I love Rev.
I’m fond of Richard and Jack too, of course. And the legion of movie lovers behind them that make the whole event work so smoothly.
Rev reminds me every year that the creative spirit not only lives on in an era where half of a Hollywood product’s budget can be spent on advertising, but actually thrives. Like weeds through the cracks in the footpath, odd growths shoot up from nowhere all across the world. Richard and Jack pluck only the finest specimens and arrange them in a neat, if very eccentric, bouquet for the citizens of the world’s most isolated city.
Thanks again, everyone.
Der Bunker begins with a premise similar to that Rev hit of a few years back, Dogtooth. We have a family that has isolated itself from the outside world and grown a little odd in its isolation. Mother and Father welcome a stranger into their home: The Student, seeking solitude so that he may great complete his great work of calculation. Well, Student might be the next Einstein but he can’t manage his finances to save his life. He’s soon paying his way by tutoring Der Bunker’s next generation.
Der Bunker is the first full-length feature from Nikias Chryssos. On the strength of this debut, he should be a Revelation regular for years to come. Recommended for those who like their cabin fever without cannibalism and worship of demonic forest spirits, but lots of psychological manhandling. Plus an ending that is completely unexpected and yet doesn’t feel like a cheat.
Having spent his childhood playing Harry Potter, Daniel Radcliffe wanted to get as far as possible from the boy wizard. In Swiss Army Man he plays a corpse who not only talks but farts with incredible strength. I mean incredible. Manny is the Superman of flatulence. Radcliffe teams with Paul Dano as Hank, who seems a bit of a loser. Or maybe a hell of a loser. Stranded on an island, a noose around his neck, Hank is ready to say Goodbye Cruel World when Manny washes up on the beach. And if you think Felix and Oscar were the odd couple…
Swiss Army Man runs just 97 minutes and packs plenty of weirdness into that time. The whole premise being so peculiar, it leaves itself open to many interpretations. Mine is that the whole event is a variation on Incident At Owl Creek, an Ambrose Bierce story that was made into a short film in the early 60s. Hank makes his peace with the world; he accepts that he had his chances and failed to make use of them. But see it for yourself – and be grateful that cinema is light and sound, but still no smell.
Here’s a slightly more conventional trailer.
And so to Revelation’s feature presentation of 2016: High-Rise, a Page to Screen directed by Ben Wheatley from the book by J G Ballard.
High-Rise reworks the oldest story in Western culture: the Garden of Eden, the Paradise that is perfect for a moment and then slides into disintegration. Ballard told his story in plain prose that was almost scientific in its detachment; the high-rise is a society complete unto itself, with all that its residents need. Even as it achieves 100% residency (“We’ve achieved critical mass!”) the decline into barbarism begins. The residents break into three groups; life outside the high rise ceases to have importance as the tribal war becomes the fundamental issue.
Tom Hiddleston is very effective as Laing, the doctor who emerges as one of the survivors when the lights go out. Jeremy Irons brought a godlike weariness to the role of Anthony Royal, the architect father of the high-rise. There’s a hint in his demeanour of the little boy who builds a sand castle at the beach with the express intention of kicking it down, and is frustrated that he can’t do so. His creation has taken on a life of its own and seeks revenge for being created so imperfectly… well, that’s another story, isn’t it?
I really wish I could sing hosannas for High-Rise, but it doesn’t quite reach its target. As a faithful translation it’s satisfactory. There’s a nice 1970’s ambience. But a page to screen should be like a cover version of an old hit. There needs to be something in there that the original didn’t touch. (Exhibit A: Australian band Zoot’s rendition of Eleanor Rigby.) Wheatley and his scriptwriter Amy Jump seem too much in awe of Ballard. His writing was pretty damn awesome. But their movie doesn’t get below the surface in the way that David Cronenberg did, for example, with A History Of Violence. I guess I’m waiting for the remake… now that’s something new.