Director: Raul Simao
Running time: 3mins
There are many questions humanity has faced since our ancestors first strode across the plains of Africa. They have never been answered convincingly – and maybe they never will be. Things like why am I here? How should I live? And why does Australia seem to produce such uniquely terrible filmmakers?
Australia has produced some artists who are very accomplished of course; some of whom we have had the fortune to write about on Indy Film Library. But when it gets it wrong – and pound for pound, it seems to do so way more often than any other national cinema – Australian cinema reaches upsetting levels of Bad.
The best thing I can say about Lovers Remix is that its most unnerving elements are at least confined to subtext – so it never quite hits the all-time lows of films like Choir Girl. But that is really it.
The music of Sydney resident Danny Pryp (or Daniel Prypchan as he credits himself at every available opportunity, leaving his ‘stage name’ somewhat defunct) has been featured on IFL twice now; and honestly it is starting to make me question the wisdom of opening up a Music Video category. Have we upset some higher power by doing this? Are we being punished?
First of all, I know this is supposed to be a film review, but we have to address the work of Pryp/chan and his collaborator Daryl Wallis for the song itself. Buttock-clenching lyrics include “you’ve made me a slave, without you I am nothing”; “you took me by surprise, the morning after. There you were, still sexy on the bed” – a line which Pryp/chan delivers flatly, while blankly staring from the shadows at two lovers, who are unaware of his presence. The passionless delivery, and steady reptilian gaze render him more reminiscent of the Zodiac killer, stalking a pair of young lovers, rather than of someone fondly recalling a romantic tryst earlier in their own life.
Not all of the blame for that can be attributed to Pryp/chan himself though. There was, allegedly, a director – Raul Simao – who has been credited with the film itself. How much clout he actually had on the project is hard to say – particularly as in the film’s submission, the director’s biography section is actually written about Danny Pryp. But Simao’s name is on the tin, so he has to be apportioned some blame here.
One of his worst calls seems to be the choice to apply a hideous plug-in filter to 90% of the production. The sub-Snapchat digital effect aims to give everything the texture of a cubist painting; functioning as a stand-in for far more expensive and time-consuming options such as rotoscoping. For distance shots, this almost works – but in close-ups of humans it becomes nightmarish – giving Pryp/chan’s skin the dry, rubbery texture of a Spitting Image puppet.
At the same time, Simao does not do enough to foreground the fact Pryp/chan is regarding a ‘younger’ version of himself. In a set of sepia images, we see a man with a beard and curly hair sculpting while a woman models for him. Then a few shots follow of our singing narrator – beardless and with straight hair – who informs us of a story where a fling ended. It is tricky to tell, unless you are a regular Pryp/chan fan, that these are in actuality the same man – something which, as mentioned, makes one’s leering from the shadows at the other significantly more disturbing. More creative cinematography cutting between the two men’s faces might have helped – or just keeping the beard in both instances to help identify continuity between two otherwise indistinct faces.
It is hard not to feel for Maria Jose Arcilago – the nameless model who is the object of Pryp/chan’s desires. Not only must she have been bored to tears during a shoot in which she is somehow given less to do than an actual life model; when confronted with the results of Pryp/chan’s art, she must have been truly terrified. After spending so long sensually caressing the clay that represents her body, Pryp/chan reveals his great work – a claggy homunculus, legs spread wide, giving us a creepy insight into how it would feel to be seduced by Sméagol; the kind of item an art teacher might worriedly flag up in a school report as the ‘product of a troubled mind’.
The sculpture makes the hilariously big-chinned interpretation of Lionel Ritchie from the end of Hello look positively life-like and inviting. And honestly, if you want a song about unspoken longing which isn’t wrecked by emotionally dead vocals, creepy visuals and migraine-inducing drum-beats, you’d be better off re-visiting that video anyway.
The intent of this video’s team seems to have been to imagine Danny Pryp as a smooth seduction artist – a desirable lover, whose passion escapes both physically and creatively. He is supposed to be believable as the heteronormative archetype: ‘the man other men want to be, and women want to be with’. But it is hard to imagine a more dick-shrivellingly unsexy way they could have set about that mission. This is a project which manages to embarrass itself at every opportunity, displaying almost impressive levels of ineptitude along the way.