Tag Archives: Art

#85 – Transfer of Sovereignty Over Hong Kong

(1997, Fr, 47 min) Dir Remy Disco.

One of the shorter efforts of Remy Disco and his Institut de Réalisme Fictive (Institute of Fictional Realism), this is a reconstruction of the handover ceremony held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai on the night of 30 June 1997 that takes place in the centre of a roundabout in Calais during heavy traffic. Its shortness is unintentional however – Disco hadn’t obtained the necessary filming permit prior to the event but decided to go ahead with the result that the police appeared about forty minutes in to disperse the performers. It’s testament to Disco’s cadre that they refused to stop with the planned event and remained spouting their vacuous speech-talk as they were led away with filming only ceasing when physically forced to by a particularly dogged officer. Incidental pleasures include the looks of the commuters trying to watch the actors representing Prince Charles, President of the People’s Republic of China Jiang Zemin and Tung Chee-hwa, the first Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, while negotiating a roundabout.

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Twitter: @MadeUpFilms

#84 – Gulf War Speeches

(1993, Fr, 197 min) Dir Remy Disco.

Another of Disco’s restagings on the behalf of his Institut de Réalisme Fictive (Institute of Fictional Realism), this one a retelling of the first Gulf War through speeches delivered by all participant countries. The setting for this is a school assembly hall filled with children who grow understandably and aggressively impatient during the three hours plus it takes to get through the selection – they even, when an end to the conflict is announced, let up a half-hearted cheer though unknown to them there’s still another half an hour or speeching to go. On the stage in the hall is a single podium with all the participants lined up behind it, ready to take their turn and this is filmed in classic Disco style with a single fixed camera. Disco doesn’t take the easy way out either by hiring actors who look like George Bush, Saddam Hussein, John Major or whatever – all of them to a man look like suburban headmasters and deliver their speeches with the same lack of magnetic oratory. As with all of Disco’s restagings there are always elements of interest, despite his attempts to dull it all down, like being able to see the narrative of the war laid out condensed and the sparring that occurs (such as it is) between the principals speeches and counterspeeches.

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Twitter: @MadeUpFilms

#83 – Christmas Day, 1989

(1991, Fr, 102 min) Dir Remy Disco.

Produced by the Remy Disco’s Institut de Réalisme Fictive (Institute of Fictional Realism) during its nineties heyday along with their restaged compilation of Gulf War I related speeches, their nine-hour dramatization of Gorbachev’s three day house arrest during the 1991 coup and many other political moments of the era. The whole of the film is essentially a staging via court documents of the trial that ended with Nicolae and Elena Ceaușescu’s execution but, in keeping with the Institut’s aims to realise the fictitious (i.e. to render ‘fictitious’ events like the news ‘real’), the whole thing takes place in the offices of an insurance firm with the two leads an anonymous and disgruntled middle-aged couple. It’s all here from the Ceaușescu’s ten minute meeting with their council Nicu Teodorescu to them being led away to be shot, though the film doesn’t actually show this as Disco eschews the use of ‘conventional dramatic props’ like firearms. The effect is totally boring and not in a slow cinema transcendental boredom kind of way but then I think that’s the point of it, to recontextualise world-changing events in language so banal that they can be viewed in their most elemental form. Or something.

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Twitter: @MadeUpFilms

#62 – All Art is a Sham

(2014, US, 80 min) Dir Alex Gibney. Cast Anthony Kane.

The gazillionth documentary from Gibney in the last couple years and the simplest in execution, being basically an illustrated talk from Kane punctuated with interviews with him and with famous faces that either back or dispute his thesis. And what a thesis – Kane famously quit The New Yorker in 2005 to write the book this documentary is named after, causing a kerfuffle in the arts in the process. The big idea, from the man himself: “We’re always told that what separates us from the animals is math, science and art. This is bunk – the first two undoubtedly serve a purpose but art only exists to fuel our narcissism. All art, no matter how misanthropic it appears to be, exists to reinforce our status and worldview. It’s essentially propaganda that is made by us, for us. In my book I describe it rather crudely as masturbating while looking in the mirror but that’s what it is – a luxuriating in our own self-regard while we destroy all around us in fulfilment of our childish gratification. Anyone who tells you otherwise – about the transformative nature of art or whatever else – has a stake in making you believe that to be so.” This is from a former cultural reviewer too! He expands on this with reference to the history of art, from Monet to Hirst, cave painting to Tarantino. The only time the unflappable Kane loses it is at the end, at a Q&A when an audience member calls him a fascist. “I am not a fascist,” he replies, red-faced, “The fascists loved art because it flattered them! I require no such flattery!” The film, much like the man himself, is mad and occasionally bizarrely persuasive. “Once we cast off the shackles of art,” he concludes, “We will finally be able to grow up.”

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Twitter: @MadeUpFilms

#61 – Laika

(2008, US, 60 min) Dir Alex Lopatin.

A film about the famed first dog into space, directed by Russian-American artist Lopatin: “I wanted to make a film about how I felt about Laika,” he has said, “Initially it was going to be an installation, more free-flowing and associative like my usual work, but I discovered that it was impossible, for me, to make a film about her that wasn’t her story.” He funded the film entirely too and the amount of money up on the screen is testament to his commitment to the subject. It’s not a conventional biopic either, not that a canine biopic has much trouble being mistaken for one. It’s a diptych – the first part about Laika’s discovery on the streets of Moscow and her training up to the point where she is sent into space as well as being about the people who trained and grew attached to her. The second, shorter part follows Laika’s story on Earth as it’s been told from the moment she left the it’s orbit to date, specifically focussing on how she died and the cover up of the facts surrounding it. One benefit of this method is that while we get to hear the heart-breaking particulars of how she died we’re spared a reconstruction of the event. A great, sad film that, disappointingly, will more likely than not stay in the gallery and won’t make it to the cinemas that it deserves to be seen in.

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Twitter: @MadeUpFilms