Friday, June 23, 2017

THE SCHOOL OF TARKOVSKY PART 9

In this latest installment of The School Of Tarkovsky we're going to look at some more comparisons that may have slipped through the cracks in these last few months. If you follow me on twitter then some of these will look familiar. But for those of you who do not - here are some additional comparisons/visual similarities from regular students of Tarkovsky like Claire Denis (one of the casting directors on Sacrifice), Terrence Malick & Carlos Reygadas.

I also added some new/more recognizable filmmakers to this series.

Some of these comparisons could be reaches but I like to think that even if (some of) these filmmakers were not directly influenced by Andrei Tarkovsky that the (coincidental) visual similarities are still pretty strong.

enjoy...

Solaris / Trouble Every Day

Sacrifice / Beetlejuice

Stalker / IT (2017)

Sacrifice / Blade Runner (2017)

Stalker / Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom

Ivan's Childhood / Tree Of Life

Andrei Rublev / This Is My Kingdom

Sacrifice / The Passion Of Darkly Noon

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

NEW ZEBRAS IN AMERICA!!


This week Scotty & I take a look at Wanda then branch off to everything from Return To Oz to the filmography of Linda Manz.

enjoy...

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

ZEBRAS IN AMERICA EPISODE 13!!


This week's (topical) episode focuses on new releases like It Comes At Night & Wonder Woman. We also delve in to issues concerning race & gentrification through Michael Haneke's Cache and the problematic Nasty Baby.

enjoy...

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Monday, June 12, 2017

THE SCHOOL OF TARKOVSKY PART 8

In this latest installment of The School Of Tarkovsky we're going to take a look at some more forced comparisons (because at this point it isn't obvious that Terrence Malick is heavily influence by the films of Tarkovsky) and serious reaches (Carlos Reygadas has never mentioned Andrei Tarkovsky as his favorite filmmaker).

enjoy...

Nostalghia / The Lovers On The Bridge

The Mirror / /Cache

Ivan's Childhood / Alien

Stalker / Pontypool

The Mirror / Knight Of Cups

Stalker / Famous

Stalker / Post Tenebrus Lux

Solaris / Tree Of Life

Ivan's Childhood / Battle In Heaven

Ivan's Childhood / I am Cuba

Ivan's Childhood / Goonies

Andrei Rublev / Days Of Heaven

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

ZEBRAS IN AMERICA EPISODE 12 W/ SPECIAL GUEST JOHN WILSON

This week we chat with filmmaker John Wilson about his unique & excellent body of work thus far. Enjoy...
(don't forget to check us out on itunes)



Also make sure to check out some of his films  below...


Thursday, June 1, 2017

SONG TO SONG


Like any Malick film, I needed to sit with my thoughts for a little while before writing about this. Anyone who follows this site on a semi-regular basis knows that I'm blindly in love with his post-New World cinematic universe (I actually found myself liking his latest movie before I even actually saw it which isn't a good thing). Song To Song is hardly a perfect movie (by this point you should know that no Terrence Malick film is going to be without flaw no matter how beautiful it is).
First of all, it is my personal opinion that Song To Song is kind of a terrible title. I don't mean to sound so harsh & nitpicky but I just can't connect with it. And what's strange is that it does go with the film's vibe & ambiance (a story about musicians & songwriters).
Secondly, I think the film's length (126 minutes) could have been much shorter (around 80 minutes) or much longer (possibly over 180 minutes). To quote my friend Chris Funderburg of the Pink Smoke, movies should be either really short or really really long. I couldn't agree with that sentiment more (especially in the case of this movie). These 2 hour and 10 minute movie lengths are just silly. Seriously what's the point?
I guess you could say that's a positive criticism in the sense that part of me wanted more of this movie (and to be clear I wanted more of and not from it. There's a difference)

My final critique is that Rooney Mara didn't come off like a believable musician. She certainly played her part in any scene that didn't concern music but whenever we see her holding a guitar or plucking at piano keys it really didn't look believable. Some of you may consider that to be a little nitpicky as well but her character was supposed to be a musician. She needed to be believable. She just came off as a "play" or "pretend" musician. But, like I said earlier, she still played her part overall. I can't think of another actress who could play her role in Song To Song. And I would say that Rooney Mara's character is the most depth I've seen Malick give a female character in a very very long time...



While this film is still shot in the same exact style as his three previous films (Tree Of Life, To The Wonder & Knight Of Cups) and uses some of the same actors & actresses (Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett & Michael Fassbinder standing in as sort of a surrogate for Malick-regular Christian Bale), it's not part of the same semi-autobiographical Malick world he's been exploring for the last 5-6 years. He seems to have finally got all his family "stuff" off his chest for the most part (there is a nod to Malick's second wife towards the second half of the movie but you wouldn't know this unless you read a biography on him). Song To Song is the story of romance & relationships between a group of aspiring musicians set within the Austin music scene (a large chunk of the film was shot during the Fun Fun Fun fest).

