.............................................................TRAPPED INSIDE A WORLD UNDER LEAGUES OF OCEAN........................................................

Thursday, July 28, 2011

music: anger management

bikes: rawland sogn

back in october 2010 i put down a deposit for a yet-to-be-built rawland sogn frameset.  well, it finally arrived two weeks ago and since then i've been slowly building it up and compiling parts and tools that i didn't have on hand.  the first photo is the box as it arrived two weeks ago, then the unpacked frame and fork.  the rest of the photos i took in my kitchen moments after getting in from taking her on a maiden voyage just a few moments ago.  she rides like a dream.  can't wait to get into some longer excursions.  first up: toronto to dundas...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

movies: lemora: a child's tale of the supernatural (1973)

Dir: Richard Blackburn
Cast: Cheryl Smith, Lesley Gilb

I just finished watching this for the second time and thoroughly enjoyed it. The plot centres around young Lila Lee (the wonderful and tragic Cheryl "Rainbeaux" Smith) and her journey from small town choir girl innocence to find her supposedly dying father among a nest of witches, vampirism, boogeymen and bad vibes. The entire film has a nightmarish quality to it and it displays both thematically and stylistically (rare) the horror and awkwardness of pubescence or "the supernatural". There are also harsh critiques of the church throughout, some not-so-subtle.

The score is very effective, mixing gospel hymns (sung by Lila Lee) and weird, pulsing synth rhythms to create a haunting and paranoid aural tapestry. Lemora herself is very creepy, but the way she delivers her lines is immensely horrible - I'm talking porn movie bad. If they had have overdubbed her, or had a different actress in the role, I think the film would have benefited greatly, and become much eerier. In fact, the most frightening character was an old hag who cares for/menaces Lile Lee while keeping her captive in an old stone hut. The scene where the crone sings to Lila Lee in the shed is truly chilling and gives me shivers whenever i think about it.

The makeup effects were good (if somewhat basic), and there are a few "shock" moments (one in particular where Lila Lee thinks she is calling to her father in her room at Lemora's house and he comes out from behind the clock completely transformed into one of the "wood-things" - you'll understand when you see it - with a simultaneous jolting soundtrack) that actually made me jump (a tiny bit).

My overall impression of the film is that it is the bastard spawn of the Wizard of Oz and Valerie and Her Week of Wonders, with more than a dash of the supernatural (hence, the title) thrown in, and if you enjoyed either of these, you'll probably like this. I also have to wonder whether Dario Argento was influenced at all by this film when he made his masterpiece, Suspiria, four years later; or perhaps even Guillermo del Toro took a few cues from this for his justly celebrated Pan's Labyrinth, 33 years later....

Cheryl Smith's own story is similarly haunted - the star of many B-movies of the 70's, she soon fell under the spell of heroin (while performing in The Runaways!?) and contracted a fatal case of Hep-C. Harsh tokes.

Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural still stands as a testament to her talent, though. This is a fever dream of nightmarish, surreal imagery, a piece of cinematic brilliance that will haunt you for days. The Synapse DVD has an excellent remastered anamorphic widescreen transfer and does the film's dark tones and jarring soundtrack justice. Highly recommended.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

movies: 3 women (1977)

Dir: Robert Altman
Cast: Shelly Duvall, Sissy Spacek

Robert Altman's foray into the wild and woolly aspects of the human psyche and the complexities and simplicities of relationships is one of the more fascinating - if overlooked - entries in '70s cinema.  Sissy Spacek and Shelly Duvall and, to a lesser extent (but the author of the most compelling. mysterious and touching character in the film), Janice Rule, star in this completely singular and baffling film.

The plot centres around Duvall's character, Milly Lamoureaux, and her ultimately sad (in the truest sense of the word) existence. Pinky (Spacek) tumbles into her life and, without so much as a ripple, insinuates herself into both Milly's life and her character. And then something happens. And things start to get really weird. And there are pretty colours and strange music (amazing, disturbing soundtrack by Gerald Busby) and odd, frightening, beautiful frescoes (courtesy by Bodhi Wind). And then a bunch of trippy, surreal and nightmarish, sleep-depriving dream sequences that culminate in a bizarre and haunting finale.

It's been weeks since I watched this, and it still creeps and twists around in my mind. I'm still wrapping my head around this one, and for a more concise and articulate summary, you should check out Ebert's take on this absolutely essential film.  Oh, and don't miss Altman's commentary on the Criterion release - superb. I've only just seen it, but (as is common with me) it's become one of my favourite films, and I could safely say that it fits nicely into my top 25 of all time. Highly, highly recommended.

movies: los muertos (2004)

Dir: Lisandro Alonso
Cast: Argentino Vargas

A strange, strange and hypnotically beautiful film, which isn't, as it usually is, a euphemistic description of a poorly shot, slow-moving "art film". Los Muertos is the real deal, and its deft balance of startlingly beautiful natural imagery and creeping menace is masterful. Yes, it is slow moving, but that's the whole point - it's not your movie, after all. It seems as if the director is calling out all the viewers who want to be cultured and sophisticated, but secretly wish they were watching Norbit; which isn't to say that Los Muertos is a pretentious, alienating art film; it is anything but, and at its core, it touches the most base and primal emotions and actions of man. This is what Into the Wild should have been, if Sean Penn had any balls. If this all seems rather cryptic, that's because it's supposed to be.  In the way of plot, Los Muertos has Vargas, recently released from a lengthy prison term for a vague, foggy memory of a brutal crime - hinted at in the prodigious, searingly beautiful, and terrifying opening sequence, which, thinking back now, is the film in a microcosm - and on a mission to reconnect with his daughter. And that's it. No twists, no explosions, no car chases, just a lazy trip up the winding river, and a few seemingly meaningless encounters with various people. If this sounds boring, skip it - you don't deserve it anyway. But if you can get beneath the surface (which is quite stunning), then you'll find a whole nest of subtlety teeming therein. Remember the opening scene in Blue Velvet? Well, this movie is the realization of that - everything calm and perfect on the surface, but a dark, unmentionable horror lurks just below; a rot, a decay; not a decay of anything corporeal, but of that most intangible of intangibles, the soul. And that, precisely, is what makes Los Muertos so haunting, so ambiguous, so menacing, so essential - it is a film that dares the viewer to declare that they are bored and to move on, leaving some scrap to be picked up in media res by a curious soul who will have their view slightly skewed throughout the journey of a life. One of the more terrifying - or gorgeous (I'm still not sure, and I'm not sure if there is an "answer") - and ambiguous endings in film I can remember. Stick around for the credits - that music is da bomb, and only serves to ratchet up the tension. This film is the closest adaptation to Conrad's Heart of Darkness that I can think of, and there is no indication that the former is based on, or influenced by, the latter. There are some familiar tropes in this one - the fallen angel, forgiveness, the need for redemption, and man's inborn desire to dominate, possess - none spelled out explicitly, but all certainly there. I could be reading this one completely wrong (which is highly likely, given the openness to interpretation that the director has built into the film), but I felt afraid. Pretty impressive, and the work of someone who I would consider a major new voice in Argentinian/world cinema.

ps: vegans, animal lovers, and anyone else with a similar character flaw take heed - there is an extremely graphic (i.e. real) goat butchering that may upset more delicate sensibilities.
pps: eff paragraphs