Art & Sex Double Feature: Flames / Pendular
with Zefrey Throwell
Filmed over five years, Flames follows real-life couple Josephine Decker (Butter on the Latch, Thou Wast Mild and Lovely) and Zefrey Throwell from the white-hot passion of first love to the heartbreak of the bitter end. High on their intense connection, the pair of artists document their relationship’s every beat, from their adventurous sex life, to their performance art collaborations, to a spur-of-the-moment getaway to the Maldives. But when the romantic vacation doesn’t exactly go as planned, the now-former couple are left to decide what to do with their film-in-progress, and for these two filmmakers, the end of the relationship isn’t the end of the story. As they continue filming, reconstructing what happened and where it all went wrong, lines begin to blur between what was real and what was “the film”-if there’s even a difference anymore. Equal parts performance piece and penetrating rumination on the way some relationships are never finished even after they end, Flames is an extraordinary docu-art hybrid- a raw nerve of a film that finds within its unique idiosyncrasies and eccentricities a universally affecting manifesto of heartbreak.
A young couple settles down in a large abandoned industrial warehouse. An orange strip, glued to the floor, partitions the area in two equal portions: to the right, his sculpture atelier; to the left, her dance studio. Pendular takes place in this setting, where art, performances and intimacy mingle together; and where the characters slowly lose their capacity for distinguishing between their artistic projects, their past and their current romantic relationship. We observe them fusing in sexual passion (critic Michael Sicinski describes this as “some of the most honest, uninhibitedly erotic sex that I’ve seen in a narrative film”), playing soccer with friends or partying, after which they always retreat behind their dividing lines as a means to spur their creativity. Before long, he begins to use her space for his large sculptures, and she uses them for her choreography. This interplay between intimacy and rivalry means that the couple are constantly exploring themselves anew.
“In some respects, Pendular is about the pursuit of that ever-elusive goal known as work-life balance. What makes it unusual — and, despite its slow pace, exciting — is the time and attention Ms. Murat devotes to showing her unnamed characters, in particular the female half of the couple, in the midst of actually working. While they aren’t dance numbers in the usual movie-musical sense, the scenes of a woman in concentrated motion at once transcend the story and provide its emotional core.” (A.O.Scott, New York Times).
DOCUMENTARY, USA, 2017
DIRECTED BY ZEFREY THROWELL AND JOSEPHINE DECKER
CAST: ZEFREY THROWELL, JOSEPHINE DECKER, MICHAEL MELAMEDOFF
RUNNING TIME: 84 MINS
NARRATIVE, BRAZIL, 2017
DIRECTED BYL JÚLIA MURAT
WRITTEN BY JÚLIA MURAT, MATIAS MARIANI
CAST: RAQUEL KARRO, RODRIGO BOLZAN, VALERIA BARRETTA
RUNNING TIME: 108 MINS