Dec 9, 2011
Although most individuals would probably not notice it upon a first superficial glance, South African auteur Aryan Kaganof has a somewhat of an ironic, and arguably even an oxymoronic full name name. Everyone knows the sort of negative connotations that come tagged along with the ancient word “Aryan” but the surname Kaganoff – meaning descended from a ‘Kohen’ (aka Jewish priest) – is a tad less obvious. Of course, Aryan Kaganof uses the word “Aryan” in the sense of the original Sanskrit meaning (derived from 'ārya') of being “noble” and his version of Kaganoff is missing the last letter as if he is one letter short of being descended from the ancient aristocratic Jewish priesthood but his new self-invented name (apparently created after first meeting with his biological father) is interesting nonetheless. While still working under his original birth name Ian Kerkof, the subversive white South African artist completed his first feature-length film Ten Monologues from the Lives of the Serial Killers (1994); a work as aesthetically ironic as the name the filmmaker would later adopt. Although comprised of around ten monologues from serial killers (some are from fictional works and mere non-serial killer criminals like Charles Manson), I found Ten Monologues from the Lives of the Serial Killers to be a relaxing and soothing cinematic affair that never left me remotely shocked nor disgusted as one would expect from the film’s title and dvd cover art. In fact, I found the most obnoxious and repellant aspect of Ten Monologues from the Lives of the Serial Killers to be the inclusion of the Jeffrey Dahmer-inspired Geto Boys song “Murder Avenue" but that is for my own Eurocentric aesthetic reasons and not because I was offend by any sort of bodily dismemberment or what have you. Sure, the film features a scene of Mr. Kaganof himself jerking off to an unintentionally hilarious monologue of Ted Bundy complaining about the supposedly nefarious influence of pornography and slasher films, yet this scene still manages to hold a certain spiritual transcendence (albeit, in a peculiar away).
Aside from including monologues from such charismatic quasi-carny criminal heavyweights as Ted Bundy, Edmund Kemper, and Charles Manson, Ten Monologues from the Lives of the Serial Killers also features lucid literary monologues from the likes of J.G. Ballard and Henry Rollins. I found the Rollins monologue especially interesting as I have always found his writings to be the odious expressions of a barely articulate meathead with a soft side and Kaganof makes surprisingly good use of these wretchedly written works. Recently, I viewed a post-popularity video (during one of his various TV commentary cameos) of Rollins mocking singer Morrissey and the British in general, so I was extra thrilled to see a little limey lunatic fellow act out the anti-Anglo ex-Blag-Flag-singer-turned-goofy-minor-mainstream-media–celebrity’s early borderline-psychopathic writings. Kaganof almost managed to do the seemingly impossible by turning an excerpt from J.G. Ballard’s novel Atrocity Exhibition into a vivid ole thyme Negro spiritual. The first monologue of Ten Monologues from the Lives of the Serial Killers is of a matricidal fellow named Mr. Kemper who naturally has mommy issues and has no problem admitting so, even if he does seem a tad bit apathetic while speaking about it in a most monotonously monotone manner. To his credit, this 6’9’’ tall and 300 pound mommy-killer does give evidence that he is somewhat respectful of his lady kin when after mentioning how he decapitated her, he sentimentally states that he “came out of her vagina” thus by killing her, he “went back in." After watching Ten Monologues from the Lives of the Serial Killers, I must admit that I felt no ill will towards any killer, rapist, nor ex-punk icon featured within, and for that, Aryan Kaganof must be commended.
Before David Cronenberg ever directed a somewhat loose cinematic adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s Crash, Aryan Kaganof already included a homoerotic excerpt from the novel in Ten Monologues from the Lives of the Serial Killers, but, of course, the South African filmmaker’s portrayal of the same material is figuratively and literally from another continent. Starting with a solid black blank screen and eventually sporadically weaving various excerpts (in a manner more erratic than the most ADHD-driven of Soviet montages) from other monologues in Ten Monologues from the Lives of the Serial Killers, Kaganof’s brief adaptation of Ballard’s Crash seems like what a madman’s would see if his whole life flashed before him as he died. More than just serial killers, the film is also a peculiar and sometimes absurdist celebration of the marriage between life, death, and sex in a most aesthetically tantalizing yet oftentimes schizophrenic way. I seriously doubt any viewer will go into viewing Ten Monologues from the Lives of the Serial Killers with certain postulations and having a single one of those expectations met. Not only is the film an ambiguous and idiosyncratic look at the minds and visions of serial killers; Ten Monologues from the Lives of the Serial Killers is also a warped but wonderful audio/visual roller-coaster through the doors of hopelessly damaged and deranged perception. For more info on Ten Monologues from the Lives of the Serial Killers and director Aryan Kaganof, please visit: kaganof.com/
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 1:33 AM
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