Year in Review: 2017

My complete 2017 Watchlist, Ranked
(Films seen in theaters or festivals in 2017)

Films qualify for my Best of 2017 when the country of origin’s initial commercial release occurs in 2017. Unreleased films and festival only release are not considered.

TOP 17 of ’17:

  1. Twin Peaks: The Return (David Lynch, May 21, USA)
  2. Song to Song (Terrence Malick, March 17, USA)
  3. Phantom Thread (Paul Thomas Anderson, December 25, USA)
  4. On the Beach at Night Alone (Hong Sang-soo, March 23, South Korea)
  5. A Ghost Story (David Lowery, July 7, USA)
  6. The Square (Ruben Ostlund, August 25, Sweden)
  7. The Lost City of Z (James Gray, April 14, USA)
  8. Good Time (Safdie Brothers, August 11, USA)
  9. The Florida Project (Sean Baker, October 6, USA)
  10. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh, November 10, USA)
  11. The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, October 20, USA)
  12. Logan (James Mangold, March 3, Canada/USA/Australia)
  13. Western (Valeska Grisebach, August 24, Germany)
  14. Call Me By Your Name (Luca Guadagnino, November 24, Italy/France/Brazil/USA)
  15. Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, December 22, USA)
  16. Lucky (John Carroll Lynch, September 22, USA)
  17. In the Fade (Fatih Akin November 23, Germany/France)
    * Hong Sang-soo’s Claire’s Camera does not make the list, as it will be released in 2018.

TOP (5) Films Without Distribution (Festival Only Releases):

  1. Luk’Luk’I (Wayne Wapeemukwa)
  2. Prototype (Blake Williams)
  3. Fail to Appear (Antoine Bourges)
  4. Never Steady, Never Still (Kathleen Hepburn)
  5. Lowlife (Ryan Prows)

TOP (3) Foreign Language Film:

  1. On the Beach at Night Alone (Hong Sang-soo)
  2. The Square (Ruben Ostlund)
  3. Western (Valeska Grisebach)

TOP (3) Directors:

  1. David Lynch (Twin Peaks: The Return)
  2. Paul Thomas Anderson (Phantom Thread)
  3. Hong Sang-soo (On the Beach at Night Alone)

TOP (3) Cinematographers:

  1. Emmanuel Lubezki (Song to Song)
  2. Darius Khondji (The Lost City of Z)
  3. Sean Price Williams (Good Time)

Top (3) Editors:

  1. Dylan Tichenor (Phantom Thread)
  2. Ben Safdie, Ronald Bronstein (Good Time)
  3. Jon Gregory (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

TOP (3) Screenplays:

  1. David Lynch, Mark Frost, Harley Peyton (Twin Peaks: The Return)
  2. Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
  3. Ruben Ostlund (The Square)

TOP (3) Soundtracks:

  1. Oneohtrix Point Never (Good Time)
  2. Daniel Hart (A Ghost Story)
  3. Twin Peaks: The Return)

TOP (3) Actors:

  1. Kyle Maclachlan (Twin Peaks: The Return)
  2. Casey Affleck (A Ghost Story)
  3. Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour)

TOP (3) Actresses:

  1. Kim Min-hee (On the Beach at Night Alone)
  2. Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird)
  3. Margot Robbie (I, Tonya)

Top (3) Supporting Actors:

  1. Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
  2. Ben Safdie (Good Time)
  3. Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project)

TOP (3) Supporting Actresses:

  1. Allison Janney (I, Tonya)
  2. Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird)
  3. Lesley Manville (The Phantom Thread)

TOP (1) Documentary:

  1. Faces Places (Agnes Varda, JR)

TOP (5) Most Anticipated Films of 2018:
Rad

  1. Radegund (Terrence Malick)
  2. Ad Astra (James Gray)
  3. The Death and Life of John F. Donovan (Xavier Dolan)
  4. Annette (Leos Carax)
  5. First Reformed (Paul Schrader)

 

 

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Remember II

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His best film to date, Raz Vahn’s self-made documentary Remember II gleans from Eastern European masters, such as Andrei Tarkovsky and Bela Tarr, to form an austere old-world-religious tone of his estranged homeland Romania. Vahn’s long take form encourages reflective observation of the land which holds dear in his heart. The objects, such as buildings, animals, people, and the city, are shot with great affection, thereby conveying feelings of cherishment and reverie. His philosophy suggests that objects endure despite the fading of memories, and thus inspire remembrance; permanent objects hold memories intrinsic and summon an experience of nostalgia when encountered—it is this phenomenon which lays central to the film’s conceit.

