Posts Tagged ‘Ben Wheatley’

Blackpaint 537- Rape in the High-Rise; OK because it’s the Seventies (sort of)?

March 21, 2016

High-Rise, Ben Wheatley (2015)

high-rise

Laing (Tom Hiddleston) at the high-rise supermarket

First, let’s play the tiresome game of influences and references (because it’s fun); the obvious one is Kubrick’s “Clockwork Orange” – Jeremy Irons recalled closely the fantastic Patrick Magee’s crippled writer in the Kubrick film, as well as the general air of impending violence and social breakdown.  The neglected, precocious child left to his own devices to roam the ravaged building is like the boy in John Boorman’s “Empire of the Sun”, based on Ballard’s own semi-autobiographical book.  For some reason, I think of “American Psycho”; there’s something about the excellent Hiddleston’s coldness and the general lack of affect – and for the non-stop smoking, the smokiest film ever, Fritz Lang’s “M”.

The constantly escalating anarchic violence recalled Claude Faraldo’s 1973 grunt fest, “Themroc”, in which Michel Piccoli turns his apartment into a cave and eats a policeman he has roasted on a spit, having had sex with his sister (Piccoli, not the policeman, to be clear).  Finally, there is Pasolini’s “Salo” (1975), just for the sexual violence, perpetrated in this film on the women, but in Pasolini’s, on boys too.  There is no discernible eating of faeces in “High-Rise” however.

I saw the film in the Brixton Ritzy.  Back in 1990, I saw “The Grifters” there; Anjelica Huston (or was it Annette Bening?) was subjected to a beating about the kidneys with oranges wrapped in a stocking.  A young woman jumped to her feet and turned to the audience, angrily denouncing it as “sexist shit” and us in the audience, as complicit for watching it.  I recalled this 26 years later, as I watched Elisabeth Moss, heavily pregnant, being dragged off to be raped by two men and shortly afterwards, Sienna Miller being dragged off by her ankle to be raped, but this time, only by one man.

To be fair, no actual rapes happen on screen – although Sienna Guillory arrives at the “party” on a horse and demands to know “which of you men are going to fuck me up the arse?” and having descended from the horse, crouches down on all fours with a champagne glass balanced on her back, to facilitate her request and to reward the obliger(s).  You also see the tops of female heads bobbing above the crutches of men, who are casually drinking and conversing whilst seated naked on the floor.  Sienna Miller, bearing the cuts and bruises of her rape, appears later, waiting on Hiddleston and Irons, serving them wine, in a subdued, Stepford Wives fashion.

And all this, with no gasps of outrage and even a few laughs from women in the audience.  Maybe the sexual violence was OK because 1. the film was set in the seventies; 2. it was “ironic” in tone; 3. Ballard is now in Penguin Modern Classics, so the rapes have to stay (I presume they WERE in the book?); 4. Arguably, it’s essential to the plot and the atmosphere;  5. The rapes mostly happen off screen and 6. the screenplay was written by a woman (Amy Jump).

Actually, the film is an attempt to make a film of “High-Rise” as it would have been if made in the 70’s; a pastiche, essentially, like “The Artist”.  Brilliant piece of filmmaking, nevertheless.

And was that a real head that Tom peeled?  It certainly looked real….

 

interregnum

Interregnum

Blackpaint

21.3.16

 

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Blackpaint 470 – Wet Paint and Whales, Sex Dolls, the Blues and Killers

November 21, 2014

Beware Wet Paint at the ICA

Upstairs at the ICA, a small exhibition of (mostly) big paintings, the best by the following three:

Korakrit Arunanondchai  He painted two big pictures, set fire to them, photographed the burning canvases, blew up the photos and used them as an underlay to the holed and charred originals – shades of Metzger and Miro also exhibited a few burned “remnant” paintings – or at least, the Hayward did, Miro being dead at the time.

korakrit

 

Parker Ito,  who had a huge, Manga-style effort which was built around a cartoon girl eating ice cream;

 

Christopher Wool; big grey swipes and washes, black enamel paint Marden lines, from which, here and there, the central pigment had been wiped, leaving “ghost” lines – lovely painting, see below.

christopher wool

 

Leviathan, Zvyagintsev 

The director who did “the Return” 12 0r so years ago.  Town in northern Russia on the Barents Sea, rocks, cliffs, fiords, smashing waves, bleached whale skeleton.  Central character locked in legal battle with corrupt local mayor and officials, semi – gangsters; mayor wants to annex his house and land to demolish it and build on.  House-owner brings in his old army mate, who is a Moscow lawyer and comparatively honest…

More drinking even than the average Bela Tarr – although vodka rather than palinka – and/or smoking and scoffing pickled herring, sometimes all three simultaneously.  And target shooting with AK47 (I think).  The odd, oblique,  swipe at Putin, more direct fun-poking at previous leaders, both Communist and post – Soviet (but not Stalin).  A glimpse of Pussy Riot on TV; Orthodox Church shown as natural allies of the new state gangsterism.  Good, but heavy-handed with the symbolism; the bleached whale bones made a couple of predictable appearances.

