Capture Two Reviews

panta rei dans lullaby

Video - Panta Rei Danseteater 'Lullaby'

Norwegian dance company Panta Rei Danseteater, late last year, conducted a little experiment whereby three dance makers created two pieces with the same name based on the same idea, featuring three male dancers and two musicians, to see what the outcome was.

June 2nd, 2016

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by Jordan Kinsella

Capture is Arts Council England’s (ACE) scheme to get more dance films out into the world. Since Article19 doesn’t do reviews we asked our friend Jordan Kinsella, a US based independent film maker and writer, to give the Capture 2 series of films the once over.

Jaffa Man by Robert Hylton:

Description: Stars a central character played by Robert Hylton body popping and break dancing his way through various locations, presumably in London. He shifts from his home, rendered with computer graphics, to a local quayside, a film shoot for a tacky soft drink commercial, a hospital bed, an alleyway and finally what appears to be some sort of nightclub. Along the way Mr Hylton encounters various characters who seem intent on harming him, such as the street kids who put him in hospital and a crazy oriental guy with flaming chain weapons. There is also a love interest in a very short pair of shorts. I won’t be spoiling the fun by telling you they get together at the end.

Review: Jaffa Man sports the highest production values of the Capture 2 set. Filmed on 35mm stock with Panavision cameras the visual quality, photography and the standard of the post production graphics work is excellent. Good productions values are not enough to save the day however since the whole thing makes no sense.

There is some suggestion of the central character going on a journey of sorts but there is little in the way of continuity and the whole things feels like a random collection of visual ideas held together with music and the movement is nothing new. The section featuring the television commercial parody has three female dancers in bikinis pouring a pink coloured drink all over themselves and includes multiple close ups of the dancers anatomy.

If the attempt is to ridicule the use of women in advertising then it fails because Mr Hylton is doing the exact same thing here because he parodies the exploitation but offers no visual counter point. The end credits list a staggering seven runners for the production, Lord of the Rings only had six on set runners!

Highs: Production values
Lows: Crass use of women in skimpy costumes.

Summary: Nothing more than a music video and not a very original one at that. There’s a reason why music videos have a shelf life of only a week. 4/10

Anarchic Variations by Liz Aggis:

Description: Solo female dancer isolated in a completely white room and dressed up like the mad guy from the hardcore music combo Prodigy. The movement material is minimal to say the least featuring jerky, angular arms and legs and some interaction with the set. The music is a subdued piano track that has been mixed into the video at very low volume. Our hero doesn’t do much in the film, she bites herself a few times and covers the pristine white set with spray paint toward the end.

Review: I have no idea what this film is about and to be perfectly honest I don’t really care. There is nothing to keep the viewer interested or engaged with the on screen antics of the featured dancer. In film work the marriage of movement music and photography is all you have to hold your audience and this effort features nothing of note in any of those categories. The film making is competent but the ideas lack any kind of form or structure.

Highs: none
Lows: none

Summary: If this film had a PH level then if would be neutral! 3/10

Speed Ramp by Lea Anderson:

Description: Shot in black and white (or put that way in post) this film kicks off with some stills of a drab urban landscape, again it’s in London. The theme of the stills seems to have something to do with geometry which may be a metaphor for the cold angular nature of modern living! (have you been drinking? Ed!) The solo performer is a woman who just runs through the location accompanied by the disjointed noise that passes for the films soundtrack. No dance to speak of and the film ends with the ‘star’ lighting and then throwing a petrol bomb which apparently explodes off camera, fade to black.

Review: On the third film of seven and this series is sorely testing my patience. Like the previous effort this is just an incoherent exercise in self indulgence. How anyone can be expected to watch this and feel anything for it is beyond the understanding of this reviewer.

Highs:none
Lows: The wick from the petrol bomb falling out as it is thrown past the camera!

Summary: Gives Battlefield Earth a run for its’ money. 2/10

Scratch: Shelley Love

Description: Filmed in the basement of a church, I presume from the credits at the end, the film features no people just a scary looking puppet controlled off camera by three people. The puppet wakes up, sits at a table, appears to play around with a newspaper then settles down for dinner with a non-existent partner which matters little since there is no food. Puppet then goes back to bed. The soundtrack is an on and off 30’s or 40’s number with some sound effects thrown in for good measure. Presumably what we have here is a metaphor for loneliness or hopeless expectations illustrated by the puppet looking toward the far end of the dining table and seeing nothing but emptiness in the distance.

