Aug 5, 2016

The Smell of Us

If you are an American ‘artiste’ that has some degenerate sensational garbage you want to peddle and pass off as legitimate art, your best bet is probably to go to France where artistic alchemy is the norm and worthless shit is oftentimes highly revered as provocative cutting edge art. Indeed, from the film critics turned filmmakers of the Cahiers du Cinéma like Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut that re-evaulated Hollywood trash and declared it high cinematic art of the auteur oriented sort to the frog love of obscenely obnoxious American kosher comedian Jerry Lewis (who some regard as “Akin to Godard”), the French have a curious appreciation for lowbrow yank trash that even most ‘cultivated’ Americans do not even seem understand, as if they are attempting to rationalize the fact that they have been culturally colonized by an inferior mongrel (anti)culture. Needless to say, I thought it was a match made in heaven (or hell) when I discovered that debauched American photographer turned cinematic auteur Larry Clark (Kids, Wassup Rockers) directed his most recent film in France for a French production company using a seemingly completely French cast and crew (incidentally, his previous and most pornographic flick, Ken Park (2002) written by Harmony Korine and co-directed by cinematographer Edward Lachman, was a American-French-Dutch coproduction).

Of course, considering that France is currently at the forefront of producing pornographic arthouse films with oftentimes unsimulated sex as reflected by cinematic works by Catherine Breillat, Leos Carax, Virginie Despentes and Coralie Trinh Thi, Patrice Chéreau, Alain Guiraudie, Gaspar Noé, Laurent Bouhnik, and Jean-Claude Brisseau, among various others, there is no question that Clark picked the perfect place to make a film featuring incessant sleazy sex scenes featuring scrawny and oftentimes racially ambiguous teenage skater boys that seem just as excited about trying out a new dick as they do a new skateboard deck.  In fact, not only is The Smell of Us (2014)—the director’s last film since his somewhat mediocre racially-charged Mestizo twink fest Marfa Girl (2012)—arguably Clark’s most decidedly debasing and just all around sexually deranged film to date, but it is indubitably his most flagrantly faggy, as if the auteur felt he could only get away with achieving his dream of making a full-homo flick if he created it in France. If his trademark motif of shirtless armpit-scratching and ball-grabbing skater boys in his previous films was not evidence enough of Clark’s affinity for fresh young cock, the filmmaker’s latest film unequivocally demonstrates that he is hot for sweaty skater twink twat. While somewhat aimless and devoid of a storyline like most of Clark’s films, the film’s most prominent subplot involves a doomed love affair between an emotionally detached and exceedingly epicene skater boy with serious mommy issues and his gawky Quadroon-like comrade who is emotionally tortured by the fact that his best friend sells his bunghole to dirty old men but refuses to be his lover or even have sex with him.  Part skater crypto-porno and part hysterical homo romantic tragedy, The Smell of Us is, for better or worse, the sort of joyously debasing and rudely in-your-face art-porn trainwreck film that only a dirty old man like Clark could have assembled.

 Notably, French right-wing theorist Guillaume Faye—a controversial politically incorrect thinker who, as a man that briefly worked in the porn industry, can hardly be described as a prude—describes in his book Sexe et Dévoiement (2011) aka Sex and Deviance how he believes that his forsaken nation and its media are plagued by what he describes as “general sexual obsession.” Undoubtedly a superlatively sick sort of “general sexual obsession” certainly plagues the fiercely fucked frog purgatory of Clark’s film where a group of teenage skaters become collectively involved in both straight and gay-for-pay prostitution after two of their friends happen upon an escort website while watching internet porn. Featuring an extremely pedomorphic male quasi-lead who is so irreparably psychologically damaged that, despite being more or less a child, is incapable of initiating a real emotional relationship with the best friend he loves despite the fact that he allows dirty old man to brutally sodomize him for quick cash, The Smell of Us—a unwaveringly sleazy piece of fairly literally titled sinema that is unmistakably a Clark product—is arguably the director’s darkest and most disturbing and damning film yet as the sort of film that John Wayne Gacy would have loved to stroke his wrinkly old choad to. Indeed, while there might be no mention of a teenage AIDS epidemic like in Kids (1995) or a brutal drug-addled orgy of braindead murder and mayhem like in Bully (2001), the forsaken post-Reichian Parisian youth of Clark’s latest film have not even the slightest chance of hope or redemption and the worst part is that they do not even seem to realize it as they are too concerned with ordering the latest new skate deck or surfing porn sites to ever consider that there might be more to life than skating and fucking.

