ArteKino Festival returns for a third year

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Today marks the opening of the third ArteKino European Film Festival, which is a fantastic annual event that brings a variety of independent European cinema to the masses online…for FREE!

This year up to 10, unfortunately sometimes country restrictions apply, films are available to watch for free (did I mention that already?) and they are available in ten different languages.

For me CRATER by Luca Bellino & Sylvia Luzi, FLEMISH HEAVEN by Peter Monsaet and PIN CUSHION by Deborah Haywood look like they could be this years highlights but why not take a look for yourself and discover something new.

Running until the 31st December you have plenty of time to check out these films.
Enjoy and visit the ArteKino Festival website.

The Devil of Kreuzberg (2015) BY Alexander Bakshaev

Reviews

Alternative Titles: Ein Schoener Film
Director: Alexander Bakshaev
Writer: Pippo Schund
Year: 2015
Starring: Sandra Bourdonnec, Suleyman Yuceer, Sofia Velasquez, Naiden Angelov.

Synopsis:
Linda and Jakob are happily in love until one night Jakob begins to have horrific nightmares in which Linda appears as a darkly seductive creature. Tormented by these visions, Jakob asks his best friend Kurt to murder Linda for him, thus beginning a slow descent into madness. Unbeknownst to the two men, Linda is acting under the control of an ancient family curse. Will her love for Jakob overcome the powers of death? Will Kurt give in to his violent urges and kill to protect his friendship? Is there a way to escape the Devil of Kreuzberg?

Review:
Upon first impression THE DEVIL OF KREUZBERG can be perceived as discordant and perhaps even unsure of what it wants to be but after repeated viewings the power of the film begins to shine through providing a very rewarding experience for those who are patient while helping to ensure that the film stands the test of time.

This is because the film works on multiple levels – from the subtle and sensory to the direct and grindhouse-esque. While a special mention also has to go to the varied and tremendous soundtrack which changes between the jazz of the 70s gialli and a more electronic score reminiscent at times of Angelo Badalamenti mixed with Goblin.  While in regards to the acting, as you would expect from a low budget indie film it does vary although overall the vast majority of the cast put in promising performances with Suleyman Yuceer as the worlds most depressed hitman Kurt putting in a particularly noteworthy performance.

And despite the dialogue itself being merely functional and at times quite forced this does not prove to be an issue thanks to a story that is both intriguing and strong enough to carry the film, which at its heart is about need. Here the screenwriter does excel as they juxtapose the need of Jakob with that of his on-off girlfriend Linda, who herself  is battling an inner conflict as she tries to repress who she is and what she must do and this sets up a very interesting story dynamic making the viewer question the very concept of love and its actions.

In order to do this director Bakshaev leans on the neo-giallo approach of Cattet and Forzani (AMER, THE STRANGE COLOUR OF YOUR BODY’S TEARS) as well as even David Lynch (TWIN PEAKS, BLUE VELVET) and presents the narrative through a combination of sleazy realism and more tonal surrealism and it is to his great credit (and that of the cinematographer) the beauty of some of the shots achieved on this budget.

Dancing scenes aside THE DEVIL OF KREUZBERG is discordant, surreal and gritty but with that it is also rewarding as it manages to take it’s influences (including the Hammer horror films) and mould them into something original with the ambiguity between the psychological and supernatural used with great effect. 

Apparently costing only £3,000 the film deserves praise for trying something new, thinking out of the box and on the whole delivering, all while marking out director Alexander Bakshaev one to look out for, especially if he gets to operate with a bigger budget.

Version Reviewed:
We reviewed an online screener version of the film. However a limited edition DVD-R of the film can be purchased from Carnie Films.

Please note that although the IMDB lists the runtime as 65m we watched and reviewed a shorter version with a running time of 48m 34seconds. It is unknown what version of film exists in this longer cut.

BEYOND MADNESS (2016) BY LUIGI ZANUSO

Reviews

Alternative Titles: Oltre la follia
Director: Luigi Zanuso aka Dario Lussuria aka Luigi Atomico
Writers: Lucio Massa, Luigi Zanuso
Year: 2016
Starring: Michelle; Rosario Gallardo; Julian D’Annunzio; Simon Hunter; Mark Rock; Giselle Class; Rick McRoy; Venus T.Gender

Synopsis:
A film director dreams his deepest nightmares…and real life is not always worse than the imagination. Beyond Madness is a pornographic film, so raw and direct that it contrasts the costumes and the decadence of contemporary society.

