Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Substrata 1.2: Sound & Visual Art Festival: Aug 3 - 5

For the second year in a row, Seattle is graced with this literally exceptional, three day mini-festival (two nights of performances, an afternoon panel discussion and lecture and a third day field recording workshop and hike) of precisely curated sounds by Rafael Anton Irisarri. Sounds spanning from the 'heavy' end (the 'Sub' in question) of the ambient, neoclassical, immersive-avant spectrum, in an intimate setting of the Chapel Performance Space with a explicit audience in attendance (no loud rock bar, and hangers-on here) and a dedicated sound engineer. Exactly as a festival of these sounds, with the corresponding audience and venue should be curated, hosted and assembled. The festival also bringing together associated aesthetics and theory in a booklet published featuring essays by Irisarri, Tomas Bóden, Lawrence English and others. Along with complimentary visual art and photography by Phil Petrocelli, Julie Calbert, Gregory Euclide and Christina Vantzou. Check that lineup: Tim HeckerScanner - Pan•American - Lawrence English - Loscil - Daniel MencheWidesky - Anticipating that this year's festival will be as memorable as the last!

From the Substrata site: "Substrata 1.2 is the 2nd edition of Seattle’s intimate sound & visual art weekend happening August 3rd - 5th. At its nucleus: an all-ages live performance program, workshop, lecture & field recording trip within the beautiful Puget Sound region. The idea behind Substrata is to explore varying perspectives of scale though the use of sound, composition and visuals. It features two live performance showcases featuring accomplished and internationally renowned artists working within the cutting edge where structural abstraction meets physical dynamics. The performance program focuses on live electronic music: applying technology to a concert setting while incorporating traditional & non-traditional instruments. The workshop/lecture explores dilemmas within the sound arts community; the field trip engages participants and performing artists in deep listening exercises and mobile recording on site. Our goal is to create an immersive weekend experience that engages the audience in a dialog with the artists that goes beyond the constrains of traditional performer/ listener interactions. Each showcase is curated to distinctly portrait different takes of the potency of minimalism, varying between weighty combinations of tonalities used to sculpt out atmospheric ambiance, or powerful dynamic structures made up of the subtlest filigree of sonic building materials. By creating compositional spaces dealing with a sense of mass, along with openness of structure, the perspective of scale and the listener’s place in relation is shifted to allow for greater a sense of place beyond the environ of the performance in the interplay of the moment and physics of the larger world. In all, Substrata is an event that fosters appreciation for our natural surroundings and creates meaningful interaction between artists/participants while exploring a new locality. As the name substrata implies, it is about subtle aesthetics that go beneath the surface and into deeper aural territories." Photo design/credit: Petrocelli Designs LLC

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Cannes Film Festival + Cinema Miscellanea

Reports on Cannes by the esteemed Amy Taubin, Joumane Chahine, Richard Peña, Marco Grosoli, Gavin Smith, Jonathan Romney and Nick James via Film Comment and Sight & Sound have begun to see print this month, fueling curiosity and stoking anticipation! Let's hope 2012 goes differently than 2010 and 2011, as other than the major award winners, Cannes saw very little in the way of anything but the major films from the fest ever appearing in US theatres those years. Some real gems in here again. New ones by some of the worlds greatest cinematic orchestrators of shock, beauty, subtle entrancement, rapture and genre-transcendence. Links below to some of the notable Directors works and prize winners from this years festival. Some returns to form and/or subject matter from the last few decade's greats, adventurous new directions from old pros, enfant terrible's return to do their thing stirring up the critics and other directors alike, and final films from masters of the moving picture who have since left us. A bounty to be found in doing reading on the festival in the pages of the above institutions. The abundance of curious and atypical works suggests there are some major surprises to be had in the theater stateside in the coming year. Assuming of course, we see these works get distribution. This just being a small selection of some of the dramatic works by known directors, see the 'Out of Competition' for a number of what look like exceptional /curious documentaries. Included here with a few words of my own, are the (often) almost comically terse synopsis offered by Cannes.

