F•USIC – APRIL 2018

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 combination of both March and April’s picks here.
Shout-outs for the month:
– The Square by Ruben Östlund: Sometimes the films featured in the shout-out section are here because there is something better featured in the actual list, but often they are up here because I failed to think of anything inspired, evocative or unique to say about the work. With The Square this is certainly the case – along with Breathless it was the best thing I saw in the past 2 months and here only because it is an experience that frankly left me at a loss for words. DO NOT MISS IT.
– Likewise, Sean Baker’s The Florida Project is a brilliant, modern scope of childhood that will find itself with the tag of “classic” in a decade, but all of this has already been said, hence being featured here instead of below.
– Mean Streets by Martin Scorsese: A gritty, foot-on-pavement, fist-on-face physicality can be seen here that is sometimes absent in Scorsese’s later work. Carried by a meandering banter and fraternal chemistry between the leads and stagy, present testosterone that reminds of classic Miller or Williams. 
Dogtooth by Yorgos Lanthimos: Great to finally watch a Lanthimos film in Greek, I think his warped social criticism is far more effective here than in The Lobster, maybe because of the language barrier.
Three Colors: Blue by Krzysztof Kieślowski: An existential ghost story, that features a unique understanding of visual language of the likes I’ve never seen. A bleak, well-crafted lingerer.
Burn After Reading by The Coen Brothers: Wacky and meta. 
Coco by Lee Unkrich: It’s Pixar.

Enter The Void – Gaspar Noé

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Spoilers for the opening of the film here. Really, the story is inconsequential and no written word can spoil what it’s like to truly experience this thing, but if you like to go into movies blind – move on ahead.

Propelled through spiralling junctions of colour, sound and time; experience liminality through the spectral eyes of a once corporeal observer, now confined to experience past, present and future in free-flow – the temporal river inseparable from the estuaries of memory. This is the epitome of subjective cinema, told (technically) through one continuous POV shot – blinks and all – showing you better than most movies what movies can show you best: that perspective is everything and reality is never actuality.

The greatest compliment of 2001′ that I have ever read was that “you could enter the theatre and leave the theatre at any point during the film and still take something away from it”. The quote describes an opus that transcends the conventional, commodified movie-going experience to become a singular piece of art and in my opinion Enter The Void does the same – offering something totally unique. In a world of “pretty good” movies, that should award the film truck loads of merit in its own right. 5 minutes in to the 3 hour journey, you partake on a DMT trip, 20 minutes in to it you die… and these moments are tame in comparison to where you are later taken. Noé sends you on quite the wild ride and it’s one that I don’t think should be taken in complete sincerity but I reject those that criticise Enter The Void because of a lack of “plot”. The experience is such an immersive, sensory and individual one that to me, the criticism is borderline egotistical. Art is limitless, have a bit of fun.

I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside – Earl Sweatshirt

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Some creatives refuse to be boxed in by what they do. On I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside, Earl Sweatshirt uses the label of “rap music” only as a platform for his own further expression of self, identity and introspection. It’s the process of an artist making art; a more holistic approach that results in something timeless and personal, carving out his own place in the creative spectrum rather than joining others in ones pre-established. His bars need no compliment, they have already reached a level of prestigious respect in the hip-hop world that few reach in their entire careers. But the production on this thing is revelatory: a jet-black vertical wormhole into the depths of the rapper’s psyche. Huey switches on a Lynchian sit-com theme to cynically introduce you to Earl’s nihilism; Grief acts as a room rattling harbinger of the troubled mind, layered with Sweatshirt’s snarls of paranoia and alienating braggadocio and AM // Radio is peppered with samples of kids cheering… on a song that ends with the lines “Rally the Horsemen / Tally the corpses”. The track holds the rappers dark, twisted, mature humour on display, has the most addictive verse by Wiki (“Every time I rap I blast off!” never gets old) and encapsulates the album’s philosophy of music and mood over rap – the entire second segment being vocal-less instrumental.

