Vintage Films: Central Bazaar

central bazaar

It’s not an original pun, but Central Bazaar by Stephen Dwoskin is really, truly bizarre. We watched it in two parts about a month ago, and even after much discussion and thinking on it, I am still unsure as to quite what I think of it. Many of the online reviews likened it to a Seventies version of Big Brother, where a group of people – locked in the director’s house – are filmed over the course of a couple of weeks. But that is to do it an injustice, and suggests that it may be some kind of cultural snapshot of the period. These people are a disconcerting mix, chosen without a structure in mind (there are no ‘types’ that I can clearly identify) and appear to spend most of the time in a druggy haze, having been instructed to act out private fantasies with their fellow housemates.

The actual soundtrack to the action is stripped away and replaced with a discordant, electronic hum. Which is both uncomfortable and completely soporific (hence the need to watch in two parts, we both drifted off to sleep about halfway through). The shots are lingering, wobbling, moving in and out of focus rather than fast-paced editing.

It really has rather more in common with an improvisation, the performers daubing themselves with make-up and pulling on random garments from [what I assume was] a provided dressing-up box, before enacting ‘scenes’ – usually sexual and psychological. There are threads of potential stories, punctuated with a few moments of relief from the electronic hum where people sing songs or read stories, but since there is no speech and no context, it is difficult to follow. But in itself, this is fascinating. It means the film is as good as your imagination and patience.

In many ways, it is a perfect example of style over substance. It looks incredible. Or at least, it looks incredible if grubby Seventies sex, interiors and dressing-up are your kind of thing. These characters all look the part of interesting, sensual, bohemian people. But whether or not they actually are is completely obscured by the techniques of the director. If you have a yen for something truly unique, but which many have deemed “unwatchable” (a word which usually makes me prick up my ears and click the ‘rent’ button on Lovefilm) then it is certainly worth a watch. Otherwise, these screengrabs capture what is best about the film – the visuals.

vlcsnap-2013-01-08-20h38m48s48 vlcsnap-2013-01-08-20h39m35s6 vlcsnap-2013-01-08-20h40m00s253 vlcsnap-2013-01-08-20h40m29s27 vlcsnap-2013-01-08-20h40m43s173 vlcsnap-2013-01-08-20h40m53s19 vlcsnap-2013-01-08-20h41m03s111 vlcsnap-2013-01-08-20h41m14s227 vlcsnap-2013-01-08-20h41m19s16 vlcsnap-2013-01-08-20h41m23s59 vlcsnap-2013-01-08-20h41m49s63 vlcsnap-2013-01-08-20h42m14s59 vlcsnap-2013-01-08-20h42m48s142 vlcsnap-2013-01-08-20h43m14s140 vlcsnap-2013-01-08-20h43m38s129 vlcsnap-2013-01-08-20h44m06s155 vlcsnap-2013-01-08-20h44m21s43 vlcsnap-2013-01-08-20h44m45s28 vlcsnap-2013-01-08-20h45m34s8 vlcsnap-2013-01-08-20h45m58s245 vlcsnap-2013-01-08-20h46m15s164 vlcsnap-2013-01-08-20h47m17s12 vlcsnap-2013-01-08-20h50m08s189 vlcsnap-2013-01-08-20h50m51s104 vlcsnap-2013-01-08-20h50m58s175 vlcsnap-2013-01-08-20h54m12s66 vlcsnap-2013-01-08-20h55m14s178 vlcsnap-2013-01-08-20h55m29s66 vlcsnap-2013-01-08-20h57m49s187 vlcsnap-2013-01-08-20h59m10s232 vlcsnap-2013-01-08-20h59m57s184 vlcsnap-2013-01-08-21h00m27s230


One Comment on “Vintage Films: Central Bazaar”

  1. Tim says:

    “if grubby Seventies sex, interiors and dressing-up is your kind of thing…” no comment! 😉

    Good visuals!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s