Review of the singers latest: Secret Symphony
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Channing Tatum & Co get all mushy in 2012’s must-see chick flick
A look at the life and work of legendary director David Lynch James Baxter Take a passing glance at the wealth of good cinema and directorial talent over the last thirty odd years. Startling isn’t it? Thanks to the Scorceses, the Tarantinos, the Cronenbergs, there’s much to be discovered and to appreciate for filmlovers of all tastes. And yet, as I fondly trace the hours I’ve spent in the company of a good film there’s a certain director/writer whose unique vision and quality output is noteworthy in itself: a certain cigarette smoking, coffee drinking individual where upon the sight of his ghoulish Elvis haircut I’m reminded of how wonderful the medium can be. Why, who else can it be but David Lynch? Feature films, short films, television series, adverts! Despite an eclectic back catalogue, there’s an underlying characteristic that runs through much of Lynch’s work—a trait that can only be described as distinctly “Lynchian.” Define this how you will; Kafka meets Hitchcock? Fellini, Bergman, Bunuel—all names that to some degree help understand from what cinematic context Lynch’s films are born. But doesn’t this all seem a tad reductive? The real joy of a David Lynch film is in its striking imagery, its surreal soundscape, immersing the passive viewer in a world both recognisable and unsettling. I suppose what you could say is it is a little like a dream. Look back to a film like Blue Velvet and place it against a more recent piece— Mulholland Drive perhaps? Both films, whilst superficially different,
deal with an alarmingly similar subject matter; the often concealed threat of every day life. “It’s a strange world” says a young Laura Dern during a climactic scene in Blue Velvet. It’s exactly this strangeness that Lynch is second to none in expressing. Take the alienating Industrial backdrop to the classic Eraserhead for example. Topped off with the beautifully dirty black and white finish, a sitting through Lynch’s first (and arguably most memorable) feature film is one of the most unsettling pieces of cinema I’ve
David Lynch 20/01/1946 Visual artist, film maker, Illustrator, Musician Notable work: Eraserhead, The Elephant Man Dune Blue Velvet Mullholland Drive
experienced. As such it would be foolish to consign Lynch’s films to merely the horror or psychological thriller genres when, like most memorable screenwriters or directors, the output isn’t so easy to classify. With elements of horror, noir and even a peppering of black comedy in the case of Wild at Heart or Twin Peaks (a fantastic and terrifying surrealist television series) not to mention a penchant for unconventional narrative, each film takes you deep into a different dream world where
Top 5: Russian films you have to see
Lynch is the supreme architect. Whilst it can sometimes be easy to shy away from the overt “weirdness” of Lynch, the sense of abandonment and hopeless confusion all adds to the experience of his films. Even after the inexplicably strange Inland Empire, a testing film by anyone’s standards, one leaves the film with a head full to bursting with a montage of Lynch’s own brand of “concrete irrationality.” But why has Lynch become such a controversial and interesting presence in the modern world of cinema?—his influence all over the films of directors as far reaching as Cronenberg, Nolan or Kauffman. Perhaps, through Lynch, surrealism has even come to border on the accessible. What began as an avantgarde movement during the 20’s, fuelled by the bitter disillusion of Dada and a post-Freudian interest in the subconscious activity of the mind, is now commercially celebrated. However, while Lynch owes a great debt to the kind of free association of a Dali painting or the symbolism of De Chirico’s work, the abstract and often beautiful imagery commonplace in a Lynch film occasionally borders on expressionism. Whilst the surrealists undoubtedly have a lasting influence on methods of representing dream thought, Lynch on the other hand possesses the ability to express dreams and the vulnerability of the mind. He hits on something universal —the anxieties of the subconscious liberated through our dreams; the jealousy, fear, and lust that lurks behind our every day experiences which nevertheless holds weight in the construction of our waking environments.
Tarkovskiy’s moody yet beautiful Sci-Fi epic stands as one of the greatest achievements of its genre and of Russian film in general. Mixing metaphorical dangers with political and social commentaries, Stalker presents a grim world where the only pleasure is found in a forbidden area known as The Zone. Three men try to enter this forgotten realm but it’s their emotional journey and their learning of human nature that makes this a classic film.
A gorgeous visual poem and love letter to the town where director, Dziga Vertov lived, Man with a Movie Camera mixes its natural documentary feel with innovative and experimental visuals to create a film so ahead of its time that it was largely criticised upon its initial release. However with hindsight, the film is obviously a groundbreaking piece of work and its editing techniques look as fresh today as they first did, way back in 1929.
Possibly the most experimental film to come out of any country since the 1970s, Russian Ark consists of one hour and a half long take and currently holds the record for longest unedited shot in cinematic history. Poetically showing 300 years of Russian history simply through the life of one upper class mansion, the film is a meticulous masterpiece which showcases a refreshing desire for innovation in the new digital age of cinema
Giving rise to the many cinematic techniques that are often taken for granted today, Battleship Potemkin opened the eyes of the world to the wonders of Russian cinema. By highlighting revolutionary ideals through a narrative following the mutiny aboard a battleship docked in a harbour, the film broke down both cinematic and political barriers, and illustrated the raw power of a medium which is sadly so often forgotten: Silent film.
Russia’s most epic and brilliant film and another of Andrey Tarkovskiy’s many masterpieces, Andrei Rublev is probably the closest to pure art a film can hope to achieve. Following the dramatic times lived in by the icon artist of the film’s title, we visit epic expanses and the tiny, intricate lives of the people involved in the constant violence between rival princes. If there was ever a film to see before you die, this should undoubtedly be it.
Andrei Rublev Channing Tatum & Co get all mushy in 2012’s must-see chick ﬂick Battleship Potemkin David Lynch Adam Scovell James Baxter...