Beginning with a shot of Jesus on the cross, the film sets a religious tone which is not meant to overbear but to simply provide context for Romanian culture. Subsequent scenes of prayer and art within the Catholic Church don’t merely support this theme, but rather extend into the larger image of memory. By conveying activities of tradition which remain in modern times, Vahn translates history into present and thus transforms the experience of tradition into a meeting of two times: the past meets the present.

This dialectic of truth and memory persists throughout Vahn’s short piece, but never more resonantly than with his grandmother. As a source of the past, her words reveal more than mere history; they reveal a personal history as well. She shares her experiences of younger days wherein tradition, objects, and history interact. When she speaks, often in a poetical tone, a sense of nostalgia surmounts. Her experience may be clouded but the objects of the land and the activities of tradition persist, thus enduring as a physical memory—a museum of her life.

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A genuine diary film, Remember II shares something in common with the work of Jonas Mekas, in particular his Reminisces to Lithuania (1972), an account of Mekas’ journey back to his homeland. Both of these documentaries share personal history and a remembrance of things past. So too are both shot on a shoestring budget–a handheld camera to intimately capture the journey. To express life bare to the world, in naked honesty and raw cinematic form, is the monument of their poetry.

The best realizations of this endeavor are Vahn’s moving sequences wielding the kino-eye, Vertov’s philosophy of the camera-eye wherein director as observer allows the camera’s unbiased vision to convey immediately one’s own.  A brilliant long take of houses from the vantage point of a train car is one example of Vahn’s kino-eye movement—his subjective point of view becomes the pure image realized on screen. This technique is found in subsequent scenes, such as a voice-over conversation while driving, a cat meandering behind an elderly woman’s walk, and a garden stroll around the innocence of children and flowers. This last sequence, shot in slow motion and finishing with a still (a clear homage to Kiarostami’s Close-Up (1990)), stitches closed the final chapter of a life now lay barren in the soil. But what remains are the traditions and objects, what remains is the remembrance and nostalgia, what remains is the elegy of a voyage—Vahn’s elegy of Romania, of his Grandmother, and of Himself.

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Mother! Explained

mother

I really don’t understand what the fuss is all about, why this film is so contentious, and why this film has so many theories around it. Mother! is quite simple, really, and once you realize its basic allegorical framework, it’s a pretty darn good film.

First off, Darren Aronofsky makes intense films, but they are always simple, high concept, and unidirectional. My one qualm with him as a filmmaker is that his films are one-dimensional and hold so close to their concept they don’t allow anything else to affect their narratives. Requiem for a Dream is about addiction; Pi is about Obsession and so on. Mother! is about Inspiration. It is about the inspiration of creation, of an artist’s constant feel that nothing is ever enough, that one must perpetually create no matter of success or failure.

The artist in Mother! is God, played by Javier Bardem, known as Him.
Inspiration (Mother Nature) is played by Jennifer Lawrence, the Mother.
Earth, which was created by God when inspired by Mother Nature, is the House.
Adam is played by Ed Harris, the Man.
Eve is played by Michelle Pfeiffer, Woman.
The Apple is played by the Crystal Stone which Eve/Michelle Pfeiffer breaks/eats.
Cain is played by Domhnall Gleeson, The Older Brother.
Abel is played by Brian Gleeson, the Younger Brother.
Jesus is played by the Baby, born of God/Bardem and Mother Nature/Jennifer Lawrence.
The rest of the cast is known for their actions. They are humans in the world. They are Fools, Philanderers, Thieves, Priests, Damsels, Cupbearers, and anything else you might imagine.

When God/Bardem writes his Word, the genesis of life is born; Bardem plays a poet who writes with words and creates. God creates life when inspired by Mother Nature; Bardem is inspired to write when inspired by his wife.  God’s act of creation bestows the Earth; Bardem’s act of creation bestows the House. Mother Nature takes care of the Earth; Jennifer Lawrence takes care of the house. Mother Nature won’t allow the Earth to be torn apart by the actions of men; Jennifer Lawrence won’t allow the visitors to destroy the house, even if it is in the name of her husband/Javier Bardem/The Poet/God.

