Notes on all the screenings I attended at Resfest. Probably boring unless you’re as much of a geek as me.
Shynola Rarities: I was gnashing my teeth at having to miss the onedotzero festival (like Resfest, but bigger) in London earlier this year, where the programme included Shynola AND Ninja Tune retrospectives, so I jumped at the chance to get at least some Shynola here.
Highlights: At Home With Shynola, Steve Malkmus Documentary (the man himself didn’t appear in it, unfortunately, but it did feature kittens playing tiny drum kits), and a lovely video featuring a dancing…um…neutron, was it?…for Athlete’s You Got The Style which never got released for some reason, perhaps because they ended up a one-hit-wonder. During The Littlest Robo, I kept wondering why the narrator’s voice sounded so damn familiar, only to read in the credits that it was Kurt Wagner!
Shorts #1: In general I did enjoy these, but was only extremely impressed by a few out of all the films.
We Have Decided Not To Die, Equestrian, and Bikou felt like the sort of installations I’d watch in a modern art museum but be completely unmoved by. For Your Blossom was aptly described by Benny as the sort of Flash film you can find randomly on the Internet. Other films like Jojo In The Stars and Ward 13 were technically impressive and enjoyable to watch, but they didn’t stun me with their concepts, or make me want to ask their creators out for coffee. However, four films ultimately came through to make this screening well worth the price of (half-price) admission.
Oedipus retells the Greek tragedy, but in 9 minutes and with vegetables. Oedipus, a potato, is leading a flock of little baa-ing cauliflower along that fateful mountain path when he meets and slays his dad, who is a broccoli. Graphic vegetable violence and audible vegetable motherfucking follow. Totally more fun than the 3 hour version I watched in London.
There isn’t much point in describing The Mood and the hilarious Pol Pot’s Birthday because you sort of have to be there, so I’ll just say they were perfect examples of having a great idea and executing it well.
Papillon D’Amour was probably the film that excited me the most. It was scenes from Rashomon, cut up and mirrored in on themselves, to a “wall of screaming feedback” sort of soundtrack. The end result is something like if Salvador Dali made Japanese horror movies. I wouldn’t call it entertaining or pleasant viewing, but I found it hypnotic and strangely beautiful.
Jonathan Glazer Retrospective: Street Spirit and Virtual Insanity are still wonderful even after all these years, and that’s what I think the most outstanding aspect of Jonathan Glazer’s work is – its timelessness. No gimmicks, just good ideas and beautiful shots. Who doesn’t love all the Guinness ads, and those Samuel L. Jackson ones for Barclays? Having said that, I think there was a lot of filler in this retrospective. It’s fair enough to include The Making of Surfer (for Guinness) since it’s such a universally acclaimed ad, but did we really need to see The Making Of Whatever You Ride (Wrangler) and The Making Of Odyssey (Levi’s), or the Sexy Beast trailer? If a trailer was to be shown, I actually think the trailer for Birth would have worked much better shown on its own, in isolation from the film.
Cinema Electronica: Probably my favourite screening, which is unsurprising. Quite a number of these videos are easily available on the Internet, but they do look much better on a big screen. Out of many excellent videos, the following ones stood out for me.
Biting Tongues (Faultline): I liked Faultline just fine when he made lush moody electronic soundscapes, but if he feels like a stint of channelling Maxinquaye-era Tricky or Risingson-stylie Massive Attack, hell I’m not complaining. Just watch the video. My description would be crap anyway.
Respire (Mickey 3D): If someone who knows French could find me a link to this I’d be very grateful. All I can say is that you don’t realize this is anything more than a sweet pretty video until the last 10 seconds, at which point you realize just how bloody clever it is, and are amazed.
Salvador (Hexstatic): This isn’t as good as Timber, but then, as Jeremy pointed out, what is? Basically, I liked it because it reminded me of a Halloween night in Cargo where I watched Hexstatic mix Tubular Bells with drum’n’bass with Linda Blair spewing bile, and that is a kick-ass memory.
Get Yourself High (Chemical Brothers): Pity about the song (typical recent Chemical Brothers mediocrity), but the video tickled every kitsch bone in my body. If Quentin Tarantino ever does one of those MTV thingies where celebrities pick their top 10 videos, this should feature high in the list.
That’s pretty much it, except for the inexplicable but undeniable parting thought that attending Resfest really made me miss England a lot, and it was just the little things that did it – the Shynola guys’ accents, the memory of living in a place where most people would actually understand those Jonathan Glazer ads for Guinness and Barclays, even the sight of frickin’ Mike Skinner in the Fit But You Know It video. And when Barclays ads and Mike Skinner can make you ache for England, you know you’re still far from getting over it.