Oct 25, 2014

The Moor's Head

I am quite proud to say that, although I like some of his films like Funny Games (1997) and The White Ribbon (2007), I am certainly no Michael Haneke fanboy, which is largely due to the fact that I cannot stand the man, who resembles a sort of sneering Judaic left-wing intellectual in spite of his apparent Teutonic blue blood. Indeed, whenever I see a Haneke film, I can practically imagine him jerking off to himself while sitting in front of a mirror in his ivory tower like some nihilistic narcissus while fantasizing about the audience members he aesthetically assaulted with his obscenely self-conscious and largely self-congratulatory works. This of course is no fantasy of my own, but demonstrated by Haneke's own remarks and actions, like how he once bragged that audience members were horrified by a scene from his debut feature The Seventh Continent (1989) aka Der siebente Kontinent where the doomed family flushes all of their money down the toilet. While the director speaks of the “emotional glaciation” of the post-WWII Occident and whatnot, it seems like he is merely projecting his personality and view of the world. Naturally, when I discovered that someone else adapted a screenplay penned by Haneke, I could not help but wonder if such a work would lack the director’s proverbial wagging finger. Indeed, Der Kopf des Mohren (1995) aka The Moor’s Head is Haneke as interpreted by fellow Austrian, actor/auteur Paulus Manker who, as far as I am concerned, has directed nothing but unsung masterpieces, including the post-industrial nightmare Schmutz (1987) aka Dirt, as well as the truly unclassifiable Weininger's Last Night (1990) aka Weiningers Nacht, which he also starred in. Based on the tragic life and genius philosophy of so-called self-loathing Jew Otto Weininger—a troubled young genius who committed suicide (interestingly, in the same house were Beethoven died) shortly after releasing his magnum opus Geschlecht und Charakter (1903) aka Sex and Character, which argued that all people are ‘bisexual’ (aka a mixture of male and the female character traits) to varying degrees and that the archetypal Jew is innately feminine and thus lacks a moral compass and true sense of individuality (soul)—Weininger’s Last Night is one of the true contemporary masterpieces of Austrian cinema and a work that Manker, who is half-Jewish (his father was the Viennese Jewish theatre and TV director Gustav Manker), put himself into completely (on top of playing Weininger in the stage adaptation of Joshua Sobol’s original play, Manker also played the suicidal Semite philosopher in Ildikó Enyedi’s My 20th Century (1989) aka Az én XX. Századom). Unquestionably, The Moor’s Head seems more like a work that Manker did to help out his buddy Haneke (who apparently wanted to direct it himself but for whatever reason couldn’t) than a deep personal project, yet it is a ‘lost classic’ of sorts that would most certainly develop a cult following in the United States if it had better exposure. A work of suburban metaphysical horror in the spirit of Haneke’s own The Seventh Continent meets Todd Hayne’s Safe (1995) and Jeff Nichols' Take Shelter (2011), The Moor’s Head begins as a seemingly banal bourgeois drama and delightfully degenerates into a fiercely foreboding horror show about a successful family man who, upon hearing about a toxic gas leak accident at a nearby factory, becomes deleteriously psychologically perturbed and ultimately a threat to his family as he begins preparing for an imaginary apocalypse of sorts.

 Afrocentrics will be delighted to know that the eponymous Moorhead of Manker’s film is a reference to a gigantic painting of a big-lipped and spook-eyed negress, which is located at a ruined lot where the protagonist, Georg Hartmann (played by Viennese actor Gert Voss, who just died a couple months back), is having a nice home built for his loving family. Georg is a seemingly happy-go-lucky physicist that lives in an Austrian suburb and works hard at a lab testing and has a wife, Anna (German New Cinema star Angela Winkler, of countless classics like The Tin Drum (1979), as well as Haneke’s 1992 flick Benny’s Video), as well as three kids, including a teenage daughter and prepubescent boy and girl. Everything seems to be running smoothly in Georg’s life until he hears a radio broadcast at work that a “terrible accident” has occurred at a nearby plant in Wiesing involving a gas explosion. While his coworkers couldn't careless that some poor fellow was exposed to hazardous gasses, Georg becomes quite unnerved by the news and almost immediately hallucinates seeing the assumed corpse of the man that perished in the accident. While taking a bath with a rubber duck, Georg also hallucinates seeing blood dropping from his wife’s arms. Anna does not become aware of Georg’s mental illness until he sells their lot with the Moorhead to buy a ruined country home that he plans to revamp into an ostensible ‘paradise.’ When Anna questions Georg’s sanity after he shows her the country home and recommends that he see a psychiatrist, he smacks her so hard that she falls to the floor and suffers a bloody nose. Afterward, Georg explains that he wanted to move to the country to get away from the “chaos” of the city and then goes on to describe the emigration and suicide rates in Austria. While Georg manages to make up with Anna during their rendezvous in the countryside and he even agrees to attempt to buy back the Moorhead house, the scientist’s sanity has only begun to wane all the more. 

