Feb 27, 2009


Hailed as "90210 on acid", this initial assessment doesn't stray far from reality. Some form of reality that is. Nowhere consists of deranged teenage hallucinations, male sexuality crisis', lizard aliens, grotesque suicides, and an uncomfortable interracial child couple headlining with a young Mena Suvari. Nowhere isn't just the pinnacle of bisexual film making, it's also Araki's finest film effort coupled with the forced genius of Hunter S. Thompson, whose work seems contrived and drug-induced in retrospect. Sure, the finest genius can come up with something relevant to literature but a gossip journalist on mescaline can turn prose into desperation rather quick and surprisingly become heralded and looked up to cause of it. What a world, ladies and gentlemen.

Gregg Araki conjoins facets from each of his other film to complete his tour de force of teen angst. The usual casting of James Duval lends much substance to Nowhere on the term of avant-garde cinema regulars. His role in the great American classic ID4 led to Donnie Darko, Nowhere, and the Doom Generation. The film opens up reasonably promising with Duval encompassing the very idea of a "Steamy shower sequence". He begins masturbating, collecting his thoughts in a process that involves awkward conversations, artfully composed sex scenes, and bi-curious affairs. All of this to a rousing shoegaze score nonetheless.

Nowhere even seemed to set the stage for Araki's screen adaptation of Mysterious Skin which also dictates a code of sexuality livened by thoughts of space aliens. Through the eyes of Dark (Duval), we witness a stage being set as he decides that he isn't going to live much longer. It's the prophetic doom that gives Nowhere that vibe of terror as you never quite know what to expect and Nowhere will always surprise you, even after watching it again. Consisting of tons of cameos, many familiar faces will pop up here and there not limited to Heather Graham, Ryan Phillippe, Rose McGowan, Shannon Doherty, Rachel True, Debi Mazar, Christina Applegate, Jordan Ladd, and Guillermo Díaz. Nowhere is hard to track down at that. Its public domain lies within the market of Region 2 DVDs but is currently hosted up at YouTube (so that you may watch for free). Lord knows when Araki will decide to release his magnum opus [preferably in a box set].

If you've ever thought about The Doom Generation and found yourself disgusted at the pet project, you should give Nowhere a chance in order to redeem yourself. Not to say that you're in the wrong for hating on either of these two but the leading argument is from an offended party. This tires me to know end seeing as how Araki makes it very clear that his films are high-brow surrealist trash. Epic scenery and tinted lens coupled with neon lights flow steadily through the course of most of his films save for Mysterious Skin. A distinct scene that comes to mind is Bart's drug abode. His room's walls are plastered with lyrics in a hefty font. This might create a prestigious arthouse vibe but this, my friends, borders genius.

When all is said and done, Nowhere will shock you to a certain point of intensity. You'll question the film to some extent, perhaps even wonder aloud what you just experienced but the answer will always be obscured. I'm not sure what Araki had in mind while creating Nowhere but whatever it is, I want more of it. If you can't handle ideas construed in a film, don't watch movies. But for depictions of drug abuse, teenage angst, apocalyptic surrealism, and Araki's personal blend of immature humor, Nowhere is the undisputed champion of trash cinema. We're all just waiting for this to be released commercially in the United States.



Fox said...

Great write-up.

This is a fresh perspective on Araki that goes against the usual trashing of him (I include myself in that group).

I've only seen The Doom Generation, Mysterious Skin, and the bizarre Smiley Face, and didn't liked any of them, but I'm willing to give the first one in that list a fresh viewing. As for Nowhere... maybe I will rent it on VHS.

I'd also like to see his stuff before that too.

Soiled Sinema said...

I've met a lot of Araki trashers in my time. You are by far the most articulate of the group seeing as how you can identify nihilism within film and not get outraged when homosexuals are portrayed as drug-pushing sluts.

Smiley Face was pretty god awful and Doom Generation wasn't created on full potential. However, I'm finding it hard to believe that you did not like Mysterious Skin. Araki's arsenal of film making techniques mainly consists of trash tactics but Mysterious Skin is a departure from his latter works.
It's fresh, invigorating, honest, and to top it all off - pretty creepy in parts. Mysterious Skin is the easiest accessible of all his films and perhaps his best for a new audience. I'd give it another shot and push Doom Generation out of your mind. That might be inhibiting the good thoughts.

You shouldn't wait for Nowhere. I included the first part of Nowhere that's hosted on YouTube. After watching it, just go to 2/9, 3/9, so on so forth.

His earlier films aren't that great. I tried watching Totally Fucked Up and that film pestered me incredibly. Not even Cremaster had so many pretentious aspects to it.

As I said, don't wait. Watch Nowhere now and tell me what you think. Elements of Naked Lunch also leak through.


Keith said...

I've seen this film and the Doom Generation. That's it. I've heard a lot of people trash his films. I don't necessarily fall in that line. I'm not a super fan of his either. I think it's interesting what he's trying to do. He's not doing the same thing as everybody else. It doesn't always make sense though. I'm left at times scratching my head at what I've just seen. Good write-up on this film.

Fox said...

"It's fresh, invigorating, honest"


You're right about that, but what bothered me was kind about Mysterious Skin was the erotic shooting of the pedophilia. I may be wrong b/c it's been since it was in theaters that I saw it, but I remember Araki giving reaction shots of the kids that disturbed me. (I'm thinking of the scene when the two boys stay over after the baseball game).

Now, I know he was showing how the boy was infatuated with the coach and had feelings of "love" for him... but it felt gratuitous and innappropriate to me.

What I did like about Mysterious Skin was it showed the effect abuse/molestation can have on the sexuality of an adult. So many films just focus on the cases of homosexuality that are innate, but Mysterious Skin showed a sexuality borne out of behaviors and experiences. In that way, I thought Mysterious Skin was brave, b/c so many filmmakers approach homosexuality so nervously.

And I will see Nowhere soon... but does the YouTube version look ok? I guess if that's where your stills are from that it does. I know there is a VHS copy in my town though.

Anonymous said...

This is actually one of my favourite movies, ever. I don't even know why I saw it when I was about 13 and it was 1 in the morning. I stayed up to watch it and I didn't sleep that night. I love the way they talk, and Duval's a great actor. I love May and Donnie Darko. I actually love most movies he has been in. I dunno why I was wondering about you today Mark but I was. Someone said something about Alabama to me today, and I thought about you. I know you don't remember me, but you are the reason why I don't hate Americans. So thanks for that.