God first brings Adam into the world; Bardem invites Harris into the house. Adam is dying so God brings Eve into the world; Bardem invites Pfeiffer to join Harris at the house. Eve bites the Apple and the Garden of Eden is transformed due to God’s wrath; Pfeiffer breaks the Crystal Stone and Bardem’s wrath transforms the state of affairs. The Apple symbolizes the purity of God’s creation, Love. The Crystal Stone symbolizes the purity of Bardem’s creation, Love–presented as a heart transformed into crystal. When purity is wrecked (Apple bitten/Stone destroyed), Love is lost on Earth.

Abel is born and says Cain is mad; Brian Gleeson is born and says Domnhall Gleeson is mad (Aronofsky cheekily cast real siblings–see how simple his conceit is?) Cain kills Abel; Gleeson kills younger Gleeson.

Upon seeing murder, God gives more family to Adam and Eve, extending their family into the world (brings more men into the world) in order to prove his creation is good and he is noble; Bardem invites Adam and Eve’s extended family into the house to prove that his art is good and he is noble. As more and more men come into the world, more and more sin occurs, but God doesn’t care, it is his creation and the men are witness to his creation; as more and more people show up at their house, more disruption occurs, but Bardem does not care, they are his fans and witness to his art. Mother Nature tries to prevent men from destroying the Earth; Jennifer Lawrence tries to prevent people from destroying the house. God ignores the Earth’s disintegration and refuses Mother Nature’s needs by holding fast to his creation of life; Bardem ignore’s the House’s disintegration and refuses Jennifer Lawrence’s needs by holding fast to his art and the creation of a fan base.

At a certain point, God intervenes by writing the First Testament, or perhaps the Ten Commandments; Bardem writes a masterpiece after the first bout of chaos. In spite of his word, the men continue to destroy the Earth and Mother Nature; in spite of Bardem’s poetry, the men continue to destroy the House and Jennifer Lawrence. Men misinterpret God’s word; people misinterpret Bardem’s poetry. A barrage of various things occur over time, men form groups and say they are true witnesses of God, people steal and adulter and fight and so on and so forth until War occurs on Earth; chaos ensues in the house, gangs are created by various fans who say they are greater fans than other fans, loot and destroy and so on until War occurs in the House.

It’s at this point that perspectives of the environmental activist theories of Mother! come to the fore. They are not wrong, the film is certainly in defense of environmentalism and activism, but this is incidental to the story of Mother Nature’s destruction by the evils of men. It just resembles men destroying the earth because of the plain fact that it is an allegory. It’s during scenes in the house that our day and age is depicted.

Men steal land on Earth; visitors steal items from the House. Men steal land because it’s a piece of God’s creation; visitors steal things from the house because they are owned by Bardem. Men prove their own existence through their activity on Earth, but their activity destroys the Earth; visitors prove they were at the house by carving into walls and such (remember the lines “what are you doing?”- Jennifer Lawrence, “Proving I was here”– Visitor’s response). In spite of the Earth’s destruction and how Nature informs that it is being ruined, men continue to destroy the Earth; in spite of the House’s destruction and Jennifer Lawrence’s information that two people jumping on a banister will ruin the house, these two people jump until the house explodes. Once all hell breaks loose, things get worse and worse, with people doing more and more evil shit, destroying the Earth, killing each other, attempting to kill nature and so on; once the banister is destroyed and people go batshit in the house, chaos gets worse and people do even shittier things like steal and destroy and one woman starts shooting people up, says Jennifer Lawrence is next, and so on.

God tends to Nature and for a moment there is peace on Earth; Bardem sees Lawrence in her room and for a moment there is peace in the house. God’s son Jesus is born; Lawrence’s son is born. God lets the world be witness to Jesus, an extension of God, a piece of God himself, but the people instead kill Jesus on the cross then eat his flesh; Bardem lets his fans see the baby, an extension of himself, but the people literally kill the baby and eat his flesh. It’s this kind of crazyness in Mother! that people sometimes get lost on, but it’s this kind of crazyness where the allegory becomes even more blatant than before. And yes, viewing this is brutal, but so is everything you hear about Jesus in the Bible.

After Jesus is killed, Nature get even darker, the plague occurs, and things get worse on Earth; after baby is killed, Jennifer Lawrence gets even more mad, but people wreak even worse havoc in the house.