Link to Michael Haneke - "Amour" at Cannes site

Apparently an unusually touching, rich film by one of modern cinema's great provocateurs. With
"Amour" Haneke become one of only six directors in the festivals history to be awarded multiple
Palme d'Or for this tale of life's later years, hopes and aspirations truncated, love's strength and
of course, mortality. Here's one of those comically-terse synopsis I was talking about:
Synopsis: "Georges and Anne are in their eighties. They are cultivated, retired music teachers.
Their daughter, who is also a musician, lives abroad with her family. One day, Anne has an attack.
The couple's bond of love is severely tested."

Link to David Cronenberg - "Cosmopolis" at Cannes site

Cronenberg's return to the surreal and allegorical as social commentary, adapting the Don DeLillo
novel of the same name about Capitalism in overdrive and the collapse of one of it's orchestrators.
Synopsis: "New York is in turmoil, the age of capitalism is drawing to a close end. Eric Packer, a
high finance golden boy, dives into a white limousine. While a visit from the President of the United
States paralyses Manhattan, Eric Packer has one obsession: getting a haircut at his barber’s at the
other end of the city. As the day goes by, chaos sets in, and he watches helplessly as his empire
collapses. Also he is sure that someone is going to assassinate him. When? Where? He is about
to live the most decisive 24 hours of his life."

Link to Abbas Kiarostami - "Like Someone in Love" at Cannes site

Like many of Kiarostami's films, his newest features exuberant cinematography largely set in the interior
of an automobile, though the switch to modern day Tokyo and a female protagonist switches up the mix.
Though again, making it his own, anticipate a twist similar to that in his much lauded "Certified Copy".
Synopsis: "An old man and a young woman meet in Tokyo. She knows nothing about him, he thinks
he knows her. He welcomes her into his home, she offers him her body. But the web that is woven
between them in the space of twenty four hours bears no relation to the circumstances of their encounter.

Link to Takashi Miike - "For Love's Sake" at Cannes site

Miike's back! After his previous two methodical (for him) exalting recreations of the Jidaigeki Chambara
classics in the form of "13 Assassins" and "Ichimei aka Harakiri: Death of a Samuria", his newest is a
modern psychodrama in his more-usual flavor. And yes, there's Gangs and Yakuza in it.
Synopsis: "One day, the delinquent Makoto suddenly appears in front of Ai, an innocent A-student from
a rich family who attends Aobadai High School. Ai feels responsible for his actions and decides to help
him pull himself together. Ai secretly arranges for him to transfer to Aobadai, but "favor" proves to be an
unwelcome one for Makoto. Her kindness is returned only with more bad behavior. After trouble with the
police, Makoto is kicked out of Aobadai and transferred to Hanazono High School, a notorious gang
swamp. Makoto easily fights his way through the dangerous gang scene, and is welcomed by Yuki,
the queen of Hanazono. Yuki decides to lure Makoto into battle by taking Ai as a hostage.
Can Makoto save her life and win the battle?"

Link to Sergei Loznitsa - "In The Fog" at Cannes site

Loznitsa's previous film "My Joy" was a slow-burner of suspense and the rural-surreal, if a bit baffling
and time/narrative convoluted in it's winding, inventive way. His newest looks to be quite different. 
Synopsis: "Western frontiers of the USSR, 1942. The region is under German occupation, and local
partisans are fighting a brutal resistance campaign. A train is derailed not far from the village, where
Sushenya, a rail worker, lives with his family. Innocent Sushenya is arrested with a group of saboteurs,
but the German officer makes a decision not to hang him with the others and sets him free. Rumours of
Sushenya’s treason spread quickly, and partisans Burov and Voitik arrive from the forest to get revenge.
As the partisans lead their victim through the forest, they are ambushed, and Sushenya finds himself one
-to-one with his wounded enemy. Deep in an ancient forest, where there are neither friends nor enemies,
and where the line between treason and heroism disappears, Sushenya is forced to make a moral choice
under immoral circumstances."

