Apr 18, 2014
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 10:17 PM
Apr 17, 2014
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 11:07 PM
Apr 16, 2014
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 9:59 PM
Apr 15, 2014
I have almost always had somewhat mixed feelings about Jewish-Chilean-French auteur Alejandro Jodorowsky (Fando by Lis, The Holy Mountain) and certainly get a feeling of decided disgust when I encounter his more devout disciples, yet I respect him, if for nothing else, as a filmmaker with a distinct and uncompromising vision. Indeed, as a man who wore a special pair of underwear (apparently, black silk underpants with holes exposing his testicles and penis head, as well as a green circle over the area covering the anus) so he would not mimic the contrived cowboy cockiness of John Wayne, picked out a short yet thick rock in the shape of a chode for the set that resembled his own penis, made filmic love to a Mexican dwarf and apparently actually really raped his female costar for ostensible ‘realism’ during a rape scene, forced his real-life prepubescent son to star in the film completely naked in a role also as his onscreen son, and utilized countless dead, and oftentimes mutilated, animal corpses (as the director admitted himself, he killed 300 bunny rabbits with 'karate blows' to the neck), as well as Mexican cripples, dwarves, and other human freaks, for his magnum opus El Topo (1970) aka The Mole aka The Gopher, Alejandro Jodorowsky was not merely playing around, as the director once had the gall to make the exceedingly egomaniacal claim: “If you are great, 'El Topo' is a great picture. If you are limited, 'El Topo' is limited.” Judging by Jodorowsky’s remark, I suspect the average American filmgoer is rather limited, as they would probably find the film to be grotesque garbage of the perversely pretentious sort, if not a total insult to their faith and nation. Personally, after recently re-watching the film for the fourth time, I must admit that I think El Topo is nothing short of a morbid masterwork that manages to create a marvelously misbegotten marriage between the amorality and beauteous bodily dismemberment of the Grand Guignol, the allegorical iconoclastic surrealism of Luis Buñuel, the nihilistic western ultra-violence of Sam Peckinpah, the human freakiness of Tod Browning’s Freaks (1932), the atmospheric celluloid spirituality of Sergei Parajanov, and the obsessive attention to detail of Stanley Kubrick, albeit in a Mestizo dimestore form. Directed by a true ‘wandering Jew’ who was born in Chile in 1929 to Ukrainian Jewish parents (Jodorowsky claims he was the product of his father raping his mother) in Chile who moved to Paris, France in the early 1950s and ultimately co-founded (with fellow surrealist western director Fernando Arrabal and Roland Topor) the Dadaist-inspired anarchistic avant-garde Panic Movement before moving to Mexico to direct his first feature Fando y Lis (1968), El Topo is undoubtedly a ‘messianic’ cinematic work where auteur Jodorowsky plays an (anti)Christ-like figure who learns from and then kills four different spiritual/philosophical gurus (whose dogmas range from Eastern philosophy to Catholic mysticism to Nietzscheanism), only to be resurrected and act as the revolutionary saint of a group of Mexican cripples, freaks, and dwarves. Quite arguably a work of absurdist Jewish messianism (Hassidic belief states that in every generation a potential Messiah exists, with Jodorowsky being the messiah of his own film), El Topo changed the way people looked at movies as a hit on the Midnight Movie circuit that mystified the counter-culture generation with its insanely idiosyncratic blend of celluloid outlaw esotericism and aesthetic and thematic acid anarchism. Unavailable for over 30 years after Jodorowsky had a falling out with copyright owner/producer Allen Klein (who had El Topo and the director’s subsequent work The Holy Mountain (1973) banned after he refused to adapt Pauline Réage's classic S&M novel Story of O 1954)), El Topo is in many ways thee ultimate ‘cult film,’ as the sort of arcane cinematic work that people could literally worship in our decidedly degenerate postmodern age.
