Monday, July 11, 2016

The Fifth Gospel of Kaspar Hauser @ Phantoscope, Cork

I'm delighted to announce that the next Phantoscope presentation at Cork's Triskel Christchurch Cinema will be Alberto Gracia's visionary take on the Kaspar Hauser legend, The Fifth Gospel of Kaspar Hauser (2013). Alberto will be in Cork to present the film but also, more importantly, to shoot a new work.  

6.30pm, Saturday July 23rd.
Full details and ticket bookings here.

The story of Kaspar Hauser, who grew up in dark isolation from humanity, it is provided by a Gallician artist with a radical experimental adaptation that aims to be nothing less than a religious message. Black & white 16mm, without the language of reason, eye to eye with the primaeval puzzle.

The story of Kaspar Hauser, the German 'wild child' who grew up for 16 years in silence and virtually in the dark in a stable with only a wooden horse as company, remains fascinating, also for filmmakers. Werner Herzog did a film on him in 1974. In The Fifth Gospel of Kaspar Hauser, mostly shot in atmospheric black-and-white on 16mm, we see impressions of his life and ‘civilising process’.
On one side there is ubiquitous nature, a world without language, and on the other we see him in the company of several archetypes: a masked, sadomasochistic dwarf; a vamp-like girl; a seaman and a man in a Batman suit (played by the director, Alberto Gracia).

The soundtrack also has a constant tension between the peaceful sounds of nature and ominous music. Gracia divides his ‘gospel’ of Kaspar Hauser into seven chapters. The sixth is an absurdist intermezzo with the archetypal characters' dialogues in intertitles.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Abbas Kiarostami (1940 - 2016)

I seem to recall that Nicole Brenez once made a case that the '90s was one of the three greatest decades for cinema. This statement would have been made around the '90s, the decade of most of my teen years and early twenties. The decade I was learning about cinema and life in tandem, years that will never be repeated. The formative years of seeing what cinema is capable of and becoming sensitive to new lessons, new experiences. Abel Ferrara, Wong-Kar Wai, Hou Hsiao-Hsien (the opening shot of Millenium Mambo on endless loop), Pola X, Histoire(s) du cinéma, Lost Highway, The Double Life of Veronique, Pialat's Van Gogh, Whispering Pages, Scorsese's best decade, Sarunas Bartas... And, central and essential to it all, the towering work of Abbas Kiarostami. The sense of growing along with each new work of his that emerged. One of the brightest guiding lights.

The years pass in a twinkling and I find Like Someone In Love (2012) to be one of the most disconcerting and mysterious films of recent years. One that really got under my skin to an unusual extent. With time, this master gets more unpredictable, more unsettling. Part of the emotion I felt after watching it was an urgent curiosity about what might come next in Kiarostami's ouevre. But now he has followed in the grimly steady procession of great filmmakers to have left the planet in 2016. Perhaps there is some consolation to be gained from the fact that he left at the height of his powers, in the wake of a masterpiece.

Rest in peace.   

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Michael Cimino (1939 - 2016)

Heaven's Gate remains one of the towering masterpieces of American cinema.