 When Georg opts to stay home while his family goes for vacation in Italy, he takes the opportunity to turn the fancy family apartment into a sort of post-apocalyptic sanctuary equipped for an indoor garden, a virtual jungle with living birds, bunny rabbits, and baby chickens. While turning his flat into an ostensibly indomitable fortress, George actively feeds his paranoia and insanity by listening to the news and becomes especially intrigued by a broadcast about a crazed Chechnyan who committed self-immolation in Moscow. Meanwhile, wife Anna attempts to contact Georg, even sending him a telegram urging him to call her back, but he ignores it. Georg also begins recording his phone calls and whatnot as keepsakes. On the handful of occasions that Georg opts to venture out in public, he takes a hint from the Japanese and sports a protective mask over his face, so as not to acquire whatever imaginary virus might be out there. When an elderly busybody makes the mistake of routinely spying on what Georg is doing, he stabs her in the eye via a keyhole. Whatever became of the nosey old fart is anyone’s guess, but she surely got what was coming to her. 

 Naturally, when Anna and the children arrive back from their trip to Italy, they are quite taken aback by what old Georg boy has done to the apartment. While Georg’s preadolescent son Jakob (Manuel Löffler) is amazed by the garden apartment, his wife Anna is not nearly as happy and tells her husband that she feels like she is trapped in a “nightmare.” As someone who believes his wife only cares about irreverent things, Georg believes that it is she and not he who is the one that is acting delusional. When Jakob hurts his foot and Anna attempts to take him and the rest of the children away, Georg stops by brutally beating her in front of the kids. When Anna becomes so disturbed by the realization that she and her children have become imprisoned by her husband, she becomes hyper hysterical and vomits. That night, Georg hears Anna running through the apartment, so to stop her he bashes her over the head and instantly killers her. Determined to finish the job, Georg also violently kills all the livestock and slaughters his two young children with a kitchen knife and attempts to frame his wife for the killings by planting said kitchen knife in her cold dead hand. Of course, seeing as he is a schizophrenic of sorts, Georg only imagined the killings and is soon taken away to the loony bin after his wife calls the authorizes, but not before he slices his own face up. In the end, the film closes with a quote by Enlightenment era German philosopher/poet Gotthold Ephraim Lessing. 

 As depicted in the documentary Celluloid Horror (2004), Canadian cineaste and journalist Kier-La Janisse (author of the 2012 FAB Press release House of Psychotic Women) has done her part in promoting The Moor’s Head by having it screened at her film festival CineMuerte aka ‘Cinema of Death’—Canada’s first and only internal film festival—alongside works by Jörg Buttgereit, Jean Rollin, and Buddy Giovinazzo, among various others. Aside from that, it seems that Manker’s film is destined to incinerate in the dustbin of history like so many other great German-language films. While I do not want to sound like some proud uncultivated philistine, I have to admit that that I believe that what separates The Moor’s Head from Haneke’s oeuvre, is a certain sense of humanity that the Funny Games director seems to lack, as if he is above (and/or is too ill-equipped at) demonstrating empathy for his characters and audience. In other words, one does not get the impression while watching The Moor’s Head that Manker thinks he is better than his characters and that he does not suffer from the narcissistic delusion that his shit does not smell. While nearly two decades old, the film has only become all the more horrifying and pertinent, especially considering the rise of survivalist and ‘prepper’ types who think that the apocalypse is just around the corner. Indeed, considering the current state of the West, especially the United States, we can probably expect to see a number of Georg Hartmanns cropping up. The greatest Austrian ‘arthouse horror’ flick since Gerald Kargl’s Angst (1983) aka Schizophrenia, The Moor’s Head is a great reminder of the true artistic potential of the horror genre as opposed to mind-numbingly retarded ‘supernatural horror,’ the totally tedious ‘torture porn’ of psychopathic Zionist frat boy Eli Roth, and related celluloid swill that Hollywood incessantly defecates out to remind the world that America has no culture. While probably not an intention of the director, The Moor’s Head also depicts a culturally and spiritually repressed technocratic zeitgeist where rapid Americanization and a lack of a spiritual ‘Heimat’ drive people crazy, hence why the lead character has an undying atavistic urge to live a simple life without cars and cities and attempts to move his family to the country (and when that fails, he brings the country to his apartment!). Of course, as Haneke demonstrated with his film The White Ribbon, the country is an evil place that spawns violent proto-Nazi children. 

