Relentless Energy challenged filmmakers everywhere this year with Short Stories, a platform to visually define their dedication to whatever creative art they are involved in. Last night, James Gardner’s film ‘Flight of Passage‘, which is centered around Ben Nordberg and Steve Masonof Beta Band, was posted online as the fourth and final short story for all to see.
In a short monologue spoken by Steve Mason about how he is driven to express himself with inspiring advice for those struggling to do the same we are simultaneously watching Ben Nordberg effortlessly perform his chosen method of expression. The stories mirror each other perfectly, and as expected from Gardner it’s superbly shot throughout, massively British and well worth a watch.
See for yourself below. The winner will be announced in December so keep your eyes on the Relentless website.
In an age in which filmmakers come equipped with an abundance of influences and progressively more obscure concepts, it’s all the more rare to come across something so obviously audacious that at the core, is tremendously, mind-crushingly simple. Indeed, the simplest stories take the longest to perfect, and this one in particular took almost twenty years. In Gaspar Noe’sEnter The Void, not only are we presented with a film that is his most fully realised piece of work yet, perhaps even his magnum opus, but we have a film that when stripped of all its technical innovation, idiosyncratic auteurship and typical french extremity, is really just a film about circles.
Specifically, the circle of life. But in the never-ending shot (excluding blinking and various other proverbial trips into the limbo-like void there are no cuts so prepare to feel very anxious watching this) that positions us deep inside Oscar’s head (less a conventional protaganist, more a temporary perspective for our own consciousness), the audience are continuously reminded of the circles that dictate our entire life. Whether it be the parallels between sucking on the end of a cigarette and sucking your mother’s tit after birth or the similarities between the record spinning round playing filtered disco beats in The Void and our own heartbeat, Noe reveals one by one, the meaningless struggles we make in life in an attempt to feel comfortable. And it’s all achieved in one DMT-induced visual trip through the internal vision of a dead drug dealer (played by the faceless Nathaniel Brown) trying to make sense of his past and look over sister (Paz De La Huerta) as she attempts to deal with her brother’s death by doing lots of sexy things in a vibrant and sleazy Tokyo club district.
So narrative wise it is a simple, yet wholly original story about the human struggle through a hallucinogenic kaleidoscope. There’s lots of sex, drugs and pounding, pounding techno music. Wonderful stuff so far, right? Yes yes yes, but its originality is owed in no small part to Gaspar’s meticulous need for sensory stimulation. Had this film been released before the technology existed to allow Noe’s camera to float across an entire city as Oscar’s ghost – presumably still tripping balls – is barging through concrete walls, then the narrative would have fell short of everything time has permitted the sensory-stimulating director to achieve. What that is, is the closest visual representation to what actually goes on inside our heads that has ever been given a worldwide cinema release.
It begins, after the amazing title sequence, with a never-ending psychedelic trip and once that has trapped you it will not let go of your senses for the remaining two hours. The sounds are immersive and haunting (thank you Thomas Bangalter, elected overlord of noise), the visuals are glowing and composed to the most precise detail, and in doing so, we finally have a piece of cinema that can accurately boast that the audience shares a connection with the lead character. You become him, his life flashing before his eyes is your life, that car crash is your own repressed memory, and it hits you just as hard. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
And even by internet generation standards, there are some seriously provoking and controversial things on show here, but isn’t that the sort of things that fills our own minds on an every day basis? You will not find another film as honest and revealing about humanity’s existential peculiarity than Enter The Void. If you’re offended then drop that cigarette, stop thinking about breasts and remember, it’s just a film about circles. Circles that we all ride on, and a superb insight into that special, fascinating one that never, ever ends.
The most recent work-friendly trailer can be seen above. But for a real taste of what to expect, watch the brand new Love Hotel trailer below. It’s one whole minute of awesome that should definitely not be watched at work or in front of parents, unless that’s your thing, I guess.
Vincenzo Natali’sSplice is a puzzler of a film. In essence, a modern day Frankenstein story centering around the experiments of young scientist super couple Clive (Adrien Brody’s nose) and Elsa (Sarah Polley), hired by some sort of faceless company in order to engineer various biological scientific patents. They specialize in a form of bio-engineering that has allowed them to combine several bits of D.N.A from various animals and create a new life form, specifically a kind of animated grey turd with no recognisable features…a bit like Andie Macdowell. However, they decide to hurl all established rule books – moral, ethical or otherwise – into a huge bin and conduct a secret experiment behind everyone else’s backs by shoving some human D.N.A in there as well. Low and behold they end up making a human animal hybrid that is simultaneously elegant, dangerous, childlike, innocent and weirdly sexual. As a consequence of their action, shit and fan unsurprisingly collide in a most spectacular “science should know its limits, one cannot play god” sort of way.
Now, having watched it, digested it and had plenty of time to think about it, I’m still not entirely sure whether I enjoyed or really…thoroughly disliked Splice. First of all, what Natali has tried to achieve is commendable in itself; at heart you can see he wants to make some sort of utterly weird David Crononberg taking on the concept of the family unit.
