Laissez bronzer les cadavres

Off to Brussels now, in two ways even. 1) At this point, the wonderful Cinema Nova is the only place to see Laissez Bronzer Les Cadavres (Let The Corpses Tan) and 2) the French couple who made this film have been living in Brussels for a while now. It’s safe to say Bruno Forzani and Helene Cattet are frequent visitors of the Nova too, as the couple shares the cinema’s love for Italian cult cinema. (In case you’re unaware, the Nova shows lots of movies you wouldn’t see in other cinemas, from old to new, documentaries about Calais to Italian cannibal gore, from sleazy pulp to movies more high-brow than you can make your eyebrows go.)

Laissez Bronzer (or LBLC, to give my fingers some rest during the rest of this review) is the third of the couple’s feature films. Previously, they also directed L’ etrange couleur des larmes sur ton corps – like Ms. Cattet’s first name, this title is also missing an accent or two, but that’s what you get if you’re forced to write reviews on an iPad – and, more importantly, Amer, which you may have spotted somewhere late at night (it’s been on Arte and Horror Channel, to name but two stations). Amer was a stylistic masterpiece, but its visual beauty overpowered the movie’s storyline. To a degree, that’s also true for LBLC. Style over content seems to be the couple’s biggest flaw, but whether this is a real flaw or original intent, is something up for discussion. Because style over content is also a valic criticism of the giallo movies Cattet and Forzani clearly love. Actually, you’d be a fool for not spotting this: the couple do more than paying visual homage to this Italian cult genre, their movies also use those soundtracks. The moment LBLC burst into Ennio Morricone‘s score for Who Saw Her Die was a personal highlight.

However, style over content doesn’t mean there is no story. To summarize it as briefly as possible, there’s an artist couple living away from society in an area full of ruins. (Corsica does have some great ruins, it must be said.) There’s a handful of gangsters raiding a truck full of gold. There are two police officers, a man and a woman, investigating this. And there’s a woman with her son and a maid, looking for her husband. All of this will be combined in a showdown that’s hard to follow. Oh, it’s pretty easy at the start, but once you’re past the movie’s credits – which incidently made me think more of Berbarian Sound Studio than the genre movies both films are referencing – the film offers you what’s happening in a series of butchered cuts from multiple angles. I do mention the butcher here because that’s the final location pre-credits. Is it also a tell-tale sign of what’s about to follow? The butchered timeline of the story and/or the ensuing bloodbath? Anyway, without wanting to spoil too much, let’s just reveal the female police officer gets shot. You’ll see this at least three times, once in her perspecitve, once from the shooter and once from a witness.

But whereas this is still easy to follow, when the movie progresses and alliances are no longer as clear as they were in the beginning, it’s almost impossible to keep track of the story. We heard more than one frustrated sigh from other people in the audience. So, let’s put it this way: if you want an easy-to-follow storyline with goodies and baddies, this is not the right film for you. It doesn’t help either that the film is occasionally layered with scenes that are either metaphorical or hallucinogetic  (or why not both?). There’s a long-haired female figure and several other shadowy figures that just don’t want to show themselves clearly, in scenes best described as Jodorowsky re-shot by giallo directors. If that makes sense, well done on your knowledge of cult cinema. If not, join the people in the audience who were also clearly baffled. There is a scene, all shot in shadows, where the long-haired female figure is tied to a cross. As ropes entangle her, it seems she’s lactating while someone opens a bottle of bubbles. But the amount of foamy juice running down her body you see next, makes it obvious this may not be the most literal scene in the movie.

Also, far from literal is the sound of the film. And it’s as good as any moment to say hello again to Berbarian Sound Studio. In post-production, Forzani and Cattet recreated the kaleidoscope of sounds you hear in LBLC: from the sound of leather uniforms moving while walking on rocks to the sequence of a lighter being opened and the subsequent sounds of a cigarette being lit, you’ll hear any kind of sound in the film in glorious detail. We can only hope the sound engineer of LBLC fared better than the protagonist of Berbarian.