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 9:10 PM
Apr 14, 2014
As The Last Movie progresses, Kansas temporarily ignores the violent native film crew and has fun doing stuff like having sex under a waterfall with his Mestizo girlfriend in plan view, which is seen by the Priest and his altar boys. Kansas also hooks up with his eccentric schemer friend Neville Robey (Don Gordon), who is looking to find $5,000 so he can fund a gold-mining operation. While hanging out a restaurant, Kansas and Neville hook up with two rich American chicks, Mrs. Anderson (Julie Adams) and her daughter Miss Anderson (Donna Baccala), who only looks a couple years younger than her high-class tramp mother. Immediately after, Kansas and Neville attend a party hosted by Mrs. Anderson’s hubby Harry Anderson (Roy Engel) with about a dozen other people. After Neville fails to scam $5000 out of no bullshit businessman Harry, the party host agrees to pay for an all-expenses paid trip to a whorehouse, but Kansas’ girlfriend Marie does not want to go there as she worked there and does not want all her new rich white friends to know she is a sub-proletarian pussy-peddler. Ultimately, Harry pays two Peruvian whores to get it on lesbo style, but the exotic primitive lily-licking fun is cut short when Kansas gets in a fight with Marie’s ex-pimp with a shotgun. Rather irked by the ordeal, Kansas beats up his beloved Peruvian Indian princess. The next day, Marie does not complain about the fact that she has a black eye as a result of her beau's brutality, but instead nags Kansas about her deep-seated desire to own Mrs. Anderson’s fancy fur-coat, because, as she tells her bohemian boy toy, “Just because we don’t have electricity and running water, it don’t mean we don’t like to have nice things, Gringo.” Ultimately, Kansas gets Marie the fur coat, but he is forced to become Mrs. Anderson’s whore as payment and performs cunnilingus on the old broad's lady-fur. Due to prostituting himself to Mrs. Anderson, Kansas also manages to get the $5000 to fund Neville’s treasure hunt, but the expedition, which is not actually depicted in The Last Movie, is totally unsuccessful because, although they find gold, it is not enough to make a mining operation profitable for prospective investors. Not long after, Kansas is attacked and captured by the Peruvian ‘filmmakers’, who imprison him in an old school western jail cell, which previously served as a set-piece for the Hollywood western that was shot there. As the ‘witch doctor/director’ of the non-film tells to his fellow Peruvians while parading the American cowboy around the village, Kansas is, “The best part of the last movie. The dead man!” Indeed, from there, the rest of The Last Movie largely comprises of Kansas attempting to dodge bullets and being brutalized from the crazed coca-chewers. Of course, Kansas’ girlfriend Marie also ditches him and joins the murderous festivities with her savage racial kinsmen. In a pothead flashback scene that recalls Easy Rider, Kansas and his pal Neville discuss the gold-mining operation by a bonfire and the latter mentions how he learned everything he needed to know about gold mining by watching The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948). Needless to say, in a film where a drugged-out counter-culture cowboy degenerate becomes the prime prey of hundreds of innately irrational brown men and women, The Last Movie does not conclude very happily, but as Hopper once stated in an interview, “it doesn’t matter if Kansas dies or not, it’s the film that dies.”
An aesthetically wayward and thematically nihilistic work that was produced and released by a clueless studio run by kosher capitalists who knew nothing about the art of cinema for an undeserving American audience, The Last Movie is a work that anticipates everything from Werner Herzog’s Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972) to Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust (1980) and totally obliterates the silly humanist myth of the ‘noble savage,’ thus making it mandatory viewing for any viewer who thought Dennis Hopper was in spiritual solidarity with the hippies when he made Easy Rider, even if he was a half-crazed counter-culture icon himself. Apparently, it was on the advice of Jewish-Chilean-French auteur Alejandro Jodorowsky that Hopper decided to scrap a more ‘conventional’ edit of The Last Movie than the one that exists today. In fact, as Jodorowsky revealed in a 2008 interview with Bright Lights Film Journal regarding his involvement with the film: “…Dennis Hopper was at one of these private shows, and he liked EL TOPO a lot. And so he invited me to come to Taos. And in Taos, he had four or six editing machines and twelve editors working. At that time, he didn't know what to with THE LAST MOVIE. And I saw the material, I thought it was a fantastic story. And I said, "I can help." I was there for two days, and in two days I edited the picture. I think I made it very good. I liked it. But when he went to show it to Hollywood, they didn't want it, because by then he was in conflict with them. Later, I think that Dennis Hopper decided that he couldn't use my edit, because he needed to do it himself. And so he destroyed what I did, and I don't know what he did with it later […] I took out everything that was too much like a love story or too much Marxist politics. For me it was one of the greatest pictures I have ever seen. It was so beautiful, so different.” Despite Hopper’s cut of the film scaring the hell out of Universal Pictures, especially president Lew Wasserman, The Last Movie premiered at the Venice Film Festival where it managed to win the grand prize for best film, but that is probably because Europeans are typically more cinema literate than Americans.