-Ty E

Oct 24, 2014

Mysterious Skin

Judging by his gloriously morally retarded black comedies like The Doom Generation (1995), Nowhere (1997), and more recently, Kaboom (2010), Jap-American New Queer Cinema auteur Gregg Araki seems like he would be one of the most ill-equipped filmmakers for making a serious and responsible film about childhood traumas and the long-term effects of being molested as a pre-adolescent boy, yet he somehow made one of the best, most daring, and shockingly honest films on the subject, as if he himself was a victim of such abuse. Of course, as Araki’s film, Mysterious Skin (2004)—a vaguely worked based on gay New England-based novelist Scott Heim's 1996 novel of the same name—audaciously reveals, many homosexuals were molested by older men as children, thus indicating that there is indeed a certain unofficial ‘recruiting’ subculture of queerdom and that NAMBLA might not be a lunatic fringe of the fag world after all. Somewhat paradoxically, despite being quite unnerving as a work that features child molestation and a violent rape scene, the film also manages to be an aesthetically pleasing experience, which largely has to do with its ambient score, including songs by Slowdive (the film opens with their cover of the Syd Barrett song “Golden Hair”), Cocteau Twins, Sigur Rós, as well as various ethereal dream-sequences and ‘fantasy’ scenes. Like a coming-of-age story in reverse, Mysterious Skin tells the tale of two very different young men—an introverted and seemingly autistic asexual nerd and an exceedingly extroverted homo hustler—who are eternally united due to the fact that they were both molested a decade previously at the age of 8 by their peewee league baseball coach, with one of the boys even actively taking part in the molesting of the other. While the nerdy boy developed dissociative amnesia as a means to cope with being molested and now believes he was abducted by aliens during those hours from the past that he cannot remember, the young prick-peddler remembers the events vividly and rather sickly sees them as a sort of sexual awakening as opposed to child abuse. Featuring a truly horrifying Halloween scene where a young boy molests another boy with the misguided belief that he will not tattle, as well as references to zombie flicks like George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968) and J.R. Bookwalter’s The Dead Next Door (1989) and ultra-kitschy scenes of UFOs and alien abductions, I thought re-watching Araki’s film would be a more unconventional way to get in the spirit of All Hallows' Eve. Indeed, if you’re looking for a film that might give you nightmares and are tired of devouring brainless celluloid zombie shit, Mysterious Skin makes for a most preternaturally disturbing experience like no other, as a work that takes an unsentimental look at the tragic long-term effects of losing one's innocence while still just a vulnerable wee lad. 

 During the summer of 1981 when they were both just 8 years old, Kansas country boys Neil McCormick (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Brian Lackey (Brady Corbet) were molested by their little league baseball Coach (Bill Sage), who is a considerably masculine man that looks like he walked off the set of one of sadomasochistic sodomite Fred Halsted’s films (somewhat notably, like the director of LA Plays Itself, the coach also has a rather repellant fist fetish, albeit of the boy-oriented sort). Both boys came from badly broken homes, with Neil being the bastard son of a whorish dipsomaniac single mother (Elisabeth Shue) and Brian being the progeny of two parents that were about to divorce, thus making them the perfect prey for a predatory pedophile. While Neil enjoyed the experience of being molested and saw it as a sexual awakening of sorts (after all, as he describes, his molester resembled the sort of macho men that intrigued him in his slut mother’s Playgirl magazines), Brian was so traumatized by those events that he cannot remember them and believes he was abducted by aliens due to the fact he cannot remember five hours from his childhood and routinely bled from his nose and wet his bed for a good portion of his life, hence his Asperger-like obsession with all-things alien. Not surprisingly, Neil grew up to be a quasi-psychopathic hustler who enjoys being blow by middle-age men with mustaches for money, Brian degenerated into a sexless nerd that lives in a fantasy world full of alien abductions. 

 While Neil makes a fairly decent living peddling his ass and acting as the announcer of local baseball games (where men give him blowjobs while he announces!), he cannot stand the homo-hating hicks of his area (or as he states himself, “I’m so fuckin’ sick of this stinky little buttcrack of a town!”) and he has already “fucked every single guy and his ugly uncle” in his “podunk town,” so, like many young fags that are looking to ‘find themselves’ and be around like-minded folks, he opts to leave his mother and racially dubious queer buddy Eric Preston (Jeff Licon) for the big city where he plans to live with his lifelong platonic soul-mate Wendy (Michelle Trachtenberg).  Naturally, after arriving in the rotten Big Apple, Neil spends most of his time wandering the streets and selling his tiny twink tail to a much larger and more eclectic clientele that he is used to, including an athletic fellow who likes taking it from behind from scrawny twinks, as well as an old queen dying from AIDS. Upon arriving in New York City, Neil soon learns that he cannot be as sexually careless as he was in rural Kansas, as STDs are all over the place. Indeed, after having a date with an old queer named Zeke (played by perennial screen villain Billy Drago of Clint Eastwood’s classic 1985 western Pale Rider and Brian De Palma’s 1987 hit The Untouchables) whose body is covered in Kaposi sarcoma (KS) marks and merely wants a backrub from the boy because it has been so long since another person touched him, Neil is ‘scared straight’ and decides to quite peddling his man-pussy and gets a minimum wage job as a cashier. Despite quitting hustling, Neil is subsequently savagely raped by a vicious self-loathing shit-stabbing redneck, who forces his victim to snort some coke before being rectally reamed.  The experience of being raped ultimately proves to be 'worthwhile' for Neil because, while he felt like he was in control when he was being molested by his coach when he was an 8-year-old boy, being violently buggered by a boorish pig makes him truly realize what it is like to be defiled against one's own will, thus enabling him to better empathize with Brian's precarious predicament when he meets him at the end of the film.

 Meanwhile, 18-year-old banal bitch boy Brian contacts a crippled farm girl named Avalyn Friesen (Mary Lynn Rajskub) after seeing a documentary about her featuring her discussing how she was abducted and probed by aliens over twenty times. Being a weirdo country cripple that lives in the middle of nowhere who clearly has a hard time finding a good man, Avalyn immediately writes back to Brian and covers her letter in cheap perfume. While Brian soon develops a strong bond with Avalyn due to their mutually unhealthy obsession with space aliens, mutilated cattle, and crop circles, he abruptly decides to stop talking to her after she attempts to jump his seemingly impotent bones. If there is anything that is for sure, it is that being molested as a boy has totally destroyed Brian’s ability to not only have sex, but to love other people. With Avalyn’s help, Brian figures out that Neil, who has haunted his dreams since the fateful night when he was raped at the age of 8, was one of the players on his little league baseball team, so he goes looking for the young hustler in the hope that he will be able to help him connect the dots regarding his hazy childhood. Unfortunately, Neil is still in NYC, so Brian hangs out with his punk queer friend Eric and learns that the hustler will be back in Kansas around Christmas time. 

