Baraka (1992)

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Jules: What does spirituality mean if the only reality is physical? Does it connote anything more than aesthetics; the appropriate appreciation of a natural setting, or artistic conceit? Does it mean anything more than a type of experience that is unusual in some way, perhaps due to a drug? Baraka reaches for an answer to these questions, among others; but does a spiritual reality lie behind its images and sounds? And what would, or could, that mean, at the end of the second millennium?

David: In this second part of our survey of the human condition, we move from HG Wells’ s 1930s to a voice from the 1990s with no words. Rather than an obvious narrative, Baraka paints a canvas, bringing into focus piece by piece an image that turns more and more of its facets to the light but doesn’t really progress. As if it were less a film than a mandala, a shrine or a temple, it could serve it’s purpose equally well on an eternal loop with an audience free to come and go. Perhaps referencing its own form, Baraka queries the value of advancement over stillness and contemplation. But we’re not invited  to contemplate the void so much as observe ourselves within it. Do we value simply being? Or only uncertain notions of betterment?

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Black Narcissus (1947)

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Jules: The clash of cultures, faiths, races, and civilisations entire was hardly ever so agreeable as it is in this 1947, somewhat-forgotten classic. See vertiginous, mountain-perched bordellos revamped to serve as nunneries! See lanky actors in too-short short-shorts attempt to maintain their gravitas whilst riding Shetland ponies! See skin-tinted occidental girls reinvented as oriental firebrands!

David: One ought not to rebel against nature, it seems. Nor the nature of things. A gaggle of nuns embark on a girl’s own Heart of Darkness.

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Prometheus (2012)

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Jules: This film divided film viewers and critics to a surreal degree; but is it perhaps the film which most deserved overlooking in 2012? Despite its problems, what does it tell us about the ability of today’s filmmakers to revisit their own pasts?

David:  The franchise that inspired so many imitations borrows back from nearly all of them, with plot tendrils snaking about like a grasping facehugger that’s drunk too much coffee. [review]

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The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)

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Our first podcast! And it sounds like it!

Jules: Problems (and beauty) abound in this characteristically Gilliamesque romp through the Enlightenment, and its cultural upheavals. Marvels to delight the eye accompany the misadventures of our titular hero as he attempts to establish how the war began.

David: Beautiful ladies, beautiful ladies!

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