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The Third Part of the Night (Trzecia Czesc Nocy)

November 20, 2011

Registering for the Hamburg city library has turned out to be one of the best things I’ve done in some time; I currently have Japón (Carlos Reygadas), The Man From London (Béla Tarr), The Color of Pomegranates (Sergei Paradjanov) and Marketa Lazarová (František Vláčil) out on loan waiting to be watched, and it also allowed me to see a film I’ve wanted to watch for quite a while – The Third Part of the Nightby Andrzej Zulawski.

The Third Part of the Night

The director is best known for his film, Possession, starring Sam Neil and Isabelle Adjani, which gained a degree of notoriety thanks to its inclusion on the list of `Video Nasties’ produced by the Director of Public Prosecutions in the 1980s. Like most of the films on this list, Possession has now been released uncut, and I’m keen to seek it out after watching this film, his debut from 1971.

The film is set in German-occupied Poland; it begins with a young man recovering from an undefined illness, only to have his wife, son, and mother killed by German soldiers who break into their house in the countryside. Following this, he joins the resistance. While on the run from Gestapo officers, another man is mistaken for him, shot, and captured. From this point, present and past begin to intertwine in a series of surreal and dreamlike scenes, where identities become confused and his own dead wife becomes conflated with the pregnant wife of the wrongly-arrested man, who he attempts to help by taking a job as a `feeder’; feeding lice with his blood in order to help the production of Typhus vaccine.

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Enter The Void

June 28, 2011
Gaspar Noe obviously doesn’t like to make things easy for himself. He sets himself two pretty difficult tasks with this film; firstly, by attempting to convincingly depicting onscreen the effects of psychedelic drugs, and secondly by shooting the film entirely from the perspective (more or less) of the protagonist who “dies” a short way into the film. Having neither taken DMT nor died myself, I can’t really speak for how authentically the film replicates either of these experiences. However, I would imagine they are both pretty disorientating, and disoreintation is certainly something the film manages with aplomb; strange angles, long swooping dolly shots, epileptic-unfriendly strobing and more are unleashed on the audience, and the music and sounds design are wonderfully unnerving. However, this technical brilliance is let down a little by the quality of the writing it is in service of.
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World Cup 2010: England 1 – 1 USA

June 13, 2010

Well, England’s World Cup is under way in typical fashion but quite honestly I’m a bit relieved. I had a nasty feeling beforehand that the USA might win this one, and given that they are the other team expected to qualify from group C, a 1-1 draw is far from disastrous. England’s performance was better than I expected too (although to be honest my expectations were pretty low); they were unquestionably the better side, the opening goal was well worked and well taken, and players whose inclusion on the team sheet sent shivers down my spine acquitted themselves fairly well. Read more…

Rilke: The Sonnets to Orpheus XXI

April 29, 2010

Spring has returned. The earth resembles

a little girl who has memorised

many poems …. For all the trouble

of her long learning, she wins the prize.

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Dogtooth (Kynodontas)

April 28, 2010

This is more like it. Dogtooth is a dark, strange and bleakly funny film by Greek director Giorgos Lanthimos. Somewhere in the countryside, live a couple and their adult children who have been isolated within the family compound for their entire lives, and kept in a strange perpetual childhood. They spend their days playing odd games in pursuit of stickers, and hoping that an aeroplane will fall in their garden.

The opening scene shows the three children (who appear not to have names, or at least are never referred to by them) learning new vocabulary via a tape recorder; any words they may have picked up hinting at a world beyond the walls of their grounds are given new meanings. Hence “the sea” is a type of leather chair, and “telephone” means salt shaker. The outside world cannot be kept at bay forever, though. Read more…

The Ghost (aka The Ghost Writer)

April 19, 2010

The GhostRoman Polanski’s latest film, The Ghost (known in the US as The Ghost Writer), has been accumulating a healthy stack of glowing reviews since winning the Best Director prize at the Berlin film festival, with most reviewers offering some variation on the statements “Polanski’s most enjoyable film in years” and “An intelligent, tense political thriller”. After watching it on Saturday, I can’t help but feel that they must have been watching some fucking awful thrillers recently if this one stands out as exemplary. Read more…

Liars: Sisterworld

March 11, 2010

I first encountered Liars when they were supporting Sonic Youth in 2002; I remember enjoying them as much as it was possible to enjoy a band who were standing between me and seeing Sonic Youth live for the first time. Back at that time, they seemed to sit quite nicely in the crowded dance-punk pigeonhole, but distinguished themselves somewhat by injecting some welcome abrasiveness and dischord into the template.

Then came They Were Wrong, So We Drowned; an uncompromisingly strange, haunted album concerning witches and Walpurgisnacht. The music was shuddering and percussive, full of banshee howls and diseased croaks – channeling Bad Moon Rising era Sonic Youth and PiL circa Flowers of Romance while adding some peculiar madness of their own. Read more…