Jun 24, 2016

The Sex of Self-Hatred

Despite the fact that he is a largely forgotten self-loathing Jew whose theories regarding Jewry were so subversive that they were even, to some extent, promoted by the National Socialists and eccentric antisemitic figures like Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels, tragic Viennese philosopher Otto Weininger—a troubled and intellectually intense mensch that committed suicide in 1903 at the premature age of 23 shortly after the fairly lukewarm release of his magnum opus Sex and Character (1903) aka Geschlecht und Character, which would eventually inspire many important Occidental thinkers, most notably Austrian-British-Jewish philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein and Swedish playwright August Strindberg—has inspired at least two fairly sympathetic modern films about his singular spiritual struggle, rather refined sexual ambivalence, singular self-hatred, and rather lonely yet strangely poetic self-slaughter, among other things.  Indeed, both Weiningers Nacht (1990) aka Weininger's Last Night directed by Austrian actor and sometimes director Paulus Manker (Schmutz aka Dirt, Der Kopf des Mohren aka The Moor's Head) and The Sex of Self-Hatred (2004) directed by Canadian experimental filmmaker Solomon Nagler (Gravity and Grace, Black Salt Water Elegy) not only happen to be about the great self-exterminating antisemitic semite and the somewhat shadowy circumstances surrounding his suicide, but also are indubitably two of the most intriguing films ever made about a philosopher, but then again it takes a particularly preternatural artist to even consider directing a film about such an infamous, albeit largely forgotten, figure who is undoubtedly the antithesis of the archetypal Hollywood hero.  After all, the last thing the Jewish studio heads and producers in Tinseltown want to do is make a film about an insanely impenetrable self-hating Israelite that argued that most Jews males are soulless pansies that think and act like lecherous neurotic women, but I digress.  Certainly, of the two films, Nagler's is the most overtly and hermetically Hebraic, but such is to be expected from a Jewish auteur that has made a number of films with strong Jewish themes.

An important influence on early twentieth-century intellectual figures ranging from lily-licking bull-dyke Jewesses like Gertrude Stein to decadent National Socialist poets like Gottfried Benn, the tragic Judaic philosopher was apparently once described by Adolf Hitler during a 1941 conversation with Henry Picker in the Wolf’s Lair in the following fashion: “This destructive role of the Jew has in a way a providential explanation. If nature wanted the Jew to be the ferment that causes peoples to decay, thus providing these peoples with an opportunity for a healthy reaction, in that case people like St. Paul and Trotsky are, from our point of view, the most valuable. By the fact of their presence, they provoke the defensive reaction of the attacked organism. Dietrich Eckart once told me that in all his life he had known just one good Jew: Otto Weininger, who killed himself on the day when he realized that the Jew lives upon the decay of peoples.” Undoubtedly, Weininger is a rare case of a Jew whose radical rejection of his own people and religion was innately intertwined with both his intricate personal Weltanschauung and rejection of life, with his suicide being arguably the truest form of post-religious Jewish transcendence and spiritual rebirth. In fact, the exquisitely ethno-masochistic philosopher even converted to Protestantism about a year before his suicide in what seemed like a failed last ditch effort to shed his inner Jew and become a noble Christian Aryan.

Of course, this conversion was a failure as Weininger soon committed self-slaughter by shooting himself in the heart in the same exact room where his Aryan hero Beethoven died 76 years earlier, yet he still received a Christian burial, with his tombstone fittingly reading : “This stone marks the resting place of a young man whose spirit found no peace in this world. When he had delivered the message of his soul, he could no longer remain among the living. he betook himself to the place of death of one of the greatest of all men, the Schwarzspanierhaus in Vienna, and there destroyed his mortal body.”  Whether his intention or not, Weininger picked a quite auspicious time to commit suicide, as his self-ordained premature death and the strangely poetic circumstances surrounding it made him a cause célèbre in the German-speaking world to the point where he inspired numerous copycat suicides and his timeless tome Sex and Character, which was initially poorly received, finally achieved the critical acclaim it deserved.  A true martyr of modernity who argued that men—be they Jew or Aryan—should completely emancipate themselves from the spiritual plagues of Judaism and femaleness, Weininger might be described as the purest and most authentic of philosophers as it can be easily argued that his suicide was merely an full-fledged execution of his philosophy.  Indeed, quite unlike the countless culturally corrosive Judaic thinkers ranging from Marx to Derrida to Adorno that have contaminated the Occident with carefully calculated deceptions, pathological anti-European iconoclasm, culture-distorting, and asininely abstract word games, Weininger actually believed what he wrote, hence his tragic yet seemingly inevitable fate.

 Needless to say, both of the films about Weininger are rather dark and forlorn as cinematic works that quite predictably conclude with the protagonist killing himself, but the most recent, Nagler's The Sex of Self-Hatred, is easily the most eerie and ethereally esoteric, as if the director was attempting to assemble a neo-Expressionist obituary to be played on a loop at the philosopher's graveside so that people might be able understand why a young Jewish bachelor with a very potentially intellectually prodigious career ahead of him decided to off himself while he was at the height of his intellectual prowess. The second film in the highly self-consciously Jewish director's ‘Jewish elegies’ triptych (which also includes Perhaps/We (2003) and Fugue Nefesh (2007)), the 9-minute 16mm short is like an aesthetically acidic marriage between German Expressionism, the pseudo-Fidus-esque Zionist eugenic art of Ephraim Moses Lilien, kosher counterculture poet Ira Cohen’s experimental psychedelic film The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda (1968), and the savagely nightmarish Figurative paintings of Irish-born Brit Francis Bacon. Ostensibly set mostly in the dark and dreary Vienna room where Beethoven had kicked the bucket about three generations before, The Sex of Self-Hatred begins simply enough with the rather revealing quote “self hatred is the best foundation for self examination” and might be described as a sort of celluloid Judaic purgatory where one very lonely and fiercely forsaken Jew's all-consuming guilt, paranoia, and self-loathing reaches its zenith and erupts into a sort of morbidly morose act of self-martyrdom, with the singularly provocative philosopher both literally and figuratively sacrificing himself for his own ideals via an irreparable gesture that would ultimately determine his fate as both a man and philosopher. 

 Like a humorless Hebrew Guy Maddin or an all the more macabre Judaic Deco Dawson, Nagler is a Canadian experimental filmmaker that seems to reject most modern filmmaking technology and techniques and instead uses archaic and anachronistic filmmaking methods that make it seemingly possible to tell when his films were actually made.  Thankfully, Nagler's quixotically quaint cinematic techniques are put to rather effective use in The Sex of Self-Hatred which, at least in my less than humble opinion, is easily the director's most accomplished and immaculate film to date. Indeed, to the film's great credit, one can almost delude themselves into believing that it was actually made in 1903, with the actor playing Weininger even bearing a strikingly resemblance to the (in)famous self-loathing Jew who developed the theory that Jewishness and femininity were one and the same. Like Manker's Weininger flick, Nagler's film alludes to the philosopher's rather intricate form of self-hatred by featuring a post-suicide drag king Weininger. In fact, right after Weininger blows his brains out (indeed, although the real Weininger committed suicide by shooting himself in the heart, he shoots himself in the head in Nagler's film in a fictional scenario that points to the philosopher's great mental suffering), he is depicted lying on the ground with bare tits, as if the philosopher's suicide really was an attempt to rid himself of both his Jewishness and femininity, or as contemporary self-loathing Jew Gilad Atzmon once speculated in his essay ‘Sex and Anti Semitism,’ “Otto Weininger was just twenty-three when he committed suicide.  One may wonder how he knew so much about women.  Why did he hate them so?  How did he know so much about Jews, and why did he hate them so?  The answer can be elicited from Weininger's thoughts, though not from his own words.  He hated women and Jews because he was a woman and a Jew.  He adored Aryan masculinity because he probably lacked that quality in any significant amount in his own being.  This revelation probably led Weininger to kill himself, just a month after the publication of his book.  Very likely, he had managed to understand what his book was all about.”

To Weininger's credit, his writings do hint that he was well aware of his intrinsic lack of Aryan manhood, which is especially apparent in the following excerpt from Sex and Character, “We do not hate anything with which we have no affinity at all. Often the other person only makes us realize the ugly and mean features we have in ourselves. This explains why the most rabid anti-Semites are found among the Jews. For only the completely Jewish Jews, like the totally Aryan Aryans, have no antisemitic disposition whatsoever.” While Weininger once wrote, “The real Jew, like a real woman, lives only within his species, and not as an individual,” he would unequivocally demonstrate with his self-slaughter that he was innately individualistic and hardly a passive follower of an ancient death cult that strives towards mindless collectivism, in-group self-worship, and ethnic chauvinism above all else.  After all, women commit suicide on a much smaller scale than men and when they do get the gall to kill themselves they very rarely do it in a violent fashion that involves using a gun.

 One of the more bizarre aspects of Weininger’s internal struggle that is subtly alluded to in The Sex of Self-Hatred is that, towards the end of his life, he had an unhealthy obsession with a barking dog. Indeed, according to friend Arthur Gerber, Weininger once confessed to him: “I spent a night in a hotel room in Munich once. I could not sleep. Then I heard a barking dog. I have never hard a dog bark in such a terrifying way. It must have been a black dog. It was the evil spirit. I fought with it, I fought with it for my soul. In sheer terror I bit the sheets to shreds that night. Since that time I have known that I am a murderer. That is why I must kill myself!” In fact, the dog began to symbolize death for Weininger, which is apparent in some of his writings. Notably, a barking dog can be heard in Nagler's film just before Weininger collapses and prepares to put a bullet in his brain, as if a hound of hell has commanded the philosopher to seek self-obliteration. As Weininger wrote in his rather bizarre essay The Dog, “The eye of the dog irresistibly evokes the impression that the dog has lost something: it speaks of him (as does the dog's whole bearing) of a certain mysterious relationship to the past. What it has lost is the I, self worth, freedom...The dog has a remarkably deep connection to death.” Of course, Weininger is speaking of the dog’s deracination and domestication by humans, but one suspects that he is projecting his own feelings as an involuntary member of the perennially uprooted and abstract Jewish (anti)race. Indeed, no other race is more uprooted, cultureless, and abstracted than the Hebraic race and Weininger—a man with a distinctly Aryan education who was heavily influenced by the völkisch writings of Houston Stewart Chamberlain—was certainly more aware of this than anyone else.  In a sense, one could argue that Weininger’s writings were the equivalent of the dog’s bark. 

