By Mónica Delgado

A hysterical Young girl convulses in the hallways of a dance school and becomes an occasional Isabelle Adjani in Possession. Nicholas Cage portraying an avenger who deals with some beings from the afterlife taken from Hellraiser, or maybe a porn woman filmmaker that could’ve easily made a mix between Behind The Green Room under the influence of Kenneth Anger’s shorts. Cinema of references has the ability to achieve some creativity sparks from pastiche or parody, although the sensation of déjà vu is permanent. We find this particular quality in a group of films seen in the parallel sections of Critics’ Week and Quinzaine des réalisateurs.

In Gaspar Noé’s Climax, the particular trademark of… Gaspar Noé is felt. The sequence shots, the forward travellings, the lysergic atmosphere plus neon lights are nothing we haven’t seen yet in Enter the Void, Irreversible or Love, the story of a group of street dancers in a school goes beyond Fame or similar films where apprentices fight against everything to stand out. Noé gathers a group of boys to submit them as an offer for his social thesis: “life in community is impossible”, submitting them to a descent to hell by sharing a drink with acid in the middle of a party. There’s an intention to transform the film in a transcendental fable (supposedly happy people locked in a place that end up looked in hell), however, Noé shines when he portrays the most sensual side of the film, as we are witness of vibrant bodies, dancing to the rhythm of Modorer, Daft Punk, Soft Cell or Cosey Fanny Tutti.

Despite the moments that interfere with a very corporeal or physic film (bodies in constant movement, hysteria and catharsis), which Noé keeps afloat using dialogues or interview (in the initial scene), Climax is one of the less pretentious and more coherent films in shape and style from this French-Argentinian filmmaker, which is in itself a big step forward.

In the other hand, Bertrand Mandico’s Apocalypse After, projected in the special short films section of Critic’s Week, poses a symbiosis with the imaginary of the so called sixties porn, as if the erotic universes with quotas of Sci-fi and z-series took a romantic dimension. In this new short from the outstanding French filmmaker, atmospheres from Café Flesh or Behind the Green Room seem to have been travestied with neon lights and glitter.

A filmmaker, Joy, films with extraterrestrial atmospheres, inspired by Apocalypse, her muse. With this simple plot, Mandico gives his film an extravagant and kitsch imaginary, as if it was a collage of the universes of Shuji Terayama, Anger, Genet, Yann Gonzales of Fassbinder, but in glam mode, with scarlet glitter, achieving a condensation of all their univers, a compact corpus which trademark includes previous films like Notre Dame de HormonesPrehistoric Cabaret.

Presented in Quinzaine des réalisateurs, and premiered in Sundance, Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy turns to quoting as an essential element. Everything in his film is made through pastiche. Cosmatos elaborates his film from this conscience of homage and hint. The shadow of Sam Raimi and his Evil Dead imposes itself and Nicholas Cage is converted in an imitation of other characters portrayed in screen. But the thing about Mandy relies in that the recreation is enriched by a visual finish that rarifies the atmospheres, from permanent neon, an eighties’ outfit, a rhythm that rejects the forms of genre cinema which it feeds from.  Cosmatos bets for a film almost free from dialogues, dark in its visual treatment, and linked to different styles, from Kubrick, Carpenter or Raimi himself.

Jóhan Jóhannsson’s soundtrack for Mandy is a point on itself altogether. Synths and new wave guitars set this revenge story in the time in which the film is set. The soundtrack recovers a whole musical memorabilia, that Johansson dilates, extends or reformulates, making Mandy a cult film.

I’m also placing the Latin American Cómprame un Revólver, in this summary of references cinema. The film by Julio Hernández Cordón (Te prometo Anarquía, Las Marimbas del Infierno) is a dystopia where drug dealers rule the country and where almost all women are gone, carrying also an element of déjà vu in its translation of some known imaginaries from Mexican fantasy.

With some hints to John Hillcoat’s The Road, about a father who has to protect his child from cannibals in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, the Hernández Cordón’s film deals with drug dealer gangs using women’s dresses, and shows the story of a drug addict father with her daughter, who he dresses as a kid to protect her from evil. Despite its errors (the magical realism very much a-la Kusturica, or the over caricaturized character of the father), the greatest interest of this film, lies precisely in giving a sarcastic turn to an overused story (any film that has drug trafficking in Mexican cinema as background) to place some dosage of very black humor as an optimistic exit.