A rare piece of experimental Hollywood meta-cinema where a western-within-an-arthouse-film that delightfully degenerates into a celluloid-ritual-within-a-film, The Last Movie simultaneously manages to demystify the western genre and American dream while also demonstrating the hopelessness of the peoples of the decadent and deracinated materialist west living peacefully with the innately spiritual and rooted global south (be it Peru or otherwise). Indeed, although a work that is a little bit rough around the edges and is far from immaculate, The Last Movie is something of a lost flawed masterpiece that has more aesthetic and thematic intricacy in its last 30 minutes or so than Easy Rider has in its entirety. Admittedly, I almost wanted to vomit while hearing Kris Kristofferson (in what was his debut film role) singing the lyrics, “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose” from his hit song ‘Me and Bobby McGee’ and the inclusion of John Buck Wilkin’s song ‘Only When It Rains’ at the end of the film, which proved to be no less than an aesthetically repugnant experience, but that is the price one must pay for coked out Hopper celluloid majesty. Hopper would later play a similar, albeit more degenerate role in the Spanish quasi-giallo Bloodbath (1979) aka Las flores del vicio aka The Sky Is Falling directed by Italian-Canadian auteur Silvio Narizzano. Made at the height of the actor/auteur's cocaine-addled derangement while in exile, Bloodbath stars Hooper as a junky burnout hippie of the Burroughs-parroting over-the-hill sort named 'Gringo' (not coincidentally, the name that all the natives, including his girlfriend, in The Last Movie call him). Indeed, both The Last Movie and Bloodbath act as sort of celluloid exorcisms of the counter-culture zeitgeist and that is certainly something I can appreciate.
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 8:59 PM
Apr 13, 2014
If some exceedingly effete cosmopolitan leftist art fag attempted to remake Ridley Scott’s culturally pessimistic science fiction masterpiece Blade Runner (1982) as an avant-garde Brechtian chamber piece with video art elements and set it Amman, Jordan during the Jordanian Civil War instead of dystopian Los Angeles, it might resemble the asinine celluloid abortion that is British (anti)sci-fi flick Friendship's Death (1987) penned and directed by English film theorist Peter Wollen (Penthesilea, Crystal Gaze) and starring arthouse diva Tilda Swinton (The Last of England, Only Lovers Left Alive) and Bill Paterson (The Killing Fields, The Witches). Indeed, a film theorist trained in French twaddle like structuralism and critical theory who co-wrote/co-directed a number of films with his postmodern feminist film theorist wife Laura Mulvey—a rather frigid looking chick who utilizes outmoded neo-Freudian hocus pocus to complain about ‘phallocentrism’ and ‘patriarchy’ being supposedly secretly hidden in cinema—Wollen (who is the co-publisher of various journals, including one with the curious name 'New Left Review') certainly seems to have a pathologically passive ‘female touch,’ or so one learns whilst watching the intolerably idealistic slave-morality-laden pomo sci-fi piece Friendship’s Death. The quasi-philosophical tale of an alien robot in archetypically white British female form (quite arguably Tilda Swinton at her physically finest) that somehow develops a quasi-marxist ‘revolutionary’ Weltanschauung and joins the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) after getting mixed up in the events of ‘Black September,’ Friendship’s Death is so ridden with phony bleeding heart idealism of the pedantic armchair revolutionary sort that the eponymous extraterrestrial machine protagonist actually makes the absurd 'post-human' complaint, “I can’t accept subhuman status simply because I’m a machine.” Indeed, if you are hoping to see bold and beauteous blond beast biorobotic androids like the replicants in Blade Runner in Wollen’s noble-savage-saluting arthouse agitprop piece Friendship’s Death, you’re going to be in for a major disappointment as the film mostly wallows in philosophizing about how innately evil humans are, especially of the Occidental sort, as well as the misery of being a person without identity and without home, so as to make the viewer's heart bleed for Palestinians and whatnot. For whatever reason, my girlfriend and I assumed that Friendship’s Death would be similar to an Ulrike Ottinger film, so we were exceedingly disappointed. While my beloved could only handle 10 minutes or so of seeing Tilda Swinton sporting an Arab chādor, spewing insipid intellectual masturbation, and failing to seem like anything resembling an alien robot, I braved through the entirety of Friendship’s Death and must admit that 70-minute work felt much longer than watching Fassbinder’s epic Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980) in its entirety. Indeed, if you ever wondered why Swinton finally decided to move out of the arthouse world, Friendship’s Death provides more than enough reasons.
