Posts Tagged ‘Behemoth’

Blackpaint 581 – 2016 Review 2 – Films, Theatre, Museums, TV

December 30, 2016

Film

Behemoth (Zhao Liang) – by turns, brutally realist and astonishingly surreal; coal mining and steelmaking, riding and spitting up coal dust in hospital, poetry, empty cities with traffic lights changing in deserted streets.

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The Revenant – brutal fighting, bear attacks, staggering scenery shots, fantasy scenes.  I was interested to see how it resonated with “Jeremiah Johnson”, 70s vehicle for Robert Redford.

Julieta (Pedro Almodovar) – One of those infuriating stories where people do unreasonable, devastating things (walking out on loved ones) with no explanation – and demand that their actions be accepted, no questions.

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High Rise (Ben Whateley) – Whateley successfully re-creates a 70s film; that is, he has made a 70s film; the colour, the sex, the violence.  I must have missed that particular party..

I, Daniel Blake (Ken Loach) – standard Loach; righteous anger, nightmare (but real) situations, unthinking cruelty, pretension, mindlessness, destitution, prostitution, murder by stress; but I still think it’s optimistic.  It presents a rose-tinted view of working-class people.  They are all so nice; maybe they really are in Newcastle.  One for the metropolitan elite to weep over (see Peter Bradshaw’s Guardian review).

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Revolution – New Art for a New World (Margy Kinmonth) –  Not really in competition as  it’s a documentary about avant-garde – and more traditional –  artists, before, during and after the Russian Revolution.  Some amazing art, heartbreaking stories.

DVDs

Ken Russell drama docs – he pretty much invented it – from 60s.  The best are “Song of Summer” (Delius), “Always on Sunday” (Douanier Rousseau) and “Dante’s Inferno” (Rossetti, played by Oliver Reed).

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Embrace of the Serpent (Ciro Guerra) – Terrific; South American rain forest, German explorers, shamen, mind bending drugs, mad missionaries.

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The Sun (Sokurov) – Hirohito in the “bunker”.  Brilliant.

Metropolis (Fritz Lang) – finally watched the whole of this; there are absurdities but it’s amazingly influential.

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TV 

Thrillers, serial killers and kidnappers – and the Napoleonic Wars.

War and Peace.  I loved it, especially Jessie Buckley, surely a descendant of Giotto’s favourite model.

Marya-Bolkonskaya

The Disappearance (French series, set in Lyon)

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The Missing (British, but set in Germany.  David Morrissey again, and the ridiculously relentless and riveting French detective Baptiste).

Rillington Place.  Claustrophobic, shabby, creepy – those stains on the bed – Tim Roth doing Attenborough doing Christie, like Branagh does Olivier doing Archie Rice.

In Plain Sight – a restrained but terrifying account of Peter Manuel’s crimes in 50s Scotland.  He invaded homes and murdered whole families for fun, while at least one senior detective knew full well he was the culprit – but was unable to convince others.

Theatre

First two at the Wyndham, third at the Garrick.

Hangmen, Martin McDonagh.

Featuring David Morrissey, a strange, well-acted, but rather pointless play about Britain’s second-best hangman (after Pierrepoint) lording it in his northern pub, which is visited by a sinister character who seems to have wandered in from a Joe Orton play.  Was there a miscarriage of justice?

People, Places and Things

Starring Denise Gough, storming through the role.  Shouty, sweary, loads of special effects, dancing, rock music, multiple heroines on stage, that trap door bed that I last saw in “Ghost Story”, drug taking, mobile phones…

The Entertainer, John Osborne, Wyndham

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My favourite.  Kenneth Branagh doing Olivier’s masterpiece justice, dancing comfortably and delivering Osborne’s (and Kipling’s) words beautifully.   “…when you’ve finished killing Kruger with your mouth…”  Osborne seems to have been obsessed with Bass beer.

Lazarus, David Bowie, Kings Cross Theatre

LAZARUS

Michael C. Hall (Dexter) as Thomas Newman, the Man who fell to Earth, years on from the film, living as a rich recluse, pining for Marilou…  It’s a jukebox musical, packing in lots of Bowie classics; the women sing impressively in those steely, LesMis tones, the men manage to sound Bowie-like.  The story is incomprehensible tosh – there’s a killing – maybe.. or maybe it’s all in Newman’s head; but the effects are great.  Amy Lennox writhing sexily against a large screen (all the characters resort to this screen periodically, which is good as it’s hard to see what they are up to on the floor and the bed; the seats are not sufficiently banked up to give a good view); a black “cloud” spreading rapidly like a visual fart behind Valentine, as he sings; a girl in white running in slow motion on screen towards the stage…  Good bands and backing singers too.