 In less than ten minutes, Nagler’s film more or less attempts to do what Manker’s Weininger's Last Night attempted in 105 minutes, albeit in a less personalized and more esoteric, Expressionistic, and even cabbalistic fashion. At the beginning of the film, we see Weininger in a rather dark and dreary room featuring a desk with a menorah with lit candles and a large open Talmud, as if to allude that the philosopher was never far from his ancestral religion, especially when he was trapped in his deepest and darkest of thoughts. By the end of the film, Weininger has killed himself, the menorah candles have been burned out, and the Talmud is shut, thus alluding to the fact that the only way that he could truly destroy his Jewishness was by destroying himself (after all, as the famous Jewish saying goes, “Once a Jew, always a Jew”).  Not surprisingly, especially considering Jews do not believe in an afterlife, suicide is considered a major sin in the Talmud as indicated by the following excerpt: “For him who takes his own life with full knowledge of his action [the Hebrew word is b'daat] no rites are to be observed. . .There is to be no rending of clothes and no eulogy. But people should line up for him [at the end of the burial ceremony] and the mourner's blessing should be recited [as the family passes through] out of respect for the living. The general rule is: Whatever rites are [normally] performed for the benefit of the survivors should be observed; whatever is [normally] done out of respect for the dead should not be observed.”

In one of the film’s more striking and eerily erotic scenes, the viewer is exposed to a naked green-skinned Jewess lying in a tree whose rather shiny unclad body is covered in Tefillin straps as if they were bondage. Of course, these is a rare scenario of  celluloid Hebraic hereticism as Tefillin (aka ‘phylacteries,’ which translates from Ancient Greek to “to guard, protect”) are a set of small black leather boxes containing scrolls of parchment inscribed with verses from the Torah that are worn by religiously observant male Jews during weekday morning prayers and hardly objects that should be wrapped around busty unclad babes sitting in trees.  By featuring a scene with a Hebraic harlot with nice tits covered in a religious object that is strictly worn by Jewish males, Nagler is probably alluding to the inherent misogynistic traditions of Judaism and how Weininger might have, somewhat ironically, inherited some of his attitudes regarding women from his ancestral faith.  While his Hebrewess goddess would probably be somewhat alluring to most heterosexual males, Weininger would clearly be horrified by this lecherous lady who seems like she might suffer from vagina dentata.

Notably, in Midrash in Ecclesiastes Rabbah it states: “When God created the first man he took him and showed him all the trees of the Garden of Eden and said to him, ‘See my works, how beautiful and praiseworthy they are. And everything that I created, I created it for you. Be careful not to spoil or destroy my world–for if you do, there will be nobody after you to repair it.’” Of course, what better way to destroy God’s creation than to have a seemingly lecherous Hebraic hoe lying on it in an erotically inviting fashion?! On a more simple level, this scene seems to be symbolic of Weininger’s association of Judaism with his own supposedly warped sexuality, with the philosopher being just as repulsed with the obscenely outmoded dualistic laws of his ancestral faith as the scent of warm wet kosher cunts. 

 As auteur Nagler noted on his website in regard to The Sex of Self-Hatred, “It's 1903, and Otto Weininger, Vienna's most infamous self-hating Jew has decided to kill himself in a room containing Beethoven's deathbed. He has just published his first book Sex and Character, and has yet to witness an acknowledgment of his self-assured genius.” Somewhat ironically, Weininger believed Jews were incapable of genius. Additionally, Weininger’s philosophical disciple Ludwig Wittgenstein, himself a self-loathing Viennese Israelite, once wrote, “Amongst Jews ‘genius’ is found only in the holy man. Even the greatest of Jewish tinkers is no more than talented. (Myself for instance.) I think there is some truth in my idea that I really only think reproductively. I don’t believe I have ever invented a line of thinking.” Of course, in a sense, Weininger was a sort of Hebraic holy man trapped in an innately Aryan world that he never could really be a member of, no matter how desperately he tried. Notably, in the second book of his two-volume magnum opus Der Untergang des Abendlandes (1918-1922) aka The Decline of the West, Oswald Spengler—a Prussian nationalist of sorts that also heavily influenced Wittgenstein—was careful to separate Weininger from the tradition of Occidental philosophy and instead designated him as one of the three great saints of Jewish mysticism following Baruch Spinoza and Baal Shem. Indeed, as Spengler provocatively wrote, “…Otto Weininger, whose moral dualism is a purely Magian conception and whose death in a spiritual struggle of essentially Magian experience is one of the noblest spectacles ever presented by a Late religiousness. Something of the sort Russians may be able to experience, but neither the Classical nor the Faustian soul is capable of it.” Aside from Spengler, fellow German Conservative Revolutionary movement figure Gottfried Benn—an Expressionistic poet that once supported but was later persecuted by the Third Reich—regarded Weininger as one of the three Jewish figures that he recognized as true geniuses.  To put Benn's respect for Weininger in perspective, it should be noted that he saw Franz Kafka as merely a “talent of the first order” as opposed to a true literary genius.

 After watching The Sex of Self-Hatred, I have to say that it is probably impossible to fully appreciate the film if you are not already familiar with Weininger's writings and lonely and pathetic yet nonetheless rather remarkable and singular life. Somewhat fittingly, the film concludes with the Weininger quote, “Whoever detests the Jewish disposition detest it foremost with himself,” which hints that Nagler believes that there is something innately Hebraic about Weininger’s kosher brand of antisemitism. While Weininger was indubitably the most famous and intellectually gifted of the so-called self-loathing Jews of his time (in fact, his case has been studied by various Jewish thinkers ranging from philosopher Theodor Lessing to child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim), he certainly was not the only Jew that suffered from a sort of spiritually schizophrenic metaphysical affliction.  According to Israeli journalist Amos Elon in regard to Sex and Character's ultimate influence, “(Weininger's) book inspired the typical Viennese adage that anti-Semitism did not really get serious until it was taken up by Jews.” Indeed, Viennese Jew Arthur Trebitsch (1880-1927)—the son of a wealthy Jewish silk industrialist—was heavily influenced by Weininger’s writings and he would eventually help to set up and fund the Austrian branch of the National Socialist party during the early 1920s. Despite his glaringly Jewish background, Trebitsch was apparently temporarily considered for the role of the Führer of the Austrian Nazis and he was even a personal acquaintance of both Hitler and his junky poet mentor Dietrich Eckart (who was also heavily influenced by Weininger).  Additionally, great Austrian Jewish satirist Karl Kraus—a man that is sometimes described as the H.L. Mencken of the German language—was oftentimes described as a self-loathing Jew due to his attacks on Zionism and Freud and psychoanalysis (which he more or less regarded as a pseudo-scientific form of Judaism), among other things (somewhat ironically, Kraus oftentimes described Zionist founder Theodor Herzl as an “anti-Semite of Jewish origin,” which was actually a phrase Herzl coined in his revolutionary work Der Judenstaat (1896) aka The Jewish State).  Although not necessarily a self-loathing Yid, Italian-Jewish philosopher Carlo Michelstädter (3 June 1887 – 17 October 1910) followed Weininger’s lead by penning his sole tome La persuasione e la rettorica (1910) aka Persuasion and Rhetoric, which is more or less an absurdly arcane suicide letter disguised as a philosophical tome, and then subsequently killing himself before he could see how his work would be received.  Notably, like Weininger, Michelstädter committed suicide when he was only 23 years old. Incidentally, also like Weininger, Michelstädter would have a huge influence on self-described “super-Fascist” Julius Evola, who cites both tragic Judaic philosophers a number of times in his imperative work Il Cammino del Cinabro (1963) aka The Path of Cinnabar: An Intellectual Autobiography

 If Spengler was right in his belief that Weininger’s life and writings are not something that the Aryan mind can completely grasp, one suspects that the same can probably be said of The Sex of Self-Hatred. Of course, Nagler’s use of Hebrew and Jewish mysticism confirm that the auteur did not intend to make a film that would be accessible to the wretched goyim. If one thing is for sure, the film, which is practically dripping with the gash gravy of a wayward Jewess in certain parts, indubitably affirms Weininger’s posthumously published aphorism, “Science is asexual because it absorbs; the artist is sexual, because he emanates.” Quite ironically, Nagler's film also brings great credence to Weininger’s theory that Jewishness and femininity are one and the same and that both women and Jews are more or less sex personified and lack the capacity for true individualism and transcendence, or as the philosopher wrote, “Both the genuine Jew and the genuine Women live only in the species, not as individualities.” Indeed, as virtually every notable Jew from Freud and his fellow Hebraic psychoanalysts to the hack writers and directors of the most loathsome of kosher Hollywood comedies demonstrate, Jews see all human psychology as being solely guided by sexual impulses and nothing more, which is quite ironical when one considers Weininger’s rather wise words that, “The Jew is always more lecherous, more lustful, than the Aryan man, although, strangely enough and possibly in connection with the fact that he is not really of an anti-moral disposition, he is less sexually potent and certainly less capable of any great lust than the latter.” While surprisingly respectful to its subject in many ways, The Sex of Self-Hatred falls into Weininger’s philosophical trap in regard the innately sexually degenerate and effeminate nature of the Jew, but then again that was probably Nagler’s objective, as if he wanted to proudly embrace the stereotype of Judaic androgyny and frivolous sexual obsession that the Sex and Character condemns. In other words, Weininger’s idea of Hebraic hell is Nagler’s vision of heaven. 

 Notably, in the chapter entitled “Judaism” in his magnum opus Sex and Character, Weininger eerily noted regarding to the increasing degeneracy of his age, “Our present age shows Judaism at the highest peak it has climbed since the days of Herod. The spirit of modernity is Jewish, wherever one looks at it. Sexuality is affirmed and today’s species ethic sings the wedding hymn to sexual intercourse […] women and Jews are matchmakers: their aim is to make humanity guilty. Our age is not only the most Jewish, but also the most effeminate of all ages; an age in which art only provides a sudarium for its moods and which has derived the artistic urge in humans from the games played by animals; an age of the most credulous anarchism, an age without any appreciation of the state and law, an age of species ethic, an age of the shallowest of all imaginable interpretations of history (historical materialism), an age of capitalism and Marxism, an age for which history, life, science, everything, has become nothing but economics and technology; an age that has declared genius to be a form of madness, but which no longer has one great artist or one great philosopher, an age that is most devoid of originality, but which chases most frantically after originality; an age that has replaced the idea of virginity with the cult of the demivierge. This age also has the distinction of being the first to have not only affirmed and worshiped sexual intercourse, but to have practically made it a duty, not as a way of achieving oblivion, as the Romans or Greeks did in their bacchanals, but in order to find itself and to give its own dreariness a meaning.” Of course, with the destruction of all of the great Western European empires as a result of both World Wars, the dubious official recognition of the State of Israel in 1948, and malignant cultural hegemony of virtually the entire world via Hebraic Hollywood and Zio-American warmongering, things have gotten much worse than Weininger could have ever dreamed of.  While The Sex of Self-Hatred demonstrates in a fittingly preternaturally elegant fashion that Weininger was a severely mentally disturbed individual that suffered from a perverse pathological fear of pussy, he was also one of the most daring and painfully honest Judaic thinkers who has ever lived as a rather rare intellectual who was almost Christlike in terms of his arguable willingness to sacrifice his life to overcome his Jewishness (notably, shortly before he died, Weininger somewhat strangely wrote, “The old man is a false eternity: age.  The good(and the true and the beautiful) is eternally young.  That was also what Wagner knew as his own incompleteness; he was Wotan.  Siegfried and Parsifal have not yet appeared.  The completely good man (Jesus) has to die young.”).

