20 August 2008

Upcoming Neuromancer film

Neuromancer

Apparently that's the poster for the upcoming film version of Gibson's Neuromancer, which I got from Quiet Earth (via Cyberpunk Review). I think it looks cool and I'm pretty excited that there's finally a film adaptation of it coming out. However, it's being directed by a music video director (who's also the director of Torque) - Joseph Kahn - and is supposed to star Hayden Christensen as Case.

I'd never heard of Kahn prior to this, but he's directed a ton of music videos - check out his full videography here. I don't really know what to make of this because on one hand he's done videos for the Backstreet Boys, Chrstina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Kelly Clarkson and 50 Cent. But then he's also made videos for Die Krupps, the Chemical Brothers, Moby, Rob Zombie and Hole.

Aside from having fingers crossed and hoping it won't suck, I'm really excited that a film version is finally coming out despite the fact that my initial reaction was the same as everyone else who seems to be simultaneously weirded out by the choice of Kahn as director and disappointed that Chris Cunningham isn't taking this on as was originally planned almost a decade ago. Kahn writes a good post in defence of himself and his first (and only) film Torque, which can be found it it's entirety in this post by BlueSunCorp. I actually feel a wee bit of sympathy for him reading that being able to imagine just how incredibly shitty the Hollywood system might be solely from my brief stint in film school.

Still, I can't help but watch clips of Flex, Second Bad Vilbel and Come To Daddy and try to imagine what could have been.

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09 February 2008

Nowhere

Montgomery
"It's like we all know way down in our souls that our generation is going to witness the end of everything. You can see it in our eyes."

- Dark in Nowhere

I totally didn't expect it, but I really liked Gregg Araki's Nowhere. It's the first Araki film I've seen. I'd heard a lot about his films prior to seeing this and they really didn't sound like anything I'd like, so I am quite pleasantly surprised by this one. Bart in his room Dark in his room I really loved the cinematography, production design and especially the music - which is pretty much everything 90s from a pretty decent Hole track, to Sonic Youth, to two of my favourite Filter songs off their debut Short Bus. The music goes so well with whatever's on screen that it would really be an effort not to enjoy this film. Well, in the beginning at least. Mid-way it starts to get depressing when bad things start happening and people start dying. Montgomery Bart Araki's sense of humour is wild, really, and that's what drew me to this film in the first place. I saw this ridiculous clip from The Doom Generation (which, incidentally, I have always wanted to watch since first hearing of it when I was 10) and knew that I simply had to get my hands on his films. What I really didn't expect though, was for the film to have any kind of real core or substance (which I think is nicely encapsulated by the quote from the protagonist Dark at the beginning of this post). In Araki's own words:
"Nowhere manages to have its subversive cake and eat it too. Its surface is very pop, supersaturated colour, like Clueless. But in its soul, it has a lot more on its mind. I didn't want to make an ugly, gritty movie like Kids. I wanted to talk about these kids living on the edge of oblivion, but I wanted to do it in an MTV language. I wanted it to mesmerize."

- Gregg Araki in this interview
Bart's parents Bart
"I approach films in the way a musician approaches music. It's just my means of expression, my chosen medium. I'm not out to produce propaganda for any sort of movement or political agenda. I think at some point that's when people get frustrated, because I don't have their political agendas in mind. I have my own agenda, which is to express myself via the medium of film. I'm an artist, not a politician."

- Gregg Araki in this interview
Dark & Montgomery The film is available now in its entirety on youtube. Which is excellent because I may have never seen it otherwise. Check out the first of nine parts here.

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08 February 2008

Bergman's 'Silence'

Johan and an endless line of tanks I don't think I can ever forget the desperate, oppressive atmosphere of The Silence. Sometime last July, I felt like watching nothing but Bergman films for some reason, and that's when I happened upon this film.

Two sisters, Ester and Anna and Anna's son Johan (a boy of about ten or twelve), stop at an unnamed European country on the brink of war. Ester is suffering from a terminal illness and struggles to come to terms with her impending death while Anna takes a new lover, neglecting Johan and leaving him to wander the hotel where he crashes a midget party. Ester on her deathbed An exceedingly strange film - without a doubt one of the strangest I have ever seen. Ester and Anna seem to represent two approaches to life - or perhaps one could even go further and say that they are the personifications of spirit and flesh respectively. Ester is grasping for some sort of meaning, logic, explanation of her life and her suffering while Anna indulges in pain and pleasure in whatever forms she finds them. Both sisters seem to be at the end of their lives in a way - there is a certain desperation about the way they conduct themselves. A tank in the street The atmosphere of complete chaos, degeneration and decay is perfectly conveyed and adds to the desperation of their sisters. Both act from their most fundamental instincts, but while Ester seems to find some sort of absolution in the end (and she passes this on to Johan), Anna is as lost as ever. Anna and her lover