Plenty of Malick detractors will watch Song To Song (or just watch the trailer) and see no difference between it and his previous work. And that's fair. Just look at these imagery comparisons between Knight Of Cups & Song To Song...



This is Malick's first film to really concentrate on youth & youth culture. I know Badlands, Days Of Heaven & Tree Of Life feature important young characters, but Song To Song is Malick's first film set during a music festival which, although inclusive to all ages, is mostly synonymous with younger people. There’s also a lot more energy & aggression in Song To Song when compared to Knight Of Cups & To The Wonder (especially To The Wonder). The first words spoken in the movie talk about sex being violent. That’s foreign to the world of Terrence Malick.

But at the same time that's not to say older people don't play an important part of this movie. There's a lot of older characters in Song To Song who pass knowledge down to the younger characters.


And as disconnected as Song To Song may be from Malick’s previous films, he’s still building off of what he started exploring (and questioning) with The New World. A lot of people (myself included) associate (romantic) love between two people exclusively. It’s kind of the standard idea/unwritten “rule” of what love is supposed to be. But ever since Malick’s “return” with The New World he’s been questioning the idea of monogamy. Of course that’s possible for some people but you don’t really see that too much in movies under a somewhat positive light. Most times it’s considered simply cheating (which it can be sometimes) but Malick is taking the route that Two Lovers explored a few years ago. In The New World we see Pocahontas genuinely fall in love with two men in a kind of organic way. Same thing in To The Wonder. Ben Affleck has genuine feelings for two women at the same time. Throughout Knight Of Cups we see “Rick” (Christian Bale) fall in & out of love quite a few times (this may be the one example of fake and/or fickle love in Malick’s cinematic universe) and Song To Song is just a web of intense romantic relationships. Malick's latest film is being marketed as a love triangle but that’s not really the case. It’s more like a web or a tree branch. Yes, the three main characters are caught up in a love triangle but it doesn’t stop there. They also branch out and have intense organic relationships with other supporting characters. I don’t even necessarily agree with the idea of loving multiple people at once (I’m an only child and I don’t like sharing certain things like partners), but this is still a subject that should be explored.

Song To Song has quite a few other subconscious connections to films outside of the Malick wheelhouse. Seeing Rooney Mara & Cate Blanchett in the same film again (they don't share any scenes together) might remind some of you of Carol (one of the relationships briefly explored in Song To Song is a lesbian relationship which makes the connection to Carol slightly stronger).
Ryan Gosling's directorial debut Lost River is very Malick-esque possibly due to the fact that while Gosling was acting in Song To Song he also worked on Lost River.


At the end of the day Terrence Malick is going full-on Malick with each film and Song To Song is no exception. If you didn’t like Knight Of Cups or To The Wonder there’s no point in seeking this out because you’re only looking to intentionally frustrate yourself. However if you’re a loyal Malick fan or just curious/open-minded, then this is the movie for you.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

ZEBRAS IN AMERICA EPISODE 11!!



Scotty & I are back with an all new episode! This week we discuss everything from Entertainment & Skin Trade to Claire Denis & the anticipation of the new Twin Peaks series.

Enjoy...


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

WRONG REEL EPISODE #270: A TALK W/ XANDER BERKLEY


I'm still in shock that Xander Berkley took the time out to discuss his amazing career thus far. Listen as we talk about everything from Tapheads & Safe to his history with the legendary Michael Mann.

Click the image below to go to the episode. Enjoy...


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

ZEBRAS IN AMERICA EPISODE 10 W/ SPECIAL GUEST MTUME GANT



Mtume Gant is a filmmaker, actor, musician & mutual friend of both Scotty & I so it was an honor to have him on the show (for those that don't know - he was kind of part of the genesis of this whole podcast).

Listen as we discuss everything from obscure cinema & deep-cut hip-hop, to his latest film; White Face (also scored by Scotty)

Enjoy
(don't forget to subscribe & follow on iTunes)


WRONG REEL EPISODE #268: THE LIFE & CAREER OF MICHAEL PARKS W/ SPECIAL GUEST BILL SAGE



Wrong Reel/PINNLAND EMPIRE favorite Bill Sage was gracious enough to come back and join us for a very special episode of Wrong Reel to honor the life of his friend & fellow actor Michael Parks. Click the image above to listen as we discuss his iconic career that spans over 50 decades (there was a lot more than just the films of Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez & Kevin Smith).

Enjoy.

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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