King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard and the charm of neo-revivalism

A few years ago, the band Graveyard was the big talk of the rock town. Adored by audiences and critics alike they at one point seemed to be the most delicious dish to everyone’s ears – except mine. Not to disparage the band’s musical competence, they were and still are extremely good at what they do both compositionally and performance-wise. But the big blockage for me was their general sound and aesthetic, being such a blatant Zeppelin/Purple-reeking 70s mimic as to only come off as obnoxiously gimmicky. Graveyard are far from alone in this department. The nostalgic clinging to a past “golden era” has been a prominent trend in modern rock music for some time now. Perhaps not always to the same gimmicky degree, but the current state of the genre is nonetheless largely, to quote Anthony Fantano, “at this middle-age point where it’s … reflecting on its past and thinking about how awesome it used to be.”Read More »

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Pupa and the dilemma of embracing the taboo

The legacy of The Rocky Horror Picture Show is not to be understated. Following its release in 1975, the film adaptation of Richard O’Brien’s stage musical became the node for a generation of queer liberation, presenting normatively challenging attitudes toward gender and sexuality when such were scarce in mainstream media. A cult film in every sense of the term, it garnered an entire subculture that is kept alive to this day through regular midnight screening events filled with reenactments and audience-participatory extravaganza. These events offered and still offers a space of free self-expression and communal belonging for countless young people and their marginalized queer identities. As Judy Berman describes her fan experience during the 2000s: “At the time, I believed Rocky Horror felt like home to me because I was a freak craving the company of other freaks.” (Berman, 2015)Read More »

Tarkovsky and Tarr: thesis and antithesis

Andrei Tarkovsky is one of my favorite filmmakers, and for a very specific reason. The essential theory of the film image as a capturing of time motivating each and every element of his filmmaking style – from the long takes to the slow pacing to the metaphysically induced narratives – strikes me as something deeply profound. When Bergman deemed him “the one who invented a new language, true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection,” it wasn’t just semantic fluff (BAMPFA, 2003). Watching a Tarkovsky film is to me like experiencing all components of the craft coming together into one very defined idea of what cinema is and what its purpose as an art form is. But as much as I love his films for how they tell, what they tell is generally not as interesting to me. Read More »

Kotonoba Drive and the ambivalence of young adulthood

Five weeks ago, I wrote about how Hitoshi Ashinano’s two series Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou and Kabu no Isaki present contrasting yet paralleling views of Mount Fuji that reflect the respective protagonists’ character arcs. Whereas Alpha’s view depicts wistful impermanence through a nostalgic remainder of a lost past, Isaki’s view depicts an aspirational coming of age through persistently exotic otherness. Ashinano’s following series Kotonoba Drive may not feature a view of Mount Fuji, but it does feature a chapter – its twenty-second – that presents a closing sentence to its predecessors’ thematic dialogue.Read More »

The meta-dissonance of Shoujo☆Kageki Revue Starlight

In film theory, diegesis broadly refers to how a given narrative is filmically narrated. Originally a term used in Ancient Greek philosophy for the act of “telling” as opposed to the act of “showing” (mimesis) a story, it was applied to film theory in the 1950s by Étienne Souriau as part of his attempt at establishing a defined science and language for the study of cinema. He centrally posited the existence of a “filmic universe,” both as posed by any individual film, and in a broader sense encompassing the film medium at large. The filmic universe consists of seven levels of existence, of which the fifth constitutes the inner world of the film as represented and implied through the medium – in other words, diegesis (Thanouli, 2014: 133-134). Non-diegesis then, as later posited by Edward Branigan, constitutes all filmic elements that aren’t part of this representation and implication, that exist outside of the film’s world (Thanouli, 2014: 135).Read More »

The inter-narrative of Chio-chan no Tsuugakuro

Nicholson Baker’s 1988 debut novel The Mezzanine is an exploration of minuscule mental excursion. On paper, it covers one young office worker’s ride up the escalators during his lunch break. In reality, it covers the various thoughts going on inside his head throughout this ride; extensive reflections about such trivial things as broken shoelaces, the floating tendency of drinking straws, and which queue to stand in at the convenience store checkout. With his mind thoroughly exploring one subject after the other – many of which get further elaborated on through long, sometimes multi-page footnotes – the external minutiae event of the escalator ride becomes an internal voyage into the endless reflexivity of the human mind. To quote Antoine Wilson: “Here we don’t read ‘our own rejected thoughts,’ in Emerson’s formulation, but rather those which never even reached the level of rejection, fleeting observations of the kind that barely puncture consciousness.” Such thoughts only get to properly flourish in the particular type of space that the elevator ride constitutes; an interspace, a transitionary gap between more eventful activities.Read More »

There’s something uncanny about Hanebado’s animation…

…and I’m not just talking about its badminton scenes, whose prominent use of rotoscoping certainly does constitute a factor. No, what I’m referring to is as much present in these scenes as any other general instance of motion in Hanebado! It is an uncanniness that subtly lingers within the show’s fundamental frame-to-frame basis. Like an uncanny valley, it has to do with ambivalence; partly between figuration and abstraction, partly between an embodiment and disembodiment of the visuality of the show’s medium.Read More »