Pg. 43: “The allotted function of the artist is not, as is often assumed, to put across ideas, to propagate thoughts, to serve as example. The aim of art is to prepare a person for death, to plough and harrow his soul, rendering it capable of turning to good.”
This night, the interior of nature, that exists here—pure self—in phantasmagorical representations, is night all around it, in which here shoots a bloody head—there another white ghastly apparition, suddenly here before it, and just so disappears. One catches sight of this night when one looks human beings in the eye—into a night that becomes awful.
(G.W.F Hegel 1974: 204; quoted in Verene 1985: 7-8)
In this quote, German philosopher Hegel describes what he called the ‘night of the world’ – a primordial abyss of floating ‘organs without bodies’ that follows any radical gesture of withdrawal (negation) and precedes any radically new act. According to Hegel, for the new to emerge there must be a rupture in the existing symbolic order, and only when things are broken down to their constitutive parts can the new be constructed.
In honour of Halloween I thought I would compile this little list of 6 of my favourite Japanese Horror films. Enjoy!
No. 6 is Kuroneko (1968). It is one of the most commercial films by Kaneto Shindo, a significant figure in the Japanese New Wave of the 1960s, who also made more well-known films such as Onibaba (1964) and The Naked Island (1960). It is a period piece about a mother and a daughter who turn into cat spirits at night in order to take vengeance upon the various soldiers that raped them during the civil war.
It’s use of experimental black and white photography and lighting is paramount, rivaling even Eraserhead (David Lynch, 1977), and this, combined with its bizarre B-movie elements, makes it quite a unique work.
A belated review of the UK premiere of Shinya Tsukamoto’s ‘Kotoko’ at the London East End Film Festival 2012.
The UK premiere of Shinya Tsukamoto’s Kotoko at London’s East End Film Festival alone fulfills the festival’s commitment to showing works of ‘uncompromising vision’. Kotoko is a complete breakthrough both in it’s thematic focus and stylistic form of expression, following the critical failure of his 2009 film Tetsuo: The Bullet Man, the highly anticipated third sequel to Tetsuo: The Iron Man, the film that catapulted him into world wide cult fame in 1990. The Bullet Man, although formally astounding, was unconvincing in it’s attempt to appeal to a more mainstream audience, and ultimately failed to expand effectively on the central theme haunting practically all of his work; the effect of the sterile, concrete city on the individual as an organic entity.
This article was written as a hand out for a screening of Chris Marker’s ‘Le Mystére Koumiko’ at the Chapel Cinema, Gallery Cafe, Bethnal Green on the 22/06/12
Le Mystére Koumiko (The Koumiko Mystery) is a fitting title for a film by the elusive Chris Marker, notorious for never giving interviews, attending film festivals or allowing himself to be photographed. Now in his 90s, he has spent his life travelling around the world with camera in hand, recording reels and reels of still and moving images from which he forges his films. Like his masterpiece Sans Soleil (1983), they can contain footage from more than 5 countries, weaved together into a coherent whole where the normal limits of spatiality become arbitrary, and all that is left are universalities such as time and memory. But with an uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time, capturing those images that define an era or movement, he repeatedly insists that his films reveal much more about his personality than any interview could.
This article was written as a hand out for a screening of Shinya Tsukamoto’s two early shorts ‘The Phantom of Regular Size’, and ‘The Adventures of Electric Rod Boy’ at the Chapel Cinema, St. Margarets House, Bethnal Green, London on the 22/03/12.
Shinya Tsukamoto is one of the most innovative, experimental and visceral filmmakers to come out of the Japanese new wave of the 1990s, alongside Takashi Miike, Takeshi Kitano, Kiyoshi Kurosawa and others. In many ways these filmmakers were connected, often exploring similar themes of post-modern isolation with a transcendentalist hue, and they also supported each other, for example, Tsukamoto famously acted in Miike’s Ichi the Killer (2001), and Miike himself directed a ‘making-of’ documentary about Tsukamoto’s film Gemini (1999), stating, “This is him: tough and generous madman Shinya Tsukamoto… I will never be able to beat this guy.”