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THE RISE OF THE SYNTHS, MORGANA & MORE Couched Online Film Fest reviews


With the annual Revelation Perth International Film Festival postponed for this year, the team behind the cult annual film fest haven’t let this time of year go without some sort of film festival – even one that takes place in your home!
This week, we’re reviewing a couple of docos on oddball and niche music genres, along with a doco on an artist/pornographer icon, and a brilliantly experimental and unique film for those nostalgic for the days of videotapes and camcorders. Couched online film festival screens from Thursday, July 9 to Sunday, July 19. Head to revelationfilmfest.org for more info.

THE RISE OF THE SYNTHS

7.5/10

Synth music is as big as it’s been since the 80s. In fact, it seems our culture looks back to that decade in terms of music, filmmaking, fashion and general living more than any other era in our past. The Rise of the Synths explores this newly revitalised phenomenon, speaking to underground yet prominent masters of the synth from around the world.

These discussions are not only in-depth, but so personal, delving into the difference philosophies and backgrounds of why synthwave is so essential to these musicians. The documentary begins in 2009 and heads back one decade at a time, observing the influences from the likes of Giorgio Moroder and John Carpenter, and seeing how these past influences have now affected the present, with the popularity of synthwave in films like Drive and TV shows like Stranger Things.

This doco has plenty of production value behind it, showing a small visual narrative of a man in a DeLorean-like car travelling through thoroughly 80s looking vistas. Narrated by Carpenter himself, explaining his own attitude to creating his own synth scores in the ‘70s, this doco encapsulates the particular era we’re living in now, that has one foot in the past and another in the future.

DAVID MORGAN-BROWN

MORGANA

9/10

Morgana is the story of an Australian woman’s journey from downtrodden, self-shaming divorcee to self empowerment through the joy of sexual freedom. Suddenly divorced at 45 after a loveless marriage, Morgana chose to embark on self exploration two years later, which happened to result in a lauded and awarded career as a porn star and ultimately the creative director of her own porn company.

However, this is hardly a story simply about sex positivity. The tale is interwoven with her stories of mental health battles, body shaming, and struggles with self. All relatable, all gut wrenching, and totally worth watching, because we all live with self doubt to some degree. Morgana just chose a unique and beautiful way to learn to overcome.

This is a remarkable story, told with such openness and honesty, sometimes through tears. The overriding message throughout is that everyone should love and take pride in their bodies and the pleasure they can bring through sex. It is a story of self-love and learning how to get there that 100% deserves your attention.

NATALIE GILES

VHYES

7/10

Here’s a very well assembled mockumentary made up of a young boy’s home movie footage, which he begins making after Christmas, 1987. Recording himself and his parents, as well as his best friend, he also learns he can plug the camcorder into the TV and record it whenever he likes. He unsuspectingly doesn’t realise he’s taping over his parent’s wedding video – as we see, the tape at times cuts between this celebratory day and the present day footage of his parents arguing and fighting in the background of his home movies.

Later on, the tape starts warping the reality of home videos and the fakery of recorded TV – it may be hard to deduce exactly what this film is going for with this surreal display of television invading our private lives, but on a surface level, it’s a nifty climax to such a film. This gleeful throwback to late 80s early 90s culture recalls the Too Many Cooks short film, in how amusingly accurate it emulates this era, as well as how it disintegrates it in a disturbing manner.

Although the TV parodies could’ve made way for more of the young boy’s camcorder shenanigans, and some come across as too dry initially, they eventually become more humorous and the belly laughs soon follow.

DAVID MORGAN-BROWN

THE SOUND IS INNOCENT

6/10

The esoteric sounds of experimental music-making is explored in this documentary, though it would’ve conveyed more about its subject matter if it didn’t insist so much on its own overly-done documentary aesthetic.

As opposed to The Rise of the Synths (see above) where its interviewees speak clearly and from personal experience about their craft, the talking heads in The Sound is Innocent speak from a much more impenetrable and academic background. And even when these people are pontificating about the future of humanless music, the documentary’s style is so overbearing with visual density, it just retracts rather than enhances, nor does this visual style have much relation to what’s being spoken (aside from an amusing scene of a mountain of outdated machines piled up in a sparse office building).

This film-like documentary does manage to build up an industrial mood all the way throughout, shot mostly in cold and empty corridors and hallways, that may make this musical corner seem even more depressing and inhuman. The Sound is Innocent contains some snippets of interest in its interviews or its visual moments, but hardly ever both at the same time.

DAVID MORGAN-BROWN

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