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I Believe in Unicorns (2014)
"There's so much I want to say. But I don't know where to start."
Experience, indeed, defies representation or articulate expression. Just as a photograph only captures one shot of a smooth manifold aggregate of lived phenomena, so language can only restrictedly encapsulate vibrancy. But one'd hope that a sequence of such photographs enables one to peer into that share of moments, brightening up memory and trajectories of thoughts, absorbing anew the cultivating spectrum of lived emotions. Breathe.
The opening credits alone immediately capture the spirit of this pure coming-of-age masterpiece. Ignoring the excusable whiny music, it alone was already so great and lingering that one'd want to stop and muse. Submergence into water necessitates the synergy of the liquid water's flows with the likewise fluid and variedly current half-obscured memories of growth intertwined with decay. Stopping for an instance, retreating below the surface, divine Davina feels the impact of the past. It's her birthday, but she's not yet ready to face it. Brooding on the past can perhaps help, before lurching further into uncertain future terrains, that will eventually also continually expand the mind's horizons.
Film itself captures the process. An acoustic-visual artificial succession of events, melded with and moulded by memory, fantasy, by movements of objects that defy physical laws. Stop-motion and time-lapse show the productive capabilities of the unconscious factory, and the fragmentary apprehension of spacetime. Shades of lights correspond to different intensities. One traverses heterogenous planes, exploring natural strata, and sensing the world. The hair billows through the wind, the skateboard grinds across the concrete, the clouds, the grass, crops, trees, endless telephone wires, ... they all reverberate, grafted from their respective denotations to dance within the partial subjective perspectives, poetic experimentation and flows. Stream of consciousness.
Divine Davina is in a state of becoming. The creation of memories contrasts with the stagnancy and deterioration of her mother. Touching her mother instills stifling anxieties of death and decomposition, the limit of possibilities - "la forme et l'essence divine / De mes amours décomposés". She still has a life ahead, and hence must venture into those fairy tales and badlands.
Becoming the nomadic voyager, wandering about. Dreaming and playing. Feeling the full spectrum of emotions. The unicorn and the dragon. Multivariate and recombining flinches of desire, sadness, happiness, loneliness, abandonment, comfort, disappointment, surprise, danger, warmth, coldness, excitement, pain, pleasure, ... transitions between various intensive states and interactions with a significant other, who's active and feeling too, differently, but reciprocally, within a changeable complex relationship.
Finally one has to digest the trip, make time for thought. The past becomes another series of photographs, pages of diaries, details, conclusions, and material mementos. And then one continues on, indefinitely.
"There's so much I want to say. But I don't know where to start."
Der Nachtmahr (2015)
Raves, time anomalies and monster attachment coming of age story
Against the indispensable backdrop of techno-psychedelic throbbing drug-infused party experiences, a teenage girl starts seeing a hyperstitional monster resembling a living-corpse embryo in her house, which wants to idle around, consume food and come closer to the girl. Alongside classical dynamism of sanity vs. craziness, there's an unique kind of isomorphism going on between the girl and monster — Tina is the monster and grows an attachment to it (when it's hurt, she feels the repercussions on her flesh and mind) — uncovering themes of self-image, uncertainty of pregnancy and relation to friends (especially the guy she has a crush on), making this a more intelligible coming-of-age film (she becomes 18). However the film is edited in a way to seem free and incomprehensible, in the sense that planes of reality, dream and perception are merged, such that for example scenes later in the film seem to occur as if those before didn't happen, vice versa, and so on. The hand-held camera always sweeps to make the viewer feel as a fellow party-goer or a ghost gliding next to the characters. The beginning already introduces a lot of ambiguity with its portrayal of a non-linear time disturbance that's very much related to plausible anxious visions happening on a reckless passionate party night, with its libidinal and death instincts, distinctive visceral flowing trajectories and trips, that fervently coalesce in this psychological rave film.
