Kevin Kopacka’s TLMEA is an elusive, jarring, but enthralling journey for the curious colour-loving viewer. Only Kopacka’s second short film, TLMEA acts as a prequel to last year’s Hades, a similarly expressive multi-coloured nightmare, which follows a woman’s dreamy interpretation of her romantic relationship. TLMEA is Kopacka’s crack at an art house thriller/melodrama through his own giallo-inspired lens, and to give him his dues, it has a very different, perhaps more ambitious element to Hades.
Co-written by H.K. DeWitt, TLMEA is a far straighter experience than Hades, operating like a police thriller in a dreamscape. Like Hades there’s a lot we still don’t quite understand by the credits, but progress has been made to shift us closer to an understanding of the Hellbound world around Kopacka’’s debut nightmarish trip. People looking for some kind of epiphany, or even a well-fleshed character, will be disappointed, but if you can reserve your demands forlogic, Kopacka’s work is ultimately rewarding in its tenacity. Essentially, TLMEA is an art-house nightmare; its narrative feels like a reworking of Dante’s Divine Comedy, whilst its strong visual style is indebted to the Italian giallo films of the 70’s. Folks who enjoyed Can Evrenol’s Baskin for all its colourful haunting dream logic, would do well to check out both parts of this project (you can watch Hades here).
Kopacka knows he struck cinematic gold with the team on Hades so makes few changes to the production team for the prequel. Lukas Dolgner returns as Director of Photography giving Kopacka’s fever dream some of the most ambitious and visually seductive colour palettes you’re likely to find in a short film. Each frame is distinctly constructed to render what phase of the dream we are in, the camera movements are ethereal and sweeping, focus is played with expertly, and composition is clearly a strong point for both Kopacka (a painter by day) and Dolgner. Similarly, Kopacka has added to the excellent soundtrack work on Hades by expanding the team for the prequel. Aiko Hiko joins, whilst additional music from Sean Black, Manuel Reischl, and Pending Doom keeps the sounds of this half-hour arthouse extravaganza well-tempered and seductive. Where Kopacka himself supplies a suitably dreamy rendition of The Ronettes’ ‘Be My Baby’ in Hades, he again lends his oaky vocals for a cover of Fred Paris’ In the Still of the Night. The classic pop appearances bring a nice comparison with Lynch and even Guy Maddin when you consider the strong distinct visuals.
For all its potentially off-putting abstraction, TLMEA is a surprisingly easy watch thanks to its bold charismatic visuals. Kopacka can obviously construct something pretty, but even with a prequel, his day-glo Divine Comedy doesn’t quite make sense yet. Another segment would no-doubt add to the universe he’s building, but would it grant us answers, and- more importantly, do we need them?
A stunning audio-visual display from a new talent, TLMEA is a strong follow up to Hades that proves Kopacka can handle the longer running time without losing an audience. At this rate, if he fleshes out his characters, there’s room for a feature film in Kopacka’s world.
Dir. Kevin Kopacka
Stars: Anna Heidegger, Cris Kotzen, H.K. DeWitt, Ufuk Bayraktar