Lords of Chaos

I had a sense of trepidation going in to Lords of Chaos. Americans playing Norwegian metal musicians could go very, very wrong. I was delighted to find instead that it was fucking great.

Lords of Chaos, or How To Edgelord Your Way To Insanity And Death, is a dramatisation of the rise and fall of the band Mayhem. This includes suicide, cannibalism, arson and murder.

We were warned before the film began that we may find it gory. This is because the suicide scene is explicit. I wouldn’t describe it as gory because it was not excessive or gratuitous, simply showing the manner in which Dead killed himself in a matter-of-fact way.

One guy in the audience didn’t agree with my assessment of the gore, and vomited and fainted. The film had to be stopped, the house lights brought up, first aiders brought in, and an ambulance called. I can think of no better advertisement for this movie.

What was good about the movie was, while simultaneously carrying you along in the world and attitude of these characters, occasionally puncturing it with reminders that these were actually weans, in their teens and early 20s. They aren’t evil geniuses, in fact quite the opposite. A bunch of showoff little boys with fragile egos and catty cliques.

The central theme of the film is about yearning for authenticity and validation. This is especially difficult in a music culture of reforged identities and false names.

Weirdly funny and surprisingly heartfelt, this movie overcomes the odds to feel like a real achievement. 

Are You Proud?

Are You Proud? is a documentary looking at the history of Pride movements here in the UK. Maybe like me you are up on your American queer history a lot more than you are your British queer history.

It came at it from an angle I didn’t expect, namely ‘isn’t it great British has such a wide diversity of Prides taking place!’. This is not normally the tack taken on the subject. Usually the refrain is the movement has become too fractured, we’ve become too divided internally within the queer community. This documentary flips that on its head and says, isn’t it great to live in a country where pride can mean so many different things to so many different people and it all coexists. It doesn’t take a side in any debate but lauds the idea of queer activism spreading out in many different directions. That our differences, rather than divide us, in fact gives us a soldier in every corner, fighting on every front for queer rights.

As someone who has felt very disillusioned and increasingly alienated from recent Pride celebrations, it was heartening to see a documentary reminding us that it is up to each generation to make and remake its own Pride.

True, it was mostly a history of G with a side of L, no B and very little T, but in some ways that does reflect the hierarchy and thus history of Pride movements. A and other pluses will have to wait another 20 years before they start getting included in these movies.

Despite those limitations, it does do a masterful job of fitting 70 years of history into 2 hours.

Another Day of Life

Another Day of Life is an animated adaptation of a Polish journalist’s memoir of reporting on the Angolan civil war. Comparable to things like Waltz With Bashir and the comics of Joe Sacco, it uses a blend of animation and contemporary footage to bring alive one of the crucial points in the fight for Angolan independence.

In many ways it’s also a film about journalism ethics. Can a war reporter ever really be considered a civilian? Given that their work is both reconnaissance and propaganda. It also exposes the great myth of journalism – that the reporter is an observer. In fact the reporter is a participant, whose very presence changes the situation they inhabit. And objectivity comes very much second to the need to live through the experience.