There is a hammering on a shop lift door. It opens to reveal a disheveled breathless young man stumbling out after being trapped inside a shop lift for four hours. Fortunately he had company but unfortunately it is the company of his unbearable ex wife. Can they be civil? Or will there be a massacre in the lift?
I was flicking through Vimeo looking for inspiration when I came across a music video based on the Japanese novel, “Night on the Galactic Railroad” by Kenji Miyazawa. I was so touched by the use of dramatic shots and emotive music I just had to share it. It really helped me to think about the use of metaphorical visuals and how they can be used to capture emotion. The music Express feat. Silla ( múm ) I feel works absolutely perfectly.
Director : Kohta Morie
Cg animation : Kohta Morie / Cotalo Azuma
Cg modeling : Junichi Akimoto / Takashi Nakagawa / Hayato Kanayama / Hiroyuki Ito / Kazuki Matoba / Hironari Okada / Masato Tajima / Ami Nakai
cg effects : Junichi Akimoto / Toyokazu Hirai
Composite : Takahiro Shibano / Hiroyuki Ito / Masato Tajima
R&d : Hiroyuki Ito
Matte painting : Hayato Kanayama
Assistant director : Hiroyuki Ito / Yosuke Ohno
Produced by Transistor Studio
“If Salvador Dali, Dr. Seuss and Douglas Adams had ever cracked open a bottle of Absinthe and written a sitcom, It might have turned out something like this”
The Mighty Boosh is like an appendix or a daddy long-legs; nobody quite knows why it exists but it just does. I had heard that trying to understand the series was pointless and simply absorbing its nonsensical nature was the key to optimal enjoyment (the writers themselves admitting this too). I strapped myself in and cleaned my eyeballs in preparation for Boosh, just as I was told on the DVD cover.
A wannabe-professional jazz musician and a sunshine kid are the protagonist’s as scribbled by the actors and writers themselves. A flamboyant Noel Fielding and more-geography teacher guy than chic Julian Barratt embrace the screen with very little acting ability needed; an old-school Morecambe and Wise kind of combo but with a futuristic twist not quite within this world but from somewhere within the ‘zooniverse.’
Behind all the neon and glitter lies a basic cliché that has been known for years. The two comedic opposites on their day to day business in an out spill of clashes which is at times outright hilarious. When Jazz meets punk and misunderstood meets worshipped, it takes us partly on our journey to what The Mighty Boosh is but not far enough. The Mighty Boosh is far from simplistic or any classic tale I have seen before.
Anthropomorphisms push this sitcom off its trolley and somewhere closer to Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland. Crack foxes and a sarcastic pink bladder isn’t everybody’s cup of tea but The Mighty Boosh isn’t afraid to jump overtly to a Mad Hatters idea of heaven. Maybe it tries too hard to be surreal? Or maybe an enigma in Adidas trainers is the natural fruit of Fielding and Barrett’s brain? I really want to believe it is the latter.
The lovechild of Fielding and Barrett, the Boosh series has evolved through theatre to radio and launched its trendy self in style onto the BBC in 2005. Despite initial worries of how the popular oddball cult could be adapted to screen it was commissioned simply because there was nothing like it. The three series were unique in that it celebrated a sort of kitsch approach to props and scenery. All filmed in one studio it shouted from the rooftops that it didn’t care about reality or any normal approach to doing things. In fact it had a more gaffer tape than expensive latex methodology and this soon became one of the shows unique features and selling points. Who needs a lifelike cobra when you have got a pair of American tanned tights, some paint, a coat hanger and an unsettling pair of contact lenses? Genius.
With the contribution of legendary producers Of the likes of Gavin and Stacey and Ideal on board The Mighty Boosh was arguably always destined to be a cult. Its tight knit cast made up of family, friends and even Fielding’s postman all very clearly having a fun and colourful time on set makes for what I believe to be a contagiously and addictively enjoyable show to watch. The script roles off the tongues rhythmically where timing is everything but pulled off to the smallest detail. Well just like Hitchcock they have the advantageous insight to the character in that the actors themselves developed the script and that’s when they follow the script. Even without research its obvious to the audience that the script is often adlibbed. It seems the crew was always intent on creating a nonsensical approach or maybe it’s just the way that the misé-en-scene rolled?
It’s safe to say that the Mighty Boosh is one of a kind, although it takes influences from the likes of Monty Python and The league of gentlemen it is predominantly atypical of its genre, or any genre as some would say. Just as you think things cannot get any weirder the Boosh has a very special motif known as crimping which strangely seems to work as a selling point with little songs about everything from jigsaw puzzles to bouncy castles. Think of Freddie Mercury’s Bohemian rhapsody and your getting there.
The Boosh is a key example of how the needs of audiences have changed. The outlandish styling has drawn in a primarily younger adult audience but has also left many mothers and fathers want to steal their kids’ copy too when they’ve popped off to bed. Surrealism simply sells. As much as people like to feel part of a fan base community it appears that some equally like to see themselves as ‘alternative’. Perhaps we are becoming an independent nation where we want to stick it to the norms and think for ourselves without being told what is normal television and when to go to bed? Perhaps being alternative and standing out from the crowd is cool? Unfortunately for those with this mindset Boosh is hugely popular so to like it isn’t really alternating much. As an audience we probably want to believe that we gravitate to the shows quirkiness but it is easy to think at times that the show tries hard to adjust to what the audience wants no matter how little sense that makes. Or maybe its just nice to escape to something completely bonkers.