Link to Ulrich Seidl - "Paradise: Love" at Cannes site

Ah, Ulrich Seidl is back with his unflinching investigations of lives at the fringe of late-era capitalism.
Expect more beauty in composition, lighting and locations as you attempt to squirm out of your seat in a effort
to not grapple directly with the drama and the persons populating it. "Import/Export" is going to be difficult to
top in this area. Apparently the beginning of a new trilogy from him, outside his usual post-Soviet haunts.
Synopsis: "On Kenya’s beaches they are known as "sugar mamas": European women who seek out African
boys selling love to earn a living. Teresa, a 50-year-old Austrian woman, travels to this vacation paradise.
"Paradise: Love" tells of older women and young men, of Europe and Africa, and of the exploited, who end
up exploiting others. Ulrich Seidl’s film is the first in his Paradise-Trilogy about three women, three vacations
and three stories of the longing to find happiness today."

Link to Raul Ruiz - "La Noche De Enfrente" at Cannes Director's Fortnight site

After the award winning masterpiece of 2010's labyrinthine "Mysteries of Lisbon" in which Ruiz took on
the audacious task of tackling Camilo Castelo Branco's novel of the same name, fusing it with a narrative
sensibility straight from the era(s) of  Dickens, Victor Hugo, and Tolstoy, Conrad, Melville, De Quincey while
specifically channeling the Borgesian nature of design, and a comedic-tragic sense to surpass even Balzac,
it seemed likely his work would never again reach such heights (or duration!). Sadly with his passing this
last year, that's the case. But we do get one final, smaller, more intimate posthumous film by him and
curiously one that focuses on the later years of life, death and time - over the course of three ages.
Synopsis: "Three ages of a man who sees death approach overlap. Raoul Ruiz's film testament." 

Link to Apichatpong Weerasethakul - "Mekong Hotel" at Cannes site

Apichatpong returns after his Palme d'Or winning "Uncle Boonmee" with a oblique, dreamlike and haunting
(literally) tale of Northweast Thailand's 'Pob' ghosts and the residents of a hotel on the river bordering Laos. 
Synopsis: "Mekong Hotel is a portrait of a hotel near the Mekong River in the north-east of Thailand. The
river there marks the border between Thailand and Laos. In the bedrooms and terraces, Apichatpong held
a rehearsal with his crew for a movie that he wrote years ago called Ecstasy Garden. The film shuffles different
realms, fact and fiction, expressing the bonds between a vampire-like mother and her daughter, the young
lovers and the river. Mekong Hotel - since it was shot at the time of the heavy flooding in Thailand - also
weaves in layers of demolition, politics, and a drifting dream of the future."

Link to Lou Ye - "Mystery" at Cannes site

After his masterful (and politically controversial/banned in China) "Summer Palace" and equally beautifully
shot tale of existential modern drift in "Spring Fever", Ye looks to be delivering more of a psycho-thriller this
time around. Synopsis: "Lu Jie has no idea her husband Yongzhao is leading a double life, until the day she
sees him entering a hotel with a young woman.Her world crumbles - and it's just the beginning. A few hours
later, the young woman dies beneath the wheels of a car. The police officer in charge of the case refuses to
 believe her death was accidental..."

Link to Carlos Reygadas - "Post Tenebras Lux" at Cannes site

Reygadas really topped all of his previous efforts with the mythic/Carl Dreyer inspired "Silent Light", a film
sometimes almost painfully gorgeous in it's setting/composition to look at. From the images seen, it looks
that he's continuing that visual tradition with "Post Tenebras..."  Synopsis: "Juan and his urban family live
in the Mexican countryside, where they enjoy and suffer a world apart. And nobody knows if these two
worlds are complementary or if they strive to eliminate one another."