The artist couple in LBLC describe themselves as amoral, meaning they’re equally inviting to criminals as to police officers, upholders of a law system the couple don’t really believe in. Which means LBLC doesn’t offer you a list of characters to root for, something to bear in mind when the massacre begins. And yes, massacre is an appropriate word because the film gets very violent. Tiptoeing on a fine line between acceptable and gratuitous, the film seems more interested in the way blood flows or splatters rather than in offering an overdose of gore, but we do understand LBLC can be too violent for a fair share of viewers. (Though, it must be said, most of those viewers won’t go and see the film anyway once they’ve read the title of the film – by the way, excellently appropriate for such a combination of homage and experiment in style.)

Last but not least, we should also mention two people from the cast that leap out for obvious reasons: Stephane Ferrera has been in a fair share of French cult movies (a.o. Godard‘s Detective) whereas Elina Lowensohn will not be a stranger to the fans of Hal Hartley or Michael Almereyda. From visuals over sounds to the cast, everything in Let The Corpses Tan screams out this is an intentionally crafted cult movie. Even to the point where it shouldn’t surprise you anymore the film was based on a 1971 novel by Jean-Pierre Bastid, who also wrote and directed several cult movies from the 1960s to the 1980s. Or was that the final straw and are you now suffering from an overdose of cult references? If so, feel free to start with Amer, which may be a bit easier for novices. If not, you may have found a wonderful alternative to a trip to the tanning salon. Just don’t forget to the butcher’s first. 

Sorry about that. Some puns seemed like a viable option to end a review of a complex film, one with a difficult structure and an unclear ending. How else could we have finished it? We couldn’t have left you stuck in the middle of

7/10

Trailer

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R.I.P. Mark E. Smith

When arriving home tonight, my iPad informed me that some people had tweeted about Mark E. Smith, singer and leader of The Fall. The internet soon proved that it was not for a good reason: Mr. Smith is no longer with us.

Expressing why this news hits you more than the deaths of several other musicians is not easy, much like The Fall is not easy. I clearly remember not being sure which album to buy, Cerebral Caustic or another more typical 90s album and most people telling me not to go for that weird shit. Much like I remember buying British music magazines and Mark E. Smith constantly being referred to as “notoriously difficult” to interview. (And as much as I often had second doubts about Mr. Smith’s often controversial meanings) much like liking bands just that tad more if they cited The Fall as one of their favourite bands.

A top three of the first three Fall tracks to pop up in my head seemed like a nice obituary, but in the end “Telephone Thing” was replaced by a Von Sudenfed track. Because I remember myself standing in the crowd at a festival and hearing the news that Von Sudenfed, a collaboration between Mouse on Mars and Mark E. Smith, would be replaced by just Mouse on Mars because Mr. Smith hadn’t showed up. The sort of thing that made you go: yeah, that’s Mark E. Smith in one of his moods alright.

Hit The North (a quintessential The Fall track)

Don’t Call Me Darling (our personal favourite from Cerebral Caustic, as mentioned earlier, that album we still bought despite everyone telling us to go for the other album)

Von Sudenfed – Fledermaus can’t get it

 https://youtu.be/iG-CLFPU6RY

Best of 2016: The Girls

It feels pretty weird to write a post like this for two reasons:

1. We can’t access the account any longer on the computer as the mail address used is now defunct. It’s also hard to log in without a password. The password can only be sent to the defunct mail and not the one we’re trying to use. WordPress doesn’t seem eager to help, so for now it’s writing on an iPad and not being able to use any pictures (unless it’s a picture we’ve already used). So yeah, just text and no pics… This blog seems to go retro. Happy 1995 everyone!

2. Yes, we’re fully aware that 2017 is almost over and it feels rather out of place to announce last year’s book of the year now, but hey, let’s just say 2017 was an abysmal year and we didn’t get round to writing reviews. Or almost anything else.

