Hey, it’s me. yes me.
Summer’s over, and i’m back from sojourning in my secluded, larch-bound chalet in HELL. I started a tumblr. it’s more of a conventional microblog – what i had for tea, sub op ed ‘thoughts’, emotional overdisclosure, that sort of thing, so it’s not a replacement for this fantastically serious and heavyweight… well, ‘blog’ doesn’t really seem to do something so profound justice – it’s more like something, idk, that i goddam curate. anyway, from time to time, i’ll xpost things from there that seem to have a place here, and vice versa, because believe it or not there are still tremendously exciting things bubbling under at the idiot and the dog. anyway, here’s something cnp’d from there on BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO – GO SEE IT (unless you’re the sort of twat who gets intellectual film studies self-kudos from just going to see hollywood dreck – hey, when i went to see Charlies Angels II: Full Throttle I felt like goddam UMBERTO ECO, so fucking what?)
berberian sound studio #1
berberian sound studio is the best film i’ve seen in years. that is all.
berberian sound studio #2
no that is not all. (a lousy phrase, no better than ‘enough said’ or ‘end of’)
(+ kind of SPOILERS I guess – I hate knowing anything about a film other than the barest elements before going to see it).
berberian sound studio was the best film i’ve seen in years (and I like it even more this morning), because of
1. its spatial and physical representation of sound to create a tangible psychic landscape within which the events of the film take place.
2. the remarkable way which the film allows its sonic & psychical content to constitute the reasoning and plot of the film. yes, the clue’s in the title, but it still seems an artistically daring thing to do (the film is rather runic) and requiring exceptionally brilliant execution to work, which it gets.
3. its mapping of the whole frigid anglican male v catholic kitsch schlock v genuine evil. i did half wonder whether the whole virginal and pure anglican male thing was slightly played out or in danger of being trite (wicker man, yes, but also wolf solent by john cowper powys, arthur machen’s earnest young post-victorian men, disorientated in fin de siecle aestheticism). But for several reasons this isn’t the case. Toby Jones is great, for a start, with his mole in wind in the willows features, also, the film avoids triteness by playing the role subtly, its only an element of the film, not the point. there’s also a scene… no, that’s another point. but there is that always interesting exploration of the strength of purity against corruption, and how puritanism itself is intensely corruptible, more so than more pragmatic spiritual states.
just with regard to that point about ‘genuine evil’. by upping the tangibility of sound in the film, it also does something to the appreciation of evil, itself intangible or difficult to capture. it’s as if the viewer’s radar has been readjusted to appreciate the taste of things in a film that would not normally be portrayable. there is a subtle sense of how madness comes creeping in on the back of evil, how they work together. (incidentally, i’ve since seen reviews which say that gilderoy goes ‘mad’, i think that’s an exceptionally simplistic approach to take to this film, nevertheless, madness, or rather mental unhingeing, plays its part. it’s also taking a non-literal film very literally.)
4. the documentary of box and leith hill. a brief and wonderful scene that played straight to my heart and mind. my heart, because it’s some of the countryside i love most (was it cobbett who said that dorking was reputed to have the sweetest air in england – before the M25 of course). my head, because of the way it located the battles going on in the sound studio and in gilderoy’s head in english pastoral – it was both a moment of sweet respite, and a representation of the malign or sinister pastoral of john cowper powys, machen, also john ireland – the dismembered rural, the something nasty in the woodshed, the rustic earth as inimical to human civility. so yes, this was pure catnip to me. maybe i’m overplaying it as a consequence, but this is a very associational film (brief memories or moments of reality flash up in gilderoy’s head, stimulated by momentary verbal or imagistic associations).
5. it being, in my experience, a very accurate portrayal of how italians and english work together.