The first thing that dawned on me at PlayPoland Film festival ’12 was that I probably should have paid more attention in history lessons. Nonetheless I can safely say I walked out of the studio at the Ikon gallery eager to learn more.
The largest mobile film event in Britain, the festival aims to present and promote contemporary Polish cinema to audiences that would otherwise have no opportunity to experience Polish film. During an ongoing four-month festival, viewers have the opportunity to watch the latest full and short Polish film productions, meet filmmakers and producers, and take part in exhibitions and concerts. As a media practitioner I was curious as to the differences in British and Polish culture and how this would be reflected in their films.
Love your enemies
‘Zamach’ or ‘assassinate in English is a largely experimental short film by artist Yael Bartana which brings back into light the demons that history has left behind. It questions the readiness of polish jewish relations associated with the polish renaissance in an engaging curiously realistic and thought-provoking way whilst questioning societies readiness to accept the ‘other’. It deals with the difficulties of cultural integration in an unstable world full of political warfare through the utilising of heartfelt and powerful speeches , set in the near future, during the funeral ceremonies of the Jewish Renaissance Movement in Poland leader, who has died from the hands of an unknown assassin. The leader’s death becomes the symbolic founding myth of a new movement, which leaves the audience to think about a possible make-believe political proposition to be implemented in the nearest future in Poland, somewhere else in Europe, or in the Middle East and the effects that it would have.
Controversially directed by the first ever foreign artist to represent Poland , Bartana has created a trilogy all offering an insight into the countries culture whilst calling for the ‘return’ of three million Jews to the land of their forefathers.. The film itself is overtly political and patriotic with blatant colour schemes of Red white and black costuming and colour rendering by Ido Kavilla. This combined with the moving speeches of the political speakers makes for a very powerful short film. A particularly moving scene involves angelic children singing the emotional ‘The planted heart’ by Hatikva through theirs fear and symbiotically in unison. The children of the future aware of the importance of the event on their people. You can’t help but feel moved by the contagious mass emotion that projects from the crowds of mourners and in the voices of powerful people.
All walks of life together
For a short film Zamach is effective in creating empathy. A widowed Stowek weeps next to her lovers open coffin as grandeur crowds of people pay their respects, you feel like you are in the crowd yourself mourning for this remarkable mans death , the subsequent death of stability and it makes you care about something you probably have never thought seriously about before.
The feeling of unison and passion is well established from the whole mise-en-scene and you can leave the room uplifted and twice as lighter. People stand in pure white masks where the colour of their face is insignificant in their quest for harmony. This idea of developing a multiethnic community where there is complete harmony is one that has been dealt with for many centuries through film however I felt this interpretation by Bartana to be genuinely motivational. If I had not seen this film I would have actually had no idea that this was still a current problem in Poland and I would not have felt moved to care but as a result of Zamach I do. Intense.
I hold my hands up and openly admit that I know very little of Asian culture. I did however know that recently in the last five years increasing numbers of Korean filmmakers have explored the subject of gang crime. The Korean government has started to embrace a more liberal policy around types of expression allowed in the movies and so its audience are considerably more desensitized and expect to see what we may in British culture consider a more graphic and bloody iconography in their films in particular of the thriller genre.
Bearing in mind that a film that the BBFC would ban can be certified significantly lower by the Korea Media Rating Board I knew partially what was to expect from Kim Ji-woon’s 2010 release of ‘I saw the Devil’. Rated appropriate for an 18 audience following a recut of seven scenes from the KMRB due to its violent content I hoped that there would be more to the film than the shock factor alone.
Written by Park Hoon-jung and starring award-winning Asian actors Lee Byung-hun and Choi Min-sik , the film premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival but had only a limited cinema release. The 144 minute film follows the strangely likeable Soo- hyun (who is conveniently a secret agent) in his quest to avenge the grisly murder of his fiancée Joo – yeon , daughter of a retired police chief. This promise to his beloved tortures him deeply in turn blurring the lines between good and bad. The film as a whole reminded me of a famous quote:
‘An eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind.’- Ghandi
I will do everything I can to make him feel the pain that he put you through – Soo-hyun
The immaculate wordplay and direction throughout is often humourous whilst preserving the heavy impact of every single scene. The voyeurism of Soo’s Jekyll and Hyde transformation leaves you with an uncomfortable feeling. Do we pity him for what his grief has turned him into or is he just as much of a monster too?
“He can’t become a monster to fight a monster”
As expected Kim more often than not utilises the shock factor to leave its audiences speechless. No holds are barred with graphic scenes of cannibalism , close up gore and constant violence throughout. You can’t help but wince at some of the particularly malicious acts shown which seem to get increasingly bloody as the film goes on. A man attacks two others in a taxi with a knife. He stabs both numerous times and blood pours from their wounds from all directions you didn’t even know possible .You think the first few minutes are graphic but then you realise the producers obviously invested in much greater quantities of fake blood than you had hoped.