So yes, the best book of 2016? Emma Cline‘s The Girls. Bearing in mind it’s Cline’s debut (at the age of 25), the book was a phenomenal release. The book is about a young girl, aged 14, who wants to escape home and ends up being lured into a cult. Russell, the cult leader, is based on Charles Manson and this allows The Girls to analyse what it was like to be around such a cult while at the same time being kept at a distance when hell breaks loose. Evie, the book’s protagonist, notices how the cult starts decaying.

At the same time, it’s also a portrait of a girl who doesn’t belong anywhere – or that’s how she feels. It doesn’t help much that because of her vague link to the cult, she’s nowadays looked at as a fairground attraction. Present-day Evie is visited by a couple and their visit makes her feel ill at ease.

Better still, we’ve tested The Girls out on two people who don’t like reading and didn’t really look forward to reading a book of more than 300 pages. Both found it a great experience. So even if you’re not the most avid reader in town, have a look at this novel. As the Manson cult gets more in the news again (Manson himself died this year and pretty soon they will be some documentaries and films marking the 50th anniversary of the Tate murders), it’s nice to read something that in a way is topical, good and not sensationalist.

Even though this review could’ve been posted 12 months ago, we still felt the need to publish it before moving on. That in itself tells you something about the quality of the book, no?

In memory of George A. Romero

romeroGeorge A. Romero is no longer with us. We read the news tonight and it felt like a punch in the gut. Romero was the director who became famous thanks to his debut Night of the Living Dead, a movie whose reputation hung over Romero’s later career – especially if you forward a couple of decades. Once his zombie trilogy was released in full, it seemed like people seemed to think Romero was no longer able to make another masterpiece. And when the zombie movies boomed again in the noughties, Romero decided that would’ve been a shame if everyone was making money with zombie movies apart from him (as there was no copyright on Night, companies didn’t have to pay him to put another edition of the film out on dvd), so he returned to the world of the undead for three more movies.

But it would be wrong to see Romero just as a director of zombie films. Especially, earlier in his career he wrote and directed several other films which are worth watching. Even though Knightriders is often forgotten in many lists, it has its fair share of fans and not knightriderswithout reason: it’s a nice movie where a group of bikers re-enact the world of medieval knights and, no matter how unlikely that sounds, it does work (and starts a.o. Ed Harris and Tom Savini). It’s not in our Top 3, but we thought we’d give it a mention, rather than spend a lot of time on that quintessential Romero movie: Night of the Living Dead. Yes, it’s in our top 3 because it’s the start of a zombie genre that leads up to now when zombies are even on TV (we’re not talking about political leaders, but about shows like The Walking Dead – and yes, the fact we said “shows”, so plural – is making our point for us. And it’s a start of a trilogy where all three movies have a message and are a sign of the times. So there, Night of the Living Dead is in our top three, but if you want to avoid zombies at any cost: feel free to pick Knightriders as an alternative.

Night would have been our number two, which is – you don’t have to tell us how charts work – higher than number three. That’s our spot for The Crazies, which – like Night – has also been remade. Romero’s original was released in 1973 and rather than reviewing it now, we’ll refer you to our previous review – which you can find here.

Number one is Martin. It’s a wonderful film about a young man who thinks he’s a vampire and the entire film Romero makes you guess whether he’s delusional or really a vampire). It’s nowhere as known as his zombie movies, which is a terrible shame you can do something about… by watching it. Apparently, it was also Romero’s most loved film, so if you like it, you’re in good company.

Martin-RomeroP.S. Because of this article, the scheduled review will now be posted on Thursday. At this point, Avenue Kurtodrome releases (at least) one entry a week, so if you check in once every seven days you should always be able to read something new.

Curve

Opinions differ. What one person likes, another doesn’t. Some comments about the short film below are negative, going from “1/10” (not exactly a multi-layered review) to “excellent job”. One reviewer said Curve lacked a back-ground story. If you read some of our earlier reviews of short movies, you might remember we don’t agree with that. Short movies, if done well, are perfectly equipped to show you a singular moment or event. Curve shows you a young woman clinging to a smooth surface and well aware of one thing: there’s a deep dark abyss beneath her feet and falling doesn’t seem like the best option. You don’t know why she’s there or why there’s blood on her head (Did she fall? Was she pushed?) No, in the end there’s only one question here: can she cling on or not?