Somehow both decidedly dejected and enthralling, the film is probably the best example of Clark’s expertise when it comes to both exploiting and exposing the forlorn fates of a group of supremely shortsighted and oversexualized frog fuck-ups whose self-destructive sexual promiscuity seems to be their only true reason to live.  Also, somewhat ironically, despite being an arthouse flick where the American auteur demonstrates his ostensible artistic cred by making a film in France, the flick confirms the vaguely misguided American belief that all Frenchman are faggots and all frog broads are lecherous and cunty whores, as The Smell of Us ultimately reveals Clark to be the stereotypical American philistine. Listed as one of the Top Ten films of 2015 in Cahiers du Cinéma and beloved by none other than John ‘Pope of Trash’ Waters, Clark's film might even be described as underrated in the sense that it more or less remains unreleased in the United States and is more interesting and entertaining than the majority of critically acclaimed films that have been defecated out of Hollywood over the past couple years.

Rather fittingly considering the course of the director’s filmmaking career as cinema history's foremost skater boy fetishist with a somewhat sexually aberrant form of Peter Pan syndrome, The Smell of Us begins playfully enough with footage of Clark, who portrays a largely inanimate wino weasel named ‘Rocker,’ lying in the middle of a Paris city center while a dozen or so skaters ollie over his beat-up elderly body. Even though he rarely speaks or does much of anything aside from vomit and mumble incoherent gibberish, the skaters seem to consider ‘Rocker’ to be a sort of respected mascot for their crew, as if they subconsciously realize that they too will one day reach such a patently pathetic and tragic state if they happen to have the honor of living long enough. Acting as a sort of vaguely enigmatic Greek chorus to the film, Michael Pitt, who previously starred in Clark’s Bully as a borderline mentally retarded teenage sex beast, portrays a dirty unnamed street musician whose all-but-totally-insufferable blues guitar and singing playing provides a strangely fitting soundtrack to the loser lives of the skaters depicted in the film as indicated by his lyrics like “streetwalking zombie.” Undoubtedly the central character of the film is a boyish twink with blond curls named ‘Math’ (Lukas Ionesco) who spends the beginning of the film closely inhaling the sexual fumes of a male friend while he fucks a lecherous high yellow negress named Céline (Eva Menis-Mercier) during a party. When Math goes to a large rave later that night, he allows his cock to be freely groped by a creepy bearded fat man and then, as if aroused as a result of being briefly molested, proceeds to smell the river of sweaty male bodies that surround him. Despite the fact that he is clearly a latent cocksucker that loves taking in the youthful BO of his fellow skater boys, Math is in denial of the fact that he has the hots for his best friend JP (Hugo Behar-Thinières)—a rather racially ambiguous chap with a strange phenotype that hints that he has an unfortunate combination of European, negro, and Arab blood—who is rather upfront and forthright about his undying homoerotic feelings. Instead of giving into his fairly obvious gay feelings for JP, Math opts to follow the lead of some of his non-white comrades and makes the ultimately psychologically catastrophic mistake of beginning to peddle his little man-pussy to largely creepy and physically grotesque old homos that clearly have a predilection towards young and relatively despoiled adolescent meat.  Indeed, while there is no indication that he is hurting for money or has some deep dark daddy complex, Math decides to become a gigolo that, unlike most of his friends, sells his flesh to old men instead of old women.

