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Posts Tagged ‘Lessons Of Darkness’

Where the Green Ants DreamWo Die Grünen Ameisen Träumen (Where the Green Ants Dream): Sounds like a Philip Dick novel doesn’t it? (self high-five for 3,456th pop culture reference). Anyway, Wo Die Grünen Ameisen Träumen gives us the impression that it is based on an ancient, deep-rooted local folklore. The film takes us through an age-old confrontation between Australian aborigines and mining companies over land proprietorship. The companies want to drill through it whereas the Aborigines warn them about a potential threat to humanity. The greens ants can no longer dream if you disturb the land, they mumble to the head geologist (who is put through a satirical asskicking by Herzog) of the mining company. After a bit a research, I discovered that there is no such thing as the myth of the green ants. Herzog made that shit up for our pleasure. I bet he also instructed cinematographer Jörg Reitwein to paint the Australian desert with love and madness; breathtaking images, I tell you. Come on, good people…I know you’ve seen Wayne’s World, you know the drill…”We are not worthy, we are not worthy”.

cobra verdeCobra Verde: Let me get this out of the way. Cobra Verde is probably the most intense film of the entire collection. This 1987 grandiose adaptation of a Bruce Chatwin novel also marked the final time that Herzog and Kinski ever worked together. The novel (The Viceroy of Ouidah) is sort of based on the real-life exploits of Francisco Felix de Sousa, an African-Brazilian slave trader a.k.a “the greatest Portuguese slave trader”. In the film, Kinski plays a Brazilian rancher, Francisco Manoel Da Silva, who murders his boss, passes through a slave plantation, causes ridiculous amounts of carnage and ends up as a vicious bandit. Apart from the stunning visuals and the frighteningly surreal costumes, there is also a lush, provocative sensuality in the women who appear in Cobra Verde that somehow calms the madness around them. Try catching it when (if) you ever watch this. Useless Fact: There’s a neo-glam rock band from Cleveland who call themselves Cobra Verde.

Lektionen in Finsternis (Lessons of Darkness): Already reviewed here.

scream of stoneSchrei Aus Stein (Scream of Stone): The presence of this 1991 film in the collection made me feel better about the untimely exclusion of The Dark Glow of the Mountains. Surely, I needed to see what Herzog could do the already haunting and beautiful Patagonian landscape. Unfortunately it was all rather under whelming. Chronicling the story of a two mountaineers (Vittorio Mezzogiorno and Stefan Glowacz) who attempt to scale the unconquered Cerro Torre, Schrei Aus Stein is probably the least engaging of all Herzog films. Oh well, at least we got another weird glimpse of Brad Dourif’s a.k.a Billy Bibbit’s curious talent.

Tod Für Fünf Stimmen (Death for Five Voices): Herzog made this film for ZDF, a public service German television channel (first Heineken, now this…zee bastards). Following the life and times of Carlo Gesualdo, an 15 th century Italian music composer who invented vocal music compositions in chromatic language (read about this), something that was unheard of until the nineteenth century. In addition to that, he was also a Prince, a Count and a notorious murderer who killed his wife (his first cousin) and her lover and left their mutilated bodies outside the palace for everyone to see. Herzog is like a child at a candy shop as he explores nuances of Carlos’ character both as a musician and a murderer and he does so with typical creative aplomb. Forewarning: Fans of Renaissance music (yes, all three of you) won’t take kindly to the avant-garde styling of the music featured.

Little Dieter Needs to Fly: Already reviewed here.

My Best Fiend – Klaus Kinski (Mein Liebster Feind): Dam thing didn’t work. Thankfully, tai chi and herbal tea have calmed me down. I will review it when I steal a bittorrent version.

Sturz In Den Dschungel (Wings Of Hope): In 1971, LANSA Flight 508 craWings_of_hopeshed in the South American jungle leaving over 91 passengers dead and a single survivor. Sturz In Den Dschungel is about that survivor – Juliane Köpcke. Much like how he led Dieter Denegler back to the Vietnam, he leads Juliane back to the jungles of Pucallpa where the plane had crashed. What follows next is harrowing; not to watch, but rather to ponder about. Needles to say, Herzog’s re-telling gives the haunting tale an hallucinatory vibe that lingers long after the end credits have rolled. You know what else is eerie? Herzog was supposed to take that very flight during the shooting of Wrath of God on the same day it crashed.

Ten Minutes Older: The Trumpet: This is one heck of a collection of short films. Sadly, I have to take the coward’s way out and tell you that I am saving this one for a full-blown movie review post. Just to give you a taste of the sheer awesomeness, the collection also features Victor Erice, Spike Lee, Jim Jarmusch, Wim Wenders, and Aki Kaurismaki.

The White Diamond: Already reviewed here.

The Wild Blue Yonder: Already reviewed here.