We now reach our current point in time, circa 2017, so what happens next can be considered Aronofsky prophesying the end of the world. At a certain point, Nature will no longer be able to contain the violence on Earth, or believe that God still loves her, and she will collapse–the apocalypse occurs; at a certain point, Jennifer Lawrence can longer contain the people in her house, or believe that Bardem still loves her, and she collapses–self destruction occurs.

After Nature and the Earth is destroyed, God remains unblemished, tends to Nature, and is inspired by Nature’s Love that it was not enough, he must try again, and Earth must be created anew; After Jennifer Lawrence and the House is destroyed, Bardem remains unblemished, tends to Lawrence, and is inspired by Lawrence’s Love–presented as a heart transformed into crystal–that it was never enough and that he must try again, and the House must be created anew.

Rinse and repeat.

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On the Beach at Night Alone (Hong Sang-soo)

Beach

Sangsoo’s most emotionally resonant film builds from nothing and shares its impact in thoughts to come rather than thoughts present when watching the film. For some time, like many of Hong’s film’s, the quotidian is represented through mundane detail, seemingly detached from narrative sensibilities. You don’t quite know the point of it all, and it ends as simplistically and detached as it begins.

But something remains: a feeling for the music, a sympathy for the character, a wonderment for dream and desire. In its rich sparsity and detached affectations–this is Hong pairing Bresson and Kieslowski–it is austere yet devoted, and nuanced beyond measure.

On reflection, the film is grander both philosophically and emotionally than his average film, with a certain depth often missing from his lighter fares. The instances of regret and loneliness, tenderly romanced for the sweetness which memory transforms these feelings into, are pure and ephemeral as one’s therapeutic dissolve into the secret space of dreams.

93/100 – Amazing.

5 Stars

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The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (Casavettes, 1976)

Bookie

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie mounts Casavettes’ unique hand in raw realism via a narrowly focused narrative on a singular character’s plight of life. Shots, with a narrow angled camera–tend to bring background to the fore, intimating the character’s narrative while substantiating it through a phenomena of distance and alienation. The viewer is transformed into an observer in the crowd, a part of the mix, an active participant in the hero’s, or should I say anti-hero’s, journey.

Unlike Casavette’s features which are belabored by exposition, dialogue, and a heavy handed directorial temperament, Bookie has moments full of life, intuition, and poetry. Casavettes allows some freedom for the magic of cinema to enter the film instead of stifling the art through acts of control. The scene wherein a coffee waitress auditions and the following use of theme music during a reflective cab ride demonstrate Casavettes heretofore unseen aptitude for expressing art through aesthetic alone.

Tie this in with depth of character, subtle and succinct character denouement, and an understated use of metaphor in the facade of strip-club entertainment, and we have true example of Casavettes’ brand of American indie-art.

The film has turned my previously dismissive stance on Casavettes, unchanged previously by the impressive but flawed Woman Under the Influence.

90/100 – Amazing.

5 Stars

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Experimental Cinema, Jack Chambers’ Hart of London

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Jack Chambers’ masterpiece of experimental Canadian film carries within it some of the purest moments cinema has to offer.

Chambers’ sprawling form of experimentation straddles the fine line between so called high and low art.

Adopting an anodyne viewpoint, he freely observes and presents both the unsightly and the majestic in a form of realism predicated on the viewer’s subjective perception and emotional interpretation of the events being unfold, often in real-time, on screen.

Foggy footage of a deer hunt incites Rorschach opacity, gesturing the viewer towards their own predilections. Deer’s blood spilling by the neck conveys an image as haunting as it is prideful. A vagina spreading for the head of a child’s birth to pass nods toward both the baffling and the beautiful.

The world’s quotidian activities, from the grim to the simple and plain, are placed on equal footing for viewer, as voyeur, to respond immediately, and therefore truthfully.

The finale’s use of repetition compels one to reflect on the experience and one’s emotional responses to the images. Upon completion, the film incredulously reveals for the viewer the truth of their emotional selves and the truth of the reality one both creates and perceives.

90/100 – Amazing.

(16mm at the Cinematheque)

5 Stars

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Experimental Cinema, Snow & Saïto

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La Région Centrale (Michael Snow, 1971, 16mm)

A meditation of time itself.

