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The Whalebone Box review – baffling, beguiling trek to a distant shore

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Andrew Kötting’s dream-documentary traces a ritual journey in which a mysterious object is returned to a Scottish island

That unique artist, director and psycho-geographic savant Andrew Kötting sculpts another strange film-shamanic happening – intriguing, sometimes baffling, a bit preposterous, but pregnant with ideas. Tonally, his work is complex; humour is a part of it, and the film can’t really function without humour on the audience’s part, but it also requires a setting aside of mockery and irony, demanding instead to be accepted as a kind of higher playfulness, an inspired and transcendental jeu d’ésprit. In his 2012 film Swandown, Kötting included among his cast of characters a cameo from the comedian Stewart Lee, who was permitted to take the mickey a bit. But I sense that this isn’t a response that the film-maker wants to encourage.

Like much of his previous work, this is a dream-documentary road movie, a journey across a physical and mental landscape – using both video and Super 8, in the enigmatic company, as so often before, of the author Iain Sinclair whose world view is a cousin to Kötting’s. Sinclair’s own film-prose-poem London Orbital from 2002, co-directed with Christopher Petit, and featuring an appearance from JG Ballard, is a point of comparison.

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Read more: theguardian.com

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