Inside the French brain machine
Je T'aime Je T'aime In my younger days I was very influenced by the splatter-brained journalism of FORCED EXPOSURE fanzine on a musical level, but running in tandem was a personal interest in cyberpunk and 'speculative' sci-fi literature. Then, I noticed that FORCED EXPOSURE gave big kudos to similar lit, so I started to become more interested in their coverage of similarly splatter-brain counter-culture lit. Some of the writers they championed were already big in my mental-verse - Phillip K DIck, and some of the Californian trippers like Rudy Rucker and K.W Jeter - two writers who incidentally got big coverage back in FE back in the day. Anyway, in recent times the splatterbrain-psychadelic-cyberpunk sorta genre has become popular in the cinema. Films like the MATRIX and now the adaptation of Dick's A SCANNER DARKLY, lesser know films like the confusing too-smart-for-its-own-boots PRIMER, the hoity-toity promised more than it could deliver DEMONLOVER (including a totally wasted Neu and Sonic Youth soundtrack!) have all tried and failed miserably except in the eyes a few Villgae-Voice/Filmfestival post-fuckstickist indie-cinemah tossers(I mean shit, BACK TO THE FUTURE, is truly INSPIRED compared to some of the recent hipster attempts)...But I digress..The film I'm gonna yak about that prolly set the agenda for the time-outta-joint mind-fuck genre as we may know it, I reckon, is a film called JE T'AIME, JE T'AIME by French Nu-Waver Alain Resnais. Now this film is totally unavailable in legit formats, so I was lucky to see it on a Torrent-seeded bootleg. Set in the late 60s or some other 'modern' time, the story centres around a suicidal bloke who gets selected for some strange top-secret science experiment that involves time-travel. The guy gets stuck inside a giant-brain type machine that suddenly makes him revisit his life in a sorta locked-groove. Scenes start to intercut and jump around, and we slowly learn about why this guy got depressed, but the device puts him into a loop that leads to a pretty bummered out and profound climax. Trust the fucking French. The title 'I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU' obviously mimicking the time-out-joint mind-loop this guy is caught in, and the 'emotional' nature of the loop..Sonically the film has a soundtrack by Krzysztof Penderecki, giving it that ambient-muzique concrete speculative wha? edge, though the sound quality on this boot was a bit like yr typical Velvet Underground bootleg. I'd heard Resnais name thrown around a bit, especially in recent times by Steven Soderbergh, whose last couple of films seem to be pretty much Resnais-by-the-book in terms of how he cuts-up the narrative and the diagenic sounds. JE T'AIME JE T'AIME's use of cut-up is very Burroughsian in it's execution, though it seems Resnais is trying to mimic the movement of a mind trying to piece together bits of experience to form some sort of whole, and yet that whole is never quite reliable (which reminds me I better stop pummeling the Brain cells). Of Resnais previous work I've only seen HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR, which I didn't mind but didn't love, I've still got the Holocaust docco NIGHT AND FOG and the other classic surrealist mind bender LAST YEAR @ MARIENBAD sitting on the 'to watch' pile, but JE T'AIME JE T'AIME seems to have well and truly sated my appetite. Another recent film-maker who seems to owe a bit to Resnais splintered-narrative would obviously be David Lynch, but a bloke here in Melbourne called James Clayden, seems to be screening a similar riff, either way I'm always up to watch these type of psychotronic curiosities, as long as I'm not too tired and narky. Dig the source.