Fragmented Films Sept 2012

Mickey Rourke’s face is a freakshow. It’s like his plastic surgeon has stapled dried pigskin to his skull then wacked it into place with a saucepan before setting it alight. What we’re left with is the melted wreck. In a case of life imitating art in 1989 he made Johnny Handsome, in which he played a hideously deformed gangster, though to be fair he looks much scarier now au natural, than he did back then in full movie makeup. His mangled distended face has him destined to play Wrestler type roles for the remainder of his career, a broken weathered man trying to find some kind of salvation from the mess he’s made of his life…and face.

Yet Hollywood keeps giving to Mickey. Whilst roles like Angel Heart and Rumble Fish demonstrated a remarkable talent in the 80’s, a combination of returning to the boxing ring and stupid self indulgent film decisions left him in b-grade hell by the 90’s.  It was only the likes of Robert Rodriguez who picked him up for a couple of films most notably Sin City that returned him to the big leagues in the noughties appearing in Iron Man II and The Expendables. But make no mistake, a man riddled with as much ego as Rourke is destined to fuck it all up again.

“I never go to parties or premieres, but if I do it’s usually on a Harley Davidson, ” he offered to Playboy magazine in 1987, demonstrating both a narcissistic lack of insight and a desperate desire to rebel in a totally conformist way.

It’s strange to think that his second decline might begin in a film where he gets to dry hump an ‘it girl’ like Megan Fox and he shares the screen with Bill Murray, Kelly Lynch and Rhys Ifans. You can see why Passion Play (Eagle) appealed to Rourke; it’s so self consciously dripping with clichéd cool. Rourke plays a broken down jazz trumpeter now reduced to playing strip clubs and mixing it with local hoods. A surreal journey to the desert finds him in a spooky old style carnival sideshow and in particular, exactly where you’d expect to find Rourke, the freakshow. It’s here he finds Fox, a beautiful woman with the wings of an angel, and well you know the rest.  The ingredients are here to create something quite special, some kind of gritty existential noir take on Wings of Desire, yet screenwriter turned director Mitch Glazer (Scrooged) squanders his opportunity and instead delivers a plodding third rate thriller.

CGI gets a bad wrap, but its unconvincing imagery is the best thing about 2-Headed Shark Attack (Peacock). What could be better than a rampaging two-headed shark chomping through annoying American co-eds? “That’s twice the amount of teeth,” announces one of the brighter bikini clad soon to be victims. With Hulk Hogan’s niece who looks like a broken down porn star, Carmen Electra who acts with her breasts and the z grade brother of a barely famous actor, the plot has the credibility (and intelligence) of an episode of Jersey Shore, single mindedly designed to turn these stupid teens into sashimi. Gold.

Interview with Anthony Pateras on Cyclic Defrost



“One of my favourite analogies for composing and improvising is that it’s very much like trying to keep honey on a knife. The ideas are always falling and you just have to twist the knife a little bit to keep them focused,”

See the rest of my interview with one of Australia’s tireless and provocative new music/ experimental music icons as he discusses his new Box set Collected Works 2002 – 2012, recent dalliances with the film industry and his decision to move to Brussels.


Fragmented Films Aug 2012

Brown Bunny and 9 Songs are two recent examples of traditions that reach back to In The Realm of the Senses and Romance, films where even onscreen blowjobs aren’t enough to draw your attention away from the fact that they’re awful. Sure the titillation makes them a little more tolerable, but not even the forbidden thrill of seeing an actress or actor reach down and start gobbling away at their co star can improve some of these plotless self indulgent turkeys.

The French erotic drama Q (Accent) is the latest in this questionable club, the tale of a small coastal town that’s swept into an erotic frenzy once the sexually uninhibited Cecile breezes through. You kind’ve know what you’re in for from the outset, a bunch of girls all chattering about their risqué sexual escapades. Not so weird right? Except they’re all naked in communal showers and it’s shot in close up focussing on their breasts and vaginas. So basically Q begins with talking vaginas. Cecile takes on the role of a sexual Mary Poppins, sprinkling her provocative pixie dust on everyone she encounters, unlocking the libido of virginal beauties, sexually reintroducing a couple to each other post tragedy in possibly the kinkiest way you can imagine, and helping a couple of lesbians realise their unspoken attraction.

It transpires she’s using her sexuality to mask her internal pain, which might explain why she’s so confrontational, offering potential suitors a little more than a spoonful of sugar. But the effect is surprisingly similar. The medicine goes down if you know what I mean and everyone is all the better for it.

