Sunday, August 06, 2006

Time outta Joint

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.


Big Girls Blouse said...

Dear Mr G I came here via BlissBlog having followed Mr Reynolds writing for years.

I enjoy your film criticism and jaded hipster angst.Living in London I always assume that OZ is the biggest beergarden in the world.There is a chain in London called the Walkabout but it should be called the Staggerabout.

The Godard post inspired me to go back/purchase DvD.Re Primer too clever by half I know but what is wrong with that! gt filmaking on a miniscule budget and a story which cannot be comprehended in one sitting.My own take is that the physical start of the film/the viewers start is not the actual start of the narrative.A false start as opposed to a false ending....

Keep writing as there is so much partisan comment on the internerd with no editorial content.Your stuff is both passionate and concise.Mainsteam media is advertorial instead of editorial and quality for the literary minded is being swamped by the MySpots demographic.

Godbless to you and yours.
check out Murderball and Fog of war-quality docs and write about Jean pierre Melville in the future please.

Aaron G said...

Thanks for the kind words BGB.

I've still got to finish my 'giallo' genre Top5 which includes my thoughts on the very 'Godardesque' DEATH LAID AN EGG.