Saturday, January 03, 2015

Ten Years In The Sun

Just three days into 2015 and I've already seen what I'm certain will prove the most unusual, impressive, disconcerting and utterly demented film of the year. I'm referring to Rouzbeh Rashidi's just-completed Ten Years In The Sun, in which I play a small role.

If HSP: There Is No Escape From The Terrors Of The Mind represented the pinnacle of Rouzbeh's art, Ten Years seems to plunge viewers into its ripe, magnificent decadence. Strange to say, but it seems more than anything to be like a Rashidi version of a science fiction blockbuster epic, most specifically like the first installment of a big Hollywood franchise. A two-and-a-half hour running time, spectacle galore, numerous sinister characters and plots portentously introduced but left unresolved... Of course being a Rashidi film, the incoherence and oddness of this sense of non-completion is not plastered over but cranked up to the highest degree of fragmentation. It has been building up through a number of his recent films- Terrors Of The Mind, Forbidden Symmetries, Investigating The Murder Case Of Ms. XY- and now it has erupted with full force: a sense of vast cosmic chaos, randomness and terror. The result is a sensory onslaught that destroys any sense of narrative development, that allows for a dizzyingly reckless catalogue of dead ends and invasions by footage and techniques that can seem utterly alien to one another. (The scene towards the end when Jann Clavadetscher, naked and made up as a primitive man, is cast into a broiling series of psychedelic landscapes and skies really gives Kubrick's famous 'stargate' sequence from 2001 a run for its money- and on zero budget!) But, as the film develops, it becomes apparent that these are not digressions because there is no line to digress from in this work comprised of audio-visual satellites circling the void at its heart. And yet a very human sense of wistfulness also emerges that prevents this experience from becoming cold or detached.

Ten Years In The Sun is dedicated to Buñuel and Monteiro. Frankly, it's hard to imagine either of these formally ascetic masters approving of such a trippy approach to cinema. However, Rashidi is not misleading us in indicating this lineage. And the connection is not fundamentally the sex fetish vignettes that sprinkle the film. Rather, it is the chasm between the absurdity of small gestures, rituals and tokens of elegance set against the savagery of existence. The immediate difference is that Buñuel and Monteiro's films existed within and were contained by the world. Rashidi's seems to be taking place in a universe that has already exploded and now contains only traumatised fragments of behaviour, narrative and technology, all isolated, unstable and lacking the tools to interact. The crust of an external objective reality is no more. There is only tormented interiority and distant annihilating vastness. And the carriers of these symptoms are precisely presented modes of (mainly moving) imagery and its attendant technology. A very 21st century hell...


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