Monday, 31 August 2015

IDOLITIS



Vis Idoli were one of Yugoslavia's best new wave bands. This short, defiant blast of pop punk is greatly enhanced by cheap organ, cheesegrater guitar and the bass player's moustache. Once you've watched Plastika, stay tuned, as Youtube will automatically show you more of their varied and very jolly oeuvre.

MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE REAL WORLD...





































Monday, 24 August 2015

LIKE A CLOUD




A few weeks ago I woke up with The Pretenders song Talk Of The Town lodged in my head. I don't know where it came from, but it shows no sign of shifting. I particularly like the fractured poetry of the opening verse:

'Such a drag to want something sometime/ one thing leads to another, I know/ was a time wanted you for mine/ nobody knew/ you arrived like a day/ and passed like a cloud/ I made a wish/ I said it out loud'.

I love the sibilance on 'I made a wisssh'. Great singer, great song, great group. Within three years of making this video, half of the band would be dead.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

THE PRESENCE OF PLEASENCE















Up until a few years ago, hardly anyone had seen Wake In Fright since its initial release in 1971. It's a genuine rarity: a great, lost film that is actually great, rather than just lost. Donald Pleasence plays 'Doc' Tydon, a sinister drunk who dabbles in medicine and fucks anything that moves. Or doesn't move. He's too far gone to be picky. It's a great, skin crawling performance in a film that is uniquely and horribly oppressive.   

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

I CAN SEE FOR MILES





















THE MAN WITH THE X RAY EYES, d. Roger Corman (1963)

Whilst experimenting with increasing man’s field of vision,Dr Xavier (Ray Milland) uses himself as a guinea pig and finds that he is soon able to see beyond the visible spectrum, then through clothes, walls, flesh and, ultimately, through the fabric of the universe itself.

The proto psychedelic visuals are cheap but effective, and the film taps into the same rich metaphysical vein as The Incredible Shrinking Man, one of the most profound movies Hollywood ever produced. It’s great fun, too, and the ending is quite brilliant.

It’s worth noting that taking LSD (under medical supervision) was a popular, perfectly legal pastime in Hollywood in 1963 (particularly for Cary Grant who claimed to have been ‘reborn’ as a result of his numerous acid trips), although this film is not about that, of course.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

HIS GODS

















Space Riders has but a single issue to go. I'm going to specifically ask to be placed in solitary confinement so that I can cry and nip myself.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

STOKED











STOKER, d. Park Chan-Wook (2013)

A beautifully composed hybrid of Night Of The Hunter and, in particular, Hitchcock’s Shadow Of A Doubt, Stoker seems to have slipped into almost immediate obscurity, a status I'm sure will be re-evaluated in years to come, probably after I'm dead. 

In the Hitchcock film, the enigmatic Uncle Charlie comes to stay with the family he hasn’t seen for years. His teenage niece is almost in love with him at first but, as she grows closer to him, she realises that he is a psychotic killer and, revolted, she brings him to justice. 

In the Park Chan-Wook film, Uncle Charlie arrives after the untimely death of his brother in a car crash, and decides to stay with his sister in law and only niece for a while. At first he is rejected by his niece but, as it becomes obvious that he has a darker side, she is drawn more and more towards him. This Uncle Charlie is a psychotic killer, too – but this niece doesn’t mind – in fact, she prefers it that way.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

WHY ME?

























LUCAS CRANACH THE ELDER: 'Christ's Head With Crown of Thorns' (c. 1520-1525)


I am not a religious person at all, but I am very interested in Jesus as a historical figure, as a man and, of course, as the inspiration for countless sublime works of art. Cranach's Jesus looks like what he is: a condemned man trying to come to terms with his imminent death. At this stage of his last agonising hours on this Earth, Jesus must have felt resurrection and eternal life a very long way off indeed.

Monday, 10 August 2015

RED HEADS, DEAD HEADS






















































































LUCAS CRANACH (The Elder) was a German Renaissance painter who lived between 1472 and 1553. He specialised in portraits of members of the Weimar court, as well as of prominent protestants including Martin Luther and his family. 

Cranach also had an 'interest'* in the biblical story of Judith and Holofernes, in which the brutal Assyrian general Holofernes invades the town of Bethulia, only to be killed by the beautiful Jewish widow Judith, who seduces him and then, as he enjoys a drunken post coital nap, cuts his head off.

The subtle differences in these studies are fascinating, especially the various expressions that Judith wears, which vary from tired to triumphant, smug to sanguine, distracted to defiant. Holofernes' expression is fairly constant throughout: a dopey face on a dead head, a grisly reminder of the dangers of one night stands.  

* Many painters have depicted the subject, including Caravaggio and Gustav Klimt, but Cranach is clearly obsessed with it. 

Friday, 7 August 2015

REBELS = GARBAGE







YEAR OF THE CANNIBALS, d. Liliana Cavali (1970)

'I Cannibali' is a film loosely based on a two thousand year old Greek text: ‘Antigone’ by Sophocles. The action takes place in a faceless but fascistic modern city state, a place where the bodies of executed ‘rebels’ block the pavements and roads, are left strewn across fields and piled up on waste ground. It is strictly forbidden to touch the bodies, let alone bury them, so the oppressed people have learned to step over them as if they were bags of rubbish. Indeed, government propaganda describes the bodies as ‘garbage’, and their decaying remains are linked to immorality, to corruption. As the slogan says: ‘rebels make you vomit’ - figuratively, literally.

Antigone (Britt Ekland, very serious) is haunted by her murdered brother’s unburied body, and teams up with a sympathetic foreigner to defy the law and move her brother’s corpse (and others) to a place of sanctity. The foreigner is called Tiresias, and is played by Pierre Clementi, an extraordinary presence in a number of outstanding films of the period. Tiresias’ symbol is the sign of the fish, a clear allusion to one of the first organised attempts to subvert an oppressive regime. With his bright eyes and scruffy little beard, Clementi played both Jesus and Satan in his career, the latter most notably in Bunuel’s ‘The Milky Way’ (1969).

Antigone and Tiresias’ rebellion is short lived, as they are quickly arrested, separated, interrogated, beaten and shuffled around various Brutalist buildings. Eventually, they are murdered and dumped on the street, but they will not stay unburied for long.