Lola On Film is designed to deconstruct the spectacle, measure empty calories, offer nutritional insights on films newly released, as well as archival treasures (and junk), assess the state of film culture, new formats & hopefully, illuminate cinema’s place in society, as well as in our individual psychology.
Short and sweet weekend ride through a cinematic landscape that is very slowly moving from niche to broader in the Balkans, yet with quality that never drops a beat. Merlinka is a bold and bright festival of good humour and defiance, with a sophisticated programme, a growing audience, and enough maverick charm to face both friend and foe in society with the sage knowledge that, in the end, love conquers all.
Squeezed between the baby-boomer dharma sell-outs and the millennial hordes of tattooed accountants, the throwaway lettuce in a generational bacon sandwich of aspiring corporate drones, sits Gen X, i.e. my generation, sulking mascots of McJobs, deifying burning time creatively doing nothing.
Enter our isolation chamber, Steven Soderbergh‘s 1989 Palme d’Or winner, the tipping point.
It manages to nail the intricacies of emotional abuse in such terrible detail, while muted by pastel colours of Akhavan’s narrative zaniness, that all the twisted soul demolitions of the young hearts being forced to ‘pray the gay away’ suddenly creep up on us – spinning into one heavy gasp of rage.
Essential new mainstream doc on PSY research, a much denigrated fringe topic, one that, perhaps, should not have been left solely for the military to explore. Chock-full of top-tier scientists, high-grade spooks, plus a Nobel laureate and an Apollo astronaut thrown in, for good quantum measure.
Cursed ancient academic proposal I aimed at studying how we are enchanted by film, using early film theory, post-Jungian analysis & anthropology of ritual. One day I might write about the text’s strange travels, good stuff I got out of it, publish a book, or reboot my bid for title of film doctor. For now, please feast on its faded glory, cite & link, yours might be the kiss that revives it.
The 1987 campaign story of disgraced Colorado senator, and Democratic Party front-runner, Gary Hart, is as tough as aspirin compared to what we now digest daily. What it did make me do is rethink the Clinton presidency, four years later, and how the pragmatist philanderer made it to the White House, while the idealist one became a pariah.
There is an element missing here, the key component to any story of conflict and passion – namely, the passion. It does not bode well for a story of a tumultuous affair if the only performance with conviction, in a love triangle, is given by the betrayed husband. So the entire construction falls apart as if dismantled by a sensible family therapist.
A sun-scorched, store damaged, furious street rant on the ways we destroy others, but more on the ways we let ourselves be destroyed. Detective Bell’s hollow glare serves as an extraordinarily well executed hook – each time we look at her face, we compare it to our mental image of Kidman. And the emotional mayhem done locks us in.
The devil mistakes aesthetics for art, has an innate disdain for the body, and in close-up – he’s one dull mofo. Lars Von Trier grabs your head and shoves it into the vortex of any subject he chooses to examine. It’s never a pleasant journey, but he delivers the goods. I gave it four stars, rather than five, although in its way, it is perfect. Because a film about evil should always be missing something.
All you need to know about the state of publicity today is that the 2019 Oscars ceremony, the hottest gig there is, did not have a host, probably because no one wanted the hassle. The global equilibrium of self-promotion vs. self-censorship seems to have reached a screeching deadlock somewhere in the outer layers of our stratosphere, taking all the creative oxygen out of any public concept.
This could have been a film on forbidden love, but it was way smarter than that – it’s a story of self-love, the love of life that is in our nature, the blessed disobedience of flesh. The wild card in a tapered deck.
An experience of profound beauty and real heartache, one that maybe should have been left untouched. It has that defiant spirit of divine intervention hidden beneath a beautiful, silent, terrible mistake. Hope I did Zula and Wiktor justice, their story, it’s a diamond and a dagger, in one.
You know this is a race against time, and that the time in question might not only be diegetic. So informed we are of our world, it seeps into this story, uninterrupted – history hiding underneath its own frayed repeats. Fascism as collective narcissism. Narcissism as ultimate isolation from life source. This is esoteric Christie, avenging angel, her agent, screenwriter Sarah Phelps, at the steering wheel.
Suddenly my eye aligned with the camera. The way Rourke framed it, and Ronan and Robbie fleshed it out, and flamed it, helped me understand what it must have felt like to have a female form and nature at the time, full of ripe wants and infinite prohibitions. Competing with men for a place of power, while at the same time being a place of power. By virtue of the royal womb.
