Cupt Epics here presents five films identified as “underground” (a fluid term at the best of times). Certainly, they are all deliberately transgressive, though not all are equally successful. Two are by Nico B. – the perviously released “Pig” and “Hollywood Babylon.” The former has been reviewed here before, but briefly, its catalogue of murder and S&M horrors, working out a killer’s fantasies, is rather too self-conscious about its own transgression. The latter is a 4-minute tribute to Kenneth Anger, taking in exhibits at the Museum of Death. It’s not a bad little piece, but it is interesting to note that its existence confirms once and for all that now even the underground film community has an established history to look back on. “Dislandia” is a half-hour, plotless portrayal of a little girl (whose face is covered in a mask) doing odd things and moving through a gritty, disconnected landscape. Interesting visually, the film is sufficiently obscure in its goals that one’s mind does begin to wander. “Adoration,” on the other hand, is gruelling, brutal, intelligent and effective. Based on an actual case, we see a young man invite a woman to his apartment, record her reading poetry, then kill and eat her. All of this is seen through the eyes of a camera he has place on a wall. The unblinking gaze is explicitly equated with the audience’s own, and many uneasy questions about art and voyeurism are thus raised. Finally, “Le poÃ©me” is the one that most viewers will find hardest to deal with: we watch an actual autopsy while listening to the poem “Le bateau ivre” by Arthur Rimbaud. Difficult though the film is, it is also, like “Adoration,” quite beautiful.Audio
The sound is 2.0, and the actual sound quality depends primarily on the source material. In fact, “Adoration” is largely silent. But at any rate, the overall audio quality is perfectly satisfactory. There isn’t too much by way of surround, and what emerges from the rear speakers isn’t always perfectly placed, but the job is generally quite effectively done.
Picture quality, as with the sound, is largely a function of what shape the source material is in. “Le poÃ©me” looks rather rough, for instance, but “Adoration” is absolutely pristine (barring some visible edge enhancement). There is, of course, plenty of grain on display, but this is almost always as a result of artistic choice.
This is a limited edition release, comes with collectible postcards (not present in the review copy). The only other extras are director’s introductions. Olivier Smolders (“Adoration”) and Bogdan Borkowski (“Le poÃ©me”) are thoughtful, articulate and informative. Nico B. is perfunctory. Brian M. Veveros and Eriijk Ressler (“Dislandia”) don’t speak. Instead, they run the camera over a typed text discussing the creation of the mask in the film. The result is precious, pretentious, and tiresome.
A real mixed bag, but certainly a worthwhile collection.
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