JAGO LYNCH reviews Russian filmmaker’s latest documentary, Aquarela, screened at the Bertha Dochouse and featuring a Q&A with producer Aimara Reques. Aquarela is a film of balance, almost everything within it exists in a tense liminality, and, whenever this equilibrium breaks, intense elemental chaos ensues. This is best summed up by a shot about a third of the way into the film, where the camera focuses on the end of a glacier; there is no movement, the only sound that can be heard is the deep cracking of ice from within. And then a huge chunk of the glacier breaks off, the peace of the original shot is broken, with the iceberg hitting the surface of the water below and creating a wave of otherworldly size. This is a pattern repeated throughout the film, with Victor Kossakovsky, the director of Aquarela, allowing the audience to wonder at the natural beauty of…Continue Reading

Aquarela

JARVIS CARR reviews Ben Berman’s debut feature, The Amazing Johnathan Documentary. As its title states, the focus of Ben Berman’s documentary began as ‘The Amazing Johnathan’, the stage name of John Szeles, an American magician who gained fame in the 1990s for the bravado, blood and banter in his act. Whether appearing to snort an entire jar of cocaine or by pushing the same plastic straw through (almost) all of his orifices on stage, The Amazing Johnathan inspired the likes of Penn Gillette and Carrot Top – the next generation of Las Vegas magicians-turned-celebrities. In 2014, Johnathan was diagnosed with a terminal heart condition and given one year to live. He decides to embark on a farewell tour: cue documentary crew. It starts as one has grown to expect this kind of documentary to. We are introduced to Szeles via an external narrator – in this case, an Amazon Alexa –…Continue Reading

THE AMAZING JOHNATHAN DOCUMENTARY