Piestany is beautiful and Cinematik is a small, personal film festival with gems from new European cinema. A few shots from opening night.
Imagine being a world famous artist. Imagine designing national monuments. Imagine thinking that you are invulnerable to repression. Imagine speaking out against human rights abuses at your country’s Olympics (Olympics for which you designed stadiums). Imagine being warned to shut your fat trap. Imagine you keep talking. Imagine that a few months later they come to arrest you and lock you away for 81 days. Imagine you come back with the strict warning that if you continue to make an international media spectacle damaging to the regime which is buttering your bread, you will go away not for three months but forever.
If your imagination is rich, you will have just lived the three years of artist Ai Weiwei’s life who for many years had a blessed position as Lear’s fool in Beijing. His nonsense answers and ironic commentary on the regime probably even amused the higher party bosses. A useful fool.
Tigers in the City is ostensibly an urban love story mixed with an international crime thriller. As strange as that mix sounds, the actual film is even stranger.
The main story follows a hotshot young prosecutor in Bratislava, Rudolf Jazvec. This gentleman at the age of thirty has not lost his virginity, much to the amusement of his randy bon vivant zoo keeper friend Hyena who has been boffing Rudolf’s oversexed younger sister and fitness instructor Jane for the last five years. Rudolf is in love with a radio host on Bratislava’s culture channel, Marina Kuznikova.
Kristina Tothova and Diana Morova in an intimate moment,
no it’s not a lesbian love story: Tóthová plays a man
Unknown to anyone except the viewer, Marina’s Russian husband Ivan (the boxing instructor of Jane) has been brought in by Marina’s mafioso brother to eliminate a troublesome state prosecutor. Rudolf.
Lóve is a deeply sinister film. There aren’t many films made these days in Bratislava or Slovakia that make it to theatres. More particularly there are even fewer films for young Slovaks to see themselves in. I’ve just survived the brutal skinhead-centric feature My Dog Killer (opening film of Febiofest) and had higher hopes for the very glamorously and heavily marketed Lóve.
Here we have three typical student girls living in the main dormitories at Mlynskina Dolina. They sneak boys in and out of their rooms and dream of having punky guys turn up with pear spirits in their underpants. After drinking the bottle straight, some of them have sex with the said punky guys. The next week Sandra cries that Tomas doesn’t call her anymore. So far so good. The same maudlin story which French étudiantes might live through, albeit with better rooms and better liquor.
Larry Clark likes to make movies which shock. Particularly about teenagers. They fuck and swear and sometimes kill (Bully). On the other hand, William Golding’s Lord of the Flies is on the reading list in most English language high schools around the world. Nothing Larry Clark has done can outdo the horror of those kids on an island.
Homo sapiens are a brutal and savage species, probably responsible for the elimination of Neanderthal man and since then we have sent thousands of species into extinction, from mammoths, to bison, to the dodo. If there’s a bad animal around, we’re it.
Clark like Golding is busy with representing the what is, ripping off of your rose-coloured glasses and then stomping on them to boot. Yes, your girlfriend in high school betrayed you. Deliberately. And your son’s girlfriend is probably betraying him now too. It’s just what people do. Your wife probably cheated on you at least once or twice too. Go and read Jane Goodall’s study of chimpanzees: how they mate and how they stalk their neighbours and kill.
Anyway back to Marfa Girl: it’s the same unlikeable group of teenagers smoking up and screwing as we’ve seen in other Clark movies. This time it’s on the US/Mexican border. There are some very dislikable adult border patrol officers and some slightly less dislikable promiscuous kids. It’s a film about ideas and loyalties. There are some extended Socratian dialogues between kids and cops, cops and cops.
Chariots of the Gods I first saw when I was nine. For those unfamiliar with that documentary, Chariots of the Gods breathlessly explores signs from ancient cultures that we have had contact with extra-terrestials. While the documentary raises more questions than it answers, Chariots of the Gods had the same effect on me as it did Ridley Scott: I remain convinced we are not alone in existence (universe is place, existence is state: the universe may be as small in existence as your kitchen is in existence, just one room in one house in one city in a single country) and it is more than likely that sometime somebody has stopped by to visit, no matter how briefly.
Ridley Scott’s Prometheus chooses to take up the same questions of alien visitation but in fictional form.
Scott would seem to be the ideal visionary director to take us to other planets and to the future. Scott’s Blade Runner has long been my favorite film, competing strangely with Rohmer and Truffaut New Wave confections but certainly uncontested in the sci-fi and epic genre. The heart rending performance of Sean Young and enigma of Harrison Ford echo through time.