The setting is Amman, Jordan during the ‘Black September’ civil war of 1970 and stereotypical white liberal British journalist Sullivan (Bill Paterson) is sympathetic to the cause of the PLO. Naturally, the Jordanians are hoping to rid the PLO from its city-centers. Sullivan is asked by members of the PLO to help identify a seemingly Anglo-Saxon woman named ‘Friendship’ (Tilda Swinton), who has no papers nor passport and has been captured by the Palestinian ‘freedom-fighters.’ For whatever reason (maybe he thinks he has a chance at bedding her?), Sullivan pretends to know Friendship and brings her to a fancy hotel, where most of Friendship’s Death takes place. Friendship proclaims to be a space robot from the planet of Procryon who was heading to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) but experienced a major malfunction during ‘atmospheric entry’ and somehow landed in Amman where within a matter of hours she managed to get lost in the middle of a tank attack and inevitably become captured by the PLO. After hearing Friendship’s story, Sullivan makes the cynical remark, “Spectacular performance! A woman in jeopardy, a reckless act of self-destruction; it all adds up to nonsense, doesn’t it?,” but the literally soulless extraterrestrial super robot is not laughing. Of course, after much plying and prying for information, Sullivan eventually begins to believe Friendship’s spectacular tale. Meanwhile, Friendship, who was quite disturbed to see her Palestinian tour guide taken hostage by the Jordanian army, begins to forget her mission to MIT, starts sporting typical Islamic garb, and begins sympathizing with the PLO, even though she is not human, let alone an Arab Muslim. As a 'spacey, if not severely self-righteous, chick from another planet that says a lot of pretentious things like, “I dream of succulence…the flow of carbon and acid metabolism…hunters and gathers…Hijack victims,” Friendship seems like she was the victim of a liberal arts college lobotomy, but Sullivan still manages to learn things about her home plane Procryon. As Friendship explains to Sullivan, “Where I come from all the biological life-forms are extinct. After the nuclear winter, they died. Only the computer survived. Of course, they were already far more advanced than any computers you have here on earth.”
A preposterously sanctimonious and unintentionally silly piece of hipster humanist celluloid hogwash that would only appeal to the science fiction fan who thinks Spock of Star Trek is a leftist hero and appreciate his Judaic Vulcan salute, Friendship’s Death is nothing short of an archetypical bad British arthouse film from the 1980s. As someone who rather enjoyed the quasi-feminist dystopian flick Closet Land (1991) directed by Indian auteur Radha Bharadwaj, I can say my disdain for Friendship’s Death was not simply due to its cliché globalist humanistic ‘we-are-the-world’ message but mainly due to its outmoded postmodern Brechtian and conspicuously contrived directing style, grating theatric tableaux, and almost childlike essence, as if the film was specially made for the children of left-wing MPs living abroad at boarding schools as a sort of cinematic therapy for their homesickness. Undoubtedly, director Peter Wollen is probably best known to cinephiles for his first film credit as the co-writer of Michelangelo Antonioni's The Passenger (1975) aka Professione: Reporter, which also features a deracinated journalist as a protagonist and also deals with themes of rootlessness, loss of identity, and civil war. In fact, Wollen would once state of Friendship's Death that it is a sort of “a sequel” to The Passenger, albeit more “enclosed and claustrophobic,” which certainly sounds like an unappetizing prospect for a film and the British auteur certainly delivered in that regard. While I am not fan of The Passenger, it demonstrates why Antonioni was a master cinematic craftsman and Wollen is a pedantic professor of plodding pretense who approaches directing films the same way a scientist looks through a microscope, with Friendship’s Death being nothing more than a failed experiment of a film theorist's hypothesis for what might make an interesting ‘avant-garde sci-fi’ flick. In a favorable puffery-ridden review of the film written by German film scholar Thomas Elsaesser, who is a comrade of Wollen’s, he revealed that, “In the early 1990s, at a conference in Vancouver about avant-garde, modernist, anti-narrative and neo-narrative filmmaking, Peter Wollen proposed a new category: films without a passport. What at the time was may be a lassitude with labels seems in retrospect to have been a programmatic announcement. Wollen’s first solo film as a director is literally about existence without a passport, and is much more an exploration of the attendant state of mind, than a psychological study of two characters or of the generic complications resulting from a sci-fi plot in a polit-thriller.” Rather unfortunately, with the dissolution of European film industries and the rise of international co-productions, Wollen’s warped liberal wet dream of ‘films without a passport’ has come true, albeit not in the way he probably imagined. Of course, Wollen has not directed a single film since Friendship’s Death, thus demonstrating you cannot get too far artistically without an ‘artistic passport’ (i.e. serious sense of identity, kultur, and nationality). More banal than bizarre, superficial than sincere, whiny than witty, derivative than diacritic, pedantic than provocative, and cold than charismatic, Friendship’s Death has confirmed that I will never dare to watch any of the other experimental films that Wollen co-directed with his wife. Featuring a pansy cuckold xenophile as a male protagonist (a stand-in for Wollen perhaps?) who cannot even manage to seal the sensual deal with the exotic extraterrestrial, as well as a truly intellectually ‘out-of-this-world’ fem-alien robot that tries to make an argument about the ostensible connection between the big toe and the supposed oppression of the fairer sex, Friendship’s Death is guaranteed to be aesthetic torture for cinephiles and sci-fi nerds alike, which is certainly at least one achievement on Wollen’s part. Indeed, if the Israelis want to scare the Palestinians out of the holy land for good they should maybe consider screening Wollen's Friendship's Death all around the so-called Israeli West Bank barrier.
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 10:15 PM