As the above quote from Sex and Character also proves, Weininger was alarmingly prophetic to the point where one suspects that one of the reasons he committed suicide was because he could not bear to see where the world was headed.  Indeed, it is a true sign that we live in (pre)apocalyptic times when a modern-day Sodom known as Hollywood regularly defecates out films where grotesque overweight heebs like Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill Feldstein discuss important things like their friends' cocks and scheme to find ridiculously craven means to get in the unkosher panties of unwitting drunken blonde shiksa skanks.  Of course, a world as culturally corrosive and decidedly degrading as the one where sapless scatological schmucks like Rogen and Feldstein are famous could not produce a Weininger, thus underscoring the importance of a film like The Sex of Self-Hatred where a genius of the past is given new life in an era when his theories are needed most.

-Ty E

Jun 15, 2016


As made quite clear in Neal Gabler’s book An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood (1988) and the fairly stale doc based on it Hollywoodism: Jews, Movies and the American Dream (1998) aka Hollywood: An Empire of Their Own, Tinseltown was mostly founded by Eastern European and Austrian Jews who ultimately created a fake America and American dream via their movies that is quite different from the American of the white Christian majority. Quite unlike many of the Judaic culture-distorters that run Hollywood nowadays, these early pioneers were, relatively speaking, very adamant about assimilating and were very sensitive about their Jewishness, which they attempted to obscure with new goyish names and hot blonde shiksa wives, among other things. In fact, even Charles Blühdorn—a Vienna-born Jewish industrialist that did not get involved with the film industry until 1966 when his conglomerate Gulf+Western Industries purchased Paramount Pictures—was quite shy about his Hebraic background and, despite being connected to the Yiddish mob and Zionist warmongers like Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, he more or less incessantly denied his Jewishness and even curiously received a private Christian burial when he died. In fact, as described in Star: How Warren Beatty Seduced America (2010) by Peter Biskind, Hollywood alpha-leftist and all-around-shithead Warren Beatty once bragged in regard to getting the Jewish industrialist to fund his singularly plodding commie epic Reds (1981), “One of the things that gives me the biggest kick about making this movie about an American Communist is that I got the money to do it from one of the most right-wing fascist people in Hollywood, Charlie Bluhdorn!” Of course, it was not really until the rise of the ‘New Left’ and birth of New Hollywood during the late-1960s that Jewish filmmakers and their shabbos goy white liberal comrades like Beatty finally felt safe enough to begin producing far-left anti-American movies that openly mocked America’s white majority and its culture, religion, and traditions. Undoubtedly the most obvious example of these subversive Semites was rampant womanizer and Judaic dope fiend Bert Schneider who, despite being born into an extremely wealthy Jewish family, made it his business to promote communist movements and to fund the Black Panther Party (in fact, he even developed a sick friendship with Huey P. Newton that involved harboring the violent black nationalist in his mansion when he was a fugitive killer) when he was not producing movies. 

 Of course, horror cinema eventually received the cultural Marxist makeover as well, though one could certainly argue that the anti-white agenda began in the genre long before the rise of New Hollywood with the superlatively sleazy and wholly aesthetically worthless exploitation films of kosher comrades Herschell Gordon Lewis and David F. Friedman, especially the anti-Confederate piece of uniquely unrefined and fiercely farshtunken schlock Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964), which portrays Southerners as disingenuously hospitable cannibalistic subhuman yokels with a perennial bloodthirsty legacy of singular murderous hatred. Indeed, thanks to goy-hating Hebrew Lewis—a man that dubiously bragged in the hagiographic doc Herschell Gordon Lewis: The Godfather of Gore (2010) that he once beat up a man because the fellow supposedly called him a “kike”—the evil ‘redneck’ caricature has become a major staple of horror as demonstrated by works ranging from Tobe Hooper’s classic The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) to even somewhat contemporary artsy fartsy European films like Fabrice Du Welz’s Calvaire (2004) aka The Ordeal.  If Lewis is keen on cinematically crapping on crackers in an uniquely uncultivated fashion where he dubiously fetishistically sensationalizes that savage sadism that he ostensibly condemns, unnervingly beady-eyed Ashkenazi actor turned director Bob Balaban demonstrated with his somewhat quixotic debut feature Parents (1989) that he was fond of shitting on clean-cut white suburbanites from the 1950s. Admittedly, I decided to watch Balaban’s film after reading English auteur Ken Russell’s highly complimentary remarks regarding it in his autobiography Altered States: The Autobiography of Ken Russell (1991). Notably, Balaban previously starred in Russell’s sci-fi cult classic Altered States (1980), so I wonder if the filmmaker was succumbing to partiality and committing puffery when he wrote in regard to his favorite contemporary films, “…But for me the two most outstanding new talents are Bob Balaban, whose PARENTS made David Lynch’s BLUE VELVET look like CARE BEARS, and Bruce Robinson with WITHNAIL AND I—about two out-of-work actors in the Sixties. Both these directors have a frighteningly perceptive vision and the unique ability to capture a particular moment in time as well as the heart and soul of the characters under observation. They have humour, imagination, style and flair. I have high hopes for their future.” Of course, Balaban never became the great auteur that Russell hope he would be, as he more or less degenerated into a TV hack cum perennial character actor, with his directorial debut assuredly being his magnum opus. 

 For better or worse, Parents is undoubtedly one of the greatest and most preternatural black horror-comedies ever made, though for reasons that the director at least partly did not intend. Featuring lovable whack-job Randy Quaid and Paul Schrader’s wifey Mary Beth Hurt as the eponymous crypto-cannibal parents of a keenly kosher kid named Bryan Madorsky that clearly could not be their biological child (notably, Madorsky never starred in another film and went on to take up the stereotypical Judaic trade of accounting), Balaban’s debut feature is a quite strange film in that the boy lead seems to be a stand-in for the director himself. Indeed, more than anything, the film seems to be the absurdly autistic yet nonetheless fairly consistently entertaining result of a Jew imagining the horrors of being raised by pathologically passive-aggressive and anally retentive white bread WASP suburbanites from the 1950s. Somewhat seeming like the patently absurd and inexplicable result of the aesthetically-challenged bastard brood of Herschell Gordon Lewis and Paul Bartel somehow suffering the grand delusion that he is a real artist and attempting to direct a satirical gore flick with the cultivation of a Jean Renoir social satire like La règle du jeu (1939) aka The Rules Of The Game, albeit in the style of a David Lynch flick, Balaban’s film is ultimately a rare and unintended example of the sort of atavistic ethnocentric paranoia that has inspired so many Jews in Hollywood, the mainstream media, and politics to wage a cultural war against the very people that built America. To H.G. Lewis’ very, very minor credit, his anti-suburbia flick Suburban Roulette (1968) is nowhere near as venomous and anti-Anglo-American as the fierce filmic fart of a farce that is Parents where a cannibalistic ‘fascist’ father that suffers from a sort of perniciously passive-aggressive form of what Jewish Marxists and psychoanalysts call an ‘Authoritarian Personality’ becomes increasingly hostile with his son for refusing to eat human meat.  On a slightly less serious note, the film also can be seen as a sort of allegory for post-JFK youth rebellion and the birth of the counterculture (de)generation due to its depiction of a troubled and somewhat socially ostracized young boy who learns to both hate and distrust his parents and reject his heritage.

 Not unlike Norman Mailer with his shockingly delightful pseudo-Lynchian celluloid disaster Tough Guys Don't Dance (1987), Balaban opted to hire Angelo Badalamenti to compose music for his film so that no one would be confused by the fact that he was attempting to make a poor man’s Blue Velvet. Of course, like his fellow Judaic Mailer, Balaban unwittingly attempted the innately impossible by contriving a film in the spirit of the work of one of American’s most organically poetic and preternaturally instinctual filmmakers, for Lynch’s talent does not come from a dry and calculating intellect but the soul. Indeed, as the great ¾ Hebrew Ludwig Wittgenstein once wrote in regard to the lack of originality of the Jewish mind and the tendency of Jews to merely copy others instead of pioneering, “Amongst Jews ‘genius’ is found only in the holy man. Even the greatest of Jewish thinkers is no more than talented. (Myself for instance.) I think there is some truth in my idea that I really only think reproductively. I don’t believe I have ever invented a line of thinking. I have always taken one over from someone else […] It might be said (rightly or wrongly) that the Jewish mind does not have the power to produce even the tiniest flower or blade of grass; its way is rather to make a drawing of the flower or blade of grass that has grown in the soil of another’s mind and to put it into a comprehensive picture […] It is typical for a Jewish mind to understand someone else’s work better than he understands it himself.”  In other words, Balaban has a superficial understanding of some of the material ingredients that go into a Lynch flick, but he lacks the innate understanding and soul to sire such a film, for only Lynch can direct a Lynch film.  Thankfully, quite unlike Lynch, Balaban has nil love for the people or place he depicts and has used the traditional Hebraic weapon of humor as a means to express his undying hatred for the evil WASPs that would not allow his parents and grandparents to play golf at their posh country club.