 Before Neil arrives in town, Brian spends a lot of time with homo punk-goth queen Eric, who proudly corrupts the autistic teen on his 19th birthday by getting him drunk. On Christmas Eve 1991, Brian wakes and declares, “this is the day.” Indeed, Xmas Eve is the day that Brian learns that he was not abducted by aliens, but rather probed by his cocksucker baseball coach. When Brian meets Neil, he brings them to the house where the baseball coach who molested both of them used to live. After breaking in the coach’s home, Neil nostalgically shows Brian around the place and explains how he was the child-fucker coach’s “favorite” and how he “felt honored.” As Brian explains to Neil, the coach would ply the boys with Atari games and other treats and would eventually coerce them into letting him go down on them, among other things. The coach used his ‘favorite’ Neil to lure the other boys in, including Brian, with both boys taking turns shoving their entire arms up the pedo’s ass. Neil also describes to Brian how after being molested, his face looked like he had been “erased” and “empty inside.” In the end, Brian collapses and breaks down after Neil tells him how he was molested. Needless to say, Brian would have probably preferred being abducted by being aliens over becoming the victim of a charismatic baseball-loving pedophile. 

 Ironically, despite the innately offensive nature of most of Gregg Araki’s previous works, Mysterious Skin is shockingly inoffensive, even if it features a number of haunting and disturbing scenes, which leads me to believe that the auteur had the most pure intentions and that he may have been molested himself. While Araki’s most recent film, White Bird in a Blizzard (2014), is in a similar vein in terms of seriousness and its understated approach to drama, it is ultimately much less potent than Mysterious Skin, which is probably a work that the director will never top. Next to the distinctly dark and dreary films of gay Spanish auteur Agustí Villaronga whose debut feature Tras el cristal (1987) aka In a Glass Cage probably features the most disturbing depiction of a relationship between a pedophile and his victim ever committed to celluloid, as well as Michael Cuesta’s L.I.E. (2001) starring Brian Cox as a pederast who develops an unlikely bond with a young Jewish boy played by Paul Dano, Araki’s film indubitably features one of the most mature and intricately nuanced depictions of child molestation in cinema history, which probably does not say much considering the scarcity of such films, but there is no denying that Mysterious Skin is a uniquely unforgettable work that reminds one why pedos are probably worse than serial killers in terms of the malignant damage they do. Needless to say, Araki’s film is not something you would probably want to re-watch often and I assume that it might make for especially traumatic viewing for real-life victims of sex abuse. As much as I cannot stand gawky heeb Joseph Gordon-Levitt and cannot think of another single decent film that he stars in, somehow he pulls off the whole psychopathic hustler role in Araki’s film (interestingly, in the audio commentary for the TLA Releasing DVD of the film, Gordon-Levitt confesses that starring in Araki’s film made him realize that, “acting and prostitution are kind of similar”). Certainly, one of the most brave and provocative aspects of the film is that it demonstrates that some molestation victims grow up to be very repugnant individuals who become just as eager to molest as their molesters, with Gordon-Levitt very aptly and eerily acting the part of such a distinctly deranged individual. A contra Lifetime channel film, Araki's dejecting offers a more than decent argument as to not only why it is probably not a good idea to raise a child in a broken home, but also why peddling your ass to middle-aged men with mustaches can only have nothing short of deleterious effects.  More than an independent film about child molestation, Mysterious Skin is a work that also metaphysically molests the viewer.

-Ty E

Oct 23, 2014

Body Love

If there is anyone that can be described as a ‘baron of blue movies’ or ‘prince of pornography,’ it is most certainly Guido pornographer Lasse Braun (Penetration aka French Blue, Sensations), who was born into a wealthy, aristocratic Italian family and seemed destined to pursue a career in law (he was originally destined to be a diplomat like his father, but his doctoral dissertation proved to be so controversial that it was dismissed, so he became a pornographer instead). Indeed, unlike Radley Metzger who made films in Europe about the rich and raunchy but was really an American Jew, Braun (whose real name is apparently ‘Alberto Ferro’) was a real blue blood who, not unlike maestro Luchino Visconti in regard to melodrama, used his worldliness and distinguished background to assemble some of the most eloquent, lavish, and artistically merited fuck flicks ever made. Instead of American smut-peddlers and other rabble, Braun took his aesthetic influences from idiosyncratic sources, including the erotic novels of 18th century French novelist/commie/shoe fetishist Nicolas-Edme Rétif (who coined the word “pornography” in his pro-prostitution plea Le Pornographe (1769)), as well as the Priapistic rituals and orgiastic festivals of the Dionysus cult and ceremonies in veneration of Aphrodite (Porne), among other esoteric erotic things. Very much a child of his time, Braun was not just a decadent dago aristocrat, but also a political crusader who, using a series of pseudonyms, traveled all around Europe (including Franco's Spain and Pompidou's France) beginning in the early 1960s and created the (in)famous hardcore loops that he is famous for. Ultimately, Braun set up shop in Copenhagen (hence, his Nordic pseudonym) and the controversial doctoral dissertation that ended his academic career, Judiciary Censorship in the Western World, laid the foundation for the legalization of hardcore pornography in Denmark on 4 June 1969. While best known for his loops, Braun did direct a couple notable features, with Body Love (1978)—a wickedly wanton work about a lily-licking and leotard-wearing teenager who is forced by her blue blood baron father to be deflowered at an orgy on the night of her 18th birthday—being easily one of the greatest, if not the greatest, films of his relatively successful career. Featuring an original best-selling soundtrack by kraut electric music maestro Klaus Schulze (Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Tempel) that is probably more famous than the film itself and starring Catherine Ringer of the French New Wave outfit Les Rita Mitsouko as the Sapphic teenage girl who is forced to endure heterosexual penetration by her pseudo-blond bastard baron father, Braun’s avant-garde fuck flick is also a European music fan’s celluloid wet dream, as a work that almost sounds as good as it looks. Shot at Groeneveld Castle in the Dutch town of Baarn, Body Love is equal parts moronic aristocratic libertinism, post-counterculture pseudo-philosophical twaddle, unintentionally hilarious pretense, and aesthetic ecstasy. 

