Title: Mara Mattuschka / Chris Haring: Burning Down the Palace

Also known as:

Year: 2011

Genre: Experimental / Performance art / Shorts

Language: English

Runtime: 98 min

Director: Mara Mattuschka & Chris Haring

Writer: Mara Mattuschka & Chris Haring


Three films based on projects by Liquid Loft. Each going into the fake factor, with posing and monologues moving the story further.

Our thoughts:
I'll be brutally honest and say I didn't understand this DVD at all. Or at least not while watching it. It consists mostly of strange poses and monologues. Much of it doesn't make much sense. But when I later read that they were based on posing projects / choreography by Liquid Loft (performances by Chris Haring) I understood that maybe there's more than just "getting it". That most of my scribbles while watching the films said things about the "weird movements" made sense now. It's three movies interpratating different performances. The three films are "Part Time Heroes", "Running Sushi" and "Burning Palace". A quick run-through of each film:

"Part Times Heroes" was my favorite of the three because there was something to grasp there. The concept of stardom and fame is presented early on, and some specific quotes that stood out in all of the monologues are "I am everything" and "How do I become timeless?". These two sum it up pretty well. It's about famous people, how they see themselves, what they want to be, how they act around people, and how people around them act towards them. In this one the movements work as a way of showing the fakeness of fame - the posing of photographes, appearances and spotlights.

The second one, "Running Sushi", didn't appeal to me at all. There was absolutely nothing to relate to or to take in. It's supposedly about manga and comics but I just couldn't see it. I had to read that to be sure. Maybe I didn't listen close enough, or maybe it just went over my head. Either way, I couldn't get into it. The movements and monologues are all present here, maybe even more than in the other one. Or at least they are perhaps more important this time around. There's a certain fight scene that reminded me of old fighting video games, but that's about as close as it gets to manga and comics to me.

Finally we have the prettiest one to look at, "Burning Palace". By now I had stopped focusing on "getting it", and tried to enjoy it for what it was to me. But this one had a thinner layer making it easier to get something out of. It's about five performers that do a show at a bar, and then go back to sleep at an hotel, and are woken up in the middle of the night by Pan. They then start to... move, and pose. This one impressed me because it looked great as it was partly shot on 35mm, and the cinematography was handled better than in the other two.

The problem for me with the three films are that I went into them now getting that they were based on performances. I don't know if knowing that would've made me enjoy them more, but perhaps I would've put my head to rest a bit while watching it if I knew. When all is said and done, though, they are three absolutely mental short films. They're goofy and far out there in their sound work and editing. The choreography is actually pretty damn impressive. Stephanie Cumming was my main interest in this, she was simply great. Cute too!

The flaws here are that I couldn't really get into what they were doing. If they had been just dances then maybe it would be easier to swallow, but these are 30 minute long films with mostly monologues about things that are never fully explained. It was just too much after a while.

They're not bad movies, but they're not for me. They are quite impressive but at the end of the day I wasn't entertained for the full runtime. I wanted to reach for the fast-forward button on a couple of occasions. As visual stimulus it might reach its goal because the choreography is spot on with what they were trying to do. But as films on DVD that you sit and watch at home, it was a miss for me. Maybe in a theater it would've worked as a whole, I don't know. I wouldn't mind watching more of their work if they have something that is different to this.

Positive things:
- Stephanie Cumming was great!
- Small, small doses of excellence scattered through-out the three films.
- Completely mental!
Negative things:
- I couldn't get into it, it bored me after a while.
- I simply didn't understand most of it.

Gore: 0/5
Nudity: 3/5
Story: 1.5/5
Effects: 0.5/5
Comedy: 1.5/5

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