Shame (Transmission) is sex as a response to trauma, most likely of the sexual kind. It’s a bleak austere film that plays on the wish fulfilment fantasy of cinema, i.e. a rich successful hot guy bagging a gaggle of hot chicks with alarming ease. Though the cracks begin to show when he feels the need to lighten his load in the work bathroom. Michael Fassbinder (Inglurious Bastards) can’t help but ogle and seduce every female he comes into contact with. He’s a walking example of a Peaches song, each act, each breath, each look screams ‘fuck the pain away.’ Initially it works, that is until the unwelcome arrival of his sister Carey Mulligan, whose desperation for connection forces him to examine his own coping mechanisms.  His terrified resistance to any kind of emotional intimacy forces him further into shallow, increasingly harmful sexual encounters. Shame is written by Abi Morgan (Iron Lady), with the dialogue as austere as Fassbinder’s apartment. Though it’s Steve McQueen’s (Hunger) direction that is the real highlight, expertly conveying the bleak emotional turmoil via silence, a furtive look, or mournful classical music during some of Fassbinder’s more feverish sexual exploits.

Shame is the aftermath, it’s about the struggle to protect yourself and stay numb, to bury the pain and escape into flesh. The problem is that you can’t bury it forever. It will find a way out and will stay with you. Much like this film.

Fragmented Frequencies August 2012

With all of the back and forth recently in electronic music circles stemming from an interview given by Deadmau5 (that dude with the giant mouse head), the concept of button pushers within electronic music is again pretty controversial. The buttons we’re talking about are ‘start’ and ‘stop,’ a live show that consists of playing an ipod and getting paid half a million dollars. A Guy Called Gerald recently weighed in with a nasty ill thought out rant outing Deadmau5 as a failed record company hack before inexplicably charging him with wanting to nuke Palestine. Slightly insane yes, but it highlights the sensitivity and confusion for many in electronic music circles. With most of the work done in the studio with a mouse over many hours, it’s just not feasibile or interesting to replicate this live.

“Yeah its a tricky one these days,” offers Melbourne audio visual artist Kit Webster, who alongside Chiara Kickdrum and Bevin Campbell (host of The Blend on PBS) is starting a new live electronic night called Movement.

“Back in the 90’s you would see the artist jump from one machine to the next, each tweak you can literally see what’s going on, and you can see the intensity on their faces, then I guess you really understand the true meaning of 100% live.”

Movement doesn’t discriminate between styles or scenes, but they want facial intensity. “We want to push boundaries with sound by showcasing the best artists from sound art, electronica to dubstep, techno and drum and bass. 100% self produced music.”

Movement will be launched on Thursday August the 9th at The Order of Melbourne with the likes of Voitek, Mindbuffer, Kloke and a gaggle of cutting edge musicians and visual artists.

Back in 2000 Fragmented Films has fond memories of fronting up to a grimy Punters Club to witness an electronic artist with rudimentary electronics, a trombone and a mandolin craft these beguiling textures of sound. The artist was Nightswimmer and he self released three albums between 2000 and 2003 before promptly relocating to the UK, in pursuit of his other more shoegazey pop project The Sound Movement.  He’s recently returned to Melbourne after 8 or so years abroad with a new album The Sound of Disconnect. Whilst there is some similarity in mood and aesthetic with his earlier work, there’s a greater complexity in composition and execution. Nightswimmer gives the music plenty of time and space, allowing sounds and emotions to drift gradually into earshot, vocals whisper, guitars jangle and before you know it your transported back into his incredible world.

Percussionist Will Guthrie, co founder of the Make It Up Club has been living in Nantes France for the last five years or so. A regular improvisor, he is equally adept with junk percussion and contact mics as with a full blown kit, having performed with jazz, flamenco, and African bands as well as improv troupes like Anthony Pateras’ Thymolphthalien. His new album, Sticks Stones & Breaking Bones (Antboy) sees a return to the kit. “I was a little tired and frustrated with what of I was doing with electronics,” he offers via email, “it was time to change. I also felt a need to try to bring in more ‘pulse’ elements into my music.”

It’s a remarkable album, recorded, mixed and mastered within two days, with Guthrie setting up little experiments to push himself out of his comfort zone.

“The idea for the piece ‘Breaking Bones’ was to push my physical limits, and play repeated patterns at a very high volume until the body can continue no longer, and change happens regardless of a mental decision to change. The idea is that after awhile of pushing the body the mind plays second to the body, so the results can be unexpected and different to what I would normally ‘decide’ to play. It’s almost like a chance piece, but the outside element is my own self.”

He’s launching the album at Monkey Bar on the 12th of August at 4pm.