Posted by: Gregoryno6 | September 30, 2013

They jailed Caesar upstream of a white reindeer: a (very late) review of Rev ’13, part 1.

Seriously… it’s a relief to write about something besides politics.

With the Circus of Ineptitude gone, I’ve got both the time and the inclination to tackle other subjects. There are a few stories to be told yet about my trip to Los Angeles. But I’ll begin closer to home with the Revelation Film Festival.

Rev returned to the Luna Cinemas in 2013 after several years based at the Astor in Mount Lawley. The Astor’s an easy stroll from my front door, but the Luna is still within my walking distance. Many’s the time I did the three miles each way for a movie at the Luna, or breakfast in summer at the old Oxford 130 – which has been renovated, revived, and renamed Foam. Once again this address is a gathering point for the city’s cool and connected. They let me in too, provided I sit down the back and stay quiet.

Rev’s program was spread across Luna’s four cinemas, but I stuck exclusively to Cinema One. Intimate micro cinema I can get at home on the desktop; when I go out for a movie I want the full-on, big-bastard, eye-stretching experience. And I wasn’t disappointed. Once again, Richard and Jack and the Rev team gave me my money’s worth.

The Deep is one of those very rare ‘based on a true story’ efforts that keeps embellishment to a minimum. Gulli, the main character isn’t a quiet hero, or a loving spouse and father. He’s a fisherman in Iceland, not concerned with too much beyond boozing, and rather obnoxious. Most of the town dislike him. The camera remains a detached observer as it follows Gulli through the alehouse, then home and down to his fishing vessel. Which capsizes when the net snags on the ocean floor.

Guðlaugur Friðþórsson alone survived when the Hellisey VE 503 went down. He swam for six hours in water that was just a few degrees above zero. His story was at first not believed; hardly surprising. When the evidence bore out his tale he became for a short time a celebrity and a subject for scientific investigation. In a scene which may or may not be strictly factual, Gulli is taken to London to be tested for endurance against select members of the Royal Navy. When the last sailor is dragged from the iced water begging for mummy, Gulli is still sitting there undisturbed.

There’s a Zen-like quality in The Deep – an ordinary man becomes a hero, but ultimately he returns to his ordinary state. Imdb has an interview with Baltasar Kormákur the director and Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, who plays Gulli, here. Definitely one you need to see in a cinema if you want to feel the power of the dark blue water sloshing around your head in the middle of the night.

What the fuck am I doing in this review? I'm a Caribbean reef shark.

What the fuck am I doing in this review? I’m a Caribbean reef shark.

Charles Bukowski and Harry Dean Stanton almost worked together on a tv series, with Stanton playing a character based on Bukowski. The proposal died on the living room floor, but Bukowski gained an anecdote or two which he used in his writing.  He depicts Stanton as a man unhappy with everything and everyone around him.  Even Bukowski, who himself rated high on the misanthropy scale, felt compelled to say that things weren’t as bad as Stanton saw them.

Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction gives us a more guarded version of the actor. Harry’s reluctance to speak about himself is balanced by the interviews with Kris Kristofferson, David Lynch, and others. They draw the outline of the man. Little of the man inside that line is revealed; and what is revealed is not necessarily endearing. Harry tells the story in two or three sentences of meeting with the children he fathered upon girlfriends. His admission that he lacked any sense of fatherly love seems almost brutal. Harry sings for the camera, and he sings very well. Still I prefer to remember him as the wily Bud, mentor to young Otto in Repo Man.

Rev prides itself on presenting original and unconventional cinema. Jail Caesar is both of those.

Paul Schoolman and Alice Krige were special guests at Rev and spoke before the screening. Paul warned the audience that the first twenty-five minutes would be disorienting. I found the whole movie quite disorienting. As did everyone else if the muted response afterwards is any measure. Paul and Alice were a little surprised by the lack of comment, but Rev patrons are perhaps not as close to the gang culture as the audiences in other cities where the movie has screened.
Whatever my expectations were of Jail Caesar, they were thoroughly confounded. I was expecting Shakespeare in modern dress. An imagined connection thanks to the presence of Derek I, Claudius Jacobi.  So much for that! The vicious ranting tyrant in his orange prison gear was a long way from the BBC’s stuttering emperor.  Likewise, I couldn’t divorce Alice’s Pirate King from her performance as the Borg Queen. The cool feline menace was not on display however when the Pirate King threatened the young Caesar with a knife.

Here’s a longer vid, with some commentary from cast and crew.

No info yet on a dvd release. See it if you can. You need the disorientation.

Sort-of Update, 28.10.2013: Part 2.

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