Friday, 8 January 2016


A rigorously controlled experiment, wherein control is the key variable, of infinite variety. Nathan Silver's Stinking Heaven is a search for a movie within itself, a seemingly loose, louche patchwork of ragged scenes, its point and purpose shifting as its character focus does, and not necessarily in the same direction. Alas, said point and purpose may be no more profound than the validation of that search itself - you know, like 'the journey is the destination' - but is this any less profound than most other movies' crass, vapid sense of significance? To the credit of Nathan Silver, his film is both narratively and stylistically satisfying; intellectually, this rough little character study mightn't provide much satisfaction at all, but it's a rare treat for a cinephile to encounter a film exploring something genuinely new, with genuine intentions. And for all its low-budget scuzz, Stinking Heaven is a work of technical integrity - the grainy digital cinematography gives the picture a slightly fermented feel, a sort of sickening tactility to every image of sad, strange, ugly human behaviour. Silver is in full command of his craft, figuring out the essence of each scene not in the usual way (in the script) but in the restless camera movements and the astute, expressive editing. And of equal import to the filmmaker's directorial discoveries are the actors' emotional ones. This is a true ensemble, a collection of characters with such grounding in reality that one never questions it - if one of the most invaluable assets to success a film can possess is the ability to convince you of its own integrity as a feature, Stinking Heaven succeeds very greatly, and perhaps unusually, given its disorganised demeanour. A great burden of this challenge is placed upon the actors, and they respond with unreserved honesty and intelligence.