Delivering a brisk and fast-paced action comedy about the nature of reality, Sion Sono’s Tag stands out as among the best films so far this year. Sion Sono has never been a stranger to pushing boundaries – his films have consistently tackled taboo subjects through the gauze of the unreal. His most famous works operate on the tone of hysteria, as emotions and actions are amplified to create a surreal and fantastical landscape.
The Blue Hour is a beautiful, dark and mysterious ghost story from Thai filmmaker Anucha Boonyawatana. Tam (Atthaphan Poonsawas) is a gay teen who doesn’t fit in at school or within his family. He arranges a meeting with the dashing Phum (Oabnithi Wiwattanawarang) at an abandoned swimming pool. Their hook-up quickly develops into something more serious as they find comfort and safety in each other’s friendship. As their relationship progresses, Tam’s life becomes increasingly confused as he struggles to differentiate dream from reality.
All the youthful energy in the world couldn’t save Ludo. The film opens with bombast, as an exploration of the night life of Kolkata, and two young couples who are hungry for sex. Cultural puritanicalism prevents them from finding a hotel room, but they end up finding refuge in a closed shopping mall where they are free to indulge in their baser instincts. Here they encounter an elderly couple, trapped and hungry, and are introduced to a mysterious game. From here on, the film abandons linearity and expectations, taking us on a whirlwind phantasmagorical journey into the past and the collective unconscious, where it similarly loses all sense of grounding.
Irish legends are rich with horrifying monsters, painful realities and a genuine sense of despair. Perhaps rooted in the Irish struggle, many of the lessons from their myths evoke inequality and injustice – it does not matter who you are, what you believe or what you do, you are not above nature’s law. What is nature’s law? It is a perverse combination of God’s will and an amoral natural world. Set in the mostly undisturbed forests of Ireland, The Hallow is about a conservationist (Joseph Mawle) and his young family. Despite many warnings from the locals, he persists in investigating the forests, eventually inspiring its wrath.
The Marquis de Sade wrote, “There is no better way to know death than to link it with some licentious image”. Georges Bataille latched onto this idea, arguing that without death there is no desire. Factors of procreation and beauty play a role in sex, but true desire is rooted in our mortality: we want to fuck because we know we will die. The link between death and desire is at the heart of the Blaine brothers’ debut feature, Nina Forever.