Philip Brocklehurst returns to Screen Critix with his latest movie, an experimental arthouse style film called Excitement. Check out our review, right here.
Arthouse films have been a staple of cinema ever since the Lumiere brothers made the first-ever recording of their own staff leaving their factory after finishing work in March 1895. Lovers of arthouse films don’t like the label as it makes them sound pretentious while those who don’t like it get annoyed at the implication that there is no artistry or intelligence in mainstream movies.
Europe has always been the artistic leader when it came to arthouse filmmaking, the stereotypical arthouse films include absolute classics of cinema, the work of legendary director Ingmar Bergman, the famous Battleship Potemkin was a classic art film from the 1920s while Luis Buñuel and investigated cinema’s potential for surrealism like no one before or since.
The Italians applied art to a representation of society and the French which gave birth to the term ‘New Wave’ brought a self-awareness and critical aim to film-making. While Tarkovski and Michelangelo Antonioni achieved a calming beauty while closer in time to us, David Lynch and John Cassavetes demonstrated an American sensibility to the genre. As for the UK, the likes of Nic Roeg, Derek Jarman, Peter Greenaway, and Sally Potter are probably our most famous exponents of avant-garde British cinema.
The difficulty with art-house cinema is getting it right and making it tangible to an audience. Sadly Philip Brocklehurst, director of ‘Excitement’ doesn’t quite manage it but I certainly admired his effort and at least he tries. Here is our review of his new feature film ‘Excitement’.
According to its director, ‘Excitement’ is an experimental arthouse movie that blends drama, eroticism, and comedy into a homage to the surreal films of Jean Luc Goddard. As soon as the film begins we are introduced to the main character Montgomery, played by Jonathan Skye-O’Brien. He is sat in his front room, miserable and bored so he begins to surf the internet looking for excitement. His search leads him to a flurry of soft pornographic webcam sites. He begins to switch between the different girls hoping to find fulfillment, excitement or even just a connection with at least one of them. The film then cuts between the different girls and Monty’s lack of emotional feelings towards any of them.
Punctuated throughout with different words and feelings on title cards of differing levels of explicitness, as well as interviews with people describing what turns them on and excites them as humans. The audience becomes witnesses to a young man’s descent into loneliness and inertia. The final ¼ of the film spends time on Montgomery who, finally tearing himself away from the webcams and girls of his fantasies, signs up for a dating website in order to find the connection he is craving with someone in the real world.
It is this part of the film where we see Montgomery at his most animated answering the website’s video questionnaire direct to the camera. He is far more excited talking to others than he is watching the webcam girls, he bears his soul to the website and we learn about him as a person and what he is looking for in a partner.
I would say that the argument in ‘Excitement’ is that conversation is far better than titillation, it is more stimulating and far more intimate. With our minds and with our words we can do things to each other that make sex seem a real effort. Of course, this argument is all a mind game as well because sex itself is the prize for the winner, that, is why conversations can become so erotic.
Sadly ‘Excitement’ is neither exciting nor erotic but what it does show is a director having fun with the medium, trying different things and incorporating different artistic elements into his vision. Does it all work? Not quite, but that is the point of experimenting. Brocklehurst’s direction shows a fearlessness that deserves praise and film that deserves viewing.