Challenges the viewer’s capacity for prayer as it entangles the spiritual and physical in worlds both of the reveler and the revealed through a form of fixed yet flowing movement.

Slighted only in that concept is greater than creation and the finite world of mathematics inspired concepts is limited by its own presupposed parameters.

A novel experiment.

85/100 – Excellent.

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Trees

Trees of Syntax, Leaves of Axis (Daïchi Saïto, 2009, 35mm)

A cataclysm of unmediated energy.

Reverberating pulses of light & sound conjure a psycho-physical response and shift in metabolic activity.

Film grain and the dark cavern of cinema support this effect.

90/100 – Amazing.

5 Stars

 

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How Music Ruined a Potential Masterpiece: Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk and its Greatest Failing

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There’s much in Nolan’s audacious new feature worth commending, chief among which is the underlying conceptual apparatus of time and rhythm and the greatly immersive experience it generates.  Cross cutting between three divergent storlines yet maintaining a parallel flow of time between them is something I’ve frankly never seen before. In spite that each plot recount a distinct timeline, and each cut serve as an extension or contraction of time, the bombastic flow of Nolan’s pure visual storytelling remains uninterrupted. This is a brilliant feature of the film which tends to its unique and captivating viscerality.

Rather than delineate a three act structure of rising action, climax, and resolution, Nolan opts to begin in medias res and remain in climax for the film’s entire duration. This at once works for and against the film’s underlying concept. The viewer’s conception of time is suspended such that each moment engages one’s perceptions with the same degree of impact as any other. There is no sense of relative action between the film’s stages or the microcosmic climax within climactic action; the initial scene’s energy peaks to the same degree as those in middle, climax, and closing.

This continually regenerating climax of the film’s rhythm is owed in part to Nolan’s masterful command of visual storytelling, a feature of his craft relatively unseen since 2000’s magnum opus, Memento. The film exhibits a clear influence of Soviet Montage, with certain scenes—including the opening titles and flow of editing transitions—recalling the films of Sergei Eisenstein, Strike in particular. In similar manner, the film strives for that impossible dream of pure cinema described by Mitry, Arnheim, Eisenstein, Clair, Vertov and others. This method serves as a form of defamiliarization, and Nolan’s scattered narrative works on many levels to convey a sense of it.

Also owed to Nolan’s continually regenerating rhythm, apparently, is Hans Zimmer’s literally non-stop score which means to buttress the climactic energy of the film’s visual rhythm. Unfortunately what it actually does is compromise Nolan’s venture into pure cinema. The visual tour de force of Dunkirk does not need support from an incessant, deafening score riddled in monotony. What may have created powerful emotional moments through image alone is instead transformed into fodder for the film’s all too uncompromising mood, a control of viewer’s emotions which is behoeven to the music. Scenes which are narratively denser than others are perceived with equal emotional amplitude, the result of an equally resounding soundtrack. There is no rise and fall of emotional gravitas between a passing scene and one integral to plot.

While both qualities I have mentioned of sound and image work towards Nolan’s concept of a continually regenerating climax, they work in contradicting manners. The notion of pure cinema relies on ideas of defamiliarization and non-representation. It goes against the commodity form of production related to media which consists of the idea that “to look is to labour”, in other words, the idea that the viewer’s passive attention is controlled by what becomes an image’s hegemony. In contention, the notion of pure cinema lies in concert with Bazin’s advocation of free cinema—deep focus and long take for example as techniques which bestow autonomy on the viewer, and thus strip an image’s hegemony of its power and delivers that power to a now active viewer.

The scattershot narrative, montage, and suspension of time held in Nolan’s visual rhythm support this idea of pure cinema, of viewer autonomy, and of defamiliarization. It requires the viewer’s active attention to remain entranced and transformed by a transcendental structure of time constructed by the film’s rhythm. To do this might result in a pure experience of the visual aesthetics, what may rightly be deemed an aesthetic experience.

Preventing this aesthetic experience, however, is the contradistinctive hegemony of the film’s score which incessantly seeks to distract the viewer’s attention. Instead of supporting the notion of pure cinema, it supports the commodity mode of production by controlling the viewer’s emotional experience.

Due to the score, one’s autonomy of the film’s impressive cinematic feats is stolen and so too is acclaim of a masterpiece. A tragic thing it is…

84/100 – Great.