For me, Earl Sweatshirt is a young artist that makes me excited to witness the current generation of musicians and I’m beyond thrilled for whatever his upcoming release entails. 

All The President’s Men – Alan J. Pakula

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“Truth” is on everyone’s tongues at the moment and this naturalistic, immaculately crafted drama that paints the press as Goodys (who’d a thunk it?) in the fight for facts seems more pertinent than ever. Previously a movie that felt post-Nixon to the core now feels like a permanent and immovable addition to American script. The beauty of All The President’s Men – beyond the outstandingly immersive film-making – lies in the dramatic irony that we, as an audience, know the truth.

We know how Watergate played out, we know Nixon is guilty. And so we watch as two individuals struggle against their superiors, the public and the most powerful man in the world for nothing but gospel and the struggle feels all the more desperate, important and frustrating because we know they’re right. Painted as paranoid rookies and headline hunters, we look on agonisingly as Washington’s monuments built upon justice and liberty transform into bold, marble lies through their eyes. They’re on the moral side of history, but as the minority they’re insane to those that don’t know and a threat to those that do. So we’re reminded to keep asking questions, even when the entire world seems to have settled upon an answer. 

Eyes Wide Shut – Stanley Kubrick

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New York shapes a limbo of fantasies, temptations and lures, slinking from the twinkling winter mist.  Kubrick’s denouement is very Kubrick, full of icy precision and dead-behind-the-eyes acting, only this time set against an indigo midnight stage of conspiracy. The very, very elite rule the current epoch from the heights of their glass shrines to modernity, whilst covertly dosing out their desires in the most horrifyingly, hilariously civil fashion. They have all unanimously submitted to their carnal urges and mutually agreed that monogamy is not a realistic solution in our climate. Those who run the world don’t believe that a supposed pillar of Western society is possible: Rome has already fallen, and the truth hides beneath the rubble; the depth to which it’s buried stretches beyond your wildest nightmares.

Also perfect ammunition for your smarmy wanker repertoire when you claim that this and Die Hard are the “best Christmas movies”.

Live On The Moon – King Krule / Molten Jets

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Not an album and not quite a film, yet by far one of the best things I’ve seen in these past two months. Archy Marshall’s fervent efforts to continuously push his individuality and image to new creative heights is completely inspirational and exciting on the dawn of this liberated, internet-driven art world. Tonally and aesthetically perfect, there’s a playful sincerity to the performance as Marshall and Co play the songs like they were meant to, with an angry, punkish energy and smoky velvet that instantly intoxicates. The whole thing screams humour and originality, as if “King Krule” was its own genre: a disenfranchised, darkly psychedelic brew of rough and smooth.

The video has relighted an obsession with The Ooz for me. I’ve thought about why King Krule seems to resonate so greatly with our generation, and I think it’s because Marshall touches upon something oddly apocalyptic, a cynical (de)realisation that maybe these are the end times after all. He embodies a rage laden millennial ennui stewed in drink and drugs and dreams… and a deep-rooted desire to get the fuck off of this rock.

Do yourself a service and watch some genius here.

Breathless – Jean-Luc Godard

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What is it to look at life through our own lens? Experience filtered through thought and time, emotion and periphery.

In BreathlessGodard comes pretty fucking close, capturing at break-neck pace a breezy liberty and lust for experience in his two leads, that ultimately is inherent to the tragedy of the story, but during the course of which is like a calling to your own soul to throw interpretation and rationality to the wind and just “be”. The apartment scene acts as a centre piece in this exquisitely jazzed up gallery and presents moments as they present themselves to you in your mind: fast, fearless, poetic; a chaotic ballet of persona, bouncing and reflecting and reacting.  In this way, Godard’s revolutionary stylistic approach hints at a deeper truth than naturalism ever could, as he holds the very nature of the film up for inspection. It’s sometimes as if you can feel his fingerprints upon the film reel and it is totally human, not obtrusive or obnoxious but inspiring and fresh – perennial; new.

Written by Caleb Carter

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