Curve, written and directed by Tim Egan and starring Laura Jane Turner, is an Australian movie. Not that it shows: the actress doesn’t speak and the curve itself could’ve been anywhere (or nowhere). It’s a tiny unworldly atmosphere, reduced to the yes/no question we mentioned above.

If that’s not your thing, don’t bother with Curve. But as we mentioned earlier: opinions differ. Curve is the winner of several awards as you can see in the oblong below. There’s also a play button at the bottom left. Feel free to click on it.

CURVE from Lodestone Films on Vimeo.

2016: who would’ve been n°1?

Despite our best intentions to do this annually, we have had years who had to go without a list of the best 99 musical tracks. For very personal reasons, 2016 was one of those years. You’ll remember 2016, that bundle of joy. You couldn’t even enjoy a musical programme to hide from the dreadful news because virtually every show was interrupted by an announcement of another musical legend no longer amongst the living.

One thing struck us, though: we might have had lots of discussions offline about the influence of David Bowie, but when we had a look at our online archive, it turned out we hadn’t published that much about him.
So yes, we did see Bowie as one of the biggest artists of the 20th century (for various reasons we won’t mention here, but do feel free to send us a postcard if you’d like some correspondence about this topic) and his death (in January) as well as the release of Blackstar just before he’d leave us set the tone for the musical year 2016.

“Dollar Days” isn’t just a tribute to a late artist, it also contains lyrics that may have received fewer lines written about them than “Lazarus” but are equally – if not more – poignant. Especially the “I’m dying to” which – with an extra ‘o’ in ‘to’ – haunts you until well after the final notes…

Had there been a Best of 2016, “Dollar Days” would have the number one. So here it is:

This Is She

The time felt about right for another short movie. Short movies are interesting for various reasons, either because they’re made by people learning the trade or because we’re dealing with a story that works better in a shorter frame. At its worst, a short movie feels flat because it doesn’t satisfy: the story isn’t worked out correctly, resulting in movies that are too dense (trying to tell too much in a couple of minutes) or fleeting (there’s not enough to make an interesting movie out of it). At its best, shorter movies have the ability to stay with you for longer than full-feature movies do. Shorter movies either show a certain fact or 567011672_1280x720event and explore it (as with the recently shown Blood Pulls A Gun) or they take one specific event (in this case the sudden arrival of a spot on the wall) and build up the movie with the effects, action and reaction – focusing almost entirely on that. Besides that, things happen that prompt questions. We don’t get too many details of the young woman: we hear her parents on the phone, there is a back story hinted at during those calls, there’s a man who suddenly pops up, we see a glimpse of her job when she arrives home from work, … but the main focus here is the spot.

Looking for a movie to post on the Avenue, we browsed through several others, but too often we didn’t feel satisfied enough or there was too much adoration for iconic filmmakers. Channeling your heroes isn’t bad in itself, but it should never get in the way of this-is-she-stillthe short. It’s not good to watch a film and catch yourself thinking “Hmm, I wonder how many movies by Lynch and Godard they must’ve watched” rather than paying attention to the film itself. Having said that, it’s true that we started watching This Is She while thinking of Repulsion, but before too long, This is she moves into completely different territory. Or in other words, it becomes a work of its own.

The protagonist is played by Grace Rex. The Avenue computers, who like the internet, never forget told us that we’d already done a search on “Grace Rex” and, unlike a lot of the internet, our computers weren’t wrong: she gave a memorable performance during an episode of Blindspot. In the case of This is she, Grace is more than just the leading actress, she also wrote the story. The director is Tarik Karam, who has been a second unit director on Extremely Loud & Terribly Close and The Reader and so far helmed a couple of shorts and a documentary himself.

So there you go, the story of a young woman who discovers a spot on the wall. That’s all you need to know about this film. Enjoy!

THIS IS SHE from Grace Rex on Vimeo.