The Multiverse Of Mr Ezban

Film

I have limited interest in the Academy Awards (in hindsight their choices are often dubious) and tend to prefer Cannes for the wealth of world cinema it chucks up each year. So I’m desperate to see this year’s winner, South Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s ‘Parasite’, about a poor family of tricksters who find jobs with a wealthy family. He’s an unclassifiable director who’ll switch from dreamy arthouse to hi-tech thriller without a care.

Festival films are their own beasts, and live in a world largely separate from mainstream popular films, but many countries blur the lines, especially Korea, Mexico and Spain. Certain tropes emerge in Spanish language films; love of the gothic, strong women, noir suspense (in films like ‘El Cuerpo’, ‘Wild Tales’, ‘Sleep Tight’, ‘May God Save Us’ and ‘Blind Alley’) romantic supernatural and lately time travel, in ‘Triangle’, ‘Timecrimes’, ‘The Ministry of Time’ and ‘During the Storm’.

Into these genres, heavily influenced by old Twilight Zone episodes and Alfred Hitchcock, comes Isaac Ezban, whose films play out like old paperbacks you find in a junk shop. Ultimately ‘The Similars’ feels very indebted to a famous episode of Twilight Zone but has its own aesthetic, as a group of would-be passengers wait for a bus that never arrives in a rainswept night bus station and start to physically morph into one another, while a child discovers he can control the world. It doesn’t entirely work but there’s something interesting here.

‘El Incidente’ begins with a startling image – an ancient bride lying dead on an escalator – and gets stranger as brothers menaced by a cop get trapped in an everlasting staircase. At the same time, a desperate family in a car find themselves trapped on a road looping on forever. But the idea of time loops is pushed further when we pick up all the characters 35 years later, when they’re all still trapped and reconciled to living their lives out in interconnected time loops. The message; Be careful when you choose which path to take in life.

Ezban’s films have their clunky moments – his explanations need work – but he has a curious ability to make you stay with him long after the budget has been used up, and he’s developing his own twisted worldview, which appears to involve a multiverse of options and choices open to his protagonists. His first English language film, ‘Parallel’, opens the multiverse further into other dimensions, and is out now.

Which brings me to ask; what’s the oddest film you’ve seen and liked?

10 comments on “The Multiverse Of Mr Ezban”

  1. Roger says:

    I’d pick Holy Murders by Leo Carax – another weird and preposterous film which features loops around reality.

  2. Jan says:

    you’re going to despair at this Chris but I love John Carpenter films.
    “Escape from New York” is probably me favourite. I really like ” The Thing” + “They Live”.

    Like nearly all of them. I can’t claim to be an intellectual.

  3. Colin says:

    Time Lapse is a very good time travel type film. What do you do with if you find a camera that takes photos 24 hours into the future. Well worth a watch

  4. admin says:

    Jan, I’m a huge John Carpenter fan, even thought he went off the rails after ‘They Live’, which was great except for (or maybe because of) that really strange fight in the alley that goes on forever!
    Love ‘Holy Motors’, especially the accordion scene.
    Haven’t heard of ‘Time Lapse’ – I’ll check it out. I have a feeling I wrote something similar once.

  5. Jan says:

    Well I never!

    Thought Mr. C would be far too low brow for you Chris.

    When you weigh it up the fight is one of the best bits of that film “They Live” it’s a Great short story as well the title is something like “8.10 in the morning”. It’s on the net. I like the one with Sam Neill the film with all the crucifixes displayed on a white wall. The Fog film his version is pretty creepy also.

  6. Wayne Mook says:

    In the Mouth of Madness I really like, it picks up on some of the themes above and on what is real, the always reliable Sam Neill once of Reilly: Ace of Spies fame, stars, I think this is the one you mean Jan. It follows a missing horror novelist…

    The Oscars usually pick good cartoons.

    Weird films , any Jan Svankmajer film, Lunacy is probably one of the more accessible based on the Poe story with a big chunk of De Sade thrown in. The Quay Brothers short films are odd and splendid. Hausu AKA House and Tetsuo: The Iron Man(and it’s sequel) are barking mad Japanese horror films.

    A Field in England takes a rather offbeat approach too. I have a soft spot for The Monkee’s film Head.

    Wayne.

  7. Ian Luck says:

    ‘La Jetée’ by Chris Marker. A movie comprised entirely of still images, which tells the story of a ‘time loop’. A slightly more accessible version of this is Terry Gilliam’s ’12 Monkeys’. I’m also rather fond of ‘Napoleon’, by Abel Gance, and sat through the ‘short’ version (9 hours), twice. Another movie I enjoyed greatly, is the odd 1982 sci-fi film ‘Liquid Sky’, by Slava Tsukerman. It’s barking mad, but I love it.

  8. snowy says:

    Most films are odd, when you think about them, (wo)men that can fly, talking animals, sentient toys, indestructable robots, little grey men, re-animated corpses, dinosaurs awoken by atomic bombs etc.

    A smallish selection from many in no particular order:

    ‘When the Wind Blows’ adapted from a Raymond Briggs book, an animated feature length snuff film and nightmare fuel for a generation of children whose parents were fooled by its PG rating.

    ‘The Fall’ directed by Darsem Singh, stunning visual sequences linked by a very ho-hum narrative.

    ‘Ghost Ship’ what appears to be a standard chiller takes some very strange turns and comes with a twist ending.

    ‘The Magic Christian’ seen it twice, no wiser about what it is supposed to be about.

    ‘Predestination’ directed by the Spierig brothers, based on a Robert A. Heinlein short story, with a plot so convoluted that your brain just gives up trying to make any sense of it.

    ‘The Ritz’ a book-keeper on the run from the ‘Mob’ in Chicago decides to hideout in a gay bath-house, based on a play by Graham Stark, [which might explain why at least half of the clients are played by British character actors.]

    ‘Shock Treatment’ by Richard O’Brian and Jim Sharman, often referred to as the sequel to ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’, the link is dubious/slight. Best enjoyed for its own merits/bonkers musical numbers.

    ‘Dark City’ directed by Alex Proyas, “John Murdoch awakens in a hotel bathtub, suffering from amnesia. He receives a phone call from Dr. Daniel Schreber, who urges him to flee the hotel to evade a group of men who are after him. In the room, Murdoch discovers the corpse of a ritualistically murdered woman along with a bloody knife.” and then it goes completely weird.

    ‘Zardoz’ … WTF! [or why taking industrial quantities of recreational drugs and film-making don’t mix.]

  9. Wayne Mook says:

    The giant red undies wearing Connery in a huge flying head is wonderful.

    Being John Malkovich lovely film, I still have the VHS I won on a Radio 5 competition.

    Wayne.

  10. Ian Luck says:

    In ‘Zardoz’, I always wince when the rifles pour out of the flying head – most of them after that would probably be about as accurate as the guns in a fairground shooting gallery. It’s odd for a movie, too – it’s so left field that it hasn’t become entrenched in the public psyche. There are no ‘knowing nods’ to it on ‘Family Guy’ or ‘The Simpsons’ to my knowledge. Likewise ‘Phase IV’, directed by Saul Bass.

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