 After doing some gymnastic stretches and watching a woman in a flashy red outfit drive off in a white Mercedes-Benz via an upstairs window in her family castle, leotard-clad 18-year-old ‘poor little rich girl’ Martine (Catherine Ringer as ‘Lolita Da Nova’) is rudely confronted by her arrogant and equally effete aristocratic father ‘The Baron’ (Jean-Gérard Sorlin), who asks her if she is ready to be “mounted” for the first time in her life tonight. Although Martine assures her father that she will accept being ritualistically deflowered in front of him and his equally sex crazed carnal comrades during an orgy, she is a lipstick lesbo with a wicked streak who loathes all men. The woman in the red outfit that Martine was previously watching from the castle window is her stepmother Glenda (Glenda Farrel), who is a famous actress that, due to her Nordic figure and blonde hair, resembles a poor man’s take on an Ingmar Bergman actress like Bibi Andersson or Liv Ullmann, albeit minus the class and melancholy demeanor. When Glenda enters the castle, she looks in a mirror and is startled to see a shabbily dressed Confederate officer staring back at her. After the mirror nonsensically cracks, Glenda runs down the stairs and is sexually ravaged by two men (one of which is wearing a confederate soldier hat) against her will. As it turns out, Glenda’s husband the Baron paid for the men to mock rape her just so he could get off to hearing the details. Indeed, it seems like, as the old stereotype goes, the Baron is an impotent aristocrat. While Glenda complains that the men who raped her had “normal cocks” and were “ordinary men, not of noble bearing like you” to the Baron, she still enjoyed being ravaged by the plebian proles because she is a naughty nymphomaniac with an unquenchable sexual appetite. 

 A spoiled little lesbo girl, Martine cannot stand the idea of her assumed girlfriend Gilda (played by Gilda Arancio, who starred in a number of Jess Franco flicks) being defiled by other people, so after a wild Sapphic sexual session involving swing-based cunnilingus and cunt-to-cunt kisses (indeed, the two ladies bump labias in a rather furious fashion), she warns her beloved, “I don’t want you to have sex with other girls or other men. You body is meant for me.” Meanwhile, Glenda talks with a small frog journalist (old school French fuck flick superstar Jack Gatteau), who is at least an entire foot shorter than her, about her acting career and how she plans to shoot a porn film in Mexico in the next couple months. When the Journalist remarks that it would cause a scandal for an actress of her caliber to star in a fuck flick, Glenda demonstrates she got a feminist lobotomy at a university by snidely remarking, “As a woman of modern times, I can do whatever I feel like…no limits.” When the journalist eats dinner with the ‘unconventional’ family, Martine proceeds to discuss how they practice meditative hippie mumbo jumbo called “sensitivity training,” but when the reporter attempts to touch the girl to try it out for himself, she immediately stops him and says “no men.” Luckily, Martine’s stepmother warns her, “Once you get the feeling of a man’s prick inside your pussy, you’ll change.” When Martine takes the Journalist outside to a fancy trailer where she has a Uruguayan sex slave (Gemma Giménez) locked up, she begins to rather reluctantly tap into her repressed heterosexual side. After bragging that the sex slave will do anything that she commands, Martine has her sensual serf pleasure the Journalist. While she does not say anything, Martine is clearly aroused by the French journalist, who will ultimately be the one who deflowers her that night. 

 Indeed, during the final act of the film, Martine enters a sort of makeshift pleasuredome in the castle where a dozen or so naked and half-naked motionless multicultural individuals, including her father and stepmother, are positioned like mannequins. To get the silly ‘transcendental meditation’ inspired orgy going, Martine merely touches each motionless individual to ‘activate’ them to life (notably, for her father, she grabs his flaccid kingly cock) in a scenario that seems like a pretentious pornographic take on a Les Rita Mitsouko music video. As the bodies begin to move, Martine soon loses her black leotards (the same pair she wore at the beginning of the film) and has her cherry popped by the hyper horny frog Journalist, who is surely going to give the family a great write-up in whatever yellow journalism rag he writes for. Unquestionably, Klaus Schulze’s exceedingly ethereal synthesizers reach otherworldly orgasmic extremes during the orgy scene that features a virtual ocean of bodies intertwined in indiscriminate carnal pageantry of the preposterously pompous pornographic sort. When all the loads have been busted and all the participant's genitals have been rubbed raw, everyone falls asleep on the floor except Martine and Glenda, with the former eventually leaving the room quite satisfied after having her pussy plundered by not just the Journalist, but three other less than masculine men.  Indeed, Martine has finally gotten over her juvenile carpet-munching and has learned to love cocks and cum.