 In a sort of cold, detached, and wholly materialistic fashion, Balaban might be able to explain the mechanics and superficial peculiarities of Lynch’s films better than Mr. Eraserhead ever could (after all, Lynch is notorious for being ludicrously sentimental and superficial when explaining his work), but as the great German-American sage H.L. Mencken once noted regarding Jewry, they have “learning without wisdom.” Indeed, where a great Lynch film has a deep, dark, and foreboding metaphysical presence that that engulfs the viewer’s entire soul, Parents thrives on sterile domestic absurdism and a sort of nefariously neurotic spirit, but of course that is not why it is a somewhat worthwhile cinematic work. While the film was not actually penned by the director but a fairly unknown fellow named Christopher Hawthorne—an assumed goy that Balaban randomly met on a plane who worked in a cubicle at pay-cable TV network Showtime's marketing dept—it is immediately apparent while watching Parents that it was created by a racial/cultural outsider who sees 1950s WASP suburbia as a sort of sinister Aryan American utopia that breeds mindless conformism, racial purity, and bizarre pathologies. In other words, there is no doubt that Balaban sees 1950s America as the worst thing since the Third Reich, so naturally it is only fitting that he cast an extremely Hebraic looking little boy that looks like he could be the son of Rick Moranis to play the child protagonist. Somewhat ironically, the film concludes with the boy causing his totally unkosher parent to be burned up in a sort of explosive suburban holocaust that feels like a sick fantasy on the director's part.  It should also be noted that the cannibalism is ultimately revealed to be inter-generational, thus underscoring the irreparably tainted heritage of these extra evil Aryan flesh-eaters.

 Notably, French erotic novelist and unconventional Nietzschean Georges Bataille once wrote, “This [cannibalism] is a desire no longer active in us, one we never feel now.  Archaic societies, however, do show the taboo as alternatively in force and suspended.  Man is never looked upon as butchers' meat, but he is frequently eaten ritually.  The man who eats human flesh knows full well that this is a forbidden act; knowing this taboo to be fundamental he will religiously violate it nevertheless [...] The object some undiscriminating animal is after is not what is desired; the object is ‘forbidden,’ sacred, and the very prohibition attached to it is what arouses the desire.”  Keeping Bataille's words in mind, one could argue that the cannibalism depicted in Parents is merely the therapeutic means by which the all-too-normal titular characters in the film deal with their seemingly emotionally and spiritually draining lives of pathological conformity.  Indeed, it is no simple task acting like a fake bourgeois sociopath all the time, thus cannibalism—the ultimate forbidden taboo—acts as the ultimate orgasmic release from a sham life of self-basing and self-denying suburban conformity.

If Wiggenstein was right when he wrote, “The face is the soul of the body,” then 10-year-old protagonist Michael Laemle (Bryan Madorsky) must be the most patently soulless little boy in the entire world yet, despite his highly debilitating social retardation, he somehow learns to deeply loathe his parents, especially his father, due to their taboo eating habits. Indeed, if there is anything constantly captivating about Parents, it is Michael's brutally flat affect, which is apparent to both his parents Nick (Randy Quaid) and Lily (Mary Beth Hurt) and everyone he encounters, though he seems to be completely oblivious to his glaring social inadequacies. On top of his absurdly autistic essence and seemingly complete and utter incapacity to experience simple human emotions like happiness and joy, Michael tends to say inordinately random and inappropriate things and to ask extremely redundant questions that especially annoy the hell out of his father, who is a peculiarly private man that is obsessed with appearing completely normal.

Michael and his family have just moved to a new undisclosed suburb from Massachusetts and on the first day of school, the protagonist makes quite the first impression when he states to his entire class after his teacher Miss Baxter (Kathryn Grody) asks him to name one new thing he learned over the summer, “Um, if you take a black cat and broil it on the oven…and you peel off the skin of the bones and take it off…and you check on the bone, you’ll be invisible.” While his teacher treats him like a foolish retard and his classmates laugh at him for his nonsensical black cat spiel, he impresses a tall blonde girl named Sheila Zellner (Juno Mills-Cockell), who was held back a grade because she may or may have not done sexually inappropriate things with male classmates and who tells the rather gullible protagonist that she is originally from the moon. While she is a good foot taller than him, sassy Sheila wastes no time in aggressively flirting with Michael by stating, “You ask a lot of question. I like that in a man.”  In other words, Sheila likes the fact that she is the one that gets to wear the pants in their budding relationship. Additionally, Michael takes a likening to her because he genuinely believes she is a space alien. In fact, when Michael informs his parents that he has made a new friend and that she is an extraterrestrial of sorts, his father Nick gets angry and states, “We can’t make friends by telling lies, Michael.” In fact, virtually anytime they interact, Nick gets mad at his son because he says weird things and especially because he refuses to eat. After all, it must be a hard thing for a cannibal to have a son that refuses to eat human flesh that he went to relatively dangerous lengths to procure.  While Michael might be quasi-autistic dunce that seems to be pretty much oblivious to everything, it is only a matter of time before he finally realizes the source of his subconscious dread towards his parents' hermetic home cooking habits.

 As demonstrated by the fact that he routinely refuses to eat and incessantly has horrendous nightmares involving tons of blood and dismembered body parts, Michael seems to subconsciously realize that his ostensibly clean-cut and wholesome progenitors are actually savagely sadistic cannibals with a kinky blood fetish. Indeed, one night after suffering an extra bloody nightmare, Michael goes downstairs and is shocked to find that his half-naked parents are doing some ‘erotic wrestling’ while partly soaked in blood. While he is not beneath killing to acquire corpses, Nick , who is conveniently employed as a scientist at a lab in the Division of Human Testing of a seemingly evil corporation called Toxico, mainly gets his man meat from work where he has a witless nerd underling specially prepare the bodies for him. As for mommy Lily, she does most of the good clean cannibal cooking, though Nick tends to do the grill cooking. Undoubtedly, Michael has a much better relationship with his mother, who, unlike Nick, does not yell at him when he says rather insane things to her like, “[I] found a way where we never have to buy gas anymore. You find some people but they have to be hanged. And you. . .And you chop off their hands and you throw them in the fire and they burn forever.” As a little lad with a fiercely flat affect, Michael naturally makes himself seem all the more creepy by incessantly blankly staring at people as if he is trying to smother their soul. In fact, when Nick catches Michael staring at him one day, he remarks to his son during an extra akward moment of father-son anti-bonding, “You watching me? That’s smart. It’s good to watch. But you know what? Other people are watching you [laughs] At school, at home. . .maybe even in the bathroom. Don’t let them. First law of survival. Do you understand? It’s the next best thing to being invisible.” Of course, considering his increasingly antisocial behavior and reluctance to eat meat, Nick keeps a special eye on Michael, who does just the same exact thing, albeit in a more uniquely unnerving way. 

 When Michael is forced to draw a picture of himself and his family for class and decides to add tons of blood to the sketch as if he were a serial killer-in-training, his worried teacher seeks a social worker named Millie Dew (Sandy Dennis) for help. Miss Dew is somewhat neurotic and when Michael first sees her, he says rather rude things to her like “You’re not a real doctor” and “You’re not a real grown-up. Real grown-ups don’t get upset.” Somewhat predictably, when Michael’s mother comes in to meet with Millie in regard to his aberrant artsy, she lies her ass off and claims that her husband and son have a great relationship. In reality, Nick is perpetually pissed at Michael for refusing to eat meat and usually only spends time with him during dinner time. When Michael dares to ask his father, “We’ve had leftovers every day since we moved here. I’d like to know what they were before they were leftovers,” Nick absurdly replies, “Well, before that, they were leftovers-to-be.” Indeed, it seems that Nick believes that all humans are potential leftovers-to-be. While no one is allowed at his house, Michael simply cannot hold back his little girlfriend Sheila when she runs inside and begins wrecking havoc around the entire place. Naturally, daddy Nick is more than a little bit annoyed when he catches Sheila pouring the patriarch's prized Château Margaux wine on Michael's unclad torso while the two both sit inside a meat freezer in the basement, which is where all the human flesh is kept. Aside from banning Michael from ever playing with Sheila again even though the bad little girl is the daughter of his boss, Nick tells him the following creepy  pseudo-fairytale while tucking him in the for night, “This is a story about a boy…a very naughty little boy about your age, who thought he was better than everyone else. So he played where he wasn’t supposed to play and he destroyed other people’s private property. Do you know why this little boy was this way? He only cared about himself. And in the end, he grew up to be a very lonely, unhappy, self-centered little man.” When Michael’s mother tells Nick to stop telling the story since it is clearly scaring him, the flesh-eating family man expresses his seething hatred for his prodigal son by stating, “Oh, well, mister, you scare me too. You don’t look like me. You don’t act like me. You hate me. Well, you know what? I’m not so crazy about you either.” Needless to say, things only get worse from there. 

 Despite being banned by his father from visiting, Michael soon sneaks over to Sheila’s house and she warns him that all parents are evil phonies and then inspires him to distrust his father all the more by remarking, “Daddy says your father has a lot going on inside his head. Doesn’t say much. Just like you.”  Considering she seems to be the only person he truly trusts and respects since she is the only person that accepts him for who he actually is, Michael ultimately takes Sheila’s words of wisdom very seriously as he immediately decides to sneak into the ‘Division Of Human Testing’ laboratory of his father’s work where he hides under an autopsy table while Nick is carefully dissecting an elderly male corpse. When Nick accidentally drops a pair of surgical scissors on the ground, Michael foolishly grabs them and then runs out of the building.  While Michael manages to evade being spotted by his father, it does not take long for a hopeless paranoiac like Nick to realize what his son has been up to. Of course, things get a little bit unnerving for Michael when his father not only discovers him walking him home, but also later discovers that he has his scissors while they are sitting at the dinner table, thus confirming that the protagonist has been spying on his father. When Michael lies and absurdly states that he found the scissors on the front lawn, his father states, “Do you know what happens to little boys who tell stories? The muscles in their jaws start to tighten and then their lips get stuck together permanently” and then violently stabs a slab of meat with said scissors that is sitting on a plate right next to the protagonist. Later that night after his parents go to bed, Michael finally gets enough testicular fortitude to go looking around the basement and he ultimately gets the shock of a lifetime when he finds a dismembered human leg hanging from a meat hook. 

 When Michael finally tells Millie about his concerns regarding his parents’ antisocial eating habits, the sullen social worker reluctantly accompanies the protagonist back to his house to prove that the decapitated body parts that he claimed to have seen in the basement are just a figment of his imagination. Of course, the two eventually happened upon a corpse, thus causing Millie to scream like a banshee that is being gang-raped by a gang of meth-addled Mexican bikers. Not surprisingly, Millie’s piercing scream alerts Michael parents and thus leads to the social worker being hunted around the house while the protagonist hides. In a scene that was blatantly lifted from Blue Velvet, Millie hides in a closet while Lily stabs through the door with a butcher knife. Though Millie puts up a valiant fight for a neurotic woman that even includes her intentionally wounded her hands by grabbing the knife blade so as to make Lily think that she has been mortally wounded, she is ultimately killed and cooked on the family grill, though Michael vehemently refuses to eat it. In fact, Michael trips his father when he is carrying a tray of Millie’s grilled body parts to the kitchen table, thus hinting that the protagonist developed a special affection for the social worker despite his general distrust of grownups. As punishment for his reckless indiscretions, Michael is tied to his dinner chair while his father states to him in a sadistically self-satisfied  manner, “I’ve been watching you, Michael. You’re an outsider. You’re not like them. You’re like us […] We’re bound for life. No matter how much you hate us. I’m untying you and when you’re free, you can sit down with us and eat, or you can run outside and shout your little secret to the world. And you know what they’ll do? Michael, hmmm? They’ll come here, and they’ll burn us.”

