Sunday, 27 August 2017

Tobe Hooper will always be one of the great filmmakers. Films like Lifeforce and Spontaneous Combustion have had an extraordinary impact on me, and his work is on my mind in some capacity pretty much all of the time. I should do more to communicate why I think his films are so vital, and I will, but in the meantime, however belatedly it seems now, I'm re-publishing a brief Letterboxd write-up of Eaten Alive, written minutes after I saw the film for the first time earlier this year. I'm sure this will be the first of many appearances that Hooper's work will make here.

Eaten Alive | Tobe Hooper, 1976

A hotel on the outskirts of a twilit ghost town bathed in an artificial red haze, filled with a succession of rugs instead of carpet and illuminated by dozens of lamps instead of central lighting. This hotel is a failure of homeliness, a misuse of familiar elements (wardrobes in bathrooms, single beds in double rooms) that render it as inhospitable as its owner, a lonely, disturbed man who clearly wants to be among people but can't get close to anyone, reacting with brutal violence to any signs of the humanity he's been conditioned to reject — he's a man outside of nature, a wardrobe in a bathroom, an African crocodile in a tiny pond in Texas. He shouldn't exist in this loveless, monstrous form, but he does. And it's all just desperately sad.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

A Ghost Story | David Lowery, 2017

A friend delivers a pie to a grieving woman, who is not home. When she returns, she cuts a portion of the pie and eats it, then another, and another. But she's only eating the middle, hollowing it out to leave the crusts to encircle a nothingness, a space where a rich taste used to be. Eating in this way is to miss the experience. There's nothing to balance the sweetness, and it becomes harder and harder to swallow. You need it all, crusts and filling, to make it edible. To make it endurable. The blank ghost of her husband looms large, watching on from the background. And we only see fragments of life, before and after: a song, a party, an iPod. Times pass. People change. Spaces die. Then it starts all over again and the crusts bring clarity. A ghost watches a ghost and the daughter of a colonialist hums a melody that hasn't been written yet. The future is the past. History isn't what it used to be.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Solaris | Steven Soderbergh, 2002

There are two shared images in Steven Soderbergh's Solaris. The first is a calling card, a recorded message from Dr. Gibarian, an old friend on a space station, delivered directly to camera, calling on Dr. Kelvin to join him in investigating a mysterious planet known as Solaris. This message is brought by two high-ranking officers to Dr. Kelvin and played in its entirety on a screen in his home in front of all of them. It's hard to say no to the face of a friend. Once it's over, the image stutters and pixelates. It's not real anymore. It's a message embalmed by technology. The past revived in the present.

The second shared image is on the space station: the "facsimile" of Kelvin's dead wife, a product of his memory rendered in flesh by the strange planet. She appears in a locked room on the bed next to him, caressing the back of his head as she used to. She has memories of their life but can't place herself within them. He can't help but fall in love with her again. And why wouldn't he? He can see her, feel her, hear her; and so can everyone else on board. She's as real as Gibarian's message, and they're both a proof of life. Kelvin knows she's fake — but he loves her anyway. "All I see is you." Irrational love. Pixels on a screen. The past is the present.