Link to Cristian Mungiu - "Beyond The Hills" at Cannes site

One of the leading voices in the current Romanian New Wave, Mungui's films rivet the viewer in escalating
high tension, as lives collide with the Soviet-era system under Nicolae Ceaușescu, comically referred to in
Mungiu's films as the 'Golden Age'. Synopsis: "Alina returns to Romania from Germany, hoping to bring
Voichita - the only person in the world she loves and was loved by - back to her. But Voichita has found God
- and God is the hardest lover of all to be jealous of."

Link to Matteo Garrone - "Reality" at Cannes site

Garrone's investigation of the depths of corruption in modern Italian society in "Gomorrah" was masterful.
This looks to be a utterly different subject matter altogether, but hopefully just as meticulously crafted.
Synopsis: "Luciano is a Neapolitan fishmonger who supplements his modest income by pulling off little scams
together with his wife Maria. A likeable, entertaining guy, Luciano never misses an opportunity to perform for
his customers and countless relatives. One day his family urge him to try out for Big Brother. In chasing this
dream his perception of reality begins to change."

Link to Hong Sang-Soo - "In Another Country" at Cannes site

Sang-Soo's love for lives of miserablism was tempered with a larger serving of humor, intimacy and narrative
trickery in his last film, "The Day He Arrives". It looks like he's switching up the equation further by featuring a
not-exclusively Korean cast in Isabelle Huppert playing the lead. No doubt there will be the universal issues
of the gulf of alienation between men and women explored, regardless of nationality. Synopsis: "A young film
student and her mother run away seaside town of Mohang to escape their mounting debt. The young woman
begins writing a script for a short film in order to calm her nerves: Three women named Anne appear, and each
woman consecutively visits the seaside town of Mohang. The first Anne is a successful film director. The second
Anne is a married woman secretly in an affair with a Korean man. The third Anne is a divorcée whose husband
left her for a Korean woman. A young woman tends to the small hotel by the Mohang foreshore owned by her
parents. A certain lifeguard can always be seen wandering up and down the beach that lies nearby. Each Anne
stays at this small hotel, receives some assistance from the owner’s daughter, and ventures onto the beach
where they meet the lifeguard."

Link to Wes Anderson - "Moonrise Kingdom" at Cannes site

It's been a cool/curious thing to see a director of such painstaking, meticulous, self-knowingly ingenious films
exploring our collective nostalgia and familial dysfunction, now creating films involving all of the above - with the
addition of a beating emotional heart at their center. Looking forward to seeing if he continues the tradition.
Synopsis: "Set on an island off the coast of New England in  the summer of 1965, Moonrise Kingdom tells the
story of two 12-year-olds who fall in love, make a secret pact,  and run away together into the wilderness. As
various authorities try to hunt them down, a violent storm is brewing  off-shore - and the peaceful island
community is turned upside down in every which way."

Link to John Hillcoat - "Lawless" at Cannes site

Hillcoat's tradition of making deeply dark, methodical, genuinely cynical 'westerns' exploring the bottom rung of
the human condition after "The Proposition" and the adaptation of McCarthy's "The Road" looks to continue.
Synopsis: "Lawless is the true story of the infamous Bondurant Brothers: bootlegging siblings who made a run
for the American Dream in Prohibition-era Virginia. In this epic gangster tale, inspired by true-life tales of author
Matt Bondurant’s family in his novel "The Wettest County In The World", the loyalty of three brothers is put to the
test against the backdrop of the nation’s most notorious crime wave."

Link to Ken Loach - "The Angel's Share" at Cannes site

Decades long established director of the UK's greatest of political dramas, returns with a more communal focus,
(apparent) sense of humor and a cast of 'youths adrift'. Synopsis: "A bittersweet comedy about a Glasgow boy
locked in a family feud who just wants a way out. When Robbie sneaks into the maternity hospital to visit his young
girlfriend Leonie and hold his newborn son Luke for the first time, he is overwhelmed. He swears that Luke will not
lead the same stricken life he has led. On community service Robbie meets Rhino, Albert and Mo for whom, like
him, work is little more than a distant dream. Little did Robbie imagine that turning to drink might change their lives
 - not cheap fortified wine, but the best malt whiskies in the world. What will it be for Robbie? More violence and
vendettas or a new future with 'Uisge Beatha,' the 'Water of Life'? Only the angels know..."