 While I was rather repulsed by virtually all the character’s in the film, as well as the pseudo-philosophical tangents that director Lasse Braun programmed the actors to go in, there is no denying that, in terms of pornography, Body Love is like the Barry Lyndon (1975) of fuck flicks, albeit with a much cooler soundtrack. Despite the film’s absolutely insipid libertine sermonizing, Braun’s film ultimately has a good message due to its decidedly decadent depiction of a tyrannical teenage lesbian who is forced to convert to heterosexuality. If Body Love had been made nowadays, it would be about a heterosexual boy who is forced to lose his anal virginity by his two man-hating bull-dyke mothers. I have to admit that it was quite to my schadenfreude that Braun’s utopian dream of a libertine world full of transcendental meditation, pornographic art, and perennial free love has been replaced with an ugly dystopia full of spiritual retardation, soulless internet porn, and AIDS. In fact, Braun quit making porn films because he was disgusted with the soulless commercial approach of the American porn industry and the rise of schlocky videos. Not unlike a very different Italian aristocrat, fellow polymath Baron Julius Evola (who also had a keen interest in sex as demonstrated by his work 1958 Eros and the Mysteries of Love: The Metaphysics of Sex), Braun withdrew into a more esoteric world after quitting porn and began writing scientific works on sexology and anthropology, as well as erotic novels and books on the history of sex. Without a doubt, Body Love is the work of a man of immense, if not misguided, talent who could have probably done something more useful with his life than mainstream pornography in the Nordic world. 

-Ty E

Oct 22, 2014

The Little Green Man

Unquestionably, Roland Lethem (La Fée sanguinaire aka The Bloodthirsty Fairy, Les Souffrances d'un oeuf meurtri aka The Sufferings of a Ravaged Egg) is one of the most anarchistic and hopelessly ill-restrained auteur filmmakers that Belgium has ever produced, which is saying a lot considering he is from the same country that spawned the curiously coprophagia-crusted celluloid nightmare Vase de Noces (1974) aka Wedding Through aka The Pig Fucking Movie. Indeed, from the cutesy cock-castrating pixie bitch of The Bloodthirsty Fairy to the anti-Catholic Cocteau-esque approach to maggots in rotting cunts in The Sufferings of a Ravaged Egg, Lethem is certainly a wonderfully mad mensch who knows how to get a subversive cinephile’s attention and luckily, despite being an old geezer in his 70s, he still manages to direct iconoclastic and totally original films featuring beauteous young babes being sexually brutalized. Indeed, for his latest film, Le petit bonhomme vert (2013) aka The Little Green Man—an absurdly fucked and fiercely fetishistic yet farcical 11-minute short about a cute chick’s daunting date with a rather romantic cacti—Lethem demonstrates that he has not gone soft over the past couple of decades, even if the film lacks the graphic depictions of bloody cunts and castrated cocks that inspired foremost American cineaste Amos Vogel to pay tribute to the auteur in his classic text Film as a Subversive Art (1974). Dedicated to the memory of Japanese ‘pinku eiga’ auteur Kōji Wakamatsu (Go, Go, Second Time Virgin, Ecstasy of the Angels)—another aberrant-garde filmmaker who liked to make films about nubile little girls being used and abused in a variety of highly imaginative and eclectic ways—Lethem’s little slice of celluloid lunacy is a short but sweet piece of playfully pernicious perversity that somehow manages to be simultaneously humorous, erotic, and exceedingly absurd. It also happens to be probably the only film where a woman performs coitus with a talking cactus. 

 Valérie (Vanja Maria Godée) is a crypto-horny French-speaking Belgian babe in her 30s who seems to like plants more than people and one would guess from her flagrant bitchiness that she might be more than a little bit sexually starved. While at a plant nursery, Valérie is asked by an employee if she needs help but she says nothing and looks at the well meaning fellow as if he is the world’s single biggest asshole. When Valérie spots a beautiful bouquet of flowers, she becomes so enamored with the sight and smell of the plants that she rubs her face into them as if it is a nice and savory crotch. Of course, Valérie naturally becomes especially intrigued when she spots a small white phallic-like cactus. When Valérie picks up the cactus and hears some unseen person say “you’re so beautiful,” she becomes so startled that she pricks her finger on one of the plant’s thorns. When she hears the same seemingly invisible fellow say “you smell so good,” Valérie looks around and eventually realizes that the small white phallic-like cactus is actually talking to her. After the cactus introduces himself as “the little green man” and proceeds to hit on Valérie, she gets quite bitchy and makes the following heartless threat to the rather charming cacti, “it looks like you want me to mash you like a dirty little crap. All it takes is a good squashing with my heel.” Of course, the ‘Little Green Man’ is a sort of Don Juan of cactuses and he eventually coerces Valérie into dropping her panties and sitting on top of his thorny head. While Valérie cries like a little girl while riding the cactus, complete ecstasy is written all over her face. Valérie is also fed bullshit by the cactus about how they are going to have a baby together like, “It’s gonna be a wonderful baby” and “our great child.” As it turns out, the Little Green Man is more interested in stealing Valérie’s panties than having a mongrelized human-cactus hybrid baby with her. 