As it turns out, Michael would rather see his parents burn. Indeed, aside from telling his parents that he does not love them anymore due to their quaint eating habits, he stabs his father immediately after he unties him. At this point, Nick decides enough is enough and resolves kill his only son, even yelling like a disgruntled mad man, “Kids! Who made the little bastards? […] We’ll have another one, Lily. We’ll bring him up right.” Of course, despite being a deranged bitch, Lily loves her son too much to allow him to die, so she stabs Nick in the back while he is carrying Michael down the basement stairs. Naturally, Nick stabs Lily back and while he is lying on top of her and penetrating her wife with a knife, it seems like they are making love in what ultimately proves to be a sick (anti)sentimental moment that seems symbolic of their unhinged marriage. While Nick makes a dramatic attempt to catch and kill Michael while succumbing to his wounds, he ultimately causes the entire house to blow up after breaking a gas line and knocking over a large wine rack containing dozens upon dozens of bottles of Château Margaux.  Luckily for Nick, he at least dies in his cannibalistic mancave while drenched in his two favorite drinks: blood and wine. In the end, Michael is happy to go live with his grandparents in the country, though he is left somewhat uneasy when his elders leave a sandwich filled with dubious meat on his nightstand after they tuck him in at night in what is a superlatively stupid and entirely predictable yet somehow fitting twist ending. 

 Be it looked at as a poor Judaic’s take on Lynch, pro-Vegan crypto-propaganda piece, satire of lame old school TV sitcoms like Leave It to Beaver, allegorical depict of American’s Jewry’s innate feeling of alienation in WASP suburbia, PSA for young Jewish children about the dangers of white goyim or all of the above, Parents thankfully invites many interpretations that—for better or worse—oftentimes transcend what is probably the film's true intrinsic intellectual worth. For example, it should be noted that the protagonist’s family surname, Laemle, is very close to that of German-Jewish Hollywood pioneer Carl Laemmle, who was a founder of Universal Studios and who both financed and sponsored hundreds of Jews from Laupheim and Württemberg to emigrate from Nazi Germany to the United States in the 1930s. Notably, director Balaban comes from a similar background as his uncle Barney Balaban was president of Paramount Pictures for nearly 30 years from 1936-1964, his father co-owned a movie palace chain, and his mother was an actress. If one were to take the Laemle surname seriously as a subtextual reference of sorts, one could argue that the cannibal family is a metaphor for American Jewry's attempt to assimilate into the white Christian majority, with the boy protagonist ultimately rebelling against the secret cannibalism (translation: crypto-Judaism) of his parents (interestingly, there is no evidence in the film that the Laemle are Christians, as they have no crucifixes or portraits of Christ on their walls, which was quite common among white families during that time).  After all, whether it be the Marrano crypto-Jews of Iberia or the Ashkenazim of Germany and Prussia during the early 1800s who, like Karl Marx's family, oftentimes disingenuously converted to Protestantism as a means to enjoy all political rights of citizenship, Jews have a very long history of living schizophrenic existences and acting in a completely different manner while behind closed doors. Either way, there is no question that Parents is a playfully pernicious assault on pre-counterculture white American before feminism, cultural Marxism and the so-called ‘New Left,’ sexual liberation and birth control, civil rights and multiculturalism, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, and no-fault divorce turned white gentile America into the innately amoral and irreligious chaotic nightmare it is today. 

 While not exactly a hit film among most respectable film critics and academics, Parents actually received a fairly rave review from respected American film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum, who gave it three out of four stars and listed it is a “must-see.” Indeed, Rosenbaum audaciously wrote, “Choosing a movie to take with me to a desert island, I would opt without a second’s hesitation for Parents over such relatively predictable Oscar-mongering exercises as RAIN MAN, THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST, or DANGEROUS LIAISONS, because it’s a movie that kept me fascinated, guessing, and curious — even when it irritated me.” On top of quite generously comparing Balaban’s directing techniques to that of Orson Welles, Stanley Kubrick, and even Raúl Ruiz, Rosenbaum, who is a proud leftist Jew (and, like Balaban, comes from a family of movie theater owners), lauds the film for not succumbing to what he sees as the “politically conservative,” “reactionary,” and “retrogressive” nature of David Lynch’s films, arguing, “Far from being nostalgic about the 50s (i.e., the present) like BLUE VELVET, PARENTS is corrosively analytical about the subject, and there’s no real innocence to be found or celebrated here; even Michael has too much of a morbid streak to qualify as “pure” (like the Laura Dern character in BLUE VELVET).” Personally, I have to agree with Rosenbaum’s sentiments, even if I do not subscribe to his outmoded political beliefs, as it is plain to see that Lynch loves white suburbia and Balaban absolutely loathes it.  Interestingly, in the same review, Rosenbaum notes the curious fact that many of Lynch's fans are leftists, thus underscoring the seeming willful ignorance of his fan base.  Of course, to his great credit, Lynch has thankfully never made a film with imaginary negro rocket scientists or ultra altruistic Judaic humanitarians, as he seems to be completely incapable of following in line with the cultural Marxist Hollywood narrative.  After all, only Lynch could get away with directing a film like Wild at Heart (1990) that begins with Nicholas Cage violently beating to death a supremely sleazy sambo to the less than soothing sounds of heavily distorted metal music.  In many ways, Lynch seems to be the living embodiment of the deranged white suburbanite that inspired Balaban's debut feature.

Personally, I cannot even count the many times that I have seen wholly worthless horror films with both covert and overt anti-WASP sentiments, so it was almost refreshing to see a film as preternatural and nuanced in terms of its goyim-bashing as Parents.  Indeed, more than just simply moronically mocking white suburbia, the film is practically dripping with Balaban's own angst, paranoia, and disdain for mild-mannered blue-eyed and blond-haired people.  For whatever reason, it seems 1988 was a good year for wildly idiosyncratic anti-Aryan horror, as it also saw the release of the all the more perversely autistic horror-melodrama Pin (1988) directed by kosher Canadian Sandor Stern. Despite its absolutely bizarre brand of anti-Aryan paranoia, Stern’s film is absolutely beloved by an extremely gay Belgian nationalist/Odinist/neofolk fan that I used to somewhat know, but I digress.  

 A film that does for 1950s white suburbia what Revenge of the Nerds (1984) did for traditional Anglo-run universities and WASP fraternities in terms of mirthfully yet mercilessly maligning the old Euro-American mainstream and celebrating its demise in a fashion comparable to when Stalin’s Hebraic chief henchman Lazar Kaganovich bragged “Mother Russia is cast down. We have ripped away her skirts” while standing at the ruins of the great Cathedral of Christ the Savior after he had it destroyed, Balaban’s debut is an unintentional reminder why pogroms happen but that is also one of the reasons why it is so surprisingly intriguing, as it offers a rare insight into the sort of Hebraic paranoia that has led to Jewish politicians to promoting multiculturalism and the flooding of the United States with the sort of hostile third world people that have been brought here specifically to destroy the traditional racial, moral, and cultural character of the country.  Of course, this is also why most Jews, including the so-called conservative ones like Zionist warmonger and neocon Bill Kristol, are so petrified of Donald Trump becoming the president of the United States as he is a symbol of both WASP power and a serious threat to Jewish power and subversion, even if he pays superifical lip service to the welfare apartheid state of Israel.

Undoubtedly, it is hard to hate a film that the rather rotund celebrity film critic Roger Ebert once described as, “a real weirdo, one of the strangest, most depraved, certainly most depressing films I have ever seen.”  Of course, Ebert was also famously offended by Blue Velvet, so Balaban's film is in good company.  While Balaban would take one more shot at the horror-comedy subgenre with the rather lame undead romcom My Boyfriend's Back (1993) and would direct episodes of various horror oriented TV series like Eerie, Indiana (1991-1993) and The Twilight Zone (2002-2003), he never again directed anything nearly as interesting or socially substantial as the cryptically hateful iconoclastic idiosyncrasy of Parents and is probably best known nowadays for his acting roles in Wes Anderson films and quirky cult films like his fellow four-eyed Hebraic homeboy Terry Zwigoff’s Ghost World (2001). Certainly, it is strange to think that the four-eyed dork that conned Jon Voight out of a free suck-fuck in John Schlesinger’s Midnight Cowboy (1969) would go on to direct arguably the most sardonic and socio-politically esoteric of cannibal films. On a more personal level, I can thank Balaban for strengthening my craving for red meat.  Indeed, I have never considered Schrader's ladylove Mary Beth Hurt to be a particularly sexy broad, but in Parents she looks rather delectable while both fingering red meat in a dress and engaging in a sort of cannibal sex ritual while vital bodily fluids are covering her quite fair flesh.  Likewise, I never thought wild mensch Randy Quaid would be so good at portraying an unnervingly uptight bourgeois bastard who has more dark secrets than Jerry Sandusky.

-Ty E

Jun 7, 2016

Lost River

Naturally, as someone that has an innate aversion to virtually all-things-Hollywood, I find it rather dubious when some huge Tinseltown superstar randomly decides that they want to become a ‘cinematic artiste’ and begin directing films, as if to prove to themselves that they are more than just glorified prostitutes. Indeed, Warren Beatty’s epically banal Bolshevik belch Reds (1981), Sean Penn’s badly botched Friedrich Dürrenmatt adaptation The Pledge (2001), Angelina Jolie’s culturally retarded piece of plodding plagiarism In the Land of Blood and Honey (2001), and especially George Clooney’s pointlessly black-and-white pseudo-arthouse comsymp joke Good Night, and Good Luck (2005) are just a couple examples of what happens when extremely rich and famous airheads get bored and decide that they want to play artist by using the seemingly limitless technical and monetary resources at their disposal to up their game in terms of shallow virtue signaling and lame leftist cheerleading, among other less than noble things.  One also cannot forget the fact that actors-turned-directors like Ron Howard and Robert Redford have probably done more to perpetuate the misguided stereotype that WASPs are humorless soulless dorks with their films than any of the films directed by their racially hostile Hebraic colleagues. Of course, some actors have proved that they had would it takes to be a great auteur as demonstrated by English character actor Charles Laughton’s sole feature The Night of the Hunter (1955) and Dennis Hopper’s Easy Rider (1969) and Out of the Blue (1980), but these are mostly rare exceptions. Needless to say, when I initially discovered that Canadian heartthrob Ryan Gosling—an actor that I consider to be fairly talented, even if he has appeared in a number of supremely shitty films that are made to wet the panties of preteen girls—was directing his first feature, I was quite intrigued but also somewhat concerned.