 Considering there is really only one girl in their group, the skater crew in the film is what one might described as a real ‘sausage fest,’ though none of these young men would have trouble getting pussy from their little female friend if they actually wanted it.  Indeed, despite being a hot sassy little frogette bitch with sensual lips, fairly nice tits, and wildly lecherous eyes that practically beg to be buggered, virtually none of the skaters boys seem interested in sexually ravaging skater slut Maria (Diane Rouxel), who dumps her asshole boyfriend ‘Pacman’ (Théo Cholbi)—a sadistic bully who beats and robs his ‘friends’—at the beginning of the film and then begins looking for new dick.  Aside from the fact that they are afraid that her (ex)boyfriend Pacman will beat their asses, the skater boys do not seem to be interesting in sexually servicing Maria because they seem more interested in fucking each other when they are not being fucked by less than youthful paying customers. Like all her friends, Maria loves smoking fat blunts and is prone to seduce her friends while stoned, including gay boy JP, who she coerces into fucking her after getting him to dance with her naked while Math gets lost in a videogame. As Maria tells Toff (Terin Maxime)—a young skater that films everything his friends do, including skating, sleazy sexual encounters, and various pretty crimes they commit—regarding the aberrosexual nature of young French boys in a line of dialogue that seems to say a lot about writer/director Clark, “…it is 2013. All the guys are gay.” While Toff naturally denies he is a homo, that does not stop him from later filming Math being violently sodomized by an agitated bald john that slaps him in the face while screaming “wake up.” Indeed, as JP states of his friend to Maria in regard to Math’s tendency to fall into a quasi-comatose state at the strangest of times, “Sometimes he disappears,” to which she replies, “It’s like talking to a retard.” Of course, the more Math allows himself to be anally pillaged by predatory perverts, the more he succumbs to a sort of impenetrable catatonic state that especially disturbs loverboy JP. Naturally, Math’s psychological deterioration is not just the result of him being a self-loathing homo, or so the film eventually reveals. 

 While she might be a dangerously lecherous little lady with an insatiable thirst for cock who complains regarding her mostly seemingly gay male friends, “I’m tired of the stereotypical skaters who believe they have swag,” Maria eventually becomes quite concerned with the fact that her male cohorts are selling their cornholes for cash and attempts to intervene. Indeed, when Maria follows Math one night and discovers that he is about to peddle his flesh to an exceedingly effeminate and nearly elderly frog pervert with similarly curly hair that looks like he could be his grandfather, she calls JP in the hope that he will come to the rescue of their mutual friend. When JP arrives at the old john’s apartment, he discovers that Math, who is clearly not concerned with the health or mortality of his clients, has caused the pervert to pass out by giving him an overdose of wine, Viagra, and various other drugs. When JP attempts to proclaim his love to Math by telling him that he will “follow him anymore” and kissing him, the mentally damaged teenage gigolo punches him in the face and then shouts in a less than believable fashion, “I’m just gay for the bucks! Just for the money.” Naturally hurt that his love has been so rudely and crudely rebuffed, JP yells at Math, “you’re damn toxic. You’re shit” and then declares he is heading “south” to the assumed homeland of his maternal racial kinsmen (while JP's father is revealed to be white, it is quite clear that his mother, who is not in the picture, is not).  After JP leaves, Math has a large party at the unconscious john’s lavish apartment, which is completely destroyed by the young skaters. Naturally, when the john wakes up the next day and discovers that his flat has been completely wrecked, most of his possessions have been either destroyed or stolen, and someone has driven a large piece of glass into his flesh, he is more than a little bit irked, but he is unable to do anything about it since virtually all of the culprits are already long gone. 

