North Sea Texas is the feature film debut from cult director Bavo Defurne. His short films are love letters to the male form and soaked with lush visuals, garnering fans from across the globe and drawing comparisons to Pierre et Gilles, Herbert List, Dreyer and Eisenstein. Pim lives in a small town on the Belgian coat, together with his single mother Yvette, a local accordion starlet. It’s an ordinary existence which Pim brightens up by dreaming of princesses, beauty queens and handsome Gino, the boy next door. But when hunky traveller Zoltan blows through town, Pim’s life takes an exciting and unexpected turn.
2011 – Certificate: 15 – Belgium
Rating Details: Infrequent strong sex
7 out of 10
On Thursday I went to see China Drum play at the Garage in Islington, London; its first gig for 13 years. Since The Undertones reformed in 1999, it’s been the band I’ve wanted to see get back together more than any other. Playing as a 5-piece, I can’t even begin to express the kick-ass awesomeness of this gig. The place looked packed out and despite a somewhat alarming number of 30-something couples, the mosh-pit was great. The band played most of “Goosefair”, plus a few other tracks. I was really glad they played “60 Seconds” from the second album. China Drum is the band that singlehandedly got me back into going to gigs after about ten years of not really having been to any. Without China Drum, my life would be an empty void, without meaning, without value, without soul. (Well maybe not totally, but I’m sure you can see what I’m getting at here.) It’s also a band that means a lot to me on a personal level and reminds me very specifically of a certain time in my life. When the guitar chimed at the start of “Simple” (possibly the best revenge song ever written), 13 years of crappyness in my life was distilled into two and a half minutes of pure, sonic anger. “And if you ever get a life, I hope that it’s in hell, I wish that I could kill you, I’d slit your ugly throat, I’d wrap you up in concrete and throw you from a boat.” Well… sometimes you need to offload a bit of life’s baggage. They ended the set with the best cover version by any band ever, Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights”. I hope they don’t make this a one-off.
This film is about a right miserable little so and so. Then again, I suppose having a less than attentive (accordion playing) mother and living in a boring little town on the coast of Belgium, (which as everyone knows is boring at the best of times anyway) and being called Pim, is probably enough to make any young teenager miserable. This film follows Pim’s life for about seven years, as he falls for the handsome, older boy next door, Gino, who then basically dumps him for a girlfriend. He also gets nowhere with the hunky border Zoltan, who then proceeds to run off with his mother, leaving Pim on his own. Moving in with Gino’s family, the latter’s mother then dies. Rarely smiling, seemingly having no job, no friends and no prospects, Pim spends his time moping about doing nothing much at all, spreading an air of negative vibes wherever he goes; what Gino’s sister saw in him I’ll never know, but it was clearly more than he saw in her. There’s being “sensitive” and then there’s being “sullen”. Then there’s the whole, are they or are they not half-brothers, bit going on too. This film does its best to drag the viewer down to Pim’s level, with its unending vistas of meaningless days and general hopelessness. (It’s a shame Pim didn’t get to hear China Drum.) Despite its gay theme, this is more accurately a film about loneliness and rejection. It’s a metaphor for life, a few good parts adrift in a sea of disappointment. I guess that’s why I bought it. It’s the sort of thing Thomas Hardy would have written, if he’d penned gay-themed screenplays, set in the latter half of the 20th Century in Belgium. This is a movie which does an excellent job of capturing the futility of life; it’s well acted, the characters nicely rendered, it looks the part and it’s eminently watchable.
The music used in the film is mostly heard in the background, in pubs and on the radio, that sort of thing. The theme song, “Wooly Clouds”, works well as a quirky little song that fits the overall feel of the film. I really rather liked it actually. (And it really is spelt “Wooly”; it must be a Flemish thing.)
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Recommended for The Borg; in this case, resistance really is futile.
Top badass moment? Pim burning his shoe-box of ‘mementoes’ on the beach, before running off into the sea naked. I prefer to work out my frustrations with life in the mosh-pit, but hey, each to their own. Burning things is a classic way to make a break with the past; irreversible, final and violent. It’s always good to make a fresh start, just so you can bugger things up again from scratch.