While on one hand, Gosling proved early on in his career that he had an inordinate degree of emotional intelligence by managing to seemingly perfectly pull off the role of a self-loathing Jewish neo-Nazi in Henry Bean’s The Believer (2001) despite his totally non-kosher Aryan good looks, the unquestionably talented actor does not exactly scream fanatical auteur and seems more like a follower than a leader, thus making him seem somewhat unfit for the dictatorial duties of being a filmmaker (after all, film history has demonstrated that many of the great auteur filmmakers ranging from Stanley Kubrick to Rainer Werner Fassbinder have proven to be almost intolerable to work with).  After all, unfortunately for Gosling, it seems that many of the great filmmakers of history also tended to be quite nerdy, unattractive, and/or otherwise unlikable. Of course, if there is any contemporary actor that I would want to see direct a film, it is Gosling, so naturally I was quite excited upon learning about his directorial debut Lost River (2014). Although the film had the honor of premiering in competition in the Un Certain Regard section of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, it was almost unanimously trashed by critics and received piss poor limited theatrical distribution (in fact, the film’s U.S. distributor Warner Bros. Pictures even considering selling it to another studio due to its poor reception). Considering the critics seem to love anything that is directed by absurdly arrogant white liberal psychopaths like Beatty and Clooney, I only became all the more interested in seeing Gosling after learning of its poor critical reception. Luckily, Lost River not only proved to be a legitimate auteur effort that hints that Gosling might one day become a formidable filmmaker with his own distinct cinematic vision, but it is also somewhat politically correct as a sometimes surprising flick that breaks with the mainstream white/Jewish liberal narrative, especially in regard to its rather empathetic portrayal of white proles and their rapid decline. 

 One of the most frequent criticisms that Gosling’s film has received is that it is ‘derivative,’ even though it takes a more subtle and seamless approach to honoring its influences than shameless negrophile Tarantino does with his films. Personally, I think many of these critics were offended that a brooding pretty boy like Gosling dared to make such an ambitious and oftentimes beauteous film that does not follow the mainstream leftist narrative and instead depicts a spiritually necrotizing dystopian realm featuring poor struggling white families, deranged black bums, disillusioned anti-American immigrants, and an ambiguously Jewish banker played by real-life Judaic Ben Mendelsohn that acts as a zany villain who tries to take advantage of a single mother that is desperate to support her two sons.  Seemingly completely apolitical and without any real agenda aside from the desire to create cinematic art, Gosling seems to have merely abstractly channeled his emotional response to the rampant societal decay that he encountered while visiting the post-industrial wasteland that is Detroit. Shot by Belgian cinematographer Benoît Debie, who has shot a number of important contemporary arthouse works, including Gaspar Noé’s Irréversible (2002) and Enter the Void (2009), Lucile Hadžihalilović’s Innocence (2004), Fabrice Du Welz’s Calvaire (2004) aka The Ordeal and Vinyan (2008), and Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers (2012), among other notable films, Lost River feels the result of Gosling attempting to make a Detroit Blue Velvet meets a pro-Europid Gummo disguised as an homage to Mario Bava and Le Théâtre du Grand-Guignol, albeit with shades of Terrence Malick, early Tim Burton, and Derek Cianfrance, among other less conspicuous influences. Championed by Mexican Hollywood filmmaker Guillermo del Toro (The Devil's Backbone, Pan's Labyrinth) of all people, Gosling's film undoubtedly deserves comparisons to David Robert Mitchell’s excellent arthouse-horror flick It Follows (2014) in that sense that it is an intentionally visually anachronistic piece of slow-burning and foreboding celluloid Americana that portrays Detroit and American in general as a sort of perennial purgatory that has been plagued by some unknown metaphysical curse that has destroyed love, happiness, the family, and virtually everything else that makes life worth living. 

 While I do not want to succumb to Kael-esque puffery, Lost River is a great contemporary example as to why foreigner filmmakers oftentimes make more insightful and just damn delightfully damning cinematic depictions of the United States than native directors. Indeed, if Werner Herzog’s Stroszek (1977) depicted an America where even the most remote regions of the Midwest were afflicted with the alienating and dejecting effects of capitalism, Gosling’s strangely sentimental neo-fairytale depicts a rotting America empire on the verge of the apocalypse where love and romance seems to be a bittersweet memory from a time when romantic interpersonal connections were still possible and fathers and strong men still held society together.  In Gosling's film, demonic dickheads ruthlessly rule all segments of society as if they were placed in their places of power by the devil himself, virtually all young people seem to have already given up hope, and all old people either seem to be insane or in some catatonic state as if they cannot cope with what has happened to the world. At least partly inspired by Gosling’s upbringing as the scared son of an attractive single mother who was incessantly hit on by men, Lost River is also a rare contemporary film that demonstrates that single moms are oftentimes not the strong and independent ‘bad asses’ that Hollywood movies and the mainstream media and TV would have you believe, but instead vulnerable, desperate, and oftentimes damaged dames that sometimes have to subject themselves to degradation just to make ends meet. Additionally, the film reveals that single mothers are incapable of controlling their sons, as the male protagonist not only somewhat resents his mother, but also acts as both a surrogate husband and father as a young man that seems to spend more time raising and teaching his younger brother than his mommy does. Notably, in an interview with del Toro during the first day of the 2015 SXSW Film Festival, Gosling would confess in regard to the uneasy feeling of growing up with a beauteous mom that was always the center of unwanted male attention and its imperative influence on his film, “When you're a kid and you have a single mom, all men feel like wolves. Guys would whistle at her — it was very predatory and threatening. As a kid I felt helpless, so you start to imagine all these [scenarios] where you can do something. You see the world through the filter of your imagination.” Considering the film features a scene where a single mother assumedly brutally murders a posh pervert that attempts to get a little bit too close to her, there is no question that, in a sense, Lost River is an almost brutally incriminating auteur piece that hints that Gosling suffers from a somewhat strange case of modern misandry that seems to be the unintended consequence of being the son of a MILF. 

 Featuring a highly complementary original musical score by Johnny Jewel, who is the owner/producer of the great record label Italians Do It Better and who is probably best known for his music in Bronson (2008) and Drive (2011), Lost River predictably demonstrates that Gosling's collaborations with Danish auteur Nicolas Winding Refn have had a huge aesthetic influence on him as a filmmaker. In short, the Jewel produced Chromatics song, “Yes (Love Theme from Lost River)” is just as an imperative ingredient of the film as the Kavinsky, Chromatics, and Desire songs are in Drive. Of course, Gosling’s friendship with del Toro, who convinced Gosling to direct the film by telling the actor-turned-auteur that he would direct his script if he did not, also had a major influence on the genesis of the film. Luckily, Gosling’s film is not plagued with the lame and predictable sort of quasi-Marxist subtexts that totally tainted the Mexican filmmaker’s more notable cinematic works. While probably not a conscious decision, Gosling was not doing his career a favor by casting a Judaic actor with the quite famous Hebraic surname ‘Mendelsohn’ (although not related to the famous German-Jewish Mendelssohn family, Mendelsohn is indeed descended from Prussian Jews). Likewise, Gosling revealed that he was not a white liberal bleeding heart faggot when he opted to allow black crackheads who just happened to wander onto the set to appear in the film in fairly unflattering yet nonetheless humorous roles, or as he explained to del Toro, “In some cases we found ourselves in situations where it was easier to let whoever showed up to be in the movie as opposed to keep them out. The actors had to try to weave these strangers into the reality of the movie. There's one case where we were shooting in the gas station…and I think they were selling something else in the gas station, and some people really wanted it. It got really intense so at a certain point we said, ‘Fuck it, just let them into the scene.’” 

 In its quite quixotic combination of quasi-Fantastique imagery and gritty sub-prole realism that oftentimes feels disturbingly surreal in a sort of Korine-esque sense, Lost River is indubitably a strange celluloid beast that is sure to bother cinephiles and philistines alike due to its unwillingness to be ghettoized into any single genre or style, not to mention the fact that it oftentimes straddles the line between highly stylized high-camp kitsch and serious understated melodrama. Arguably more intriguingly, the film reveals Gosling to be, not unlike his characters in Drive and Only God Forgives, a lost soul with a lot of pent up rage, as it depicts forlorn characters that commit ultra-violent yet justified murders, thus hinting that the filmmaker is no pussy pacifist (in fact, when he was only in first grade, he was suspended from school for throwing steak knives at some bullies during recess). Indeed, the violence in the film is not the sort of soulless cartoonish Tarantino-esque sensationalism that works the same way as a cumshot does in a fuck flick, but is instead a seemingly sincere and therapeutic expression of the filmmaker’s own desire for revenge and poetic justice, which is ultimately cinematically unleashed on perverted Judaic bankers and psychopathic bullies. It should also be noted that Gosling opted to whore out his strong Latina baby-momma Eva Mendes and had her play the role of a sort of neo-cabaret scream queen that makes a living being brutally murdered in an glamorously gorgeous fashion on stage for admiring sadists. Undoubtedly, Gosling’s single mother background and choice in female partner says a lot about him as a person and thus it should be no surprise that Lost River depicts an innately morally and sexually inverted world where fathers are spoken of if they are mysterious ghosts, a chaotic matriarchy is the only form of family, and girls are oftentimes braver and more stoic than boys. Once somewhat curiously described by Gosling as “my version of Dark GOONIES,” the film took the director three years to complete after conception, but I believe it was worth the wait. In fact, before even coming up with a screenplay or storyline, Gosling began shooting footage of the ruins of Detroit with a RED digital camera (though most of the film would eventually be shot on 35mm film), thus reflecting his obsessive dedication to the project, which is quite apparent while watching the film. 