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The United States of Leland

Leland and Becky Has anyone seen The United States of Leland? I sought it out mainly because it's the only film that (possibly my favourite musician in the world) Jeremy Enigk has scored - and I must say he did a damn good job of it too. Unfortunately the soundtrack was never released, and I think it may have had something to do with it not being commercially viable enough for the label to want to release it. Which is really such a shame considering that Set It On Fire is the song that made me fall completely in love with Enigk's music. There are also a couple of Pixies' songs in there too - 'Gigantic' and 'Hangwire'. Leland Aside from music though, Leland is a quite a strange and unique film, though it really doesn't seem so on the surface as it is cinematographically quite ordinary. Understandably, it's been compared to Donnie Darko but I really think that this film is a whole different animal.

Basically, Leland murders a retarded child and claims to have no memory of the event, or of why he did it. He is sent to prison to await trial and his teacher (an aspiring author) there tries to make sense of his crime while at the same time attempting to write a book about him. As with every good film, the minute details of the plot aren't really key to getting to the heart of the film. Leland has an atmosphere that is as full of sorrow as it is of beauty - and is as much an exploration of human strength as it is of human frailty. It's a film I find so difficult to talk about because it hit me on a very fundamental level and it's really films like these that remind me how powerful art is when it comes to sharing human experience. Leland & Ryan In Leland I found a very unique expression of a simple human inability to deal with transience and the sadness behind things - and this was really well-illustrated by Leland's encounter with the Calderon family. Sure, there are a lot of films that deal with similar themes, but I'd never before seen a film that was so close to my own personal experience of transience. By the end of the film, we see how Leland has become so acutely aware of the human suffering and sadness in every experience that it makes him unable to function normally. The film doesn't really offer any real kind of resolution to this but it does manage to offer a lot of hope, in spite of the bleak subject matter. I wonder why writer/director Matthew Ryan Hoge hasn't done anything since.

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03 February 2008

Koyaanisqatsi

v7246769 Koyaanisqatsi is truly an extraordinary film. I just finished watching it again and found it to be moving and rather overwhelming. It's interesting because you're confronted with images of industrial society that you aren't usually accustomed to - images that (at least to me) make our civilization seem incredibly inhuman and life-denying. So throughout the film, my inner monologue was pretty much something like this: Is this really how we're living? Could it really be this bad? Why isn't anyone doing anything about it? How can human beings live like this? No wonder I feel like shit all the time! v7244648
"We usually perceive our world, our way of living, as beautiful because there is nothing else to perceive...There seems to be no ability to see beyond, to see that we have encased ourselves in an artificial environment that has remarkably replaced the original, nature itself. We do not live with nature any longer; we live above it, off of it as it were. Nature has become the resource to keep this artificial or new nature alive."

- from the film's official site.
v7232294 Growing up on a diet of bad Hollywood films thanks to bad local TV programming (and later on HBO Asia), I always wondered why more creative use wasn't made of the moving image. So many movies are really no more than filmed plays, and I began to search for films that would approach this ideal I had in my head of 'pure cinema' which was aware of painting and photography and was not simply theater adapted to the screen. Films that truly utilized the moving image in order to transmit direct experience to the viewer - after all film is a medium which closely resembles our human experience. And so I was led to this film.
In an incredibly lucid interview on the DVD, director Godfrey Reggio mentions that the whole point of the film is to present the viewer with an such an experience - doing away with the medium of language. He also mentions the importance of raising questions. With those two things in mind, I feel the film is really a huge success. Like I mentioned earlier, I was pretty overwhelmed by the sped-up images of factory production lines, freeways, heavy traffic and commuters all in rapid succession. v7242123 v7237216 v7233224
"Could it be that our language is no longer capable of describing the world in which we live? Perhaps, the world we see with old eyes and antique ideas is no longer present. Do we inhabit a technological universe the laws of which are unknown? The world we see is being left behind.

A new untellable world is unfolding. As the human race accelerates into the twenty-first century, we enter a virtual, digital environment, a world where far and near, past, present and future are simultaneous realities. The human center of gravity seems to be blasted into the void."

- from the film's official site
v7242674 v7246574 v7243538 What an exceedingly strange civilization it is that we are a part of.

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Art & artists I love, like or just feel like posting about. Including (but not limited to) painting, photography, illustration, cinema, music videos, books and web design. Mouseover images for titles, or click through to the Flickr account for some extra images.

My name is Abigail and you can find out more about me here. Also you can email me here.
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