On Film, Houston Tx

Predictions of Fire (Kinetikon)

Best when it’s blaring forth historical truths alongside philosophical explanations of deconstruction at such breakneck speed as to make it practically incomprehensible, Predictions of Fire outlines the 20th-century history of Slovenia, from the Hapsburg Empire to present, with documentary interest on the NSK, a without-borders-art-movement with a political agenda of its own.

Since much of the film focuses on the rock group Laibach, with appropriate heavy use of their uniform industrial beat, the docu is a must for fans of the group. Laibach’s dense sound, with mysterious, deep vocals and dark themes, may be confused with Gothic, but viewing of Predictions of Fire shows the band to be practitioners of their own genre — a jarring sound developed out of political repression. Indeed the history lessons, interspersed with portrayal of NSK’s various artistic arms (Laibach, art collectives), supported by newsreel-style clips, are industrial in structure, in pure reaction to the communist and fascist upbringing of the former Yugoslavia.

Laibach, with their German Shepherds and mock-Hitler speeches, come across like America’s Church of Bob. O.K., we get the joke; yet, when do they find time not to take themselves so seriously? In Laibach’s case, probably never. Just goes to show what being fucked over by Nazis, Tito, Soviets, and civil war, can do to a territory. A prologue [sic] leads us to believe the NSK-passport are being recognized for travel abroad. My question: If you fly to London and the airport is closed due to a terrorist threat, can you rent a car with a valid Texas driver’s license?

The combo of art and politics and modern music gives the video look of Predictions of Fire a sheen like a hybrid of the History Channel and MTV. Of course, Kurt Loder could never pronounce all the names, and the History Channel has too many docus on airplane battles in the Pacific to go polemic on our ass.

It won’t be long before Hollywood discovers Bosnia, what with Harrison Ford and director Phil Alden Robinson planning a film about an American reporter in that war torn region. That’s a couple of years down the road, though. For now, there’s the view, preached to the choir, as seen by former journalist turned filmmaker Michael Benson, in Predictions of Fire. Playing this weekend at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.


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