Aug 13, 2015
While I cannot be completely sure as I am not exactly a cocksucker connoisseur, I have to assume that American experimental filmmaker William E. Jones (Massillon, Is It Really So Strange?) is easily one of the foremost authorities on esoteric queer cultural history and anthropology and when it comes to his films, probably no other work demonstrates his lifelong obsession for hermetic homophilia than his somewhat minimalistic avant-garde doc Finished (1997). Described on the filmmaker’s own website as “a detective story and a love story, a film noir bathed in sunlight,” the somewhat dreamlike and disturbing yet sometimes strangely solacing doc attempts to deconstruct and reassemble the curious cocksucking life and seemingly senseless suicide of a deeply troubled Marxism-lobotomized French-Canadian gay porn star named Alan Lambert (né Alain LeBeau), who Jones developed a somewhat unhealthy infatuation after seeing him in an advertisement for a sleazy phone sex service. As a documentarian that studied under prominent American Structuralist filmmakers like James Benning (11 x 14, Landscape Suicide) and Thom Andersen (Eadweard Muybridge, Zoopraxographer, Los Angeles Plays Itself), it should be no surprise that Jones would become a sort of singular master of montage oriented meta-fag film essays, but what makes his work different from both his elders and contemporaries is that he dares to use this cultivated celluloid form to tackle seemingly ludicrously lowbrow subjects like suicidal sod porn stars, albeit in an almost pathologically personalized way that makes one speculate that the auteur may be the most loneliest and most obsessive queer filmmaker working today. While a seemingly cynically titled work for a film about an exceedingly nihilist homo porn star with delusions of grandeur who blew his brains out in public during the holiday season while he was at both his physical and intellectual peak, Finished is ultimately an inordinately empathetic postmortem love letter as written by a man with the spirit of a lovelorn teenage girl who has become decidedly disillusioned yet seemingly no less sexually infatuated with the somewhat enigmatic object of his desire, thereupon making for an uniquely unsettling yet strangely touching celluloid experience about the hollows of devotion, especially when you're a gawky art fag with the temperament of an elderly antique dealer. I have always assumed that most porn stars are fucked up people that probably got molested as children and my research has proven to me that my suspicions are not completely unwarranted, but tragic Canuck chuff chum Lambert was indubitably fucked up in his own special way, as a sort of self-stylized commie messiah with a seemingly split personality who only subscribed to Marxism because he hoped it would eventually lead to a sort of apocalyptic anarchism that left the entire world in flames (had he discovered the writings of Oswald Spengler, Lambert might have chosen to take a slightly different path in life). A man that can be adequately described as a remarkably less talented kindred spirit of Japanese warrior-poet Yukio Mishima, Lambert felt that ending his life at the mere age of 25 whilst at as his absolute personal peak as a beefcake neo-bolshevik was the right way to go because, as his suicide letter revealed, he adamantly believed that he would be reincarnated and thus did not have to fear death. A work that manages to do the seemingly impossible by making a connection between the films of Hollywood maverick Frank Capra with military-themed poof pornos and a sort of metaphysical approach to Marx, Jones’ film is like a Mark Rappaport flick except with an uneasy heart and minus the shallow and obnoxiously self-conscious Jewish NYC postmodern intellectualism. A sort of elegant yet obscene poetical celluloid obit and last rites created by a total stranger that seems to have more care and concern for the departed than his own family members, Finished is a film that will ultimately cause you to never look at porn the same way again.
