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Cinematic Spirit & Soul

Lengthy cinema discussion with uber-film-geek Rohne the other day, mainly sparked off by a Guardian interview with Jean-Luc Goddard:

"(Godard) seems despairing of the medium's ability to reinvent itself or to have any kind of social impact. "It's over," he sighs. "There was a time maybe when cinema could have improved society, but that time was missed."

A far deeper piece on cinema's possible demise was the New Yorker's, 'Gross Points', articulately arguing how the blockbuster could well be the end of cinema. Who knows? Maybe as an art form but not yet as an industry or culture.

So Rohne & I rambled - I loved every minute of his passion - how 'Manhunter' (pic. below) was his all time fave flick, so much so, that we should have an evening where he'd deliver a live DVD-audio commentary backing up his brave boast.


Then it was onto limitations of 'Cinema' as an art form, exemplified years ago by Peter Greenaway who's often found the screen/frame so binding.

Limitations do produce superb creativity, particularly re: tight budgets. We chucked examples at each other: Spielberg's 'Duel' - terrifying tension from the simple premise of a truck relentlessly in pursuit of an innocent driver.
Sam Raimi's 'Evil Dead' - staggering camera work including all that f*cking phenomenal sped-up, aggressive 'Zombie Cam' point of view, often imitated, never bettered. Coppola's 'The Conversation', in between 'Godfather' & 'Godfather II', not so much of a budget issue, perhaps more on restrictions from circumstances facing the director at the time.

Next, limitations of a medium. Books, film without time. Film's forced time (24 frames/sec) etc. which brings us to Sin City which I've touched on already but needs bit more blogging:


Sin City (pics above & below) has set the template for comic book adaptations; the film-noir feel & polished look, stylistically staggering!! Someone jokingly compared it to A-ha's 'Take On Me', unfair but f*ck, that A-ha video was seriously, and still is the BOMB!!! Steve Barron, we salute you.


Anyway, Sin City features rocking performances from Elijah Wood, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Benicio Del Toro & Rutger Hauer (effortlessly echoing his brilliant 'Bladerunner' soliloquy), so maybe Paul Greengrass will deliver something as solid for Alan Moore's supposedly un-filmable 'Watchmen' graphic-novel (pic. below)


Again, love seeing something dark & edgy like Sin City do so well, having rinsed it at US Box Office.

Similarly, check this new wave of 'Spiritual Cinema', as media have been tagging it. Bristol's 'Watershed' recently put on the Kaleidoscope event featuring Ingar Bergman's work plus Kim Ki-Duk's 'Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter' but the 2 doing it for me, fast gaining momentum & taking 'fringe' front-row are 'Tarnation' & 'What the #$*! Do We Know!?'


Like 'Capturing The Friedmans' on crack, 'Tarnation' sees film-maker Jonathan Caouette bare his and some of his family's souls on film in a way I doubt you'll ever see again - ever.

To some, the film's concept may ultimately be stronger than the film itself but I guarantee few have had a more traumatic life than Jonathan and managed to keep a video diary of the whole experience from early teen to 30-something - ya get me?!!


The way Caouette uses the camera as shield, mirror and stage are exhilerating. The film's scrap-book style, multi-formats (Super-8, Betamax, VHS, DV & Hi-8) and encylopaedic collage of material offers up some glorious lo-fi technqiues, very 'Eraserhead' with colour. Again, amazing what you can do with initial bare budget and i-Movie. The 'pumpkin' scene disturbed me almost as much as the Charles Manson 'Super Star' DVD documentary - pure insanity captured by an un-biased lens.

Finally, tonight, just back from 'What the #$*! Do We Know!?'. One can easily dismiss this as new-age tosh - if so you'll really miss the honest beauty of this stunning documentary film.


A loose talking heads narrative wraps itself around the life of the deaf actress Marlee Matlin to deliver incredible human drama, inspiring insights, quantum physics for starters with me leaving the cinema empowered and hungry for more. I like how the film tackled 'addiction', 'designing our destiny' and clever end-crediting of the talking heads to avoid bias/prejudice. The Robert Palmer/Addicted To Love parody was somewhat cheesy but surreally cool and I loved hearing Kernkraft's 'Zombie Nation' in the wedding scene - Let's AVE IT!!!


At times 'What The Bleep' reminded me of Diane Keaton's 'Heaven', an absolute hidden gem, go discover it now, a real movie mash-up!! Plus Baz Luhrmann's genius global no.1 hit, "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)" which was an early viral thing, spawned from an 1997 internet poem that did the rounds - a sincere e-mail that didn't promise you a trip to Disneyland if you forwarded it to Bill Gates, millions of Nigerian dollars or a missing liver!!!

Cinema's far from dead with films like these breaking barriers and box office!

Posted on May 09, 2005 at 11:25 PM

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