4 Stars

 

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A Vital Moment In History: Monterey Pop

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DA Pennebaker made history by documenting the first major festival of its kind, the huge (at the time) Monterey Pop Festival, which I consider to be a more significant moment in the late 60s hippie revolution than even Woodstock. It was the birth of an era.

During the Summer of Love, artists from Jefferson Airplane to Big Brother and the Holding Company to Jimi Hendrix to Ravi Shankar played a three day concert under the shining sun to a group of bliss-filled music listeners on the groove. Nothing but beautiful music and good vibes at this festival, unlike Woodstock which was both heaven and hell, beautiful and miserable, and filled with as much negative energy as positive according to basically any artist who performed at both.

Though he missed the opportunity to showcase the talents of groups such as Quicksilver Messenger Service and The Byrds, my biggest qualm with the film, Pennebaker’s Monterey Pop serves as a benchmark of the concert film, highlighting not only the music but the experience itself. Cross cutting between performer and listener, stage and audience, the film beautifully conveys the atmosphere of the festival for all us vicarious viewers to rapturously imagine.

85/100 – Excellent

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Bloodsport: A Prime Example of Affective Cinema

Bloodsport

In spite of nostalgia’s effect on my revision, and in spite of Bloodsport’s apparent contrast to what we generally deem cinematic art, the cult-classic remains fastened on the minds of many a cinephile. Such a phenomenon surely calls for retrospection, and today, after viewing the now 28 year old film—which was released on my birth year—to an energetic 400 capacity venue in Vancouver, it will receive one.

When released, the film drew much critical backlash as well as general dislike from audiences, and Jean Claude Van Damme was nearly awarded the 1989 Razzie for Worst New Star (Note that Van Damme would go on to win the much lamented Razzie for Worst Screen Couple with Dennis Rodman).

The film was perceived as a joke. Its cardboard acting, disrespect of filmmaking guidelines including continuity editing, and its penchant for brazen emotion in lieu of narrative fervor met the criteria for discarding the film as a cheesy flop. And yet the film is today revered as iconic by those who were moved by its originality, memorable characters, resonant music and images, and ability to inspire.

To realize how a supposed ‘bad film’ could be revered in such high manner would be to question the cinematic, something which film critics and theoreticians are hesitant to do. But this is not always the case, and in doing this for Bloodsport,  the notion of affect or affective cinema may be helpful. It is a film perspective oft used to describe what is called the post-cinematic film, and as a movement it has gained greater recognition in recent years due to a tie-in with the modern cinephile borne concept of vulgar auteurism.

Through minding this viewpoint, Bloodsport may serve as a prime example of affective cinema. While it may not be cinematic in terms of a tradition of quality, Bloodsport contains the presence of affective sounds and images which draw a visceral experience for the viewer. The story is revealed by way of static transformed moments, images which are held independent of narrative and are immediately apprehended by the senses. This feature makes such images resonant beyond the possibilities of continuity editing and instead showcase what Eisenstein referred to as total image, or an image within which the elements of montage already exist.

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Bloodsport is replete with images of a total nature. They stand independent from the film as a whole and thus exist in a world of icons. Supported by the sound image, this includes such moments as Jean Claude stretched between trees, Jean Claude stretched between chairs, and Jean Claude stretched on a bench over the City. Jokes aside, the images throughout the film, from young Frank’s sliced cap to the dim-mac, chants of “Chong Li”, roundhouse kicks, a raspy cry while blind, and the sudden bliss of martial arts meditation conveyed through sound effect and facial expression all serve as elements of Bloodsport’s iconography.

It is through affective images of this kind that a strong emotional resonance may be formed between viewer and film, as proven by the number of viewers at last night’s screening applauding one resonant image while anticipating the next. What is between these iconic moments is as incidental as the base story line.

To recognize a ‘bad film’ as one with tremendous transformative potential is to recognize the tenuous line between so called high and low art. It also throws into question the service of narrative in creating cinematic art, after all “film isn’t story. it’s mostly picture, sound, a lot of emotions. The stories are just covering something” (Bela Tarr).

It is through intuition that viewers may realize the art hidden behind the surface, and it is through our perceptions that an aesthetic experience of art may occur. In understanding this, we may now retroactively analyse films like Bloodsport with eyes unblemished by prenotion. By mounting a state of perception that is receptive to art, we might find ourselves entranced by the magic of cinematic art in a most unexpected place.

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