Saturday, 26 May 2018

Chaos Reigns (again)

This year Lars von Trier returns to the horror well for the first time since 2009's celebrated and in equal measure reviled ANTICHRIST. One review for THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT out of its premier at Cannes, from a source that I trust (was it ScreenAnarchy? sorry I can't remember), hints at a more reserved film than ANTICHRIST, but that certainly doesn't jibe with all the other well publisised reactions (“disgusting,” “torturous,” “repulsive”) and reports of a mass walkout of more than 100 attendees. Is it really that nasty, or do people at Cannes just love to hate von Trier?

Whatever, today I just want to point out this cool poster for the film that dropped last week. Recreating Eugène Delacroix's famous painting "The Barque of Dante" as a dramatic freeze featuring the film's cast feels like such a calculatedly cynical move on von Trier's part. Having already gone on record as saying that the film's main theme is "the idea that life is evil and soulless", it's obvious that one of his main motives for making JACK is to provoke maximum disgust and hate. A work of pure nihilistic cinematic bile.

So what better way to make the film press loath him even more than they already do than by releasing a poster that blatantly compares his film to great art? Ah, Lars, gotta love him!

Sunday, 20 May 2018

DENIM & LEATHER - Sacred Autism

The punk scene at large isn't wanting for intelligent, forward thinking people. So why, from a social standpoint, is it so frequently guilty of the kind of elitism and exclusionism that it purportedly rails against? And how, from an artistic standpoint, has a once electrically creative movement become so fucking trite? Yes, I'm looking at you pal, your face-melting d-beat, PV or '80s USHC clone is fucking trite.

I get that playing and listening to the rock'n'roll that you like is comfortable. It's nice to be comfortable isn't it? But this is punk, so why not bust out of your little bubble and try something, ya know, different?

I'm not saying that Manchester's DENIM & LEATHER have reinvented the genre. When all's said and done, they're just playing hardcore too. What I am saying is that they're one of an increasingly small group of bands who are doing it without slotting neatly into a rigid category (or a mishmash of said categories). These misfits-among-misfits write unpredictable songs and make mutant sounds that feel personal, stand out from the pack, and above all, are seething with their own identity. Oh, and they shred. They shred really fucking hard.

Sunday, 13 May 2018


Finally got around to watching William Friedkin's forgotten jungle-adventure SORCERER last night, and holy shit, what a film! THE FRENCH CONNECTION and THE EXORCIST got all the accolades, but this is the maverick auteur's true masterpiece.

Shot in five countries over the course of two grueling years, SORCERER is a heart-of-darkness film every bit as amazing as APOCALYPSE NOW or Herzog's AGUIRRE. Like those films, SORCERER's shoot was unimaginably arduous and difficult, pushing its director, cast and crew (not to mention its budget) to breaking point and beyond. The film's big show-stopper of a set piece - in which a pair of vintage trucks cross a perilously rotten wooden suspension bridge in monsoon like conditions - was shot in two countries, over the course of three months, costing a whopping 3 million bucks (crazy money at the time).

After all was said and done, SORCERER had the terrible misfortune to be released in 1977, a month after STAR WARS. In the wake of George Lucas' sci-fi juggernaut it was completely ignored at the box office, a disastrous flop. For a movie-going public freshly infatuated with light sabers and space battles, Friedkin's jungle opus was just too old-fashioned. Thank goodness that a recent restoration and critical reappraisal has finally given this incredible film the exposure and appreciation that it so rightfully deserves. Highly recommended viewing.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

SFF 2018

As has become a tradition around these parts, here are the seven films that will be entering my eyeballs and ear holes at this year's Sydney Film Fest! Not a bad selection at this year's fest. Most excited for UPGRADE and GHOST STORIES.