F•usic is a section I do at the end of each month in which I pick (F)ilms and M(usic) that I’ve consumed and loved over the period and pretty much just recommend and gush about them for a little while.
Good Time – The Safdie Brothers
Children of Korine.
Josh and Benny Safdie represent a new generation of American author: unflinchingly fleshing out urban shadows of neglect, taking angles of alleyways and slabs of sidewalks that you choose not to see and putting them fully under the microscope. “Good Time” uses this as the fuel to it’s crusade of claustrophobic chaos, helped not the least by Robert Pattinson who looks and acts like every gaunt man of an indistinguishable age that you have refused “any change for the bus” to. Equally wired, fascinating, funny and touching, “Good Time” pins open your eyes, crackles and burns and then lingers like a cold comedown.
In Rainbows – Radiohead
One of the most abstractly satisfying things to experience whilst listening to music is when the art on the face of an album inexplicably and perfectly matches the mood of what is contained like some sort of weird, cleverly planned synesthesia: you’re able to point and claim that “that is what it feels like to listen to this“. Radiohead’s “In Rainbows” provides one of those very moments, describing visually precisely what you are experiencing aurally. Rather than every song subscribing to a certain vibe or concept such as in “Kid A” or “OK Computer“, each track explodes creatively from it’s own separate, conceptual, embryonic state. Perhaps the ideas were gimmicky at their initial stages but it is clear that they’ve been developed and perfected by the band to the result of something that is entirely hypnotic, unique and layered. It’s one of the most beautifully consistent albums I’ve listened to in a long time: brilliant right the way from the crashing, cascading opener of “15 Step” through to the sombre, mournful march of “Videotape“. It took me a while to crack – I think it appeared too obtuse for me to latch on to at first – but growing accustomed to the songs and developing a unique emotional response to each has been and will continue to be a pleasure: what music is all about.
Dogville – Lars von Trier
Mind-boggling-ly good. I’m two von Trier films down now and both have been just as inventive, intriguing and provocative as each other. I’m actually scared to watch “Nymphomaniac” in case I just unapologetically love it and I have no choice but to publicly declare to the gathered response of eye-rolls that Lars von Trier is indeed my favourite filmmaker… but we shall see. The way that “Dogville” is filmed is like found footage of a sound-stage rehearsal in which everyone is under actual threat but the actors have all forgotten what is real so never break character; it’s so creepy and so brilliant. The heavy style isn’t just the movie’s USP though, it’s used to serve an actual purpose that helps further flesh out and communicate the many, many difficult themes that the film touches upon – Community, Need versus Want, Capitalism, Religion, Acceptance, Exploitation. Layered to an epic extent, you know you have a classic on your hands when your end credits are as soul-stabbing and fulfilling as your savage ending.
Doris – Earl Sweatshirt
Hopping on the Earl Sweatshirt bandwagon this month because I’m fairly blown away. “Doris” exists in a singularly envisioned space of hip hop, both inspired and educated by former artists and also like nothing else – so much so that it can be jarring; but getting consumed by Earl’s own off-centre, murky world is a morbid pleasure. His lyrics throw you as much off balance as the rest of Odd Future’s usual “radical” tricks, but with a level of maturity, authenticity and darkness that surpasses all of his peers. His flow rides a wave of lazy rhyme regurgitation and pure, undeniable skill, sometimes snowballing into bars that you wont catch until your umpteenth listen and will be glad when you do. The instrumentals are in a space of their own, never uninteresting and blaze with that infectious experimental flare of “that sounds cool, do that”. Pure talent – I can’t wait to listen to the rest of his discography.
Irreversible – Gaspar Noé
(!Spoilers! (although if you’ve heard of the film then odds are you’ll have heard of everything I’m about to spoil.))
Well, consider me #provoked. A disorienting, debasing, tumbling poem of brutality; “Irreversible” is unforgettable. What’s perhaps most impressive about Noé’s controversy hive is the way he continues to the pull the movie along after “the scene”, if it had ended there I’m not sure what I would have thought about the movie and I’m not sure that it would have been anywhere near as effective as it is. It appears to me that the last (first?) act is when all the themes and questions are unwound and unpacked, where the true provocation occurs. It becomes less about the blunt thesis that “le temps détruit tout” and more about how, like everything else, human nature is sucked into the whirlpool of inevitability.
Because at the end of the day, the human beings in a modern house, planning a family, reading on the philosophy of time and discussing orgasms, are the same animals that will rape you in a tunnel and bash your brains out with a fire extinguisher.
Untrue – Burial
This is not at all the type of music that I listen to, which is why it has been such a surprisingly, pleasantly affecting experience, both in listening and in the way that it’s opened up an avenue to similar music for me. More ambient than electronic, “Untrue” lays you witness to the eerie, spectral shell of a rave gone-by. It’s unsettling, sad and almost instantly induces you into an introspective trance where your own memories and feelings fill the gaps between the rumbling bass and cold beats. A masterful, remarkable echo – one that I’m sure I’m going to obsess over.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer – Yorgos Lanthimos
There’s a certain type of movie horror that is irrefutable. A type that pulls from your nightmares yet is lucid and opaque; something that is but shouldn’t be. It’s “The Shining’s” elevator and “Mulholland Drive’s” diner premonition. Lynch, actually, knows this type of horror front to back and it would appear that – based on “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” – Yorgos Lanthimos knows it too. I’m yet to watch “Alps” or “Dogtooth” but the director’s last film didn’t quite stick with me; “The Lobster’s” combination of social commentary with that quirky, dead-pan humour felt a little patronising and forced. This time, the Greek director utilises the style to a far more unnerving effect, one that feels more adult and less student-y, shining a mirror to our fears instead of society to tell an simple, effective, scary story. Instead of gimmicky, the piercing staccato dialogue just adds to the unease. Making everyone a suspect, each character feels shackled into logic of their own environment so that glimpses of authentic emotion scream for escape and build an undercurrent of tragic destiny. And man, how it builds – tension and fear steadily for the entire run-time to a heart pounding climax that just feels terrifyingly real… way too real, like snuff film “I shouldn’t be watching this” real. One of the best of 2017 and above and beyond his last English language attempt.
Suspiria – Dario Argento
A film so aggressively imagined and stylised that the act of watching “Suspiria” is scarier than the events on screen. From the point those sliding doors open, you’re forced to take part in Argento’s neon underworld and be assaulted by flashing lights, high-pitched screams, intense gore and one hell of a soundtrack. Watching it is like watching some ancient mood board for modern horror filmmakers, inspiration seeping from its pores.
Or, in other words: Winding Refn wishes.