Migrating Forms (2000)
Sexual enterprise and its effects
'Eraserhead' meets 'Shame' meets experimental noise. Mostly it's just composed of long static shots of the same room, having a necessary repetitiveness and emptiness to show a slumbering subjective reality, that sporadically reveals something that'll grip ones mind - between the apartment shots we get "delightful" hazy sex scenes, oneiric ambiences, and surreal details describing the protagonist's state. It's very much this type of film that gives the viewer a handful of clues and hence invites to craft one's own interpretation and story, appreciating it more upon further reflection.
To me it's about a man's loneliness and inner emptiness, which is alleviated by sex (or the idea of it, i.e. with masturbation+fantasy). These extended periods of sex engender varying changes - attachment to one person, the mental conflict between that real partner and an ideal one, a sensation of its kinky animality (as is in multiple instances superbly shown through the protagonist's cat, and the likening of his partner with it), and its destructive-deformative effects (STDs, body horror, urino-scatalogy ). All of that is mixed with a dose of rodents, insects and an occasionally superimposed face of a mocking man that looks like Ringo Starr (maybe the guy just listened too much to The Beatles, such that love+beetles permeate his subconscious; but more likely than that the face is his masculine self that laughs at his current states and wants him to perform better, go further). Good stuff, for sure.
Neúplné zatmení (1983)
Which jump will you take?
"Man is alone. Everyone lives alone with himself. The sooner you realize this, the better."
This phrase should particularly ring a bell for 14 year old, visually impaired Marta Rezkova. Her doctor and instructor advises this realization so that she can stop being afraid to "take the jump" and make a better effort to orient herself anew in her environment after losing sight. Focus on sounds, snap fingers to identify the degree of echo, learn Braille, use a yoyo to estimate the depth in front. But Marta doesn't seem interested. Not only does is the prospect of staying in a special boarding school until she graduates high school at 18 frightening enough, but Marta also believes that her sickly condition is life-long.
What exactly does she suffer from? It's not exactly blindness, because during her trip to the "life- threatening third floor", she tells a boy she sees "wave shapes, certain colours and movements", things she cannot understand and is unable to explain, i.e. a personal experience (or, as they were called in a different scene by someone else, "a private cinema" (resembling the concept of a "prisoner's cinema") with colours, lights and self- induced sensations) - phosphene. The film tries to visualize these through the occasional 'Vetigo'-like/Saul Bass-like on-screen visual effects and designs, that also nicely serve to quickly get to an entirely different scene, some of which are likely also part of Marta's imagination or memory. I was reminded of 'Vertigo' earlier though - right after the "blackout" and confusion there're the opening credits with mysterious music reminiscent of Bernard Herrmann's score. It nicely continues throughout the film to give a sense of anxiety.
I don't think that it's a coincidence that repeated terms and motifs, such as "nausea" after the "fall" in the "amusement park", the aforementioned "life-threatening" third floor with no railings (the cliff before the abyss of death?), dizziness, sickness, loneliness, eclipse, losing grip of reality, losing sight or "fear" before the "jump", correspond to an amalgamation of existentialist ideas and book titles. Marta is mocked in both schools she attends – first she must draw a monster blindfolded, but the teacher writes "self-portrait" above for the amusement of the class, marginalising Marta – the source of fun and mockery. In her second school she is unable to perform at a gym class and runs away. Moreover, she thinks about suicide ("such life is not worth living"), which she could do if she "let go" from the floor without a railing before "the abyss" (of which she dreams too), and sees a psychologist (that uses her in his research, encourages her to chant "Me! Me! Me! We're not afraid of anything" and love herself, that in the end helps Marta persevere and make the right kind of jump: the life-embracing one, where she faces fear and lands on her feet).
-"How do you perceive fear?" -"Black. ( ) I'm falling, dropping down very fast from a great height. It's all black. It's as if something slumped or tore off inside me."
Hence 'Incomplete Eclipse' is a nice allegory for a (coming-of-age) existentialist condition. It's just pleasant to watch. Technically and pacing-wise I was reminded of 'The Cremator': a fast pace, with some "illogical" editing, a voice-over, subjective approach and recurring motifs associated with height, falling and perception (there is quite the 'Vertigo' connection). This is the second Jire film I've seen (the first was "Valerie", which is one of my favourite films), and with both he shows competence and preoccupation with interesting themes, though "Eclipse" is more straight-forward and less layered.