The film features some extremely bizarre scenes as the lines between seeing Dren (the creature’s name is ‘nerd’ backwards, clever that innit?) as an experiment and viewing her as a child become increasingly blurred. However, for whatever reason, be it wish of mainstream success, or some studio meddling or whatever, the film never really truly gives into this body horror via 2 point 4 children vision and instead finds itself trying to be a more generic horror affair. As a result, the tone of the whole piece is extremely jarring, it’s like two totally separate films rubbing awkwardly against one another, scrambling for screen time. Basically, it all feels rather off.
Other than Dren, which is a quite wonderful monster creation anchored by fine performance by Delphine Chaneac, who manages to be other worldly, worryingly unpredictable and oddly sexual all at once, none of the actors really shine through. In their defence this was partly to do with the cliché riddled script (that had several members of the audience I viewed it with laughing), and a collection of plot holes big enough that you could fly a godless human animal hybrid through them.
Hopefully Splice can simply remain nothing more than – like Dren herself – a partly failed experiment; a nice attempt at the sort of monster film rarely seen on wide release these days and not go down the road of Natali’s most famous creation, Cube, a road paved with exponentially shittier straight-to-DVD sequels, seemingly with the single minded goal of ruining whatever made the original any good.
Before I talk about the film proper I’m going to give a little personal context about my relationship with Christopher Nolan’s latest cinemagasm.
I’ve not been as excited about going to see a film in…well, I can’t remember. I’ve literally been chewing off my own hands with anticipation ever since the first insignificant nuggets of information started their slow faucet leak into the public domain. So, it was with a great deal of trepidation that I wandered into Inception’s showing, I’d mentally built it up to stratospheric heights, I’d foolishly done something that can ultimately only end in disappointment. Fantasy never aligns with reality, that girl never feels the same way, you never get the job (“dinosaur astronaut…what do you mean that‘s not a thing!?”). I’d been building myself up for heartbreak so severe that I feared it may ruin cinema for me.
Luckily…this film is utterly, jaw-hurtingly spec-fucking-tacular.
The plot revolves around Leonardo DiCaprio’s Cobb, a specialist in “extraction”, an illegal process where by one can enter other peoples dreams and steal their ideas…it’s a sort of metaphysical corporate espionage. He’s given a shot at redemption, to return to his family after a dark event in his past if he can complete “inception”, the process of implanting an idea, on Cillian Murphy’s billionaire heir to an energy empire. And it plays out like James Bond conceived by the Wachowski Brothers and written by Charlie Kaufman.
The performances are all stellar, DiCaprio fills Cobb with such conviction that his performance almost goes unnoticed. However, he is the pivot that the whole thing spins on, and his conviction seeps through in to ever other aspect of this world. Ellen Page exudes a weird sexiness that I didn’t think she had in her, Joseph Gordon-Levitt vomits a cool dependability that makes you forget that he’s essentially nothing more than a side kick (Page and him have the film’s best gag moment), though most laughs will come from Tom Hardy’s lovable rouge Eames.
It’s the sort of film that so many would wish to make, you can sense that Nolan has been given staggering mountains of cash and been told to let his imagination completely run free, and Nolan dreams big. I simply can’t do the visuals justice in words; there are some truly eye popping sequences, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s corridor fight will inevitably be an audience favourite. It’s the sort of pure, visceral cinema that reminds you why you love cinema, why cinema is so important, and why it’s simply the most bad ass medium of expression ever invented.
Better yet, the mindfuck visuals slink perfectly into the world Nolan has created, without once seeming out of place. The third act in particular, once they are heavy into dream territory, will make your synapses melt with the amount of clever stuff going on: multiple narratives happening on multiple timelines in multiple places all simultaneously. Yet somehow, it’s far easier to comprehend than say, Memento. Nolan’s a talented bastard at this film game.
I suggest you just go see it. Then go and see it again.
Corey Adams and Alex Craig’s MACHOTAILDROP movie premiered in Leicester Square’s Prince Charles cinema last night to a full house hosted by éS and Slam City Skates.
The movie, based around a sponsorship hungry skater who finds a weird and wonderful world of professional skateboarding is a full length production featuring Rick McCrank, John Rattray, Fred Mortagne, Frank Gerwer, Steve Olson, all of whom play the most random roles in what has to be the only film that takes skateboarding closest to classic titles such as Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Monty Python and James Bond! Laughter is guaranteed throughout this comedy filled fable as Walter Rhum‘s dreams come true catapulting his 17 year old envy into pro skate heaven only to find out that..well, you will just have to watch it, no spoilers here.
One thing well worth mentioning though is that this is not a cheap film by any means- the film boasts epic costumes, Warriors and Daggers references with sublime stupidity within sets featuring stalactites, mines, amusement parks, mansions and a floating half-pipe! MACHOTAILDROP is hands down the most twisted skateboard movie made to date so look out for it.