Fragmented Films June 2010

Thomas Edison once suggested that the body’s chief function was to carry the brain around. So too for Ron Jeremy. Though his function differs a little. He has to lug around his One Eyed Monster (Dv1). It’s a one joke film where whilst shooting a porn flick in a secluded cabin Jeremy’s enormous phallus is invaded by aliens, detaches from his body and goes on a murderous spree. It’s classy fun for the whole family.

Le Corbeau (Directors Suite), or The Raven is a paranoid 1943 whodunit from the French suspense master Henri- Georges Clouzot. A small town is torn apart by fear and suspicion as a campaign of mysterious poison pen letters reveal the dark secrets of all inhabitants. You can draw links to Clouzot’s experience of Nazi occupation as societies order quickly evaporates. It’s tense, sinister, and comes with Tarantino approval, having placed its poster in the lobby of his Inglorious Bastards cinema.

Black Dynamite (Hopscotch) is the Forest Gump of blacksploitation. The 2009 film steals every 70’s blacksploitation cliche and packs it into the impossibly smooth title character. He knows kung fu, was in Nam, hangs with the Black Panthers, and protects the hookers and orphans. He also beds seven ‘bitches’ at once and avenges his brother’s death to super slick wah wah guitar. It’s knowingly ludicrous. Like when his lady tries to leave. “You can go, or you can cum.” He offers. Cue wah wucka wucka wah. It’s probably when Richard Nixon attacks him with nunchuckas that you wonder how far over the top this film can go. The answer is further.

Timecrimes (DV1) is an intelligent Spanish time travel jigsaw. It begins in the middle and works its way out. You can’t afford to miss a single detail. It begins by asking who’s the creepy stranger wrapped in a pink bandage? And why is a women stripping in the woods? Winding up implicating the viewer in notions of voyeurism, causality and destiny whilst delivering a white knuckle thriller. Apparently Cronenberg is remaking it for us gringos.

If you thought suicide was the end then think again. Wristcutters: A Love Story (Dv1) is a bizarre parallel universe where everything is just a little bit worse than our own. Possessing a dark whimsical humour, it’s essentially a quirky slacker road-movie through purgatory, encountering mysterious offbeat characters like Tom Waits.

No one does bleak addictive crime TV like Denmark. First with The Eagle and now The Killing (SBS/Madman), a ten part series that begins with a violent sexual crime and follows the investigation through multiple red herrings and all levels of government. Apparently no one in Denmark tells the truth. It’s a cracker.

Finally Directors Suite have quietly been releasing a season of Japanese auteur Kenji Mizoguchi’s films from the 40’s and 50’s. Whilst Kurosawa always gets the acclaim, Mizoguchi’s films such as Street of Shame and the epic The Loyal 47 Ronin possess a raw humanist spirit tackling social inequality with a rare kind of beauty and understanding.

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Fragmented Frequencies June 2010

In Fragmented Frequencies early years he indulged in a fantasy that all the punk rock super heroes were great mates. That Henry Rollins and Jello Biafra would bake cakes together, snort some crack with Gibby Haynes, then go to the pinball arcade with the Ramones and just before bed sacrafice some virgins with Glen Danzig.

Of course it’s teenage fantasy hokem, and this punk rock Brady Bunch fever dream had all but vanished until recently, when it became clear that not only did someone else share this vision, but they took it one step further. Henry & Glen Forever supposes Rollins and Danzig as sensitive caring lovers who live next door to the polite yet devil worshipping Hall & Oates. It’s a 64 page comic book from Igloo Tornado, a collective of artists that dare to delve into the intimate thoughts of the soft loving, hard living duo, the sensitive and vulnerable emo feelings that they share only in their respective diary entries and with each other. It’s not altogether narrative based, with multiple drawing styles, it’s more like a collection of significant movements from their lives that when patched together really provide a unique insight into our ink obsessed musclebound heroes, reveling in their insecurities and self doubt. We see them singing karaoke together, Danzig repeately asks Rollins how his butt looks in pants, and they bicker about toilet paper and who does all the housework. They even have a TV Party. It’s sensational. You can find it at www.microcosmpublishing.com.