 When lovelorn loverboy JP makes one last ditch effort to simultaneously save Math from his own self-destruction and declare his love for him, he is disturbed to find his friend being more or less molested by his own mother (Dominique Frot of Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury’s À l'intérieur (2007) aka Inside), who both looks and acts like a sexually sadistic witch as she rants and raves in a raunchy fashion about the innate selfishness and sex appeal of her son while the large pulsating veins on her chest and neck seem like they could explode at any second. Naturally, after describing her own son as sexually “irresistible” and doubting his self-proclaimed love for him, JP becomes rather disturbed by Math’s mother’s behavior and eventually leaves while in great emotional distress, thus leaving his exceedingly emotionally forlorn friend a victim to a most disturbing scene of mother-son incest that ultimately reveals the central source as to why the male protagonist is incapable of love and is so emotionally and sexually disturbed. As a troubled young man that is heartbroken that his one true love will not reciprocate his love and instead sells himself to dirty old men that clearly have nothing to offer to him in terms of love and sexual satisfaction, JP throws in the towel on life and opts to commit suicide by passively jumping off a large ledge in a pretentious art gallery where his much hated white stepmother (Valérie Maes)—notably the only parent in the entire film that seems concerned with their children’s self-destructive behavior, even though she is not his actual biological progenitor—works. In the end, the surviving skaters sans Math demonstrate their nihilistic spirit has not died despite JP’s suicide by collectively taking part in a display of mindless destruction by destroying and setting a car on fire, which perennial cameraman Tuff dutifully films.  Somewhat bizarrely, the closing shot of the film looks almost exactly the same as the final shot of the late great Christoph Schlingensief's satirical horror-comedy Das deutsche Kettensägenmassaker (1990) aka The German Chainsaw-Massacre aka Blackest Heart, but somehow I doubt Clark has ever seen that film.

 Featuring boys rubbing their sweaty balls with their hands and then wiping them across their friend’s face, a young skater selling a used cum-filled condom to a bearded old bear, a girl pissing in a bucket in public as urine drips off her meaty labia, an elderly pervert sucking the toes of a teenage boy and then using said toes to violently fuck his own nostrils with glee, a boy licking his computer screen as he watches another boy masturbate on webcam, and various other largely ugly and fetishistic displays of aberrant sexual dysfunction that probably give perennially lascivious Larry Clark a giant Viagra-induced hard-on, The Smells Of Us ultimately unwittingly reveals a number of obvious reasons as to why Muslims hate France and why the French have become so pathetically passive, inept, and otherwise incapacitated when it comes fighting the Islamic terrorists that freely lurk around the no-go-zone areas of Paris. Indeed, if Clark’s film has anything to do with reality when it comes to French society and especially French youth, one can only assume that Frogland is on the brink of both a racial and sexual apocalypse that is only being sped up by primitive jihadist degenerates that should not be anywhere near the country in the first place. Featuring a cast that covers all of the colors of the mostly dark racial rainbow, including mongrel actors that defy any discernible racial type, the film also unwittingly celebrates the surrealistic racial nightmare that is postcolonial France where the degenerate descendants of the colonized are now engaging in what one might describe as reverse colonization that can only end badly for all parties involved.

 Like with many of his films, Clark attempts to spread the patently absurd idea in The Smell of Us that all males are bisexual and that every man has an inner faggot, but as Guillaume Faye noted in his book Sex and Deviance regarding this sick and outrageously libelous propagandistic lie and its relation to other big leftist lies, “One of the basic ideas of the whole homosexual lobby and homophile ideology is that everybody is bisexual by birth and that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice like any other, purely cultural and not indicative of any inherent difference. This idea is not merely false but pernicious. Such a mental perversion is a symptom of the most extreme development of egalitarian dogma, that is to say, the negation of natural differences between humans. Not only do races not exist but, taking things to their logical conclusion, neither do the sexes or sexual attraction. It is the androgynous reign of homogeneity and undifferentiated uniformity. Those who serve up these hallucinations do not believe them for a second, but it is of the very character of totalitarian language to not believe what one says.” Of course, what makes Clarks different from the Hollywood and mainstream media homophile propagandists is that he seems to actually genuinely believe that all people are sexually malleable and that every teenage boy dreams of being buggered by their best friend, or so one would assume after watching his fiercely foul smelling yet nonetheless fairly entertaining frog skater flick. While Clark has children, one might naturally assume he was a flaming faggot simply by watching his films, especially when one considers Faye’s remark, “Heterosexuals do not put their own sexuality at the centre of their personality or their works; homosexuals do. It is the very definition of obsession: one is a homosexual before one is oneself. The homosexual’s sexuality governs him, precisely because it is pathological and non-reproductive.” 