I admit for the beginning of the film I felt that the excessive use of torture porn would take away from the characterisation and development of the relationships between the characters and in some ways I do believe it did . However the script somehow had the ability to add some kind of surreal beauty to the story in the things that an ordinary man would do for the girl that he loves.
‘I saw the Devil’ is probably not recommended for any feminists out there. Although probably a reflection of Kyung-chul’s heartless character the repeated use of the word Bitch by several male characters to name any female character on-screen did slowly grate on me. Excluding his obvious arch-enemy Soo all of his victims are young women and teenage girls all of which are shown to be pathetic and not able to fight back for themselves. However the thing that got to me the most was that the grim scenes of nudity and rape which just seemed to show women as nothing more than a sexual object and adding very little to the plot. Equally it could be said that the film demonstrated males to be violent, domineering and misogynistic. Or perhaps I think too much.
Mowgs score on the other hand is somewhat beautiful and caught my attention almost immediately. From a critical view I felt it added a great deal to the atmosphere whilst not distracting any attention from the delicately crafted visuals which to be honest, deserved all the credit they can get. During the most extreme scenes the music was even in perfect sync with my heartbeat.
The film was definitely memorable and some scenes are disturbingly difficult to un-see. I also felt that excluding the cringe-worthy faux pas of characters talking to themselves as a uneeded attempt to narrate that the script was very engaging and unique in its realism and the direction unconditionally hypnotic. However for me some things just didn’t make sense , for instance Kyungs annoyingly invisible nature , a continuity error regarding a cigarette burn to the eye socket and relatively majorly if there was an investigation into the case then why was the family left so much in the blue?
The thing is that the action moves so fast that you don’t really have time to notice these things. There is something intriguing about every single one of the characters that make it a worthwhile film and it is so clever in its craft that the man lying in the corner with blood squirting out his head doesn’t put you off. You just want to see if and how all of this chaos will end and you cannot help but feel for the characters ; there human sides and perhaps even partly the monster taking over inside of them.
Sometimes in life we accept the beauty of how the world works around us but we do not always appreciate it. Shakespeare’s home town Stratford – upon – Avon holds a hidden gem that would have given the man himself something to write about. The MAD museum claims host to some of the best in Steampunk , Kinetic and Automata art in the world. And art it most definitely is.
The concept of Steampunk , ‘a post-apocalyptic time —that incorporates elements of either science fiction or fantasy’ fascinates me. The idea of pseudo-Victorian paraphernalia excited me greatly so I had high expectations of what I wanted to see and it didn’t take me long for my enthusiasm to kick in.
Outside the museum stands a comically sized pair of hands. Now the best thing for me about this exhibit was that it left the guessing work to me. I clapped my hands in front of the sensor and Voila! the gears kicked into action to give me an ego boost and the giant hands clapped together leaving my expression one of great amusement. I probably looked ridiculous clapping eagerly at a machine but you don’t care. It became a recurring theme of the exhibition ; it’s like seeing a giant not-so-pocket watch blown up to epic proportions so you can see the barrel’s gear teeth gnawing against the gear train and the escapement mechanism rocking back and forth with each rotation of the centre wheel making a melodic twang as it does and you can’t help sticking your head right in because it is all just utterly beautiful.
Before that day I had never really heard of Automata. The mad museums website, terms it simply as interesting mechanical contraptions. They could have had me at the word ‘contraptions’ alone.
Made from wood, brass and on old tin oil drum. My first curiosity was the mechanics. Everything from the intricate detailing of the Dutchman’s tiny hands and the peaceful timing in which the vehicle moves had a great effect on me. My fascination of machinery combined with the eccentricity of this intriguing character left my brain pleading for a narrative.
He sails the sea for months on end desperate to find that special girl to give him a reason to keep the wheels turning and the wings moving in an empty and monotonous world.
He wants to be in love more than anything in the world and his eyes will stay glued to his binoculars looking into the outside world until he finds the right person to give his life purpose.
Perhaps he should just look in himself?
The exhibit made me question myself artistically. Does art need to have a meaning in order for it to actually be art? Or does everything simply have a meaning to someone. Many pieces in the museum had an obvious purpose whether that be to tell the time or even to count money so the reason why it was created seemed obvious rather than just being made to look interesting.
Other pieces were considerably more difficult to decipher.
The kind of kinetic art which puts the mad into The Mad museum. French kinetic artist Bettex does not do simplistic. His work stands out to me for its complex paths that take a lot more than a double-take to follow. The meaning may not be obvious but to me its genius.
I find it ironic in that the ambiguity of the piece it leaves your mind to explore every possible explanation just like the freedom of the machine its own chaotic cogs and pipes. The possibilities are endless.
The smallest knock of a boot turns a wheel which turns a screw which turns a….and you are dizzy…. it’s certainly difficult to follow but perhaps that’s the point. Art can be chaotic and films can be