Notes on film: Orpheus

10 October 2008

“Look at yourself in a mirror all your life and you’ll see death at work like bees in a hive of glass.”

Orpheus (Orphée) is one of the most celebrated and influential examples of avant-garde cinema, a film that defies the conventions of classical Hollywood films and became considered a work of art that transcends the traditional confines of the cinema. It is the most accomplished film by the French artist Jean Cocteau who was also prolific and admired for his work as a poet, novelist and illustrator. It was one of three films where Cocteau used the classical myth of Orpheus’s journey to the Underworld in order to express his own preoccupations with life, death, the importance of art, and the power of poetry. Orpheus is also admired for its low-key technical achievements where effects that were even considered to be simple by the standards of the time, were skilfully utilised to create a magical and dream like world that is both familiar and unfamiliar to the audience. Cocteau did not consider himself part of the Surrealist movement, as he did not share their political motivations, but his films do loosely fit within the Surrealist tradition of championing dream-logic over reality.

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Film review – INLAND EMPIRE (2006)

20 November 2007

Laura Dern (Blue Velvet, Jurassic Park) plays an actress making a comeback in Hollywood by appearing in a cursed film. Her identity begins to blur with her onscreen persona and that of a poor housewife who turns tricks on the side. But the whole thing is possibly the mental projection of a distressed Polish girl who has been forced into prostitution. Then there are the three people dressed as rabbits who seem to exist in a bizarre sit-com. This is definitively a film by David Lynch (Lost Highway, Mulholland Dr.) filled with his trademark evocative music, industrial sound scapes, stylised dialogue and arresting visuals created simply through creative lighting and editing.

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Film review – The Science of Sleep (2006)

15 May 2007

Director Michel Gondry’s collaboration with writer Charlie Kaufman resulted in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a visual tour-de-force and a love story of deep resonance. Now working from his own script Gondry’s latest film, The Science of Sleep, still demonstrates his unique stylistic flair but lacks any real emotional depth.

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