If it had been more artistically rigorous with the slapstick, it could have arrived at Arendt’s ‘banality of evil’, and taken that point home with guns blazing. It might have been brilliant. But it turned out to be merely a sledgehammer to the rusty nail, painting its point across like a shiny billboard.
Viola Davis is relentlessly on point, a woman who loves, grieves, is terrified, and confused, and yet is steely in her newfound awareness. All the widows’ performances are honed to perfection, achieving something truly miraculous nowadays – exhibiting agency without arrogance.
Elegantly cutting through the Cold War politics, slippery metaphors on masculinity, the now archaic technologies yet still very raw societal injustices, an actual insane audacity of the venture building up as monumental ego trip of a nation – this is a story that finds its heart in a silence, mystery of the inner cosmos. There are things we do because we must. The micro and the macro are aligned.
It lands on a piece of me that is yet to accept loss – the devouring of a chunk of my life, of many lives, by the gods of lesser value. This is why I could not take it in any other way than lightly. Giving it my full attention meant giving in to a lack of meaning. A blank canvass of a memory of a home(land) that invites everyone to draw in their own conclusions. All of them true and entirely wrong.
A testament to the inexplicability of mourning, and the therapeutic nature of art. In this case, the art of the moving image, the most conjuring art of all. The camera becomes a dignified way to navigate the grieving process, to share it. There is a great generosity in One More Time With Feeling. This is film as communion, echo of a longing, an evocation of love in that eternal painfully human quest to transcend death.
It was the humanity of the delivery of divinity that was the key to Callas’s impact – and the way she knew, by some uncanny ability, just how to channel an archetype. Seeing her in Pasolini’s Medea, even just for a few screen seconds, shook my soul, if not my world.
Camille emerged fully formed, a she-shaman forged in the era of the return of the witch, expanding the liminal space between traumatic events, taking the silver bullet of all audience assumptions and projections in a tale of female rage – of women hurting other women – all those dark vagina dentata materials blooming a venemous crimson red in the patriarchal dollhouse.
Now, and with a fresh set of goggles, the ill-fated relationship seems to be merely the departure not the destination, the anti-climatic tryst itself making way for a rather sombre study of cultural prejudice and misogyny, one that still could be taken as relevant a hundred years plus change fast-forward.
Everyone feels they know much of Oscar Wilde, the ultimate prophet laureate of pop culture, but no one can really come close to grasping a micron of that man’s life until they understand Clapham Junction.
A sexual damage mentally packaged as a taboo love affair – an irreversible seduction interpreted as consensual in the imaginings of a 13-year-old girl determined to preserve the right of her passage to womanhood.
It swept me like high tide, in the end, much as a windfall of good luck can disorient us when we are deep in mourning… this painful, beautiful, essential meditation on isolation, and how we get there, and what gets us out.
If the Sex Pistols, Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, and X-Files had a threesome and spawned one single entity, you’d get John Cameron Mitchell’ s zany, lovely, but weirdly ordinary love story.
If you’ve ever been pushed off a cliff, this is the film for you. Once you transcend the gore, the sheer originality of its dynamics, the ingenious transgression of its point of view, which happens to be a according to a woman’s frame, makes it a thrill ride of mythic proportions.
A Colt 45 of a film, silver bullet of dark erotica, fertile pathology, a sunlit & soiled mystical union of shadows & light… Beauty and beast in one.
This is no comedy – not that it isn’t darkly funny, in a Bretonian ‘gallows with lighting rod’ kind of way, depicting humour not as a relief, but at the centre of the disease, a punctured ulcer reeking of that which it could not any longer contain.
The remedy to all life’s ills lies in Wes Anderson films. I finally found it in the character of the Oracle dog, and you will find yours too. Keep watching.
There is no horror quite like the murderous rage of someone you once loved. If you ever had anything similar in your life, then consider Xavier Legrand’s explosive separation drama as homeopathic remedy.
Soderbergh’s new twist on his road to revolutionising craft, if not necessarily art – a looming premise of gold-standard corporate totalitarianism.
Zvyagintsev’s eulogy to humanity lost, the severing of connections in the fetishisation of the material – an absence, rather than a presence, a dark jewel, which, when observed against the light, shows no reflection.