Jun 19, 2014
With the relocation of controversial avant-garde auteur Aryan Kaganof back to his South African homeland in the late-1990s and the Allah-approved assassination of Dutch auteur Theo van Gogh (Charley, Submission) in 2004 by a crazed Moroccan Islamist whose appearance personifies the timeless Teutonic word ‘untermensch,’ Dutch cinema indubitably received a heavy blow in terms of true cinematic subversion and avant-gardism. Indeed, aside from a couple of somewhat obscure filmmakers like Edwin ‘Dutch Fassbinder’ Brienen (Terrorama!, Lebenspornografie) and the husband-wife collaborative team Victor Nieuwenhuijs and Maartje Seyferth—two filmmakers who, for whatever reason, have co-directed a number of films together over the past couple of decades, including the highly eroticized black-and-white Leopold von Sacher-Masoch adaption Venus in Furs (1994), Lulu (2005), Crepuscule (2009), and, most recently, Cat and Mouse (2014)—the Dutch film industry might as well be kaput. While I am not exactly that impressed with Nieuwenhuijs and Seyferth’s entire oeuvre, I have not been able to get their absurdist black comedy Vlees (2010) aka Meat out of my mind ever since I first saw it about a year ago. While Meat borrows from David Lynch, Peter Greenaway, and even Luis Buñuel, the film ultimately reminded me of what might happen if experimental Dutch auteur Frans Zwartjes (Visual Training, Pentimento)—a criminally underrated avant-gardist whose wildly idiosyncratic cinematic aesthetic prefigured the deathrock/goth subculture by at least a decade—attempted to make a modernist murder mystery. Indeed, the salacious yet sardonic story of a fat middle-aged butcher who is mysteriously butchered, but not before buggering a little blond babe half his age, Nieuwenhuijs and Seyferth’s tragicomedic work portrays sex as something that is about as beautiful as a slaughterhouse. A rather original film-within-a-film, the work stars a crazy little blonde girl who enjoys, among other things, filming her coworkers having sex and being molested by a dirty old butcher who, although fat as the pigs he routinely slaughters, has the sexual stamina of a man half his age/size. Also featuring a police detective played by the same actor (Titus Muizelaar, who is a favorite of the directors) as the butcher, Meat also features a provocative doppelganger theme where two totally different men inevitably become one (or, should I say, one of the men dies and the other takes his identity). A work that somehow manages to make sex and animal slaughtering seem like they are one and the same, Meat depicts an exceedingly emotionally vacant world where people are more or less nothing more than metaphysically dead meat that see other people as nothing more than delectable meat. Featuring the sort of callously comical and innately cynical tone that only the Dutch seem capable of, the work is ultimately like an uniquely unholy celluloid marriage between Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) and Alain Robbe-Grillet’s Successive Slidings of Pleasure (1974) aka Glissements progressifs du plaisir, albeit with a hyper-cynical comedic tone that is more venomous, if not less sophisticated, than the films of Hebraic iconoclast Todd Solondz.
A nameless and physically bloated middle-aged Dutch Butcher (Titus Muizelaar) likes to work hard and play hard and he is even good at doing them both at the same time, as demonstrated by the fact he has sex with his girlfriend Tiny (Wilma Bakker) in a walk-in freezer during the middle of work. When the Butcher notices a young blonde coworker named Roxy (portrayed by Nellie Benner, who played the oftentimes nude lead of Nieuwenhuijs and Seyferth’s previous feature Crepuscule) filming him having sex with Tiny, he begins to routinely sexually assault the young lady by talking dirty to her with crude remarks like, “I’ll caress you, lick you ‘till you’re wet and glistening” and putting his big fat hands over her smooth and silky bodacious body. After discovering his much hated boss Jan (Hugo Metsers of Aryan Kaganof’s Wasted! (1996) aka Naar de klote!) has sexually defiled his girlfriend, the Butcher finally gets the gall to seduce Roxy and the two have passionate (and seemingly unsimulated) sex in a shower stall at the slaughterhouse that concludes in a rather messy and ultimately murderous fashion. After sharing cross-generational carnal knowledge, Roxy hovers over the Butcher’s rather grotesque unclad body and films herself urinating on him, yet the middle-age pervert barely responds, as if he has somehow become paralyzed. That same night, the Butcher dies in the very same spot and position where Roxy blessed him with a youthful golden shower. Ultimately, a rather lethargic and unhappily married policeman named Inspector Mann (Titus Muizelaar) is in charge of the case relating to the Butcher’s death and he will also fall under Roxy's sassy, sensual, and seemingly sinister spell. Indeed, if Meat proves anything, it is that overweight old dudes will do anything to be with a cutesy young girl that is young enough to be their daughter.
