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Jul032015

THE CRITIC'S CAPSULE: REVELATION 2015, VOLUME 2.

Revelations has always fearlessly programmed works that emerge from the outer fringes of international cinema. Some label it ‘underground’ or ‘niche’, but fact is many of the highlights at this (or any) Revelations exist in a realm of their own creation, set apart by unclassifiable visions by one-off filmmaking talents. In Volume 2 of our Critic's Capsule look at Revelation 2015, we consider five films that will loudly and proudly divide audiences and ensure the Perth festival remains high on the list of events for moviegoers seeking boldly challenging cinema… (also, check out Volume 1 of our Revelations review coverage here)

H. (Dirs: Rania Attieh, Daniel Garcia / USA, Argentina, 95 mins)
The Argentinian directing duo of Rania Attieh and Daniel Garcia adapt the classic Helen of Troy story to the contemporary township of Troy, New York and construct a bewildering narrative that reworks B-movie ‘meteor shower madness’ tropes into a mind-boggling sci-fi study in fear, madness and detachment. The story encompasses the experiences of two Helens; one, an elderly married woman (Robin Bartlett, terrific) with an obsession for life-like dolls and desperation to find her husband (Julian Gamble) after he, along with many of the townsfolk, disappear in the wake of a meteor’s flyover; the other, an artist (Rebecca Dayan; pictured, above), expecting a child with her husband (Will Janowitz), but who is experiencing ‘glitches’ in her daily reality. One can view H. as a wildly inventive take on the alien abduction phenomenon, but there always seems to be a lot more going on beneath the surface of Attieh and Garcia’s moody, captivating (occasionally, abstract and frustrating) filmic mystery. The determined, often artsy ambiguity may drive some to distraction (reactions from Sundance and Berlin ran the gamut), yet there are moments of undeniably engrossing psychological drama.
You’ll be talking about…
: Young Helen’s nightmarish encounter with The Black Horse.
RATING: 4/5 

YAKONA (Dirs: Paul Collins, Anlo Sepulveda / USA, 85 mins)
Providing a wordless voice for the majestic San Marcos River to impart a memory forged over 10,000 years, Yakona is a rousing natural history installation/videographic essay that chronicles the great waterway’s interaction with those with whom it shares the Earth. Co-director Collins crisp, immersive cinematography cuts seamlessly between images of plant and animal life sharing the mineral-rich, crystal waters with mankind through the ages (first the rightful owners of the land, the Clovis and Coahuiltecan tribes, then the invasive and violent first wave of white settlers). It lacks the soaring bravado and epic scale of Godfrey Reggio’s Powaqqatsi (1988) and Koyaanisqatsi (1982) and Ron Fricke’s Baraka (1992), still the standard bearers for this type of awe-inspiring study of our planet’s many faces. Nevertheless, co-helmers Collins and Anlo Sepulveda capture the wonder and delicacy of a life-giving tributary in all its complex and captivating glory.
You’ll be talking about…
: The snapping turtle versus the duck (a tip – stay through the end credits; pictured, right).
RATING: 3.5/5


WHAT I LOVE ABOUT CONCRETE (Dirs: Alanna Stewart, Katherine Dohan / USA, 87 mins)
For all the love afforded our teen movie ‘classics’ (The John Hughes trilogy, Heathers, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, to name a few), all are still bound by an adherence to form and structure that feels very…well, ‘adult’. None have ever fully captured the invented languages, insanely free-form humour, outsider angst and wildly romantic abandon that spews forth wondrously unfettered from the highschooler’s psyche. One of the most impressive achievements of Memphis-based filmmakers Alanna Stewart and Katherine Dohan’s adorable fantasy What I Love About Concrete is that it feels entirely borne of a teenager’s diary doodles, writ larger than life with the fanciful but meaningful eccentricities that exist within an average 11th grader’s headspace. As heroine Molly Whuppie, the Alice archetype who finds herself down a middle-class rabbit hole of her own creation, Morgan Stewart is warm and wonderful. Shot on next-to-no budget over several years with friend and family non-pro actors in key roles, Stewart and Dohan have conjured a high-school classic; a ‘Gilliam-esque’ teen-dream landscape filled with giddy humour, sweet innocence and touching emotion.
You’ll be talking about…
: Claire Faulhaber as nutty bff Georgie, whose stream-of-consciousness hallway monologuing is hilarious. And the superb soundtrack (which should be bought here)
RATING: 4.5/5

ASPHALT WATCHES (Dirs: Shayne Ehman, Seth Scriver / Canada, 94 mins)
Picture, if you will, an animated odyssey that follows two best buds, Bucktooth Cloud and Skeleton Hat (pictured, right), as they traverse the Canadian heartland, encountering all manner of weird, violent, crude and unwholesome Canuck natives. This is the basis for Asphalt Watches, a truly hallucinogenic cinematic trip dreamed from deep within the creative subconscious of writer/directors Shayne Ehman and Seth Scriver (who also voice the protagonists). Stylistically resembling an early 90s ‘side-scrolling’ video game and interspersed with groaning, industrial audio cues and repetitive musical interludes, this garish, grotesque work of flash-animated surrealism might best be described as the lovechild of psychedelic cartoonist Robert Crumb and Pendleton Ward, creator of the TV series Adventure Time. Several reviews suggest watching under the influence of whatever drugs you can get your hands on, but there is a good chance that the occasionally nightmarish images and relentlessly downbeat heroes will lead users to a very bad trip.
You’ll be talking about…
: Well, take your pick. The hideous car crash sequence; Santa Claus and his addiction to fast food between Decembers; the talking hand. Maybe just the anti-heroes themselves. Good luck…
RATING: 3.5/5 

THE CREEPING GARDEN (Dirs: Tim Grabham, Jasper Sharp / UK, 81 mins)
Finding universal relevance and existence-defining properties in the nutrient rich slime moulds found in the dense forest undergrowth was the profound aim of documentarians Tim Grabham and Jasper Sharp with their passion project, The Creeping Garden. And, as unlikely as it may seem, their mission has been accomplished with resounding and wonderfully entertaining aplomb. From the pulsating electrical current that courses through its living tissue to the offbeat and wonderful aficionados who exist to explore its ever-expanding durability as a life form, slime mould makes for one of the most fascinating and complex central figures in any film this year. The Creeping Garden at first appears to be a rather stuffy British naturalist pic but, if Grabham and Sharp’s utterly engaging and refreshingly intelligent doco teaches you anything, it is that the best of what’s on offer is often found beneath the thin veneer of preconception.
You’ll be talking about…: The android head, wired to the electrical bio-rhythms of the slime mould, giving a face and voice to the acellular, jelly-like protoplasm.
RATING: 4/5

All ticketing and venue information for 2015 Revelation Perth International Film Festival are available at the event's official website.

Reader Comments (1)

H. looks stellar! I'd never heard of it before this morning. Thanks for the review!

July 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCandice

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