Nicholas Rombes’s Art Film Roundup #6


Beyond the Black Rainbow (Panos Cosmatos, 2011) has the feel of a slow march through a black swamp. There is a majesty and a tar-pit trap power in the wordless matching of moving images and music.

I am obliged to wonder what are the “penalties—very heavy penalties” mentioned in this trailer for Sleeping Beauty (Julia Leigh, 2011).

Here was the headline at the New York Times online the morning of May 3:

The news came screaming across the sky, with a weird echo of this line, from David Lynch’s Lost Highway (1997), at the 1:05 mark:

This short film by Ladytron for “Tomorrow” (2008) cancels out the conditions of its own existence, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. What time are we in? What historical era? Our age of endless context strips the magical aura of most things. At the 1:50 moment, what do you do with that? Where, dear reader, does that slot into your mind, and how do you remain open to a broken heart with so many distractions and predators? When do you find time to grieve?

Peel: An Exercise in Discipline (1982) is a short film Jane Campion made as a student at the Australian Film and Television School.

Finally, an evocative play on cinematic time in Charles Burns’s monumental graphic novel Black Hole (2005). Chris is at a party in the woods, and has gone off to be alone. Sitting on the grass, leaning against a tree, she daydreams back to a night of love-making with Rob, from whom she contracted the “disease” that may transform her into one of the plagued. In these panels, she is pulling out of the daydream, which has been distinguished from present-time by soft, squiggly lines, a sort of riff on classical soft-focus cinematic flashbacks. Burns creates his own split screen, showing Chris from two different angles simultaneously, similar to what Brian De Palma did in Sisters (1973).

Someone calls her name, its bubble intruding into her memory. And then again, and she is back in the present tense of the story, hurtling towards the future, and the black night sky that awaits.

Nicholas Rombes can be found here. More from this author →