Link to Alain Resnais - "You Aint Seen Nothin' Yet!" at Cannes site

Resnais' last film "Wild Grass" was utterly baffling, brilliant and experimental by turns, that much moreso for
the advanced age of 90 it's director holds. His newest tackling both mortality and the premise of narrative/theatre
/film itself, appears more mythological/allegorical, yet don't be surprised if it's got a emotional kick hidden behind
the edifice. Synopsis: "From beyond the grave, celebrated playwright Antoine d’Anthac gathers together all his
friends who have appeared over the years in his play "Eurydice". These actors watch a recording of the work
performed by a young acting company, La Compagnie de la Colombe. Do love, life, death and love after death
still have any place on a theater stage? It’s up to them to decide. And the surprises have only just begun..."

Link to Leos Carax - "Holy Motors" at Cannes site

It's been a god long time since Carax unleashed the sprawling anarcho drama "Pola X" on unsuspecting audiences.
After a decade he's back with a more tempered film of the night, the city and where stories go when they dream.
Expect an appearance by Monsieur Merde of "Tokyo!" fame set within his own idiosyncratic take on 'Do Limousines
Dream of Electric Manequins'? Synopsis: "From dawn to dusk, a few hours in the life of Monsieur Oscar, a shadowy
character who journeys from one life to the next. He is, in turn, captain of industry, assassin, beggar, monster, family
man... He seems to be playing roles, plunging headlong into each part - but where are the cameras? Monsieur Oscar
is alone, accompanied only by Céline, the slender blonde woman behind the wheel of the vast engine that transports
him through and around Paris. He’s like a conscientious assassin moving from hit to hit. In pursuit of the beautiful
gesture, the mysterious driving force, the women and the ghosts of past lives.
But where is his true home, his family, his rest?"

Link to Thomas Vinterberg - "The Hunt" at Cannes site

Vinterberg's deft storytelling, near-perfect cinematography and inversion of the shock/sensation theme much-loved
by 'reality tv' may never reach the heights of his 1998 'Dogme 95' construction known as "Festen" (Celebration
here in the 'states) but his newest looks like it may hit compellingly close. Synopsis: "Following a tough divorce, 40
-year-old Lucas has a new girlfriend, a new job and is in the process of reestablishing his relationship with his teenage
son, Marcus. But things go awry. Not a lot. Just a passing remark. A random lie. And as the snow falls and the
Christmas lights are lit, the lie spreads like an invisible virus. The shock and mistrust gets out of hand, and the small
community suddenly finds itself in a collective state of hysteria, while Lucas fights a lonely fight for his life and dignity."

Link to Koji Wakamatsu - "11/25 The Day Mishima Chose His Fate" at Cannes site

Nothing new in the highly politically charged subject matter Wakamatsu knows best, from the Red Army Faction
historical drama of "United Red Army" to the maimed post-War veteran in "Caterpillar" to one of the most
philosophically charged (and still controversial figures) of 20th Century Japan, Yukio Mishima. Expect Wakamatsu's
exploration of the artist, philosopher and revolutionary in the formation of his Tatenoka army - to his death by Sepuku
on the date of this film's title - to be more brutally literal than the classic Paul Schrader film of the 80's. Synopsis:
"On November 25th 1970, a man committed ritual suicide inside the Tokyo headquarters of the Japanese Ministry
of Defence, leaving behind a legacy of masterpieces and a controversy that echoes to this day. The man was Yukio
Mishima, one of Japan’s greatest and most celebrated novelists. With four members of his own private army - the
Tatenokai - Mishima had taken the commandant hostage and called upon the assembled military outside the Ministry
to overthrow their society and restore the powers of the Emperor. When the soldiers mocked and jeered Mishima, he
cut short his speech and withdrew to the commandant’s office where he committed seppuku - the samurai warrior's
death - tearing open his belly with a ceremonial knife before being beheaded by one of his colleagues. What was
Mishima truly trying to express through his actions? And what did he witness during his final moments?"

