Category Archives: art house

Dark Knight (2016)

Director: Tim Sutton
Starring: Robet Jumper, Anna Rose Hopkins, Rosie Rodriguez, Karina Macias .USA. 1h 25m

Dark Night is an incredibly slow movie. Not necessarily a film in slow motion or involving lengthy still shots, but one which whimsically dances around the mundane sequences in the lives of it’s subjects instead of explaining exactly why they are important. The (unwanted) insight into the lives of a group of people who are all present on the night of a screening of an infamous Batman film that would go so terribly wrong when a deranged individual opened fire with bullets and tear gas. Many people will be more than aware of the case, one of the biggest one man shooting events in living memory. Tim Sutton has managed to bypass the hype and politics by somehow going back in time outlining the normaily before the shooting, trying to pay homage to the victims and show how fragile life is in a moody thought provoking arty drama, frequently highlighted with Robert Jumpers haunting stare.

Continue reading Dark Knight (2016)

Norfolk (2015)

Director: Martin Radich Starring: Denis Menochet, Barry Keoghan, Goda Letkaustie. UK. 1h 23m

Sometimes cinema can be drab and unkind, which is the unnerving feeling you’ll end up with after watching Martin Radich’s Surreal coming of age art house drama.

The downtrodden ,depressing atmosphere permeates from the screen, as a father attempts to protect and train his son. While living off the grid in a remote rural location the two have strained relationship, mulling around their isolated home, their only connection is watching tv together. Unbeknowst to the son, a job from the past has caught up with his father and now their lives are in danger and one more murder must be commited, just one more contract or one more act of revenge.

Continue reading Norfolk (2015)

Bait (2019)

Director: Mark Jenkin
Starring: Edward Rowe, Giels King, Chloe Endean, Simon Shepherd .UK. 1h 29m

You’ve probably heard about this being the best film of the decade, of 2019, the most arresting modern movie ever made, a total game changer and a host of other praises, along with a list of wins and nominations in various film festivals but what’s all the craic about? Simply put it’s a movie about the gentrification of a seaside town filmed by a vintage hand-cranked Bolex camera using 16mm monochromatic hand processed film. This labor of love is a total game changer in the aesthetic of this blistering movie. Continue reading Bait (2019)

The Curse of the Headless Horseman (1972)

Director: John Kirkand
Starring: Ultra Violet, Marland Proctor, Claudia Reame. USA. 1h 15m.

In all fairness the coolest aspect of this movie is that one of the actresses is called Ultra Violet and she enters the film with the coolest Superman Lunch box and from then on it’s downhill for this Scooby Doo nightmare. Continue reading The Curse of the Headless Horseman (1972)

Спутник / Sputnik (2020)

Director: Egor Abramenko~
Starring: Oksana Akinshina, Fyodor Bondarchuk, Pyotr Fyodorov, Anton Vasiliev .Russia . 1h 53m

There has always been this strange surreal nature to the epic ideas of Russian Science Fiction, be it art, animation, novella or cinema you’ll always find something so profound and lavish in the Russian culture of art. From the early Aelita (1924) to the genre defining Stalker (1979) Solaris (1972) and Visitor to Museum (1989) there’s a strong sense of new ideas and concepts so far out and esoteric it’s hard to take in but yet these films stand as testament to the ingenuity of Russian Cinematographers (using soviet brutalism and derelicts to their advantage) and Directors who work an orchestra of stunning and creepy visuals and wonderment. Continue reading Спутник / Sputnik (2020)

Safe (1995)

Director: Todd Haynes
Starring: Juilanne Moore, John Apicella, Xander Berkeley, Dean Norris .USA/UK. 1h 59m

After watching Todd Haynes’s masterful macabre paperwork drama, Dark Waters I can’t help but think back to one of his more impressive and less talked about movies, Safe; featuring all of the key elements that Haynes loves to explore, showing how we are negatively affected by “forever” chemicals. He takes a more sensitive approach in this mid nineties movie before breaking the doors down years later with the harder hitting Mark Ruffalo biopic.

Continue reading Safe (1995)

Excalibur (1981)

Director: John Boorman.
Starring.Nigel Terry (RIP) , Helen Mirren, Nicholas Clay, Cherie Lunghi, Paul Geoffrey, Nicol Williamson (RIP) , Liam Neeson, Patrick Stewart. Ireland/USA/UK. 2h 20m.

Based on:15th-century Arthurian romance Le Morte d’Arthur by Thomas Malory

There aren’t too many movies that I can mention from my childhood that have such an epic reaction of admiration as this definition of epic fantasy. Albeit a guilty pleasure, I generally hang around heavy alternative scenes where this has become a fashion guide as well as cult classic pieces of cinema, but there’s a wealth of shiny aesthetics and magical storytelling which has never really been mimicked again making this truly unique stand alone opulent piece. Continue reading Excalibur (1981)

Posetitel Muzeya / A Visitor to a Museum (1989)

Director: Konstantin Lopushansky
Starring: Viktor Mikhaylov, Vera Mayorova,Vadim Lobanov, Irina Rakshina, Aleksandr Rasinsky, Iosif Ryklin, Yu. Sobolev, Vladimir Firsov. Russia/Soviet Union/West Germany/Switzerland. 2h 16m

The jaw dropping, mind bending and highly disjointed follow on to Dead Man’s Letters (1986), shows that Lopushansky has lost none of this amazing vision of the world after an apocalyptic disaster. Usually history is written by the victors but who really comes out on top when the entire planet sinks into a nuclear winter?

