Week 30, 2023 – Every once in a while, a shortlist of 5 things that caught my interest lately, with a few notes.
1. Documentary I’m watching
Blood Cobalt: DR Congo’s Dangerous and Deadly Green Energy Mines. The world is entering a green phase of electricity use, but we often do not know much about the origin of the raw materials used to make the batteries and accumulators we use for our electric cars, laptops, and smartphones.
One essential metal used in battery production is Cobalt. The Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the poorest countries in the world, mines 70% of the world’s needs.
The market is completely in the hands of Chinese companies, which administer as many as 15 mines of the total 19 in DR Congo, and which operate for brands such as Apple, Tesla, Microsoft, Samsung, GM, Sony, and many others.
In this 2022 documentary, which I encourage to share as much as possible, Australian reporter Michael Davie investigates the industry in search of information about the mines and especially about the precarious working conditions that also often include child labour.
A shocking document that reveals how far and how full of contradictions the transition to a sustainable world truly is.
2. What I’m reading
I’d Like My Life Back by Tommy Wilson. Wilson is a talented Canadian graphic artist who over the years has specialized in very iconic black-and-white art. Clearly inspired by 80s and 90s hardcore punk posters, the artist uses various media to process photos and obtain his work: software, old fax machines, scanners, and printers. Even though for those who lived through the golden years of punk and hardcore this art may look very familiar, Wilson produces artwork that is anything but anonymous and in which the artist’s personal vision can absolutely be perceived. This stunning self-published book brings together ten years of his amazing work.
3. What I’ve been listening to
Winnipeg, Manitoba extreme noise rock quartet KEN mode are back with a slate of new killer songs. Their new album Void, coming out September 22, is the natural continuation of 2022’s Null. Both albums were written and produced during the pandemic, recorded in 2021, and released in a different time frame. Pre-orders are available through Artoffact Records. Track I’m playing on repeat: The Shrike.
4. Project I’m backing
Bakemono, a monster movie by independent filmmaker Doug Roos. Doug is passionate about 80s cinema and practical special effects. His references for his latest work, from his own words, are definitely The Thing, The Guyver, and Wicked City. He financed this production with his own money, filmed with a Red Epic Dragon, and shot for 80 days in Tokyo, with a cast of over 40 actors.
The actors include Yukina Takase in the lead role, Takashi Irie as co-star, Jiro Ishikawa, Vanessa Mertenbacher, Sayuri Nakata, Hiro Senda, Alice Nemoto, Mai Mizusawa, and Mone Watanabe.
The film is completed but Doug has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to shoot a few additional scenes before getting his film into festivals, here is the link to help out. If you dig and support independent cinema, this is a solid film to keep an eye on.
5. A film rediscovered
1989’s Lost Angels. I remember seeing this film on VHS when I was a teenager for the sole reason that Adam ‘Ad-Rock’ Horovitz of the Beastie Boys was in the cast, in his first starring role. Unfairly little known and poorly distributed, the film is about Tim (Horovitz), a troubled boy who is sent to a mental institution where he bonds with Dr. Loftis (played by an always outstanding Donald Sutherland) who seems to understand his distress. The film also stars Amy Locane, Celia Weston, Graham Beckel, and Patricia Richardson.
Directed by Hugh Hudson (Greystoke, Chariots of Fire), who unfortunately left us in February this year, Lost Angles is definitely a little gem worth rediscovering.