 Surely when I think of Lost River, the following Heinrich Mann quote comes to mind, “Aestheticism is the product of times without hope, of states that kill hope.” Indeed, like a Tim Burton flick on cheap hillbilly acid, albeit with a soul, Gosling’s flick features a foreboding forsaken netherworld where a certain repugnant and sometimes putrid aesthetic seems to engulf everyone’s life. From the flagrantly trashy neon graffiti on ruined buildings and homes in Detroit to a dimly lit demonic cabaret where decadent dimestore divas ply their trade and bring a sort of unhinged collective ecstasy to an abhorrent audience comprised of wealthy degenerates that get off to the sickly sordid sight of dead dames covered in blood to the strikingly beauteous destruction of ancient middleclass homes in flames during the blue hour, Lost River depicts an aesthetically atrocious yet nonetheless undeniably enthralling world dominated by corrosive colors and imagery that hardly brings solace to the soul yet cannot be ignored. While the aesthetically degrading graffiti seems like the modern-day equivalent of cave drawings as created by sub-literate urban neo-primitives, the cabaret shows and house fires give off the vibe of being Satanic rituals that entertain the wealthy psychopaths that have managed to succeed in the conspicuously corrupt sinking ship that is post-Christian multicultural America. Notably, even the sub-lumpenprole villain in the film sports a flashy diamond-studded Michael Jackson-esque jacket that seems to represent the sort of style-over-substance mentality that plagues not only Detroit but the country in general. Quite fittingly, virtually all the visuals that represent something loving are static and/or lo-fi, including seemingly ancient wedding footage of a terminally distraught widowed grandmother and the cheap keyboard of her inordinately soulful yet sullen granddaughter.  Undoubtedly, one of the most uniquely unforgettable moments of the film is when Irish actress Saoirse Ronan sings the absolutely haunting song “Tell Me” on her tiny electric keyboard. In many ways that the director probably did not consciously intend, Gosling’s film is almost like an artsy fartsy advertisement from Emperor Trump’s glorious “Make America Great Again” campaign.  On the other hand, the world depicted in the film is so forsaken that it seems completely beyond any sort of redemption, hence why the characters decide to move in the end.

 Lost Rivers begins with a little blond boy named Franky emerging from his family’s exceedingly dilapidated family home and crying to himself, “I’m gonna help you. A monster gonna eat you, Dada. The monster gonna eat me, Father.” Unfortunately, this poor little lad does not have a “dada” and instead relies on his young adult brother Bones (Iain De Caestecker)—a seemingly lost and confused fellow that could hardly be described as a strong alpha-male—for a paternal figure. While busty redheaded momma Billy (Christina Hendricks) loves her boys and would do anything for them, she is certainly no substitute for a proper patriarch and is on the brink of losing the family home to an evil predatory bank that is bent on buying every single house in the area and then burning them down. Indeed, Billy and her boys, who are one of the last surviving families in their neighborhood, watch in anxiety-ridden dread as their neighbors homes are regularly burned down by less than sympathetic guys that work for the bank. While his mother clearly needs extra help and support, Bones hopes to leave the area as soon as he finishes working on his car. To buy parts for his supremely shitty antique automobile, Bones steals copper pipes out of abandoned buildings and then sells them to a negro junkyard owner. Unfortunately, Bones more or less risks his life when he goes pillaging for copper as he is liable to be caught by a deranged ghetto Führer named ‘Bully’ (Matt Smith), who rides around in a supremely shitty white convertible with a makeshift ‘throne’ and shouts things out of a bullhorn like, “I put a sign up here that says ‘Don’t let me see your fucking face near my motherfucking copper.’ This is my fucking copper. I own this fucking copper. I own this city. I own this copper. This is my fucking copper […] This is my country, this is my city. I own this fucking city [...] Welcome to Bullytown!”  Undoubtedly, Bully's mobile bullhorn buffoonery seems like a savagely sardonic parody of the unorthodox political campaigning tactics of the fictional presidential candidate Hal Phillip Walker in Robert Altman's classic satirical country musical Nashville (1975).  Needless to say, when Bully spots Bones stealing copper, he declares him a dead man and demands that his underling ‘Face’ (Torrey Wigfield) hunt down the male protagonist. As the bombastic negro that owns the junkyard warns Bones, “Bully running everything now. You a dead motherfucker. You know, he caught that boy up there on St. Mary’s, that little Chinese boy. Cut his goddamn lips off with a pair of scissors. You think that motherfucker looked funny in the beginning? You ought to see him now, Bones. No more copper. No more you, Bones.”  In Fact, when ‘Face’ fails to catch Bones after the latter steals back a sack of copper that was stolen from him, Bully decides to cruelly punish him by cutting off his lips, hence his rather unfortunate nickname. 

 When Billy goes to the big bad bank to discuss a house loan that she is three months behind on, she is less than delighted to meet a new exceedingly arrogant banker named Dave (Ben Mendelsohn) who practically radiates sleaziness and who has been brought to the area to consolidate bank branches. When Billy willfully expresses her strong desire to keep her house since it belonged to her grandmother, Dave practically mocks her peasant sentimentality and tries to coerce her into giving up the house, stating, “If I were you…I’d make the payments, walk away with the money. Because I’m telling you, the wolves, if they’re not already at your door…they’re gonna be there very fucking soon.” After discovering that Billy has no job and thus no means of acquiring capital to pay off the loan, Dave gives her a business card for a schlocky yet sinister cabaret that he owns and hints that she should whore herself out by complimenting her on her beauty. Indeed, while Billy does not want to believe it, Dave wants her to be his whore and he is wholly willing to exploit her monetary desperation to get in her MILF panties. Naturally, when Bones eventually discovers that his mother is in dire need of money to pay for the family home, he decides that he must use his copper pillaging money for her instead of parts for his car. As the film progress, Bones must avoid ghetto quasi-wigger antagonist Bully and his henchman Face while his mother attempts to not be raped or molested by upper-class scumbag Dave, with both villains ultimately reflecting the fact that all level of society are controlled by innately evil and craven sadists that exploit the weaknesses and desperation of the protagonists. While Bully reflects evil in its most visceral, primitive, and savage form, Dave is like the devil in the form of an obnoxious Jewish comedian. In the seemingly perennial pandemonium that is Lost River, hope is nonexistent and love seems like a strange memory.  Additionally, aside from the sadistic glee that the villains derive from tormenting their victims, the entire population of the town seems plagued by anhedonia.

 While Bones seems to have some romantic interest in his beautiful and intelligent yet somber neighbor ‘Rat’ (Saoirse Ronan)—a girl whose unfortunate nickname derives from the fact her best friend is her pet rodent ‘Nick’—the two seem to lack the strength to declare their affection for one another and thus act like virtual children around one another.  Rat's deep love for Bones is hinted in a scene where she soulfully sings a song on her keyboard with the rather revealing lyrics “Whisper, that you want me / And I'll, love you always / Truly, you will be mine / For eternity.”  While Rat is a rather eccentric chick that enjoys watching vintage documentaries on a seemingly ancient projector, she seems perfectly sane compared to her borderline catatonic grandmother (British scream queen Barbara Steele in a role originally intended for Karen Black, who died of cancer before shooting), who has not spoken since her hubby died decades before and who spends all her time incessantly watching home movies from her wedding.  After running away from Bully and his goon Face one day, Bones discovers a road that leads to a somewhat ominous yet nonetheless stunning river that curiously has streetlights sticking out of the water, as if a lost aquatic ghost-town lies underneath. When Bones tells Rat about his strange discovery, she informs him that there is indeed a town under the river that was intentionally submerged with water during the building of a reservoir, hence the name ‘Lost River.’ As Rat explains to Bones, “My grandmother used to live there. She hasn’t been the same ever since. No one has. As soon as the last town was drowned…an evil spell was cast on Lost River […] That’s why this whole place feels like it’s underwater too.” Needless to say, Bones finds Rat’s story to be somewhat dubious, especially in regard to curse. The next day, Bones decides to dive into the river and gets the shock of a lifetime when he happens upon a large dinosaur, which is actually a display piece from an old amusement park. That night, Rat shows Bones a vintage doc about the building of the dam and flooding of the neighborhood and then remarks in regard to the death of her grandfather and how it effected her grandmother, “He died during the construction of the dam. She hasn’t spoken ever since.” When Rat asks Bones, “Now do you believe about the spell?” and he replies, “No,” she tells him “That only way to break it is to bring a piece to the surface.” Needless to say, it is ultimately up to Bones to end the curse, though it is going to have to take discovering that his mother is working as a quasi-prostitute for the male protagonist to get the gall to dive to the depths of the river, decapitate the dinosaur display, and use it to symbolically break the curse. 

 As revealed by his rather forward sleazily salacious confession to her, “I like to fuck. That’s my problem. And when I meet a bad bitch, it drives me crazy. I really, really…think about it,” degenerate Dave is desperate to defile busty Billy. In a scene where he sings the song “Cool Water” composed by Johnny Jewel at his cabaret for an adoring audience of bourgeois degenerates, Dave also demonstrates that he is the sort of rampantly heterosexual Jewish banker equivalent to Dean Stockwell’s poof pimp character in Lynch’s Blue Velvet. Needless to say, it is only a matter of time before shameless sexual predator Dave attempts to molest Billy, who practically bleeds vulnerability, or so it seems. Although a hopeless girly girl that likes to cry a lot, Billy has a somewhat fierce cabaret routine that involves her slicing up and peeling off her face in a marvelously morbid fashion that recalls both Georges Franju's Les yeux sans visage (1960) aka Eyes Without a Face and Jesús Franco's super schlocky quasi-remake Faceless (1988).  The main diva of the cabaret is a sassy Latina named ‘Miss Kitty Cat’ (Gosling's girl Eva Mendes) and she helps Billy with her act, but she also encourages her to get involved with an all the more unsavory side job that ultimately puts the female protagonist in a very precarious situation that debauched dickhead Dave takes full advantage of.