Somewhat curiously, before even featuring the somewhat strange and ironical inter-title “Starring Alan Lambert” (surely, the porn star would have been somewhat embarrassed by the film), Finished opens with a excerpt from the ending of Frank Capra’s anti-fascist parable Meet John Doe (1941) starring Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck juxtaposed with auteur Jones narrating, “I once became infatuated with someone I could never know. He was a loner and rebel…a tragic character determined to sacrifice himself for some high purpose. Most people dismissed him as a lunatic or fraud, but they had been deceived by appearances. I wanted to fall into his arms and say that I cared about him for who he really was. He didn’t have to throw himself into the abyss. Love could redeem him. The tragedy could have been avoided and a happy ending worthy of Hollywood. Unfortunately, it did not turn out that way…not for me, nor for the object of my desire.” In the scene, Cooper’s character is about to end his life by jumping off of a building, but Stanwyck stops him by passionately embracing him while declaring her love for him and sobbing hysterically like a little girl who has broken her dolly. As Jones will explain towards the end of the film, he sees tragic gay porn star Alan Lambert as Cooper’s character and Stanwyck as himself (indeed, it seems Jones is a ‘bottom’), but of course, unlike the Capra flick, there is no contrived happy ending at the decidedly dejecting conclusion of Finished, which ultimately reminds the viewer that infatuation can be a hefty emotional investment that rarely pays off (though Jones' certainly did, as it resulted in this film). Jones saw Lambert’s image for the first time in a superficially salacious sex hot-line advertisement and he was so impressed with the seemingly hairless Canadian heartthrob’s chiseled masculine beauty that he immediately cut out the photo, which is naturally featured prominently during the film. About a year after Jones began using the photo as an assumed masturbation aid, Lambert killed himself, thus leaving the filmmaker somewhat heartbroken, or as he states in the doc,“I was moved by Alan’s death, even though I had never met him. For me, he existed as an image, not as a real person, but in a way that did not make him any less important. Alan reminded me of the first time I remember seeing men having sex together. When I was young, I didn’t realize that men did such things until I saw a pornographic magazine.” Equipped with the somewhat esoteric research tools of about twenty different trashy gay porn flicks and a “rambling and pompous” ten-page suicide letter that the porn star had sent to various friends before offing himself, Jones hoped to unlock the mystery behind Alan Lambert and his untimely and inexplicable act of self-slaughter, but fate ultimately had different plans for the filmmaker that did not really involve really truly unmasking the mad mensch behind the mask. Indeed, instead of discovering a masculine dude that just happened to get down and dirty with other masculine dudes, Jones was confronted with an exceptionally troubled self-stylized loser and irredeemable rectal ranger who had a more extreme case of the perturbed psychological profile proposed by German-American social philosopher Eric Hoffer in his classic work The True Believer: Thoughts On The Nature Of Mass Movements (1951).
By killing himself a couple days before Christmas in a public park, Québécois queer Lambert revealed that he probably did not have a close relationship with his family and naturally found the holiday season completely intolerable for that very reason, yet the porn star apparently deluded himself into believing that his seemingly senseless act of self-slaughter was a deadly serious “political statement” that would allow him to be reincarnated after the birth of the sort of apocalyptic dystopian world that he strangely so deeply longed for, as if societal chaos would result in his attainment of moral refurbishment. As a man that starred in fag fuck flicks with predictably stupid and unimaginative titles like Bare Bottoms, Beach Dreamer, Boot Camp, The Trenches, and Brother Trouble, Lambert probably did not have much to be proud of, especially for a man that dreamed of getting a mundane bureaucratic civil service job. As highlighted in the film, the messianic Marxist sex worker was a “bottom” (aka the person that gets fucked) who once starred in a buggery based blue movie entitled Brother Trouble where, as Jones remarks in a rather random instance of porn trivia, “Chris Dano, a model who is half-black and half-Hawaiian, fucks Alan Lambert by a roaring fire in a mountain lodge. Shortly after this scene was shot, due to a change in law enforcement policies, it became illegal in the state of Georgia to sell videos in which a black man fucks a white man. Some producers discontinued sales in Georgia and others, wishing to sell their products in every state, stopped including interracial scenes in their videos.” While Jones seems to think otherwise, it is quite indisputable that one has certainly reached rock bottom when they have been filmed being anally pillaged by an exquisitely mongrelized mulatto butt pirate. After starring in eighteen porn flicks between 1988-1990, Lambert decided to quit the industry for about a year and during that time he gained twenty-five pounds of muscle and got a tan in the hope that he could stage a big comeback that would ultimately only last two films, with the sod sex worker’s pornographic swansong being a scene where he “fucks himself” with a giant dildo modeled from porn star Chris Lord’s uncut cock. Ultimately, Lambert’s final masturbatory scene proved to be a sort of morbid metaphor for his stranger-than-fiction life of intricate self-deception, intemperate narcissism, and inevitably nihilistic self-obliteration.