Review:
BEYOND MADNESS is a pornographic and surreal visual representation of madness from the mind of prolific director Luigi Zanuso and if anyone comes into this expecting something easily digestible, then like the raw meat that is utilised in several scenes here, this film is not for you.

Split into eight episodes, each separated by brief philosophical musings which are seemingly an attempt to interject some conceptual and dare I say intellectual substance to the acts of gratification that we witness. Unfortunately for me however this came across as more of a practical decision than for any true philisophical purpose as they added little value to the movie but merely allowed an easy cut from one episode to the next.

Talking of the film from the opening segment you know that this is not a simplistic, definable or even conventional film but rather a surreal orgy of passion, liberation and perversion. Opening with the director taking the role of Diogenes, yes that cynic philosopher, Zanuso wastes no time in getting down to something that is part THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMAN, part porn and fully bizarre as bodily fluids are shared and we essentially are introduced to our cast for the evenings entertainment.

Moving onto the second part entitled ‘Arrogant man’s folly’, what is meant conceptually as a criticism of modern arrogance is not something that I took away or fully understood. Rather I understood it more as about greed and the mindless, indiscriminate devouring of resources but in reality or at least visually it was a mature blonde devouring offal and raw meat before blow jobs are liberally dispensed which is in turn followed by the blonde wearing a scarf made of offal and raw meat being used as sex toys, perhaps indicating the meat market and the raw base action of human fornication when we strip it back down to the fundamental act.

The film then introduces more of a (psychologically) horror centred theme…as well as semen while the appearance of mannequins adds a strange angle to the proceedings and indeed perception of them. As we run through the episodes the levels of meat and blood rise, the volume a woman gushes is increased, an actress wearing a pair of animal eyes drinks semen soup and the sexual activity works up into a frenzy. By the final sequence I have no doubt that one of the actresses, a mature blonde, is off her head and has truly gone insane as she primes a man with one end of a double ended dildo before urinating into his face. If this wasn’t enough she then enters him with a bottle following that up with some impressive fisting and some sexual activity with a decapitated pigs head that would make even David Cameron blush.

It is abundantly clear that the director does what he wants with no regard for convention or conformity and as such has produced something that is all but indefinable. Is it art? Is it porn? Is it trash? In truth it is a surreal beast incorporating all of this.

Of course BEYOND MADNESS has it’s issues, from the lack of continuity in cuts and the overuse of repetition this most certainly isn’t for everyone, one could even go as far as to say it is the very definition of esoteric but it has something. Even if that something is simply watching a woman ejaculate (courtesy of the slightly scary yet still sexy Rosario Gallardo) into a mannequins head. This is one of those rare films where no other title could do justice to the scenes that the viewer witnesses.

Extremely decadent, conceptually dubious and at some points disgusting these sexual tableaux’s succeed in their mission and leave an indelible mark on the viewer. Whether this is good or bad only you can decide but I assure you that you will be stained. And what of poor Diogenes, what would he say of all this? For a man who believed that you can even derive pleasure from despiising pleasure once you become used to it, I think Zanuso’s discarding of convention would have pleased the man.

Version Reviewed:
We reviewed a screener copy of the film supplied by Aborsky Productions, incidentally it will be Zanuso’s first film in HD, as well as a 20 minute interview with the director.

The interview segment titled Beyond Madness shows Luigi Zanuso to be surprisingly charming as he effortlessly manages to hold your attention and dare I even say captivate you with his thoughts from subjects such as the death of pornography because ‘it lacks fantasy and reality’, his career and how he accepts that not everyone will appreciate his decisions and creativity all the way to his thoughts on life in general. It is a surprisingly honest and refreshing talk which endears the director all the more to the viewer as he lays out for the foundation for this, this porn film about madness. Meanwhile on the commercial release I am lead to believe there will also be some interviews with the actors and a trailer.

Find out more on the official Facebook page here.

The Journey Begins…again

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Ciao a tutti!

Hi all, due to the contract with my old webhost (Wix) for cosiperversa.com running out and all web platforms requiring you to pay for their premium services just to use your own domain name (which also comes at a cost) I’ve decided to jack it (huh huh) in with the paid site lark, particularly as I don’t think any of them offer value for money at the level I use it for.

So with that in mind I decided to just jump across and forget the named website business and all that jazz, but most importantly cost, that comes with it and blog it up.

Although this change also marks a great opportunity to review my work so far, which varies in quality from when I started out and I will port over the good, leave the bad to rot in cyber-hell and increase my focus on European cinema which is what I had always intended to do but seem to have got lost somewhere on the way.

A presto!

Marek