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.
A LACK OF (USIC) THIS MONTH, AND ONLY 4 (F)’S. NO EXCUSES FOR WHY, BUT HOPEFULLY I’VE DONE THE 4 JUSTICE. THEY’RE SOME OF THE BEST I HAVE SEEN IN A LONG TIME.
SHOUTOUTS FOR THE MONTH:
THE COOK, THE THIEF, HIS WIFE & HER LOVER (BIG, BOLD, BATSHIT, BRILLIANT)
MARTYRS (ACTUALLY FUCKING NUTS. THE CRAZIEST, MOST GLORIOUS SCHLOCK YOU WILL EVER SEE. USUALLY, CONTENT MEANS NOTHING IF EXECUTION IS LACKING (AHEM GAME OF THRONES S4, 5 + 6 AHEM) BUT MARTYRS COULD HAVE BEEN FILMED UPSIDE DOWN AND ON A NOKIA AND IT WOULDN’T MATTER. THE SERIES OF EVENTS IS TOO INSANE FOR ANYTHING TO OVERSHADOW IT.)
FRANK’S COVER OF MOON RIVER
Phantom Thread – Paul Thomas Anderson
Sweeping grandeur decked in an undoubtedly Gothic alabaster: the thin bachelor, the austere sister, the muse and the spectre… a new Paul Thomas Anderson wouldn’t usually need an introduction – the word “masterpiece”, at this point, is almost a given – but here we have maybe his most indulgent film since Magnolia. Except almost 20 years of consecutive brilliance shows in swathes and watching Phantom Thread is like watching Usain Bolt jog over the finish line and still break world records. The indulgence is in the divine; not only in costume and period and style (though there is that too) but in character and world and tone. Gone are the shackles of structure and entertainment and in their place radiates craft, expression. In a word: art. PTA positions himself amongst the classics, with Lean and Hitchcock and Welles and then reveals the perversity in feints and swoons and “love at first sight’s”, successfully having his cake and eating it. Daniel Day-Lewis’ (final?) performance goes beyond method, mannerism and pronunciation and timing take hold and so – all puns intended – he is woven into the fabric of Phantom Thread, building a monument of a comedy caricature: an obsessive duke with an ageless libido. This is film as film should be; elemental and curious and live.
Also, Jonny Greenwood… Need I say more?
You Were Never Really Here – Lynne Ramsay
The perfect product of contemporary rage. Through utmost control of information given, Ramsay turns the pulp into the provocative and creates a world like our own – of boundaries smudged every time they’re crossed, of too much of too little data; birthing a grey abyss. White noise of uncertainty. Every step in erratic desperation. She turns the camera away from the violence and on to the violent (Phoenix’s best work since The Master), staring at a fractured mind in a hulk of a husk that’s bursting at the seams. Beautiful and brutal, You Were Never Really Here is a crunching, lingering concerto, one of the most exciting experiences I’ve had and like nothing I will see for a very long time unless, I’m sure, Lynne Ramsay is at the helm.
And if you thought (rightfully so) that ‘Kevin was well edited, man you’re in for a treat. This is the revenge tale of modern moral fuckery that Three Billboards’ should have been.
Also, Jonny Greenwood… Need I say more?
Wings of Desire – Wim Wenders
If “poetry” wasn’t such an overused descriptor of film I’d request it was reserved for Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire, if only in acknowledgement that he has reserved it for us – the human race – assuming that our internal monologues materialise in tender verse. Wenders views Berlin with grace, history falling over the skyline like a cloud, permeating every second without ever referring to it directly; this is a tale of humanity and our past is a shared dream. Wings of Desire deals with that ineffable in-between-ness that film exclusively can capture: the question of emergence, the breath before decision, the sensation of sensations. The film-making captures this too as tonally it exists both in horror and celebration, angels that know but don’t know, are there but aren’t there act as both a watchful eye and a haunting presence – as heralding song can just as easily be perceived as mournful cries. The words spoken depict fragments of isolated thought, morose in singularity but together building an exquisite aria of consciousness.
Just like a dream, it is both ephemeral and magnetised, weighted and weightless. Action in the river of time.
The Shape of Water – Guillermo del Toro
Del Toro’s The Shape of Water feels like the brilliant next step in the Hollywood canon, with less homage to classic film and more of a deep immersion in cinema as a body of art – breathing through it, adoring it. Almost avant-garde in sensibility, it prides itself in it’s deep involvement in craft with disregard for convention but an embrace of the films that inspire it rather than contempt, or a post-modern cynicism. That lack of cynicism and strength in spirit is frankly beautiful.
The Shape of Water was not the best film of the year (Oscar winners rarely are), but it was in a sense the most appropriate. Diversity in film is an issue of representation and opportunity, yes, but also of artistic fulfilment. Del Toro takes influence from everywhere: old and new, American, British and elsewhere – from France and Russia and South America and China… the hues of cinema that his film wears proudly act as a gateway to these influences, and propel people to listen to new, strange and under-heard voices. If this is the first block in the next structure of film history then it is a perfect one: the floodgates for art are opening, and there is rebellion in love.