Zac Keiller is a local guitarist very active on the experimental music scene. Whilst his releases and collaborations are too numerous to mention here, the one constant is his fascination with discovering new and unique sonic textures from one of the most overused and unimaginatively approached instruments in western music: The guitar. The majority of his previous releases saw him working with ambient textures or electroacoustic improvisation (which you can now download for free at www.zackeiller.polydistortion.net). His new album Start Burning (Iceage Productions) sees him limiting the use of pedals, attempting to find a kind of transcendence through stark purity of tone. Whilst there’s some gorgeous ambience with drones and fragmented runs of notes, there’s also a raw kind of riff based instrumental rock with drums, which emphasises that these days it takes different strokes to move Zac’s world.

The Sentimental Engine Slayer is the debut feature film release for Mars Volta guitarist Omar Rodriguez Lopez. Not only did he write, direct and produce the film he also stars as the confused 20 something struggling with some serious mental health issues in his transition to adulthood. He also contributes the really whacked out score which is pretty consistent with his previous solo offerings. His sounds are a mixture of guitar noise and gentle ambience and it provides the film with a confused, hazy, perhaps drug addled feel, perfect for the disjointed narrative and surreal suburbia Lopez is going for. Populated by friends and family, it’s super low budget, in Spanish (sometimes without subtitles) and English, reflecting the multicultural multilingual reality of modern day America like few films have. This very bold and unique debut feature is playing at ACMI from the 10th to the 13th of June.

And don’t be afraid of the annual Liquid Architecture Festival, a celebration of sound art and progressive experimental music. It’s on from the 1st to the 17th of July and features exhibitions, artists talks and concerts. As usual there’s a few overseas acts, including musique concrete composer Lionel Marchetti (Fra) and noise dude KK Null (Jap) who was here about 10 years ago playing a 15 minute set on a noisy acoustic guitar before saying, “sorry it’s out of tune,” and proceeding to play it again sounding exactly the same. Hilarious. Check www.liquidarchitecture.org.au.

Fragmented Films May 2010

The Ed D. Wood Jr Collection (Rocket) is a four disc opus from the most hilariously inept filmmaker ever. His stilted cyclical dialogue is confused and inane, a contorted poetic abuse of the English language. Yet somehow it’s compelling. He was an auteur of incompetence and unintentionally avant garde, conjuring up a new form of genius steeped in ineptitude.

Bride of The Monster is totally insane. Bela Lugosi abducts people and experiments on them to create a master race. It’s filled with these golden Woodian moments like a police chief who sits at his desk with a bird on his shoulder like he’s a pirate, the monster is a giant inanimate plastic octopus that requires the victims to thrash around wildly to give the pretext it’s moving, and the stilted climax is near incomprehensible. 1954’s Jailbait is a little disappointing, not only is it not about statutory rape, but it’s not as nuts as his other films. It is however brimming with golden quotes like ‘this afternoon we had a long conversation earlier in the day.” and “Carrying a gun can be dangerous business,” to the reply “so can building a skyscraper.” It’s film noir Wood style, with glaring plot holes and peculiar inappropriate guitar music. Then there’s the blackface comedy routine that’s spliced midway into the film for no apparent reason. Glen or Glenda is Wood at his best, a clunky ham fisted plea for tolerance for transvestism masquerading as an educational film with Wood himself playing both Glen and Glenda. Bela Lugosi pops up saying ridiculous things like ‘bevare of the big green dragon that sits on your doorstep,’ which if you’re feeling generous may be a metaphor for homosexuality, or if you’re not, a cynical attempt to cash in on Lugosi’s fame. Midway through he splices in some half naked chicks cavorting burlesque style. Again for no apparent reason. But genius has never needed a reason, as demonstrated in his 1959 alien invasion masterpiece Plan 9 From Outer Space. Lugosi died prior to filming so Wood reused the same footage of Lugosi over and over and then got his chiropractor to play Lugosi’s role with his arm shielding his face, hoping the audience wouldn’t clue in. Voted the worst film of all time, it’s unintentionally hilarious, a bizarre z grade howler borne out of continuity errors, stilted acting and effects that are very very not special.

Both Jam and Tim and Eric Awesome Show could never have existed without Mr Mikes Mondo Video (Beyond). Made in 1979 by Michael O’ Donoghue and featuring a murder of fellow Saturday Night Live alumni like Bill Murray, it was a spoof of the sleazy exotic shocksploitation of Mondo Cane. Yet it was too dark and surreal for TV, apparently images of a bunch of cats thrown into swimming pools or beautiful women discussing how men who smell their fingers get them hot didn’t fly with the network. Genius.