Kettles Yard, Cambridge

Rather reminded me of visiting Charleston recently, although here they let you sit on the chairs in the house.  A brilliant collection of Ben and Winifred Nicholson, Christopher Wood – easy to mistake for early Ben, or I did anyway – David Jones, some very unusual drawings, nothing like his usual, busy, spidery style, and Gaudier-Brjeska, who has a whole storey to himself.  There’s the Ezra Pound below, the curved fish, the broad-shouldered man…  In addition, there is a great sketch of a nude woman by Brancusi over the piano and to the left, an unusual monochrome Roger Hilton.

 

gaudier1

Silent Partners, the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

This exhibition is about artists and their mannequins, used for artistic –  and other purposes in the case of Kokoschka and probably Bellmer – down through history.  Some highlights:

Janos Bortnyik, paintings of Adam and Eve, geometric buildings, natty man, pointy legs, tiny waist.

bortnyik1

 

Millais, the Black Brunswicker; look at that white satin dress – fantastic.  The one on the left is the Brunswicker.

millais the black brunswicker

 

Oscar Kokoschka, a selfie in garish tones with a painted life-size doll (not the Alma one).  Good likeness of Oscar, not flattering of either.  Also photos of him with the furry- legged Alma Mahler doll, and Bellmer’s sexy poupee dolls, legs splayed…

kokoschka silent partners

 

Also, a great Degas artist and mannequin, Burne-Jones Pygmalion and Galatea  – Galatea long body, bruised eyes, real Victorian beauty.

The permanent collection at the Fitzwilliam deserves some space so I’ll defer it to next blog.

The Blues and Killers

I imagine it’s a function of TV writers’and researchers’ record collections – blues and even folk music popping up all over.  In the first “Fall” series, the killer was listening to Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Help Me” and others; the paedophile (or he’s shaping up to be) played by Ken Stott in “Missing” listens to Robert Johnson.  Johnson again, as well as the Copper Family and Karen Dalton, in “Down Terrace”, the brilliant, funny and horrifying gangster film by Ben Wheatley (although that was made in 2009).  I don’t buy it really –  can’t see blues fans as killers; anorak seekers after authenticity, more like.

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For Derrida, Blackpaint

21.11.14

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 428 – Light, Frozen Horses, Murder in England

January 3, 2014

Sources of Light (cont.)

I was pursuing Morton Feldman’s schema last week, in which he says that the light in Rembrandt’s pictures is “without source”, Caravaggio’s “raking light”, etc.  Here’s another couple of examples:

caravaggio st paul

Caravaggio, St.Paul

Light from above and front right?

night watch

Rembrandt, Night Watch

Light from the front?  I can’t really see any real difference in the approach to lighting of these two artists.   Feldman might mean that there is no obvious source of light in the picture, window or candle, say – but its the same for Caravaggio surely….

Amy Sillman – One Lump or Two

My partner got this fantastic book for Christmas; I’ve written about her once before, but then I think I’d only seen a couple of her paintings.  She reminds me a bit of Brett Whiteley or Albert Oehlen, in that she often mixes up figurative with abstract; her drawing line is a little like Whiteley’s, too and hence like Roger Hilton.  But the colours are very distinctive – the reds, oranges and greens.,

My favourite paintings in the book are Birdwatcher (below) and A long Drawing, again reminiscent of Whiteley.

amy sillman birdwatcher

Birdwatcher

So, I strongly recommend that you buy this book – my partner tells me the text is not great; that thing where critics can’t resist telling you what pictures they can see in abstracts – but the pictures make up for it.

My Winnipeg

Guy Maddin’s 2007 fantasy biography of his snowbound, sleepwalking hometown, where in 1942, fake German soldiers invaded the town to promote the sale of (Allied) war bonds – true – and racehorses escaped from a stable fire to plunge into a local river and be instantly frozen, with their heads and necks poking up through the ice – legend.

winnipeg

Sightseers

On TV over Christmas, Ben Wheatley’s uncomfortable comedy murder spree around the blue john mines and the pencil museum.  A while through it, I realised it was a sort of twisted (per)version of Mike Leigh’s “Nuts in May” – in this version however, the self-righteous countryside guardians are brained or run over by Wheatley’s even more self-righteous anti-hero.  He also kills litter louts, though.  Seen three of his now; A Field in England, Sightseers and Kill List – all worth watching, if you like the English countryside as a backdrop to quite serious, nasty violence with a touch of paganism.

One more film – an old one, Chabrol’s Les Noces Rouges (1973)

Michel Piccoli and Stephane Audran as the lovers who murder her husband in a Postman Always Rings Twice burning car set-up.  As soon as these two come on screen, it conjures Bunuel, of course; Discreet Charm and Belle de Jour, and is the better for it.  Not really obvious why they murder the husband, since he is willing to ignore their affair in exchange for Piccoli’s collusion in some mildly dodgy land deal; maybe Audran couldn’t accept her husband’s acquiescence.  seems psychologically plausible, anyway.

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In The Studio

Cap Frehel

Cap Frehel – an old one, but no new ones painted yet

Blackpaint

2.01.13