Grizzly Man: The 2005 documentary follows the tragic and adventurous life of Timothy Treadwell whose love for Grizzly Bears ironically far surpassed his interest in life. Treadwell is not an easy man to understood. He’s dramatic, funny (hear him rant about the rain), introspective, fucking bonkers and insecure all at once. Needles to say, it makes for a captivating character study of someone real. But the documentary is not utterly perfect…I could have done without the melodrama in Grizzly Man. No really, grizzly manthe coroner, the ecologist, the hippie and actor/friend were all really annoying. Thankfully they don’t take up much screen time (except Marnie Gaede). The rest of the documentary looks sufficiently breathtaking. See, Herzog had access to hundreds and hundreds of hours of footage that Treadwell had shot during a period of thirteen lonely summers that he had spent in the company of the monstrous Grizzly Bears of Katmai National Park in Alaska. Leave it the man for handpicking some of the most exquisite scenes that I have seen this side of National Geography. The scenes involving the bee, the fox and the bear corpse are so magnificent that I am almost amazed that the director didn’t think of it. No, my friends, not at all. Life and tragedy had conjured that shit up for the sake of Treadwell and the legend that he was meant to leave behind.

Rescue Dawn: Already reviewed here.

Encounters at the End of the World: Already reviewed here.

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1992lessonsofdarkness021Lessons Of Darkness: About four summers ago, a bunch of us sat in front of the television and stared at Godfrey Reggio’s Koyaanisqatsi (Life Out Of Balance) for a good couple of hours. With its visually stunning cinematography and grandiose depiction of nature, we could do little else but chase rainbow-coloured rabbits down the silver screen holes. Despite the oohs and aaahs it drew from our lips, (in retrospect, perhaps) I did find Reggio’s anti-globalization propaganda way too distracting. Sort of like the Bible; pretty decent content, but an almost piss poor commitment towards objectivity.

Documentary filmmakers should not establish a firm opinion on a subject before taking off the lens caps, I think. Few things can claim to be as beautiful as an artist’s disregard for morality towards his subject matter. I know that it’s almost wrong that there is so beauty in nonchalance, but Werner Herzog’s Lessons Of Darkness is perfect example as to why the fact remains so. He discovers rare beauty in the aftermath of the Gulf War. It’s quite clear from the start that Herzog has distanced from the humanity of the situation. He does not contemplate on George Bush, hungry Middle-Eastern kids and decapitated birds floating around in a pool of oil. Instead he turns on the night vision to watch bombs fly hither and thither like ghostly snowflakes gone mad. He precariously observes the ashes that fall like rain near the petroleum fields of Kuwait. In essence, Herzog does what he does best. He observes reality from a distance and then dismisses it from every diminutive perspective while taking notes of how beautiful it all could have turned out to be. And for the sake of our humanity, he chooses to make art, not peace. Watch Trailer

Sin Nombre: Despite Roger Ebert’s recent magnanimity in giving away three-star ratings as though they were oily French fries at a backyard barbecue, a four-star rating from him still demands a certain amount of inquisitiveness. Recently he wrote this about debutant Cary Fukunaga’s Sin Nombre….” I want to say something about the look and feel of the film…Fukunaga’s direction expresses a desire that seems growing in many young directors, to return to classical composition and editing. Those norms establishmo-sinnombre20_p_0499702720 a strong foundation for storytelling; there’s no queasy-cam for Fukunaga” After watching the film, I can say that Ebert sure as hell does not whore out four-star ratings. The film, as he so aptly describes in his review, tells a story. Not the best one you’re going to hear all year, but still the rusty kaleidoscope through which the director communicates the story’s nuances makes it a very special one. This one’s about illegal immigration and the consequences it stems from and eventually releases onto society. The film revolves Sayra (Paulina Gaitan), a hopeful immigrant who “crosses paths” with Casper (Edgar Flores), a reckless gunslinger for “terrifying real-life gang named Mara Salvatrucha”. Right the brutal storytelling of gang lives and train rides to Adriano Goldman’s picturesque shots of El Norte and Marcelo Zarvos’ original score, this is a fantastic film; one which works remarkably well because of the director’s attention to detail. Footprints’ Shane Carruth Award for Directorial Maturity on Debut for the class of 2009? Sure, why not. Watch Trailer

deadsnowDead Snow: It’s no secret that I nurture an odd sort of love for gory splatter films. Not slasher or horror films, mind you. I really don’t give a shit about what a bunch of teenyboppers did last summer. I’m talking about movies in which a dude’s kidney is likely to crawl out of his ass and go to work on his kids with a switchblade. Or those wonderful tales of deranged hillbillies frothing at the mouth and forcing you to watch them make fucking soup out of your best friend’s limbs. Haven’t seen that one either? Well, daaaam.

See, here’s the thing about gore films. They can be really, really entertaining (even those untouched by the genius of George Romero) and if you ask me, they come at you with a two-pronged pleasure pang (yeah that’s right). One makes you commend the directors’ genuine efforts at drawing chuckle or two with bloodstained caricatures and whatnot. The other pokes you right in the head and reminds you that sometimes unbearably stupid shit is hilarious. Norwegian indie-horror flick Dead Snow has that bit of the cathartic stupidity that made Malanowski’s Curse Of The Cannibal Confederates watchable during a very drunk post-graduation party. But this one has a lot more going for it too. Yes. Now watch me feverishly defend a film about skiers getting dismembered by Nazi Zombies from an aesthetical point of view since. Screw that. Dead Snow…blood on ice and twice as nice. Watch Trailer

bad_reaction1The Haunting in Connecticut: If you want to see a suburban horror film, go watch Exorcism of Emily Rose. Watch Sideways if you desire a whiff of the freshness that Virginia Madsen brings to Hollywood as an actress. Now if you feel the urge to stomp on the necks of kittens and crush their spines, watch Haunting In Connecticut. Horrible, horrible movie. Don’t Watch Trailer

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