A fat slob with a shaggy haircut who seems more or less impotent and who routinely denies his sexually repressed girlfriend love, sex, and affection, Inspector Mann may perfectly resemble the Butcher in general physical appearance, but the two men are total opposites in terms of personalities (with the Butcher being rooted, virile, and extroverted and the cop being deracinated, impotent, and introverted). When the Inspector’s cold shoulder proves to be too cold for his much suffering wife, she decides to commit suicide by leaping off her apartment balcony in a rather hilarious fashion. Of course, Herr Mann barely even takes a glance at the still warm corpse of his wife after she falls to her melodramatic death. A perennial loser with the spirit of a Canadian eunuch, Mann is also routinely emasculated by his handicapped mother, who venomously berates her son’s lack of literal and figurative testicular fortitude by complaining, “You can’t even procreate. You’re not a man, you’re nothing. You’re a total failure.” Of course, considering the Inspector's intrinsic impotence, it would probably be a mistake if he decided to reproduce. Needless to say, while investigating the murder of the Butcher, Inspector Mann brings Roxy in for questioning and soon falls madly in love with the mysterious butcher babe. Among other things, Mann learns that Roxy was raped by a nerd wearing a skull mask and has a rather swarthy and violent Turk boyfriend named Mo (Gürkan Küçüksentürk), who suffocates his Aryan girlfriend with her own shirt while hate-fucking her in a racially-charged fashion. When Mann brings in Mo for questioning, he tries to kiss the turd-like Turk’s feces-colored ass by patronizingly remarking like the true cultural cuckold that he is, “I sympathize with you guys, unlike others around here.” Ultimately, Mo denies being Roxy’s girlfriend, as he claims he barely knows her and is planning to get married in Turkey in two months, to which the Inspector replies, “So you’re thinking…I’ll just dump the Dutch slut?” Towards the conclusion of the film, Mann nonsensically strangles Roxy, who is wearing the same skull mask her rapist wore, in the same forest where the young lady was sexually pillaged. By the end of the film, Mann gets a much needed haircut and looks completely identical to the deceased Butcher. After being told by a coworker that he has been taken off the murder case and is being charged with manslaughter, Mann goes to the slaughterhouse, strips off all his clothes, and slits his own throat with a butcher knife in the same exact place where the Butcher died, with Roxy, who is characteristically unclad, watching the entire scenario play out while sitting on a stainless steel butcher table nearby.
While I am hesitant to describe Meat as a masterpiece of any sort, the somewhat impenetrable film does offer much carnal/carnivorous food-for-thought and is quite comparable to David Lynch’s Mulholland Dr. (2001) in terms of being a darkly erotic celluloid puzzle of sorts. Indeed, had the film been made in the 1970s, I sincerely believe that it could have become a minor midnight movie, as it features most, if not all, of the qualities of a cinephile’s wet dream as an arcane, absurd, and aberrant yet highly humorous celluloid nightmare. A work featuring seemingly random and pointless scenes like a hot young chick pissing on an over-the-hill slob and a pig taking a whiff of the piss of another urinating pig, Nieuwenhuijs and Seyferth’s film is also a majorly misanthropic work that associates humans with hogs and treats human tragedy (i.e. rape, murder, suicide, social alienation, etc.) as innately comical, thus making for a severely sardonic film that dares to point out many of the social ills of our age, especially in regard to the undead corpse that is Western Europe. Indeed, a film featuring a compulsively cute girl who can only find borderline obese middle-aged men and swarthy and uniquely ugly Turks as prospective lovers, Meat depicts a spiritually and emotionally bankrupt world of social and sexual dysfunction that reminds one why contemporary Dutch women are so warped that they see having kinky haired and brown-eyed racially mixed bastard babies to be an appealing prospect. While I can only guess the political persuasions of the directors of the film, Meat certainly depicts the ‘romantic’ relationship between blonde Roxy and Turk Mo as a rather abusive and exploitive one that is even less ideal than that of a relationship between a nubile babe and a grotesque old fart. Indeed, Meat certainly features something to offend virtually everyone, especially the sort of people that are easily offended, including anti-rape activists, vegans, feminists, beta-male men’s rights activists, so-called ‘guest workers’ (aka non-white aliens), postmenopausal women, cuckolds, practicing Calvinists, and countless others, thereupon making for a rare modernist work that deserves to be described as innately iconoclastic. Needless to say, I plan to follow directors Victor Nieuwenhuijs and Maartje Seyferth's careers, though I find it somewhat inexplicable that two different minds could sire a film that is as wildly idiosyncratic as Meat. Indeed, I would not be surprised if Seyferth manipulates Nieuwenhuijs in a similar subtle fashion to how Roxy manipulates the two character played by Titus Muizelaar in the film. Among its various other striking qualities, Meat also features what is probably the most autistic femme fatale in cinema history.
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 6:52 AM
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