Björk: Biophilia Live
A concert film that was shot at the final tour date of Icelandic chanteuse Björk’s final tour stop on her interactive Biophilia tour, this largely static but visually stunning experience effectively highlight’s the artist’s talents as a singer, musician, inventor, and stage presence.
Co-directed by Peter Strickland (The Duke of Burgundy, Berberian Sound Studio) and Nick Fenton (editor for both of Richard Ayoade’s big screen efforts and Sigur Ros’ films) and shot by frequent music video DP Brett Turnbull, the film doesn’t have much to do with the interactive side of Björk’s titular landmark album, but that’s fine. They get the most out of her, and she gives everything she can to them and the crowd, parading confidently around the stage in an outfit that looks like all of her muscles have exploded from her body.
The lush arrangements of the songs are the main highlights here, with the equally childlike and haunting “Crystaline” (which sounds playful and celestial at the same time) and the stripped down “Solstice” (complete with the craziest homemade harp you’ve ever seen) stealing the show.
It all zips by, and saves a lot of energy for the encore where the singer lets loose and gives the audience a burst of sudden energy to go out on one she’s covered the album she built the show around. There are hardly any breathers, no banter, no arduous looks inside “the process.” It’s just a well mounted stage show with good music that translates well to the cinema.
The opening night screening on Friday will be shown as part of the This Film Should Be Played Loud series. Doors open at 8:30 for the 9:30 screening with a pre-show DJ set and Steamwhistle beer specials. On Monday, the film will screen alongside When Björk Met Attenborough as part of a double bill starting at 6:30pm, a fascinating hour long talk between the singer and the late Richard Attenborough (who recorded narration for the opening of the stage show) where they discuss nature and the origins and concepts behind the Biophilia album.
If there’s one thing that Farzad Nikbakht look at university level Quidditch squads, it’s that it makes me at least want to try the sport that arose out of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter universe as a sort of hybrid between rugby and dodgeball where people pretend to ride brooms. It’s no more ridiculous a sport than water polo or, well, regular polo. I knew it was a sport that existed before from watching people in the city play it, and if nothing else, the documentary Mudbloods at least makes the sport look like fun.
Unfortunately, Nikbakht’s film has a giant hole in it that you could drive a truck through, not just toss a quaffle. So intently focused on following the rising UCLA Quidditch team and tracing the roots of the sport from its inception at Middlebury College, the film abjectly has no sense of personality other than simply dumping footage and saying, “Look! Here’s a thing that people are doing!”
I have no issue with people wanting Quidditch to be taken seriously, especially since they seem to really care about the sport, but the film never bothers to ask why people are so taken by it. Never getting to the heart of what it means to be a fan of something that you want to live in that universe or the personalities of any of the people profiled, it’s a dull slog that says everything it can about the sport in less than five minutes before droning on endlessly and in the most boring of fashion.
It works best when it’s on the pitch, but then again, you could do this in a short. With no way to care about the people involved, Nikbakht mistakenly thinks that blanket fandom can carry the day. Even fans deserve better than that. After five minutes I was sold that I would rather be living it myself than sitting around watching it.
Mudbloods screens on Sunday as a double bill with the most Quidditch heavy (and honestly most underrated) of the Harry Potter films, Goblet of Fire on Sunday, October 12th at 5:30 pm with the doc following at 8:45.
Also at The Bloor this week:
Art and Craft continues from last week, and it’s definitely still worth checking out with screenings all week.
There’s a special screening of the documentary Damnation on Thursday at 7:30pm, co-presented in part by Planet-in-Focus as part of the environmentally minded Salon Vert series, which looks at changing attitudes towards hydroelectric power.
But the biggest event this week is the latest edition of the Bloor Takeover series, which sees the music and arts festival The Long Winter taking over the Bloor stage and screen. Part of the $11 ticket for the Saturday night show (starting at 7:00pm) includes:
-The Toronto premiere of Parisian photographer Frédéric Nauczyciel’s The Fire Flies, a documentary that captures the beauty and struggles of the Baltimore and Paris voguing communities.
The Toronto premiere of Marie Losier’s (The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye) Just a Million Dreams, an intimate portrait of Suicide frontman and electronic music pioneer Alan Vega.
The premiere of Toronto band Absolutely Free’s new album set to a holographic light show.
A durational sound piece by Toronto trio Doomsquad that will be hidden somewhere inside the cinema.
The premiere of the second season of Vish Khanna’s hit underground late-night talk show, Long Night with Vish Khanna.
A series of art installations and projections by emerging artists, including William Andrew Finlay Stewart, Steve Reaume, Bambitchell, Dan Thornhill, and WIVES.
A midnight screening of unreleased documentary Our Hobby is Depeche Mode/The Posters Came From the Walls (D: Jeremy Deller, Nicholas Abraham; 2008), a vibrant look at Depeche Mode fandom in the Soviet Union and other countries where Western music was unavailable until the 1980s.
And plenty of other surprises and treats to come. To learn more about the Long Winter series, head to their website.
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