 To Clark's credit, The Smell of Us make great use of ancient French architecture and sculptures, which seems somewhat absurd when contrasted with the teenage sexual savages that loiter around such classic artistic works that were clearly made in saner times when French leaders still sought world domination instead of flooding their nation with culturally corrosive, low IQ aliens from the third world that do not take too kindly to fag, dykes, and other sexual degenerates.  Undoubtedly, Clark's incorporation of various ruined angel and child statues also gives the film a surprisingly eerily tragic feel, as if these ancient works of art are looking down in sadness at what has become of France and especially French youth.  Additionally, Clark included a number of shots of vintage bourgeois family photos of elegantly dressed individuals as if to provide rather obvious yet effective stark contrast to the dysfunctional non-families that exist in France today (indeed, it is no coincidence that only one of the character has anything resembling a traditional family, albeit with a stepmother as opposed to a real biological mother).  One could certainly argue that Math's mother—a seemingly senile yet somehow sexually savage bitch of a witch of the unabashedly incestuous son-sucking-and-fucking sort—is symbolic of France as a whole as a once powerful empire that has degenerated into the apocalyptic dementia-ridden and sexually dysfunctional motherland that it is today that welcomes all the bastards and rabble of the world.  Indeed, instead of great cocksuckers like Cocteau, who was fairly restrained when it came to his gay pederastic tendencies, France now has the luxury of ugly Americans creating pornography disguised as art featuring lurid interracial twink action, but then again I am sure André Gide, who had a weakness for underage brown boys, would have loved Clark's film. Then again, there is probably more truth in two seconds of one of Clark's gratuitous crotch shots than in all 180-minutes of Tunisian turd Abdellatif Kechiche's patently preposterous lily-licker fantasy La Vie d'Adèle – Chapitres 1 & 2 (2013) aka Blue Is the Warmest Colour.

In terms of classic frog flicks about prostitution, The Smell of Us undoubtedly makes Godard's classic Vivre sa vie: Film en douze tableaux (1962) aka My Life to Live seem like an archaic Lifetime movie by comparison in terms of sheer energy and audacity (though, to Godard's credit, he also played the dual role of the director-pimp when he directed his then-wife Anna Karina in that film).  Indeed, Clark may be an odious sexual deviant of sorts that has made a living out of exploiting mostly screwed-up and oftentimes drug-addled adolescents during their most vulnerable and unflattering moments, but I cannot think of a more able filmmaker when it comes to capturing the volatility, spontaneity, sexual goofiness, and raw energy of youth.  Additionally, for all the film's ugliness, it manages to capture the beautiful spirit of youth, which is something that I think that most people can admire, even if they do not want to admit it.  Notably, the great reluctant fascist turned meta-nihilist philsopher Emil Cioran once described his adopted hometown of Paris as an “apocalyptic garage,” which is indubitably both a literally and figuratively immaculate way to describe the foredoomed urban pandemonium of perversity depicted in Clark's film.  Slightly more than just an all the more debauched frog Kids, The Smell of Us is an unsentimental look at some of the youngest and most irredeemable members of a dying nation as seen from the somewhat cockeyed perception of an American Vietnam War vet who sure loves his shirtless boys, even if they are not exactly worthy of love, let alone sympathy.  In the end, for various reasons that relate to both the film and my own skateboardcentric youth in relation to said film (incidentally, I initially discovered Clark and Korine due to my juvenile love of skateboarding and not because of cinephilia, which came much later), I cannot help by recall French Symbolist poet Arthur Rimbaud's words, “Idle youth, enslaved to everything; by being too sensitive I have wasted my life.”

-Ty E

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