Jonathan Davies’ TOPOLOGY OF SIRENS

I wrote a capsule review of Jonathan Davies’ TOPOLOGY OF SIRENS for http://www.cinefile.info ahead of its U.S. Premiere tomorrow night at the Chicago Underground Film Festival. I will be conducting a post-screening Q&A with Davies at the Logan Theater.

Jonathan Davies’ TOPOLOGY OF SIRENS
Logan Theater – Saturday, 6:45pm; also available to rent virtually
here
TOPOLOGY OF SIRENS is a tantalizing mystery film in the vein of early Jacques Rivette that imagines contemporary Los Angeles as a kind of giant game-board. Much like how PARIS BELONGS TO US features the search for a missing tape of “revolutionary guitar music” as a narrative jumping-off point, so too does Jonathan Davies’ first movie use the discovery of mysterious micro-casette tapes inside of an antique hurdy gurdy as a catalyst for an existential detective story. I love the way TOPOLOGY OF SIRENS imbues physical objects—and the physical media that is rapidly disappearing from the world in the 21st century in particular—with a totemic significance that makes it feel incredibly modern. A lot of critics are going to liken this to the work of other filmmakers (a couple of mesmerizing scenes on a baseball field recall the ending of Antonioni’s BLOW-UP in particular) but the best point of comparison I can make is with Thomas Pynchon’s 2013 novel Bleeding Edge, which has a similarly haunting quality in how it “makes strange” the recent past by treating it as if it were ancient history. Featuring elegant cinematography that thankfully eschews the gritty, handheld aesthetic so prevalent in modern independent American cinema, and a minimalist drone score that blurs the line between music and atmospheric sound effects, this is an astonishingly confident debut feature. Director Jonathan Davies in person. (2021, 106 min, DCP Digital) [Michael Glover Smith]

About michaelgloversmith

Filmmaker, author and Film Studies instructor. View all posts by michaelgloversmith

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