Friday, 7 September 2018
Tuesday, 4 September 2018
Monday, 27 August 2018
As far as I am concerned, there are three types of people: those who love Bo Diddley, those who haven't heard him yet, and idiots. On their album Dawn of..., The Double play a classic Diddley Daddy-esque riff for forty minutes, and all sorts of strange stuff emerges as you listen. If you've ever wanted a soundtrack for falling endlessly into a black hole, you need look no further.
Sunday, 12 August 2018
Saturday, 4 August 2018
In 2012, film makers and actors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead wrote and directed Resolution, a strange genre bending film about monsters and drug addiction. The characters and their situation reoccur in their latest film The Endless (2017), but as incidental (but important) detail. Given both film’s obsession with repetition and time loops, is it reasonable to expect more sequels, all based around the specific experiences of the individual players in the wider cosmic drama taking place? Because, you know, that would be AWESOME.
Film is a very arbitrary thing: it places some characters in prominent places and others in the background. Some never even speak, let alone get to tell their stories. The idea that, ultimately, within a relatively small cinematic / dramatic environment, every character will get the opportunity be the star of their own life is an exciting one, and perfectly in keeping with the film makers bizarre world, in which timelines overlap and intersect as well as being sheared off into tight little capsules of endless repetition.
The concept within a single film isn’t new (Je T’aime, Je T’aime and Source Code immediately come to mind without thinking very hard at all), but the scope and ambition of it may well be. I hope they keep going, not in order to answer any questions, but just to keep on adding to the mystery.
Tuesday, 24 July 2018
I got a new telly box recently. It does lots of things I don't really need, but it does allow me to play Youtube videos on the big screen,so I've been making playlists and sitting on the sofa and watching short film after short film, even programming in archive adverts so it feels like I'm watching my own commercial station.
I have no intention of asking any of you around to my house, so I thought I'd share some of the links with you - and some of my enthusiasm for where they will perhaps take you. It's presented in no particular order, I don't really work that way. Why not save up the links and have your very own IiE-TV marathon one day? It's up to you. Do what you like, you always do.
ONE: DREAM JOURNAL (2017)
All dreams are mad to a certain extent, even the boring ones, but Jon Rafman's nocturnal processing is bloody and horrific, seemingly inspired by late night viewings of Dune and Bram Stoker's Dracula, and far too much cheese. If the disembodied monkey heads, occult raves and deaths by fire don't make you uncomfortable, they are further made jarring and horrible by being rendered in Hobbyist 3D, a fairly basic computer animation package that has a garish, unfinished feel that might be naive and sweet if done for a school project, but here seems deeply unwholesome.
There are a number of films in the series, a wormhole that I'm still trying to extricate myself from. Rafman is a dangerous person, not least because his odd world is so damn mesmerising.
I grew up watching Public Information Films, in the days when they were broadcast between shows like trailers for forthcoming disasters. Some terrified me, some amused me, but my general response was a bit of both. Certainly I was fascinated by them, and, like many people who’s brains were soft at the time, bits of them became indelibly etched onto my memory.
My favourite PIF has always been The Fatal Floor, a masterpiece of the genre. With a few brief strokes, the film masterfully paints a hugely detailed picture: a young married couple’s house is being busily tidied by their Mum/Mother in Law, who is getting everything ready for the arrival of her daughter, son-in-law and new baby, coming home for the first time. To make everything perfect, she vigorously polishes the hallway floor, and then places a rug on the shiny surface. She might as well be setting a man trap…
PIF’s made the mundane and everyday seem almost supernaturally evil, and brought mortality into sharp focus for generations of previously fearless children. Although things like pools of water, abandoned fridges, railway lines, electrical substations and grain pits perhaps pose an obvious threat, household rugs are very low down on most people’s danger lists, so this film remains relevant and always will.
I am always reminded that Health and Safety was once an advisory matter in which the bulk of responsibility fell to the individual. You would be warned that you were approaching a cliff edge by a sign; if you proceeded to fall off the cliff that was your lookout. Nowadays, a fence would be erected half a mile inland. My Mum told me about a recent amateur production of Bugsy Malone she attended which was extremely long and boring, mainly because every time someone threw a pie or used a splurge gun the stage would have to be thoroughly cleaned before resuming the show to ensure that no-one slipped on shaving foam. She concluded by saying, as I knew she would, that it was ‘Health and Safety gone mad’ and, this time, at least, I could hardly disagree.
MUSIC FOR A SOLO PERFORMER (1976)
Alvin Lucier first conceived this ground-breaking work in 1965, but this recording wasn’t made until over a decade later. It’s a wonderful, deadpan slow burn, starting in tight close up and gradually moving back to take in the rest of the room. Alvin, who has a great moustache and a natty suit, stares impassively at the camera, seemingly in a trance. When asked to do so by an assistant, he turns his head slowly, sleepily, totally compliant. Perhaps he is drugged, or in a meditative state, preparing himself for the mental effort needed for the show ahead.
Electrodes are lubricated and attached to his temples, in a scene that is reminiscent of the preparations for an electrocution, an impression reinforced by the headband he is wearing and the simple wooden chair he is sitting on. Alvin closes his eyes and somewhat ostentatiously begins to concentrate, occasionally bringing his hands up to his face and gripping the bridge of his nose. An ominous hum builds and the camera pulls back to reveal a variety of closely mic-ed percussion instruments and household objects around the room which, somehow, seemingly begin to respond to his brain waves: creaking, clicking, expanding and contracting, taking turns and getting louder and louder.
It seems like it must be a trick, but Lucier is a respected composer and musician and wouldn’t resort to such cheap tactics, even if he does have the demeanour of a stage conjuror or escapologist. I suppose I could easily find out the science behind it, maybe even see a wiring diagram, but I’m happy to put my trust in Alvin and see it as something perplexing and slightly miraculous. Ultimately, like all the best magic, I don’t need to know how it works, I’m just happy that it does.
What have we learned? Well, it took me forty five years but I finally realised that The Fatal Floor is not only a brilliant PIF, but also a world class pun. Where has my head been since 1973?