Link to Benicio Del Toro/Gaspar Noe/Laurent Cantet/- "Seven Days in Havana" at Cannes site

Anthology pic by a number of modern greats I'm gad to see on the same bill, as the story of the life of a city and
those who reside within it's changing form. Synopsis: "This film was born from a desire to explore a city at a particular
moment in its history: Havana will without doubt alter radically in the next few years. A transition is taking place: its
boundaries are changing, its culture hungrily embracing new ways of thinking, creating and living every day. This is
what attracted such varied talents as Benicio del Toro, Gaspar Noé, Elia Suleiman, Emir Kusturica, Laurent Cantet,
Julio Medem and Pablo Trapero, and this is what inspires Juan Carlos Tabío daily. To film this place and to tell the
story of these people - to portray humanity at a turning point in its history - on an island whose magnetism and
magical aura is wholly disproportionate to what one would expect from its geographical dimensions alone. 7 Days
in Havana is a snapshot of Havana in 2012: a contemporary portrait of this eclectic city, vital and forward-looking."

Link to Dario Argento - "Dracula" at Cannes site

Oh Dario Argento, what to think of him at this point? He can't even refrain from putting his name in the title. This
may very well be a great experience in the cinema, yet possibly not quite in the way Argento imagines... Synopsis:
"Transylvania, 1893. Jonathan Harker, a young librarian, arrives at the village of Passo Borgo to work for Count
Dracula, a noble man from the area. When faced with the mysterious personality of his host, Jonathan quickly
discovers the Count’s true nature and how dangerous the man might me, notably to his wife, Mina. Abraham Van
Helsing has already crossed Dracula’s path, and as violent deaths start piling up, he might be the only man
standing in the way of the Count’s evil intentions."

Link to  Behn Zeitlin - "Beasts of the Southern Wild" at Cannes site

Zeitlin's directorial debut, though deserving it's Camera d'Or prize for first picture was much too heavily weighed
on the 'magical' end of the Magical Realism equation for me tastes... being too consciously, willfully intent in it's
own sense of wonder. Yet the setting is brilliant and much of the cast I can't imagine anyone else in the role. It's
also a rather ingenious vehicle for exploring post-ecological disaster/Katrina in a place and time that's not quite
our own. Synopsis: "Waters gonna rise up, wild animal gonna re-run from the grave, and everything south of the
levee is goin'under, in his tale of a six year-old named Hushppupy, who lives with her daddy at the edge of the world."

Link to Bernardo Bertolucci  "Me and You" at Cannes site

Yes indeed! You and a lot of other people are asking; 'Bertolucci is still making films?!' Nothing, nothing may ever
touch the channeling of zeitgeist, paranoia and tension as that of "The Conformist", but the man is still an artist if
his 1996 "Stealing Beauty" is any indication. Synopsis: "Lorenzo is a quirky 14-year-old loner. He plans to fulfill his
teenage dream of happiness by hiding out in his apartment building’s abandoned cellar. To escape his overwrought
parents, Lorenzo will tell them that he is going away on a ski trip with school friends. For an entire week, he will
finally be able to avoid all conflicts and pressures to be a "normal" teenager. He plans to live in perfect isolation
with his horror and fantasy books. But an unexpected visit from his worldly older half-sister Olivia changes everything.
Their emotional time together will inspire Lorenzo to come to terms with the challenge of casting aside his disguise of
troubled youth and prepare to soon be thrown into the chaotic game of adult life."