 Aside from its cute, if not unflattering, depiction of the innate passive-aggressiveness of the ‘fairer sex’ and the tendency of women to say “no” when they really mean “yes,” The Little Green Man features no great revelations or insights about mankind, but it is quite eccentrically erotic and manically mirthful as a work that is certainly in the spirit of auteur Roland Lethem’s earlier works, albeit more lavishly directed. In terms of a cinematic equivalent to some sort of salacious activity, the film is like a ‘blow and go’ as a short but sweet and highly sensual affair that lasts about 10 minutes. While I was somewhat disappointed that Lethem did not opt to show the Aryaness lead’s post-cactus-coitus meat curtain (after all, he showed the eponymous ‘red cunt’ in Le Sexe Enragé aka The Red Cunt), the film is ultimately more potent due to the fact that it does not show anything aside from the sadomasochistic delight on protagonist Valérie’s face as she moves in and out of the prickly plant pecker. For Belgian cinephiles, it should be noted that veteran actor Jean-Louis Sbille (Wait Until Spring, Bandini, A Promise) makes a somewhat cryptic cameo in the film. Ultimately, The Little Green Man owes a large part of its potency to Vanja Maria Godée’s performance. Despite the fact that she had only appeared in one other short film before appearing in The Little Green Man, Godée demonstrates in Lethem's film that she is an unrivaled master at simulating mounting a cactus and certainly more believable than 99% of the top female porn stars when pretending to derive pleasure from the seemingly unpleasurable. After watching Lethem’s work, I will certainly never look at cacti in the same way again. For those couples that use ultra ribbed condoms, The Little Green Man is probably a film you might want to steer clear of, but then again, I am sure that the short will inspire some debauched little dame to stick something sharp and prickly inside herself that might leave scars (or worse). 

-Ty E

Oct 20, 2014

Buster and Billie

Although it would probably not surprise anyone that knows me, I have to admit that I absolutely loathe virtually all romance flicks, be they retarded rom-coms featuring some radically repulsive Hebrew turd like Ben Stiller lusting over some lecherous blonde Aryan Shiksa; phony James Cameron's blockbuster celluloid barf Titanic (1997), would-be-quirky frog mucus like Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Amélie (2001), hipster hemorrhoids like Spike Jonze's Her (2013), or classic screwball swill like It Happened One Night (1934). In short, I tend to stay completely clear of any romance-themed film unless I receive a special recommendation from a friend whose taste in cinema I respect and/or if I do enough research about a film beforehand that leads me to believe that I would appreciate such a work. As far as I am concerned, German Expressionist auteur F.W. Murnau's Hollywood era debut Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927) is unequivocally the most poetically romantic film ever made. While not exactly a film in league with Murnau's masterwork, the truly unsung cult item Buster and Billie (1974) aka Buster & Billie—a sort of post-Rebel Without a Cause teen rebel flick with hixploitation elements set in late-1940s Georgia about a teenage alpha-male high school senior who falls in love with the local town whore and who takes violent revenge against his comrades after they defile his beloved—is another one of those oh-so rare romance themed flicks that somehow got my blood moving. Co-directed by quasi-hack Daniel Petrie (A Raisin in the Sun, Sybil) and screenwriter/sometimes director Sidney Sheldon (The Buster Keaton Story, Dream Wife), this darkly romantic revenge flick is notable for being, among other things, one of the first mainstream movies to feature full-nudity (e.g. cocks and bushes) as well as Robert ‘Freddy Krueger’ Englund in a pre-A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) role and a pre-Airwolf Jan-Michael Vincent as the lethally lovelorn ‘lone ranger’ lead. Unquestionably the sort of film one should watch with knowing as little as possible beforehand, Buster and Billie is a hardcore country fried heartbreaker that reminds one not to take their beloved for granted. Like the Deliverance of tearjerkers, albeit featuring hetero hick rape as opposed to hillbilly homo forced bum-buggery, the film truly brings new meaning to the age old phrase ‘love conquers all.’ A borderline southern Gothic work somewhat in the spirit of Ode to Billy Joe (1976), albeit slightly more disturbing, Buster and Billie does the seemingly impossible by being a work that is certainly exploitative in parts, yet somehow manages to be genuinely emotionally penetrating in a classic love story fashion. Never released on DVD and fetching a fair amount of money in its out-of-print VHS form, Buster and Billie is unfortunately a work that is destined to remain in obscurity.