As Jones explains, a porn star named “L” (notably, virtually all the people mentioned in the film are described with pseudonymous single letters so as to protect their identities) was one of the last people to get to know and befriend Lambert, who he immediately was intrigued by because he proudly “said he was superior to normal people” and had interesting “apocalyptic speculations,” including that he “anticipated the fall of capitalism in near future.” While “L” and Lambert were set to star in a porn flick with one another, the latter was forced to quit the production after the former found a small hemorrhoid on buttocks, which was a serious cosmetic blemish for a power bottom that was to be filmed being fucked in the ass. The night before Lambert was forced to quit the film, he and “L” fucked and bonded over their mutual suicide fantasies with one another, but only the former actually acted upon his obsession with violent self-slaughter. As Jones states at this point in the doc, “Alan’s name, his work in the sex industry, his air of superiority, his premature death…They all remind me of a quote from THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY: ‘Beauty is a form of Genius—is higher, indeed, than Genius, as it needs no explanation.’” Of course, as his almost pathetic yet strangely admirable obsession with the subject potently demonstrates, Jones certainly needs an explanation and thus is not too delighted to learn that Lambert was more of a passive-aggressive commie crackpot than a true man of genius.
While Jones hoped that he would find some special insights into Lambert’s character and actions upon reading his ten-page suicide letter, he was ultimately left even more confused, or as the director states himself while sounding like a hopelessly literal-minded and pedantic college English professor, “Unfortunately I found the letter completely baffling. Alan wrote in a convoluted styled and used words in a way I didn’t understand. At times, it seemed as if he had invented his own vocabulary.” Notably, Lambert’s letter opens with the following sentences, “This text was written in the last hours before my death. It exists, on one hand, to try to explain to you why you must not associate my death with the despair of a man in the face of the absurdity of his existence and, on the other hand, it exists to permit whatever individual who, in retracing my path, would wish to make sense of my intentions.” As a man that wrote a suicide letter featuring individual segments with titles like “Manifesto of the Communist Party” and “Hedonist,” it seems that Lambert never realized that he was involved with the very same industry that his commie comrades might describe as the height of “capitalist exploitation.” As Jones explains regarding the typical shelf-life of a gay porn star, “The career of a successful performer often follows a familiar trajectory. At first, he breaks into the industry as rough trade; a butch type being serviced by his partners. Gradually, he will perform a greater diversity of sex acts on camera. Eventually, he assumes the role of a bottom; getting fucked by newcomers who will eventually become bottoms themselves. The same pattern repeats itself over and over because the strategies for butching it up inevitably wears thin or expose themselves as just that: strategies.” While Lambert was apparently at the best physical shape of his life when he put a bullet in his brain, his cocksucking celebrity was waning and apparently he was well aware of that fact. As a semi-butch beefcake bum chum that gave off the illusion of raw and adulterated masculinity yet was really a self-absorbed queen with a brain that seemed more scattered than that of the average Ritalin-popping teenage girl, Lambert, like many gay male porn stars, was what Jones describes as a ‘Muscle Mary’ and hardly the super stoic Übermensch that was dripping with testosterone that the filmmaker imagined he was, hence his seemingly split-personality as a messianic Marxist nancy-boy whose crowning achievement was offing himself during the most merry time of the year.