Review: The films look and feel is impressive with de-saturated colours and good use of lighting. The puppet is suitably mournful looking and would scare the crap out of most young children. The plot, such as it is, is easy to follow even for the most impatient of viewers. Let down slightly by jittery camera work that doesn’t suit this type of film and overuse of speeding up the shots to make the puppet look more jittery in its’ movements.

Highs: lighting, puppet design
Lows: cinematography and under cranking film speed.

Summary: At least this filmmaker has made an attempt at making a point, re-shot with better camera work and you have a half decent effort. However this is supposed to be a dance film and there is none on offer and it is bloody depressing! 5/10

Memorabilia: Lauren Potter

Description:The whole film is encased in a mock computer display with multiple panels of images that have been degraded in post production to give them a surveillance like feel. Soundtrack is a mix of pulsing noise and a muted voice track describing someone having to hide from "Hells Angels" and running along a “long wooden lane". The stylising of the video and the voice track gives the film a feeling that the narrator is either a kidnap victim, illustrated by a shot of a dancer in a concrete room with only a mattress for company, or this is a commentary on fear and intimidation; feeling under threat from adversaries real or imagined. The dance movement within the film is kept to an absolute minimum.

Review: The stylising is clever but nothing new in video and film. The director has created a reasonable sense of foreboding and fear in but it is far too short to really draw you in and starting messing with your head. The voice track is child like and haunting but we are left wondering who this person is and what she is talking about. In film a lot of things can be left to the viewers imagination but you have to give a little in the narrative so we [the viewer] can make sense of the on-screen goings on.

Highs: none
Lows: none

Summary: As with Anarchic Variations this is a perfectly serviceable film but it is utterly banal and offers nothing stirring or memorable and fails to take you where you think it is going to go with your emotions.

Terra Firma: Simon Aeppli

Description: Opens with a shot of the solo performer (Andrew Fiefeld) getting ready for work as a security guard. He carefully washes his face, washes under his arms and then sulkily wanders off to work down a badly lit corridor. He sits in a room with a bugzapper, two video screens and a radio from the 60’s that won’t tune in properly. After this high jinks he wanders off to a car park and drives his car around for a few seconds before going into a field, lighting a rescue flare and then nothing else. End of film. All shot with Matrix style green lighting, this film should not and could not be confused with the Matrix however.

Review: Some forgiving observers may call this film a conceptualised look at the banality of the life of modern man, trapped within a world that demands we carry out mind numbing tasks to secure our future within something that we despise. If I may be so bold as to quote an English friend of mine who saw this film with me, most other people would call it ‘Complete Bollocks’. In the final scene when the man lights his flare we can only lament his failure to set the camera on fire and destroy this nonsense, sparing the world this miserable diatribe on the human condition.

Highs: the lighting
Lows: everything else

Summary: six down and one to go, this is not looking good. 1/10

Human Radio. Miranda Pennell

Description: Shot in black and white the whole film is several monologues about average people and their experience with dance and what it means in their life. We have the line dancers, a young girl doing ballet in her living room, an old couple eating biscuits (!), a man tapping out a rhythm as he walk up the stairs, you get the picture. The film is an obvious attempt to show how dance can bring light into the life of the ordinary folks. Trapped in their normal world, movement sets them free! One of the opening shots is of a ballroom, the type many wedding receptions are held in, and the closing shot is of all the films protagonists in the same ballroom dancing with headphones on.

Review: Ordinary people dancing to the rhythms of life, relating their personal stories, etc, it is magnanimous film making at its’ best. In this film however the stories are neither interesting or engaging. You can’t sit back and just enjoy the movement because there is nothing to watch, think ‘wedding reception on film’ and that’s where this film is.

Highs:none
Lows: none

Summary: you’ll forget this film in ten minutes and that’s two minutes longer than it lasts. 3/10

Conclusion

Overall the Capture 2 series is a massive disappointment. Short films are often conceptual in nature and they have to try much harder than their feature length brethren to make their point or tell their story. Not one of these films manages to do that. Each one is devoid of charm, wit and original styling. Movement is scarce which is absurd considering these films are supposed to be ‘dance films’.

Numerous martial arts films and mainstream cinematic releases show just how stunning human movement can look when committed to film. The creators of the Capture series have gone into "art" overload and completely forgotten that other people who care nothing for their concept will have to watch these and attempt to interpret them. Fortunately for the film makers the chances of these films ever seeing the light of day on a wider platform are very, very slim.

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