Thinker"
The Belly Of An Architect / "Tristan & Iseult"
The Belly Of An Architect / "On The Operating Table"
The Cook The Thief The Wife & Her Lover / "The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp"
A Zed & Two Noughts / "The Girl With The Red Hat"
A Zed & Two Noughts / untitled still-life painting
Nightwatching / "The Night Watch"
A TV Dante / Vitruvian Man
8-1/2 Women / Modular Man
Drowning By Numbers / "Preparation Of Christs Body"


RECURRING ART REFERENCE: "THE LAST SUPPER"
Top to Bottom:
The Belly Of An Architect
The Cook The Thief His Wife & Her Lover
The Draughtman's Contract
Nightwatching
Drowning By Numbers
Darwin

RECURRING ART REFERENCE: LAMENTATION OF CHRIST
Top to Bottom:
Drowning By Numbers
A Zed & Two Noughts
The Pillow Book




THE ART OF CALLIGRAPHY, PENMANSHIP & SKETCHING
Peter Greenaway has a love for freehand creation from sketching (The Draughtman's Contact & The Belly Of An Architect) to caligraphy (Prospero's Books & The Pillowbook)

Freehand is a lost art. Not a completely lost art but it’s still not as prevalent as it was decades ago. Now…modern technology (Photoshop, sketchup, AutoCAD, Revit, etc) does exist for a reason and should be utilized in the field of design because it makes creating easier. But freehand designing/sketching/calligraphy is also important because there are no limitations outside of your own mind. The aforementioned design programs are very fancy & user-friendly but they are still limited when compared to a pen & a piece of paper. 
Prospero's Books
Prospero's Books
The Draughtman's Contract
The Pillowbook
The Belly Of An Architect
Nightwatching
The Belly Of Architect
The Draughtman's Contract




ARCHITECTURE & DESIGN

Architecture is the ultimate multimedia and it creates the situation which exists for everyday 9-5 living. You can forget cinema, you can go through life without worrying about a painting, you can even impoverish your life by not listening to music, but you cannot avoid architecture. We need it; it is one of the essential elements. - Peter Greenaway

Art & architecture go hand in hand so it would only make sense that Peter Greenaway has same fascination with Architecture that he does with art (architecture is an art within itself). And like his knowledge of art history, Greenaway’s knowledge of Architecture is quite deep (I say this because I studied architecture, currently work in the design field and have a pretty good understanding of the language of cinema). It's one thing to capture a polarizing shot of an urban landscape or a beautiful modern building but Greenaway goes deeper. Instead of standalone shots of monuments, Peter Greenaway explores the support structures that hold up floors & ceilings. He knows the differences between the different types of columns (load bearing vs. cosmetic) and he knows how to shoot/capture a space created by archways, walkways & columns.

COLUMNS
Prospero's Books
A Zed & 2 Noughts
Eisenstein In Guanajuato
Prospero's Books
The Belly Of An Architect
The Belly Of An Architect
The Belly Of An Architect
Eisenstein In Guanajuato
8-1/2 Women


ARCHWAYS & DOMES
The Belly Of An Architect
The Belly Of An Architect
The Belly Of An Architect
A Zed & Two Noughts
Prospero's Books
The Belly Of An Architect
The Belly Of An Architect
Eisenstein In Guanajuato
The Tulse Luper Suitcases
The Tulse Luper Suitcases
Leonardo's Last Supper


CEILING STRUCTURES
8-1/2 Women
The Tulse Luper Suitcases
Goltzius & The Pelican Company
Goltzius & The Pelican Company


WINDOWS
And for those that don’t know or are in denial, windows are very much an intricate part of architecture as well...
Windows
The Belly Of An Architect
Windows
A Walk Through H
A Zed & Two Noughts




RECURRING SHOT: GRID LINES
Gridlines give me the subconscious visualization of graph paper which then takes me to the idea of designing (architecture), drawing, (art), space planning and the general idea of creating something. His use of gridlines & framing (which we’ll get in to next) is sometimes obvious & on the nose (The Falls) and other times unconventional & clever (The Draughtsman’s Contract).
The Draughtman's Contract
The Draughtman's Contract
The Falls
A Zed & Two Noughts
The Falls
The Falls
A Zed & Two Noughts
A TV Dante


Speaking of framing…


RECURRING SHOT: FRAMING
The way Peter Greenaway frames his actors (and sometimes pieces of actual art) gives us a subconscious sensation of being in an art gallery...
A Walk Through H
A Walk Through H
A Zed & Two Noughts
The Draughtman's Contract

Greenaway’s signature frame-in-frame in shots…
Prospero's Books
The Pillowbook
The Tulse Luper Suitcases




MIXED MEDIA & EXPERIMENTATION OUTSIDE OF "TRADITIONAL CINEMA"
Peter Greenaway is more than a filmmaker. He is a VJ, a visual artist (“Leonardo’s Last Supper”), a mixed-media hobbyist (“Long Live The Cinema/Death To The Cinema”) and a designer (“The Steps”)
"Leonardo's Last Supper"
Peter Greenaway "VJing"...
One of Peter Greenaway's many multi-media art installations...
A shot from "Long Live The Cinema"/"Death To The Cinema"
Greenaway utilizing multiple screens during an art installation
"The Steps" (a structure designed by Peter Greenaway as part of an art installation project)


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