As Jones rightly notes regarding his subject’s somewhat hypocritical life, “In his pursuit of physical and spiritual perfection, Alan sought control and yet by his own choice he submitted himself to a system which consumed him.” Despite routinely taking pulsating purple-headed custard chuckers in the man-cunt from young twinks for a living, Alan somehow managed to convince some of his friends that he was a sort of “great intellectual” and misunderstand genius who would only achieve greatness when the world collapsed. Indeed, when Jones attempted to get information from two of these seemingly brainwashed friends, “R” and “D,” they treated him with great mistrust and more or less refused to volunteer any pertinent information for such a meager art film. As Jones humorously notes, “Alain wrote in his suicide letter, ‘If I had $1 million bucks I would choose the best crew and realizes this fucking movie I’ve always wanted to see.’ Perhaps his two disciples were waiting for a call from a major studio.” Jones was eventually able to gain the confidence of a Montreal man named “M” who befriended Alan after the latter serviced him while working as a so-called ‘erotic masseur’ from the comfort of his own home. Apparently, while helping men experience a little sexual relief for profit, Alain would blast Mozart and discuss Marx in what must have been an absurd scenario to witness. According to “M,” Lambert attended a graduate program while financially supporting himself as both a hustler and peepshow dancer in Montreal’s gay village. Not surprisingly, Alan apparently saw sex work as nothing more than a “tedious necessity” and ultimately longed for a banal yet fairly comfortable life as a government bureaucrat/civil servant, but at the same time he firmly embraced the decline of the Occident and thought that any attempt to reverse said decline would only slow down the process and thus should be avoided at all costs. Of course, as Jones notes regarding Alan, “He was a would-be-revolutionary…defeated before he had even begun,” but I guess that is what one should expect from a man that delighted in the thought of Armageddon.
Towards the conclusion of Finished, Jones confesses that he failed in his mission to unravel all the details of Lambert’s lurid life and that he could not bring himself to uncover all the details of his life even if he had the capacity to because, as he rather frankly states, “I wanted my story of Alan Lambert, Porn Star Messiah, to remain intact.” Indeed, it seems that all of his research led to Jones becoming completely disillusioned and dejected by his subject as expressed by his sullen narration, “When I first encountered Alan’s letter, all my expectation were confounded. Instead of radical politics, I found an attitude of complete self-absorption. A distaste for the real work of politics had led Alan to embrace a passive and irrational position. The only way to imagine social change was through an apocalypse.” While Jones certainly does not have all the answers, he offers some provocative speculation as to what made Lambert tick and why he killed himself, narrating, “I began to suspect that Alan’s messianic fantasies served a prosaic purpose. As a sex worker, he sold his body and at the same time he wished to transcend his body. His philosophy may have been a means to escape the alienation of the sexual economy. His mystical preoccupations kept him from acknowledging that he was a mere tool...a cog in a machine.” Ultimately, at the end of the film, Jones neatly packages everything together by managing to establish a connection between cinema, Lambert, and Finished itself, narrating, “…in the intervening century, motion pictures did achieve a kind of victory over death, but in the case of Alan Lambert I am left with doubt about the human cost extracted in the process. Even as he died by his own hand, Alan may have known he would have obtained immortality by means of a cinematic illusion. What he could not know was the exact form of his reincarnation. Alan probably would have disagreed with the conclusion I have reached with my investigation. I’ve become disillusioned with a figure I once thought held great promise, but it’s possible that in some way Allan never could have predicted I fulfilled a modest part of his ambition.” Indeed, on top of outlining Lambert's whacked-out metapolitical Weltanschauung, Finished is also probably the only film ever made that does not feature the French Canadian porn star being manhandled by some degenerate fuckboy.
During Finished, auteur William E. Jones states regarding his foredoomed subject, “I hadn’t expected such complex thoughts from a gay porn model,” but I suspect that filmmaker’s quip is exactly the sort of sentiment that pushed queer Queeb Alain Lambert completely over the edge in the first place as a young man that had good looks and apparently some brains yet had reduced himself to being rectally reamed on the sleazy sod screen for the viewing pleasure of poof perverts who saw him as nothing more than a hunk of meat that was only fit to be meticulously defiled like a prison punk in a post-Apartheid South African penitentiary. Undoubtedly, my impression is that director Jones finds Lambert to be a terribly tragic figure because he cannot fathom that such a hopelessly handsome hunk would be so unhinged as to irrevocably destroy his striking body and wipe himself off the face of this earth for eternity. While Jones states, “The loss of his superficial attributes was his tragedy,” he ironically would not have ever even considering directing the film were it not for Lambert’s “superficial attributes,” which are notably emphasized in a fetishistic yet somewhat ethereal fashion throughout the entirety of Finished. Indeed, after watching the doc, I cannot help but feel that Jones mourns Lambert a whole lot less than he does the loss of the fantasy fuck film stud that he initially encountered in the phone sex ad. Still, Jones' experimental doc is by far the greatest and most inordinately empathetic and shockingly heartbreaking film ever made about a gay porn star, as a work that makes something like Jeffrey Schwarz’s Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon (2008) seem like preposterously politically correct hagiographic twaddle. Of course, as the man behind the startlingly detailed biography Halsted Plays Himself (2011) on the sad sadomasochistic sod life of pornographic star/auteur Fred Halsted (LA Plays Itself, Sextool), as well as singular works like the video essay The Fall of Communism as Seen in Gay Pornography (1998) that depicts the abject capitalist exploitation of young Slavic men in ex-Soviet territories, Jones is probably the greatest exponent of hardcore homo humanism in the world.