Museums

CoBrA Museum, Amsterdam

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Fabulous – Karel Appel, Asger Jorn, and the other cobras; not to be missed, especially Appel’s “Magic Flute” stage furniture.

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

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Rembrandt, Vermeer; they are there all the time – but the Breitner exhibition got my attention.  Also Appel and DK.

Stedtlijk Museum, Amsterdam

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De Kooning, Appel

Astrup Fearnley Museum, Oslo

Polke, Kiefer,

Guggenheim, Bilbao

Louise Bourgeois exhibition and Paris, 1900 – 45

 

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August, Laredo

Blackpaint

30.12.16

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Blackpaint 568 – Terry and Julie, Little Fascists, Ghost Cities

September 12, 2016

Photographer’s Gallery – Terence Donovan and “Made you Look”

julie

In amongst the hard-faced young James Bond types in belted raincoats and beautiful, tubular, posing women, this captivating shot of Julie Christie, looking groomed but feral; there’s that smudge or graze near her elbow – bit more dirt and you could see it as a Don McCullin job.  This, and the famous close-up of Terence Stamp are the stand-outs, but it’s all good.

 

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This is the other exhibition on at the PG; New York, London, Senegal; especially good, the ones of Senegal dandies in 1904.  The man on the poster in the plaid trousers is from New York in the 80s, I think.

Childhood of a Leader (dir. Brady Corbet, 2015)

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I expected the Omen after the trailer, with the ominous, crashing, pulsing electro-classical score (Scott Walker of the Walker Brothers – remember?); set in France or Belgium (filmed in Hungary) at the end of WWI, as the Treaty of Versailles was evolving.  It starts with footage of the fighting and the Versailles cavalcade – dozens of cars in convoy through the streets.  The countryside is dark, distressed, the trees and the chateaux and houses distressed and damaged; the winter landscape, black trees, black clothes, black cars – the lighting in the picture is typical.

The film is constructed in three “Tantrums” and an Epilogue, showing the boy as an adult dictator, reviewing his troops before cheering crowds.  There is a Sun emblem with wiggly rays, I think… Who is he supposed to represent?  It’s based on a combination of a Sartre short story of the same name with a section of John Fowles’ “The Magus”.  I haven’t got to the bit in the Magus yet, but the Sartre story has the boy growing up to be a member of a fascist group and taking part in the murder of a Jew.  Bit of a stretch to becoming a dictator.

There’s nothing here that shows any insight into how a dictator might gain – as opposed to inherit – power.  Where are we in the final section: America?  Central Europe?  The child is close by birth to influence and power, but nothing here really suggests an interest in it, beyond the exercise of his immediate will.  The tantrums are not that dramatic; chucking stones at churchgoers, self-starving, refusing to dress, manipulating servants, embarrassing Mother, defying Father… Next thing, he’s dictating…

The music and visuals promise much – lots of Metropolis, a circular dome against the sky, black coats, white blouses, distressed walls, Hammershoi, Manet, a desolate winter field with a figure in the distance – but the story is paper-thin.  The boy reminded me a little of Mark Lester in “Oliver” – but much more, the little girl in “Outnumbered”.

Behemoth (dir. Zhao Liang, 2015)

behemoth

 

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A nude, prone, rear view of a male torso against the grey/brown, scarred – too weak a word – devastated landscape of open cast mining, fields of green weeds before scores of massive, identical tower blocks.  In such shots, triangular, straight-sided layering as of glass panes.  Poetry read over shots.  Coal mines, steel works, quarries, “ghost cities”, truck ballets (nose to tail, as they crawl up slag heaps to vertiginous drops and shed their loads), fire dragons blasting through the air, sparks, puddles of molten metal and clinker in the foundries.  The lung patients in hospital and dying at home, the grey/black liquid from their chests filling jars.  The empty cities, apartment blocks all the same, no cars on the roads, but the traffic lights operating…

It’s a rare thing; an art film and social documentary interwoven perfectly.  Nearest thing I can think of would be “Leviathan”, the fishing doc.

 

 

Nicolas de Stael, Etel Adnan, Wim Oepts

No particular reason for linking these three, except that, at different times, in different places (France, Holland, Israel)  they seem to have seen the world similarly

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De Stael

 

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Oepts

 

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Adnan

 

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Holy Stone and Sand – WIP

Blackpaint

12.09.16