When Billy takes a special job at the cabaret at Cat's recommendation to earn extra money that involves her being locked inside a translucent purple ‘shell’ while paying perverts stand in front of her and do whatever they want, she does not consider that Dave has a special remote to open said shell. Unluckily for Dave, Billy is indeed a “bad bitch” and wastes no time in stabbing him in the ear with her prized switchblade in a Jodorowsky-esque scene that is somewhat surprising in terms of how the violence unfolds.  Indeed, Dave, who does a sort of eccentrically debauched mating dance of sorts before trying to hump the heroine, does not even get to touch so much as a titty before Billy stabs him in the ear (it should also be noted that Dave is already deaf in his other ear, so if he somehow survives the stabbing, he is probably left completely deaf).  Meanwhile, to protect her best bud Bones while he hides inside a convenience store, Rat more or less sacrifices herself in the name of loving by accepting a ride home from Bully. Of course, being the evil sadistic villain that he is, Bully violently murders Rat’s beloved rat by violently stabbing it multiple times. As a result of finding about his mother's degrading job after driving her to work one day and being unable to cope with Bully's increasingly sinister behavior, Bones decides enough is enough and decides to leave his little brother Franky with Rat so that he can dive into the lake and obtain the sort of ‘hobo holy grail’ that will supposedly break the curse. Unfortunately, while Rat is playing with Franky, Bully’s bitch boy Face shows up and sets her house on fire. While Rat’s grandmother is in the same room as Face when he sets her house on fire, the catatonic elderly widow barely pays him a glance and allows herself to be burned alive in the home after her wedding home movie ends. When Bully later attempts to run Bones over after setting the protagonist's car on fire, the protagonist takes the decapitated plastic dinosaur head that he has rescued from the lake and throws at his nemesis’ windshield, thus causing the psychopath to crash his car and ultimately drown in the lake in a fittingly horrendous fashion. In the end, Bones, Billy, Franky, and Rat leave their Detroit neighborhood with a foreign taxi driver (Reda Kateb) for good to assumedly start a new life somewhere else where psychotic negro crackheads, megalomaniacal wigger lunatics, and eccentric Jewish sexual predators are less prominent. 

 Notably, during one particularly telling scene in Lost River that seems to underscore one of the central themes of the film, Gosling reveals his true feelings about Obama era America in a scenario where the taxi driver played by Reda Kateb states regarding the grand illusion that is the American dream, “They like burning houses, you know. This is like a game. You know…in my country, in my place…when you heard about America, everybody said…there’s so much money there…and you’re gonna have a big car, a big house and a swimming pool…and you’re gonna catch money on the floor…and you just have to take it and pick it up. Um, finally, it’s different, but…you realize when you arrive here, it’s different. So everybody’s looking for a better life somewhere. It’s tied up. And maybe we’ll find some. One day.” According to Gosling in various interviews related to the film, he apparently used to have a “crush” on America and Detroit, but that all changed when he finally realized his dream of visiting the Midwestern city and discovered that it was an ungodly hellhole that is not fit for human living. Indeed, while Harmony Korine—a racist Judaic that, on numerous occasions, has expressed his contempt and hatred for whites—made the South seem like a post-apocalyptic white trash sewer in Gummo (contrary to being set in the small Midwestern town of Xenia, Ohio as described in the film, it was actually shot in the director’s hometown of Nashville, Tennessee) in a fashion that reeks of arrogance towards the Euro-American goyim, Gosling reveals a great empathy towards the surviving inhabitants of Motor City, as if he too, despite being a Canadian, nostalgically longs for a no longer existent America that was unequivocally destroyed by so-called civil rights, desegregation, multiculturalism, and deindustrialization, among other things. Instead of succumbing to the grotesque act of vanity known as virtue signaling or attempting to portray ghetto negroes as all-wise rocket scientists, Gosling presents an unhinged wonderland where both whites and blacks are under some mysterious curse that has destroyed the nuclear family and turned everyone into poor neo-serfs of some ominous faceless banking entity that is run by effeminate beta-bitches that have a thirst for blood and desperate single moms. While I somewhat doubt it was a conscious decision on Gosling’s part, Mendelsohn’s character can almost be described as a quasi-Lynchian equivalent to the titular villiain of Veit Harlan’s infamous National Socialist classic Jud Süß (1940 film) and that is just one of the many reasons why Lost River is both intriguing and highly relevant. 

 I would have never guessed that Gosling is a Fassbinder fan, but Barbara Steele’s character seems to be a clever subtextual reference to the tragic Teutonic auteur's classic film The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979). Indeed, aside from the fact that Steele dresses virtually exactly the same way as Braun does after she assumes her husband has died, the fact that the character incessantly re-watches a home movie of her wedding seems to be alluding to the title of Fassbinder’s film, not to mention the fact that both characters arguably commit (subconscious) suicide and symbolically suffer the same fiery fate as their homes. Of course, like many of the characters in Fassbinder’s films, Steele’s character suffers from great sorrow and the total incapacity to grieve, but I digress. If there is anything to be learned about Gosling simply by watching his directorial debut, it is that, despite his charm and cutesy behavior during interviews, he seems to be a covertly melancholic man who, despite his great success, is still deeply haunted by old wounds, as if he is still the scared boy who lost his father and ultimately suffered the horrible fate of being incessantly drenched in estrogen and ultimately learning “to think like a girl” (indeed, this is how Gosling described what happened to him after his parents divorced when he was 13 and he was forced under the dubious influence of his mother and elder sister).  In his directorial debut, Gosling certainly demonstrates has a sort of inordinate talent when it comes to choosing female wardrobes and makeup to the point where it seems like he watched a Werner Schroeter marathon in preparation for his film.  Like Schroeter and his Swiss pal Daniel Schmid, Gosling also seems to be diva obsessed, especially for a heterosexual man (after all, the actor could have pretty much any woman in the entire world, yet he is with Mendes, who is a somewhat rough alpha-bitch of sorts that can hardly be described as one of the most beauteous babes in the world). Either way, Lost River is surely the film that the millions upon millions of Gosling fangirls (and boys) need to see if they want to understand the real Ryan Gosling, who proved that he is not the mensch that everyone thinks he is by siring an allegorical neo-fairytale that transcends the brutality of a Brothers Grimm tale that arguably reveals that its creator is a troubled yet nonetheless hopeful young man who still seems trapped in an internal pandemonium of foreboding boyish melancholy.   Still, despite the film's melancholic tone, it radiates a certain dark childish wonder and intrigue, hence why the director has described seemingly unlikely fantasy movies as The Secret of NIMH (1982), Howard the Duck (1986), and Batteries Not Included (1987) as having an important influence on his film. Notably, during an interview conducted at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, Gosling expressed being somewhat disturbed as a child by a scene in Howard the Duck featuring a naked duck chick.

 When it comes down to it, Lost River ultimately features a simple yet timeless moral message of Arthurian proportions (in fact, Gosling once described the character Bones as being ‘Parzival’ and Bully being the ‘Red Knight’) where a hero must not only gather the courage to first identity and then confront an evil, but also put his life on the line and attempt destroy it. After all, protagonist Bones is initially too afraid to even acknowledge the ‘curse’ and is only willing to accept and fight it when both his ladylove and mother fall victim to this evil, but I guess one cannot accept much from the emasculated son of a single mother. Notably, as Aryan Christ C.G. Jung noted in his classic text Modern Man In Search Of a Soul (1933) in regard to the tendency of man to ignore problems like the plague, “The biblical fall of man presents the dawn of consciousness as a curse. And as a matter of fact it is in this light that we first look upon every problem that forces us to greater consciousness and separates us even further from the paradise of unconscious childhood. Every one of us gladly turns away from his problems; if possible, they must not be mentioned, or, better still, their existence is denied. We wish to make our lives simple, certain and smooth—and for that reason problems are tabu. We choose to have certainties and no doubts—results and no experiments—without even seeing that certainties can arise only through doubt, and results through experiment. The artful denial of a problem will not produce conviction; on the contrary, a wider and higher consciousness is called for to give us the certainty and clarity we need.” Of course, Lost River is a luscious and deliciously phantasmagoric arthouse fantasy flick and thus does not diagnosis the real curse that is plaguing America, but the very fact that it acknowledges the accursed state of America automatically puts it above virtually all contemporary Hollywood films in terms of importance and relevance, though I guess that that does not say much since Tinseltown thrives on gross lies and deceptions.  Thankfully, Gosling unwittingly opted to hire a Hebrew to play the role of a hyper horny and decidedly degenerate evil banker, thus the film is ultimately more realistic in terms of presenting the malignant virus that is eating away at America than the director originally intended.

 Interestingly, in Modern Man In Search Of a Soul, Jung also makes an attempt at art criticism and argues, “The personal idiosyncrasies that creep into a work of art are not essential; in fact, the more we have to cope with these peculiarities, the less is it a question of art. What is essential in a work of art is that it should rise far above the realm of personal life and speak from the spirit and heart of the poet as man to the spirit and heart of mankind. The personal aspect is a limitation—and even a sin—in the realm of art. When a form of ‘art’ is primarily personal it deserves to be treated as if it were a neurosis […] In his capacity of artist he is neither autoerotic, no hetero-erotic, nor erotic in any sense. He is objective and impersonal—even inhuman—for as an artist he is his work, and not a human being.” Judging by Jung’s opinion, Lost River is a highly successful piece of cinematic art that is only cryptically personal and thus hardly plagued by the autistic masturbatory idiosyncrasies that epitomize much of Godard and Tarantino's cinematic works.  In other words, Gosling has already demonstrated with his first film that he knows how to direct a fairly entertaining and aesthetically pleasing arthouse film for the masses that does not succumb to self-indulgent fetishes or frivolous postmodern film referencing.

Although just speculation, I am pretty confidant that, not unlike Richard Kelly's Donnie Darko (2001), Lost River will eventually develop a loyal cult following.  Personally, I can safety say that the film gets better and better with each subsequent viewing, as one certainly feels more comfortable the longer one spends in Gosling's world.  Indeed, for all of its flaws, the film is indubitably a respectable directorial debut from an actor that has proven that he has both an imagination and artistic integrity.  After all, had Gosling wanted to guarantee commercial success for his debut feature, he would have pulled a Warren Beatty or Zach Braff and directed a lame bourgeois drama with a romantic subplot starring himself in the lead role, but instead he hired washed-up European scream queens, strange Brits, and seemingly half-insane negro amateurs to appear in a somewhat enigmatic, fairly forlorn, and almost addictively melancholic movie that manages to find preternatural pulchritude in the death of the American dream and the rotting of the American middleclass.  Undoubtedly, Gosling has always given me the impression that he is a nice and charming young man with a very well hidden dark and melancholic interior, which I believe is elegantly expressed in Lost River.  While it seems somewhat improbable now since he has a half-Latino family to support, Gosling could probably evolve into a formidable auteur if he were to mostly give up on acting and dedicate most of his efforts to writing and directing. Like The Place Beyond the Pines (2012) meets Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010) meets a less phony Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) for America's declining white majority as directed by a closet cinephile that loves gorgeous guido Gothic horror like Bava's Black Sunday (1960) and early Tim Burton flicks like Beetlejuice (1988) just as much as the greats of European arthouse like Bergman and Fassbinder, Gosling's debut deserves to be seen by anyone that loves and respects the artistic medium of film.  Additionally, Lost River is probably the greatest and most deranged fantasy film to have ever been directed by a (lapsed) Mormon, which is certainly no small accomplishment considering some of the more bizarre beliefs that members of the religion hold.

-Ty E