It should be noted that in 2012 a certain extraordinarily narcissistic fellow by the made-up name of Luka Rocco Magnotta transcended Alan Lambert as far as bizarrely unhinged Canadian poof porn stars go when he murdered and dismembered a gay Chinese international student and then sent the various Oriental body parts to elementary schools and political party offices and led the police on an international manhunt where the killer cocksucker was ultimately eventually caught looking up stories about himself on a computer at a internet café in Berlin, Germany. Personally, I would love to see Jones direct a film about Magnotta, but I digress. What Lambert and Magnotta have in common aside from their nationalities and sexualities was a self-obliterating form of narcissism that was mostly blatantly and debasingly epitomized in their porn careers. While Jones did not exactly completely deconstruct his subject, Finished does manage to unravel the layers upon layers of narcissism that enabled Lambert to wear a mask that his decidedly deleteriously actions betrayed. Certainly following in the mistakable tradition of the director’s autobiographic debut Massillon (1991), Jones’ experimental Lambert ‘anti-biopic’ also demystifies and ultimately brings a certain morbid poetry to the fuck flicks that the forsaken porn star appeared in by slowing down and obscuring these images to the point of being hypnotically static and painterly and where one would never know they were taken from homo hardcore flicks with titles like Bare Bottoms and Summer Buddies. Indeed, whether a homo or hetero, one would have to be awfully depraved to watch Jones' film and then indulge in one of Lambert’s fuck flicks as a masturbation aid. A sort of botched orgasm at the director’s expense in esoteric celluloid obituary form, Finished is certainly the sort of film you would expect from Morrissey had he been any openly homosexual experimental filmmaker as opposed to perennial closest queen. In fact, with the queen Derek Jarman being long dead, Moz might want to consider hiring Jones to direct his music videos. A work that is seemingly infinitely more intriguing and enigmatic yet at the same time alarmingly insightful than the post-counterculture Montreal sexual world depicted in Denys Arcand's Le déclin de l'empire américain (1986) aka The Decline of the American Empire, Finished is indubitably a film that actually dares to depict the true cost of so-called sexual liberation in the spiritually retarded age of late capitalism where everything and everyone has a price. In that regard, maybe Lambert had the right idea when he argued that the modern world is intrinsically irredeemable and is in dire need of a baptism of fire and apocalyptic scenario that will rid this planet of the decided degeneracy and moral bankruptcy that allows both Hollywood and the gay porn industry to thrive in the first place. Indeed, a man like Lambert was born to star in arthouse works in the spirit of Lot in Sodom (1933) co-directed by James Sibley Watson and Melville Webber, Leni Riefenstahl's Olympia (1938), Fellini Satyricon (1969), Werner Schroeter's Eika Katappa (1969), and countless other works where the male body is celebrated as opposed to being degraded and defiled like it was when the Canadian fuckboy allowed himself to be immortally cinematically emasculated in the form of a mongrel jigaboo ramrodding his snowfrog sod shit-box. With that being said, Lambert did manage to obtain the sense of dignity and empathy he probably never received in life with Jones' Finished, thus he can now finally rest in peace.
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 9:44 AM
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