BY MICHAEL DUIGNAN
Produced by Nik Beachman & Craig Gainsborough
Starring Benedict Wall & Morgana O’Reilly
As unromantic as it is, there is a brutal reality that undermines the phrase ‘You Only Live Once’ and to ‘Live Each Day As If It Were Your Last’. It may look great written in kooky font, printed on a mug, but to follow those mottos is pretty difficult as Michael Duignan illustrates in Ten Thousand Days.
We join a group of mourners performing a melodramatic, grief-stricken funeral of a guy called Bruce. The wife of the dead, Arabella, is dressed head-to-toe in black lace, teamed with a hair net. She embraces the role of the bereaved partner, with the tradition of how they mourned in the eighteenth century with black veils and celibacy. The sharp tones of processional trumpets perfectly mark the entrance of a cousin-to-the-dead, Darby. He soon takes center stage and declares to Arabella his expectancy of poor Bruce’s death, who he sentimentally claims was his ‘second favorite cousin’. He reveals that the men in his family only live to ten thousand days and die as young men in imaginative, yet horrifically gruesome ways. He soon whisks his dead cousin’s widow of her feet as they spend his own last days together in spoils of romance and spontaneity. He plans to live life to “it’s last sweet drop”. However, after he fails to become deceased on his supposedly cursed day, the passion between the couple quickly falls on it’s feet. They both become disappointed and bored with Darby’s survival.
This dark-comedy satirizes the need to live life fully. It highlights the ridiculousness of trying to make your statement on earth, when you are only one of seven billion. The two leading actors, Benedict Wall and Morgana O’Reilly, perfectly portray somewhat-shallow characters, with brilliant ham acting with overtones of dead-pan humour. The couple are in love with the idea of a tragic, bitter-sweet love affair. However when approached with the idea that they really could live every day of their long lives together.. they lose interest. In a wonderful scene, they break into a abandoned car, weary of the invisible witnesses. They temporarily live in a make-believe world, where they are heroes, rebels; wild horses galloping against the sunset. This is perfectly contradicted in when Darby needs to borrow twenty quid off her- he was not prepared to carry on living and therefore has run out money and his lust of life.
Every shot is beautifully composed and framed within the screen. The costume is gorgeously styled, with Darby’s attempted iconic circle sunglasses and Arabella’s long, flowing skirts. The cinematography creates a snapshot of nostalgic summers with tones of pale yellows and creams dominating the film’s colour palette, which is teamed with vintage and rustic props and decor. It reflects their dream-world of youth and love’s allure.
Written & directed by Victor Carrey
The mystery of the everyday. Victor Carrey tells the story of a stray fifty euro note abandoned on a pavement. The film investigates every aspect involved in the story behind that one note. Narrated by a fast-pace, humorous male voice (Joaquín Díaz), the journeys and fates of several ordinary situations are weaved together; a piece of chewing gum stuck to the walkway, preparation of a hot chocolate in a cafe, a kid bouncing on an old mattress and a water stain in the shape of Australia. The unconnected becomes connected in this tale of a stow runaway with a briefcase full of cash. The narrator jumps to curious and obvious facts that we may never have actually thought of; an ant wonders the cracks in the pavement as if it was the Grand Canyon. It almost tries to cram in every detail needed, from the clouds in the sky to the shapes the water makes when splashed on a car being washed. It jumps from one fact-slash-small narrative to the other, yet cleverly links as it goes.
The cinematography is Wes Anderson-esque with a hint of French New Wave. The costume and props are clean-cut, with a retro feel that hints that they characters belong to the eighties or nineties. Yet it remains completely ambiguous to any historical or geographical context. It just simple set in a gathering of streets and buildings somewhere. Everything is placed to seem regular with a side of quirkiness. The pop-coloured animals masks used to hide identity. Polaroid snaps are used to illustrate the internal content of a mind demonstrated on a model brain. Carrey manages to inject a healthy and subtle drop of kooky and comical into the expression and presentation of each character, whether it be the fuzziness of a ginger beard or a practiced Lee Marvin smirk. During the second half, a slow-motion dramatic unfolding and full explanation of our initial clues are played out in a glorious scenes of the ‘runner’ racing through this monotonous area. With striking wide-angle shots and beautiful attention to detail in the facial reactions of passerbys as they watch the runner trip and fall causing his briefcase of money to burst across the road. The story is concluded in a bizarre celebration of the witnesses as they scramble to grab at the flying notes. It’s euphoric without any romantic reason for happiness. It touches on human greed as they run to gather the notes and ignore the fallen thief.
I can feel you in my belly.
By Julia Pott
Produced by the Royal College of Art.
This gorgeously surrealist animation has a grotesque quality that remains purely innocent. We meet Oscar, a young child with a baby elephant’s head. He is ugly and adorable at the same time. He travels across a dream-like landscape of cliff tops and tipi tents with his older friend Alex whilst riding his trusty Monster. Their monotone, child-like voices create the nostalgic visit to the school playground days, where you rejected loyal friends to join the older cool kids. When Alex gets swallowed in the ocean whilst swimming, (Alex may be his older brother?) Oscar and his Monster venture out to save him to discover he’s been swallowed by a lazy, yet frightening whale. Julia Pott is able to combine delicate detail with the weirdness of their surroundings; when the whale speaks you can almost see sketches faces into each individual tooth, Oscar performs slight head movements to convey his underlying concern. With an effortless approach, every aspect of every frame is extremely thought out. You view the whole story from Oscar’s view point, from the simplicity of the dialogue to the sensitive emotion and guilt beautifully portrayed in the subtle twitches of their eyes.
Joseph Tate delivers a fantastic collection sticky, welching sounds; a similarity to pulling apart the bread layers to a several day-old, icky chicken mayonnaise sandwich. It collaborates perfectly with the narrative of these unusual human creatures. Perhaps even tapping into a nerve of unpleasantness. Limbs of the monster peel apart, contributing to the film’s more unsettling tone. Characters sink and merge into other, Pott celebrates the limitless ability of illustration, through it’s flawless flow of motion.
Belly describes the unexplained weirdness of being a kid. It masterfully recognises the melancholia of a child’s anxieties and fears. Those memories of things that scared you, and you are not sure why. A confusion and blurred dream, where not things are not quite in proportion. The blunt relationships and the hauntings of unfair play. It also attains a nightmarish quality as it ends with Oscar hearing the cries from his friend that he left at the bottom of the ocean. A distressing memory. It manages cute, with an ounce of disturbing.