TSP2014: The Gospel According to St. Derek

The Gospel According to St. Derek. Andy Kimpton-Nye. 2014.

This documentary can be found on Youtube here, here, and here.

It’s a quite traditional documentary: A theme is established, and then they get a series of people talking about that, and then a new subject, and then pretty much all the same people talking about that new subject. It’s OK, but it fails when the director tries to replicate some of Jarman’s mannerisms, doing super-8-like stuff with video, and it looks horrible.

“We got about four films made off the back of being Derek’s last film.”

Hm… some of these interviews seem very familiar. Did I already watch this? Hm… Oh yeah! Many of these interviews were also in Life as Art, which was made a decade earlier.

But this is a different film.

This post is part of The Tilda Swinton Project.

TSP2016: The Seasons in Quincy: Four Portraits of John Berger

The Seasons in Quincy: Fout Portraits of John Berger. Bartek Dziadosz. 2016.

This is a documentary film in four parts (with four different directors) produced by The Derek Jarman Lab.

I know nothing about John Berger (but I’ve probably seen a couple of films based on his… work?), and this is not a film that makes any attempt at contextualising him. Instead the first (and longest) bit, written by Tilda Swinton features herself talking to Berger as an old friend, telling vague anecdotes and sitting around his kitchen.

Still, even if I had no idea what they were talking about most of the time, I was kinda fascinated.

The second bit was supposed to feature Berger, but his wife died just before they arrived, so they filmed some nearby farms instead and had Swinton (I think) recite some Berger texts over. It’s great!

The third bit is a straight-up debate about neoliberalism interspersed with footage from the countryside. And some more texts. It’s nice.

And the last bit is the most sumptuous one. They got a helicopter in and did a lot of aerial shots of Khan-cee. And you get to hear Berger more, and he sounds interesting. Then the film follows his son for a bit, and then there’s a long sequence where they harvest some raspberries.

It’s really good.

Oh! The last bit is directed by Tilda Swinton!

She should direct more stuff.

Anyway, perhaps I should pick up a Berger book or two.

This post is part of The Tilda Swinton Project.

TSP2018: Isle of Dogs

Isle of Dogs. Wes Anderson. 2018.

Hey, it’s a Wes Anderson film, so of course Tilda Swinton is in here somewhere. It’s an animated film, but she does the voice of Oracle. (She has like four lines in the film, and two of them are “what?”)

And… I love Wes Anderson, but it’s weird. Not because it’s an animated film about excessively anthropomorphic dogs being exiled to a trash island, but because it’s set in Japan for no particular obvious reason. As the film progressed I started thinking “Orientalism?” and paused it to bing it, and I’m not the first. The weirdest thing is that most of the time when the Japanese humans talk, there’s no subtitles, rendering them effectively speechless.

I did like the disgusting sushi check scene.

I think this film shows how dependent Anderson is on his wonderful troupe of actors to pull off his charming films. But others obviously disagree: This has a 90% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Is this my most controversial take on a film ever!??!  Probably.

This post is part of The Tilda Swinton Project.

TSP2015: B-Movie: Lust & Sound in West-Berlin 1979-1989

B-Movie: Lust & Sound in West-Berlin 1979-1989. Jörg A. Hoppe. 2015.

Hey! This is another part of my project to see whether all the films of a moderately famous actor are available in these modern days. (Spoiler: No.) It’s been a couple of years since the last one, so I thought I’d just do mop-up of Swinton’s newer films, but I think I managed to score one of her older ones, too.

This is one of those hybrid documentary movies where you have old footage intercut with new footage (that has cleverly been made to look like it was shot on old, cheap, film stock). It’s a schtick I’m not really that comfortable with watching: I find that my head is spending 93% of its capacity trying to determine which scenes are new and which are old, which doesn’t leave me with much eye/hand coordination to drink the requisite glasses of beer.

Because this isn’t really that interesting. It’s a personal nostalgic trip for the narrator (who is a television presenter), but it’s a fun scene after fun scene with not much of a narrative thread.

And I could have done without the clips from the Jorg Buttgereit films.

(Tilda Swinton’s appearance in this film consist of a couple of seconds from the Cycling the Frame film.)

This post is part of The Tilda Swinton Project.

TSP1994: Visions of Heaven and Hell

Hey!  It’s time for that yearly Google session to try to find the missing films for my Tilda Swinton project. Unfortunately, nothing new seems to be available (although The Dilapidated Dwelling seems to have been available on Youtube for a bit of time before being deleted).  Boo!

But a kind reader had pointed me towards the last two episodes of Visions of Heaven and Hell on Youtube, so I saw that one, at least.  One more down.