March 07, 2006

Luc Cooper

All things considered, the weekend went reasonably well. True, Friday night was a bit problematic: I wound up stuck in the office until well after 11; not the only thing that didn't go according to plan. Nevertheless, it all picked up after that, and I managed to see both Mirrormask and Amato Saltone, get my hair cut, hang out sociably with entertaining people, and all in all have a pretty good time.

Amato Saltone is the latest offering from the theatrical pranksters behind the excellent Dance Bear Dance and its disappointing follow-up Tropicana; while not as good as the former, it's certainly a marked improvement on the latter. It would be wrong -- and also quite difficult -- to describe the event in great detail, since much of it depends on keeping the audience in the dark (literally, a bit too often). Suffice to say that you find yourself at a social occasion for which you probably aren't adequately prepared, and things go a bit off the rails from there.

The show has many tactical and strategic similarities with its predecessors, leading to the distinct sense that any ostensible subject matter -- in this case voyeurism, and the grubbier reaches of film noir and, possibly, social embarrassment -- must play second fiddle to the technical and structural games the Shunt collective likes to play with (against?) their audience. Still, it's cleverly done and makes for an entertaining and decidedly unusual evening out.

Try not to look guilty.

Dave McKean's Mirrormask is, more than anything all else, a cinematic extension of his influential graphic art work. The charming, if slightly random, story (reminiscent of Oz and Wonderland and perhaps -- it's a long time since I read it -- King & Straub's The Talisman, in which a boy undergoes a fantasy quest in an alternative world to save his mother in reality) serves mostly as a framework on which to hang a profusion of McKean's extravagant images. There are plenty of visual referents, from Maya Deren to Terry Gilliam to Jan Svankmajer and (especially, I thought) the Brothers Quay, but the film has a look and feel all its own; which should be recommendation enough, really, when so much looks so slickly the same these days.

Script credit goes to McKean's longtime collaborator Neil Gaiman, but by all accounts it was a joint effort, which perhaps explains the lack of Gaiman's usual narrative discipline. Notwithstanding the undeniable unevenness, I found it very touching. Go see, if you can -- the UK theatrical release is pretty minimal, but it's already available on Region 1 DVD...

And they were...

As for the haircut, well, that'll have to wait for better posting circumstances; I can't pretend it breaks any new ground, in any case. Just another verse of the same old song...
Posted by matt at March 7, 2006 11:52 PM

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