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Showing posts from June, 2019

Vampyres

Thoughts on the film by José Ramón Larraz
Putting together a short comment for MUBI, I wrote the following: "With its atmospheric locations, painterly shot compositions and use of natural lighting, Vampyres is a grindhouse film that succeeds in dipping a toe or two into the esoteric world of the arthouse movie. Despite its minimal plotting, the story sustains interest and has a few surprising developments, but it can't compete with certain similar films by the great Jean Rollin, who could have injected this particular brand of exploitation with something more dreamlike, hypnotic and surreal."
I drafted the above almost automatically. At the time it seemed a good enough means of expressing (within the minimum character limit available) the film's strengths and weaknesses. I was content to leave it there and move on to something else when I started to question the film's deeper merits. I was thinking about how, from a surface perspective, the "vampiric" cha…

The Popular Cinema

A Question of Aesthetics?
What is the popular cinema in the year 2019? Is it this shot of Carol Danvers, aka Vers, aka Captain Marvel - the titular hero from the Marvel™ product of the same name - framed defiantly, with glowing white eyes and a surrounding aura of heavenly lens-flares added in post-production?

Captain Marvel [Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck, 2019]:
Or is it this shot, of Samuel L. Jackson's dead-eyed, unnatural CGI head? A bizarre and questionable bit of cinematic hocus-pocus, which brings to mind the borderline immoral horrors of another of Disney's recent atrocities, the creepy "de-aged" Princess Leia from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), or worse, the digitally-rendered resurrection of long-dead actor Peter Cushing in the same film.


Or maybe it's whatever's happening in this shot – which apparently has no aesthetic value whatsoever.


I don't want it to seem as if I'm singling out Captain Marvel (2019) for unfair criticism here. In genera…

Anna Viebrock

A Question of Aesthetics?
When the cinema has continued its slow death-march towards its future as a mostly monoform corporate entity infected by the monotonous soap-opera of television - where images are no longer designed but merely observed as part of a mundane system of illustration - or worse, suggestive of second-hand video gameplay, sans interactivity - where the imagery is just an inert mass of pixels and rendered objects that are dehumanised and depersonalised to the point of no longer expressing anything inspired or unique - what physical art-spaces will maintain the power to occupy our dreams?
Recently, when browsing the internet, I happened across a series of images attributed to the noted costume and stage designer Anna Viebrock. These images had been posted in a Facebook group created for admirers of post-dramatic theatre, which I follow occasionally, when in need of inspiration. Seeing these images set off a lightning bolt that tore through my imagination. They lit a spar…

Mia Goth

Thoughts on a film: Suspiria (2018)
Unfortunately I didn't think very much of director Luca Guadagnino's remake of Suspiria (2018), which might be one of the absolute worst recent films I've seen. Since I don't like to get too negative about the things I write about at 'Lights in the Dusk' I'll try to avoid the specifics as to whyI found the film such a lamentable experience. However, if anyone is especially interested in gaining an insight into my issues with this new version of the Dario Argento masterpiece, I did leave a short comment about it on my Letterboxd and MUBI profiles.
There were however a couple of things I did like about the film, which are worth clarifying. Firstly, I appreciate that Guadagnino and his collaborators didn't just turn-in a lazy imitation of the Argento film. While it shares a title and some similarities in terms of character and plot, this recent Suspiria has its own aesthetic and philosophical identity that is distinct and …

Roundhay Garden Scene

A Mystery?
To talk about the cinema's present, one must first acknowledge its past. Roundhay Garden Scene (1888), one of the oldest surviving fragments of motion picture history, could be called, at its most dismissive, a camera test; a two-second recording that captures four individuals wandering around the gardens at Oakwood Grange in the suburb of Roundhay, Leeds, West Yorkshire. Obviously intended as an experiment in recording movement, the few seconds of surviving footage have, with the passage of time, become possessed with a feeling of mystery, if not anxiety. Scratch beneath the surface of its seemingly benign exterior and Roundhay Garden Scene becomes a precursor to the subconscious cinema of filmmakers like Fritz Lang, Jacques Rivette, Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch and others. Films that are charged with an air of conspiracy, or obscurity; of dream-worlds and paranoia, controlled and manipulated by an unseen system of influences.
Like the aforementioned Kubrick's final …

Discreet Music

Adventures in Ambient Discovery
There's an oft-repeated quote that has been attributed to everyone from Elvis Costello to Frank Zappa that states: "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture." While I think the inference of the quote is meant to expose the futility of writing about something that is there to be listened to, experienced and 'felt', it always leaves me a bit perplexed as to why dancing about architecture would ever be considered an inherently bad thing? I suppose because for me it conjures up images and scenes redolent of Wim Wenders' great documentary film, Pina (2011) - inspired by the dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch - in which architecture is very literally danced about, in every sense of the world. Would it not be a pretty remarkable and no less valid means of communicating the overwhelming importance (or unpleasantness) of a particular building than putting pen to paper or opening our mouths to speak? Nonetheless, the origi…