From it’s dark crimson opening, it’s clear that the world is a very different place in this complicated post-apocalyptic future, that carries on from living memories of Chernobyl. The world attempts to keep things moving as a tourist attempts to traverse the barren landscape to visit a museum buried deep below the ocean. Clothed in a long black coat and carrying a single suitcase he stumbles through massive piles of waste, fights through clouds of dangerous dust and catches the saddest looking train I’ve ever seen limp down a track. Eventually he makes it to his “hotel” a house run by rich elites that looks out onto a vibrant shore that leads to a hidden fabled Museum. Continue reading Posetitel Muzeya / A Visitor to a Museum (1989)

The Jar (1984)

Director: Bruce Toscano
Starring: Gary Wallace, Karin Sjöberg, Robert Gerald Witt as Jack, Dean Schoepter, Les Miller, Don Donovan .USA. 1h 25m

Often described as one of the worst of the worst, this trippy sci-fi thriller is packed with a weird psychotropic atmosphere and has an interesting concept and sterling synth soundtrack but it really does write the book on how not to make a movie, while still maintaining that under-developed charm which B Movie enthusiasts really love.

It’s not entirely clear what Toscano was going for with his movie, it starts well but once the random trippiness kicks in his main character spends so little time in the real world there’s not a lot to grasp onto, the ploy is generally simple, but there’s so much imagery which really needs explaining. With attempts to blast the audience with Altered States-esque visual conundrums with alien and religious iconography. Continue reading The Jar (1984)

A Thought of Ecstasy

Director: Rolf Peter Kahl,
Starring: Rolf Peter Kahl, Ava Verne, Deborah Kara Unger, Lena Morris. Germany/USA. 1h 30m

This gentle murmur of a movie is half waking dream and half private investigation but the apparent nightmare that runs throughout its winding narrative is hidden behind a psychosexual noir.

A majority of the movie follows a bemused love sick German trailing around the American desert, in search for his estranged lover. With long sun bleached shots of the desert where naked bodies writhe together, mixed with elaborate sexual encounters set to pounding electronic soundtracks, the movie feels like a series of naughty dreams, but it’s easily missed quirk, is that the movie is strangely set in the near future, in an America going through a unusual heat wave and kind of political turmoil, this erotic thriller is science fiction as much as it’s art house, but the blend, while unusual is pretty captivating.

After finding a random book that reminds him of a heated love affair he had 20 years previous with a woman named Marie, Frank (Kahl) is spurred on by the reminder of their dark sexy fuelled romps, and immediately heads out to the USA to investigate the author. Her literary agent Liz (Unger) confirms the author is the same Marie, but has no contact details for her. Frank hangs around and meets a sex worker named Nina who sets up sophisticated scenarios with her colleague ?? and the pair record the sessions, Frank can’t help notice the similarity of Nina in both the women and becomes their cameraman in order to be closer to them, as he continues to read the book/journal about the mysterious Marie who he thought he knew but is only now discovering.

This is one of those movies where the journey is the movie, the destination is something you work out after the film had ended and that’s pretty unusual, but there’s a beautiful meandering sequence of sets and encounters to experience instead of gripping hold of a solid narrative and trying to mentally rip it apart, A Thought of Ecstasy forces it’s audience to sit back and feel and experience the delirium along with Frank.

Love is immortal. Seduction is Inevitable. Revenge is irresistible.

In-between scenes of Frank driving around the desert, reading Marie’s book, which runs like a journal of her time in the desert, his time alone is pretty dry, but once he’s with Nina and co, while she is a sex worker the movie slides into soft core porn, there’s plenty of nudity and sex, which I a lot of people were willing to trash it because of this, but accepting that it’s part of adult life the movie’s ability to shift totally is really impressive. Time seems to slow down, movements become like chorographical dance, is washed out sunny USA becomes soft and luxurious and very dark both in lighting and mood, this nightlife is very different and very seductive. You can see why Frank wants to be there, but the nagging feeling is that someone wants Frank to want to be there, and this is the big mystery which slowly unfolds to it’s resolute climax.

Rolf Peter Kahl, is the holy trinity of this project, director, writer and star, so while this is his all about him, you can only assume that the film is a perfect rendition of his original concept. It’s pretty easy to sit back and enjoy what’s put before you, it’s also impossible to just ignore that there is a bigger picture within a narrative that’s filled with naked bodies to move your attention away from the nitty gritty, or at least that’s how I felt about it.

On the surface it’s an attractive movie, but underneath all the softcore it’s a well of dark desires, death, a very distressing ending which is somewhat glazed over, but once you get it, it’s bloody brilliant if you can get through all the tits and art house it’s fully rewarding.

Rating 6/10

R: Amer (2009)
L: Desert Trip

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