The year is 1948 and despite being the most popular senior at his rural Georgian High School, Buster (Jan-Michael Vincent) is a born individualist and confident rebel-rouser who does not care about what anyone thinks, including his friends and family.  Buster is engaged to marry his high school sweetheart Margie Hooks (Pamela Sue Martin), though he hates her friends (he hilariously calls one of them a, “hoot-owl-looking bitch”) and resents the fact that she does not put out (as he pleads to her after she denies him carnal pleasure, “If a man doesn't reach climax every time that he gets excited, he's liable to get kidney trouble and die young”). Buster's best friend is a goofy dullard boy named Whitey, who seems to worship his much more confident and handsome friend. Like the rest of Buster's friends, Whitey regularly sexually takes advantage of a beauteous yet somewhat intellectually challenged young lady named Billie Jo Truluck (Joan Goodfellow), who has moronic untermensch hillbilly parents and thinks the only way she can get people to like her is by letting them do whatever they want with her voluptuous young body. Although Whitey and the rest of his friends offer Buster the opportunity to tag along with them during one of their gang-bangs of Billie, Buster opts out, but later decides to ask her out on a date after becoming quite sexually frustrated due to his girlfriend's incessant cock-blocking. When Billie sees Buster beat-up a big fat belligerent school bus driver, she virtually falls in love with him at first sight, so she does not think twice about taking up his offer to take her on a date. Needless to say, the two soon fall in love and are both happy for the first time in their short lives, but their happiness is short-lived as jealous friends, annoying busybodies, and morally righteous morons get in their way.

 After one particularly heated date with Billie that makes him realize that he truly loves her, Buster decides to drive to his girlfriend Margie's house at 1 a.m. while drunk and tell her that their relationship is over, which she does not take well and even goes so far as lying to her friends and telling them she broke up with him.  Of course, when Buster reveals his love for Billie by taking her to church with him, he turns a number of the congregants against him, including his pigheaded friends, who are mad they can no longer take advantage of the girl and cannot stomach the fact that their cool friend would rather hangout with a poor whore than them.  Naturally, a number of people berate Buster due to his new relationship, including his parents, who feel disgraced that their son broke it off with 'good girl' Margie for a poor slut, as well as the local bartender Jake (Clifton James of Cool Hand Luke), who the high school senior threatens to beat up for bad mouthing his girlfriend.  As a self-proclaimed “lone ranger" who “rides alone,” Buster truly couldn't care less about what other people say and only falls all the more in love with Billie, engaging in skinny dippy, sentimental gift-giving, and whatnot.  When Billie gives Buster a poorly made necklace, he loves it simply because it was given to him by his beloved, who is so unwaveringly in love with her boyfriend that she loves to write his name in the dirt with a stick like a little girl with a crush. When Buster gets sick, Billie reads a Captain Marvel comic to him in bed.  At a local hoedown of sorts, the two almost cement their unadulterated pure love for one another in front of everyone in the town, which  leaves a lot of people jealous.  One day, Buster's friends go for some alcohol-fueled joyriding and when they spot Billie, they decide to have a little fun with her, but she runs away and when they catch her, she refuses to submit to their sensual savagery, so they knock her out and proceed to take turns raping her.  When Billie regains consciousness while being raped by a boyish bitch boy named 'Mole' (Mark Pendergraft), she claws at the teenage rapist's face, which infuriates him so much that he starts beating her head in, thus resulting in her accidental death.  Hoping to blame the murder on a mythical killer with a hook-hand, Buster's friend leave Billie's half-naked body in the woods with a couple branches barely covering it.  Meanwhile, Buster goes looking for Billie and when he does not find her, he goes to the local bar where his friends hangout and is surprised to not find them there.  Despite it being a rainy night, Buster eventually finds Billie's brutalized body in the woods and cries hysterically.  When Buster goes back to the bar, he finds all his friends playing pool and can immediately see the guilt on their faces despite the fact that they try their darnedest to act cool and normal.  After calmly agreeing to play pool with his friends, Buster randomly explodes and brutally beats all his friends, killing two of them with more or less with his bare hands (though he does use a pool stick and a billiard ball) and even slamming his best pal into a pool table.  While Buster is temporarily jailed, he is let out of prison the day after Billie's funeral, which is not even attended by her parents, and he honors his belated beloved by stealing every single flower in town and putting it on her grave.

Despite being more or less a hixploitation on steroids, Buster and Billie is reasonably believable in its shockingly nuanced depiction of true love, with such seemingly benign things as simple glances between the two leads saying much more than words ever could about the genuineness of their pure passion for one another.  The film is also one of those rare works that enables the viewer to empathize with the killer.  Indeed, for any man to watch Buster and Billie and not feel totally satisfied with the male protagonist's actions at the end is not a man.  In other words, if there is no context where you could see yourself killing for your beloved, you either don't love her or you're a ball-less pussy with no integrity.  While women have a habit of destroying relationships between friends, I have noticed that jealous beta-males also tend to get quite irked when their alpha-male friend falls in love with a woman and in no other film is this depicted more potently and even perniciously than Buster and Billie, which is a work that is rather romantic in a sort primitive redneck fashion.  Unquestionably, the film just had too much testicular fortitude and not enough senseless sentimentalism and contrived lovey dovey appeal to become popular with the American bourgeois, but it is certainly the romantic masterpiece that not enough working-class and rural-based Americans—the true audience of the film—have seen, because otherwise it would be considered an indisputable classic of 1970s American cinema.  Obviously, it should be no surprise that a weasel-like weakling like Leonard Maltin would trash the film, as he lacks the lifeblood and background to adequately appreciate it.  The work is like a A Walk to Remember (2002) that is somehow good as directed by a talented exploitation auteur, as well as a Southern Gothic directed by a sort of lowbrow rampantly heterosexual Tennessee Williams.  One must certainly have a heart of stone to deny the rough and rugged romantic majesty of Buster and Billie.

-Ty E