Sep 25, 2017

Brimstone




While the western is as distinctly American as a Robert E. Lee statue or a philandering Baptist negro preacher, many enterprising foreign auteur filmmakers have tackled and, in some cases, even improved on the fairly formulaic genre. Indeed, whether it be Luis Trenker's surprisingly good Nazi era western Der Kaiser von Kalifornien (1936) aka The Emperor of California, Italian auteur Sergio Leone elevating the genre to virtual high art with his ‘Dollars Trilogy,’ underrated guido anarchist Giulio Questi incorporating gothic horror and gay fascist blackshirts in Django Kill... If You Live, Shoot! (1967), Hebraic Chilean Alejandro Jodorowsky's hyper hermetic Mexican midnight movie El Topo (1970), Swedish auteur Jan Troell's rather modest yet original Zandy's Bride (1974), iconoclastic Brit Alex Cox ‘punking’ the cowboy cinema with Straight to Hell (1987) and Walker (1987), Teutonic enfant terrible Rainer Werner Fassbinder making his own distinctly debauched take on the spaghetti western with Whity (1971), the various lame commie ‘Ostern’ (aka ‘Red Western) flicks of the Soviet Eastern Bloc, South African auteur Aryan Kaganof’s ghostly genocide-laden avant-garde short Western 4.33 (2002), or Argentine auteur Lisandro Alonso’s Danish flavored Viggo Mortensen vehicle Jauja (2014), the western—a genre Clint Eastwood once quite rightly stated of, “I have always felt that the Western movie is one of the few art forms that Americans can lay claim to. Next to jazz”—has certainly been reshaped, raped, and molested by filmmakers from virtually every first world nation in the world aside from the Netherlands, at least until relatively recently with the release of the somewhat underrated, if not flawed, epic Brimstone (2016) directed by rather rotund Dutch auteur Martin Koolhoven (Suzy Q, Oorlogswinter aka Winter in Wartime). Billed by some, including Koolhoven himself, as “the very first Dutch Western,” the film is technically a Dutch-French-German-Belgian-Swedish-British-American coproduction and features a largely international cast with mostly English speaking roles, yet it is also the film that probably comes closest to capturing the apocalyptic Calvinistic spirit of Dutch Renaissance painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder paintings like The Triumph of Death (1562). In short, the film could not have been directed by a Hollywood filmmaker, which might seem far-fetched to some considering it stars baby diva Dakota Fanning, Australian action heartthrob Guy Pearce, and Game of Thrones stars Kit Harington and Carice van Houten, among various other non-arthouse oriented celebrities.  In short, the film is far too idiosyncratic, subversive, and just plain ‘feel bad’ to have been directed by some Hollywood hack or produced by some money-grubbing Tinseltown pimp producer.




 Undoubtedly, Koolhoven—a relatively young auteur that has clearly suffered a certain degree of Americanization as far as cultural and cinematic influences are concerned—is a filmmaker that I certainly have somewhat mixed feelings about. Although he began his filmmaking career on an inordinately strong note with the sweetly sick suburban melodrama-cum-satire Suzy Q (1999) and the decidedly dark, cruelly comedic and quasi-Lynchian oneiric arthouse thriller AmnesiA (2001) starring a delectably young and nubile Carice van Houten and Fedja van Huêt in a dual-role as twins and he would go on to direct admirable flicks like the rather grim quasi-Dogme 95 project Het Zuiden (2004) aka South, Koolhoven has also done his fair share of superlatively cringe-worthy hack work. In fact, Koolhoven demonstrated with infantile mainstream comedies like Het Schnitzelparadijs (2005) aka Schnitzel Paradise—a degenerate Rome and Juliet story about a brown Muslim’s quest to defile a blonde Dutch Aryanness that apparently made a lot of money in the Netherlands—and 'n Beetje Verliefd (2006) aka Happy Family that he is a shameless cuckold that has no problem disposing his artistic integrity to make insipid pro-miscegenation twaddle for stupid and naïve adolescent girls that might be dumb enough to believe that Moroccans make for cool boyfriends. Unfortunately, Brimstone also suffers from a slight yet unmistakable rancid Cultural Marxist stench, but luckily the film is so misanthropic and just plain fucked up that any left-wing message it contains is virtually neutralized. Vaguely feministic in the sense that it features an absurdly rough and tough dame portrayed by lapsed child star Dakota Fanning, the film is a sort of grotesque neo-revisionist western where the Wild West is portrayed as a virtual hell-on-earth where going to church and whorehouses are the most popular recreational activities and where Calvinist virgins can be turned into seasoned whores virtually overnight.  In short, Koolhoven does not seem to believe in heroes and practically views the Old West as one big gigantic plantation where a couple evil cowboys and religious men treat the rest of humanity like slaves and cattle.



 While I was initially dubious of Brimstone due to Koolhoven’s uniquely uneven oeuvre and the fact that it is the Dutch director's first English language film, I knew I had to watch it after reading a couple reviews from clearly offended mainstream American film critics. Indeed, seeing the film as a sort of “endurance test,” many of these lamestream critics seem to just lack the testicular fortitude (or, in many cases, testicles in general) to consume any sort of cinema that transcends sort of sociopathic Tarantinoesque pop violence, but I must admit that even I was somewhat taken aback when I read Glenn Kenny’s review at rogerebert.com where he reveals that he was so hopelessly offended and triggered by the film that he states regarding director Koolhoven, “I wonder if President Trump can extend that travel ban to The Netherlands.” While Brimstone features a heroine that could almost be described as an ‘all-competent ingénue’ were it not for her final fate, it seems the film’s propensity for girl power posturing is not enough to satiate the dry vags of the feeble feminists and limp dick cucks that just cannot bear to see a girl treated as anything less than an immaculate jewel that needs to be daintily polished and displayed in the most flattering of fashions.  Another excellent example of the hysteria against the film is a review from some emotionally bloated bitch boy named Zach Budgor at pastemagazine.com who go so far as complaining in regard to Brimstone that, “Calling it ‘problematic’ seems colossally inadequate” and then bitches, “Beneath all the pretensions, this is just a movie about Guy Pearce desperately wanting to fuck his daughter.”  Of course, Calvinist predatory father-daughter incest is a subject that, for better or worse, has more substance and intrigue than anything that Tarantino has ever touched.  Notably, this is not Koolhoven's first film that deals with father-daughter incest, as the Dutch auteur's aberrant made-for-TV cult flick Suzy Q also features a perverted patriarch with serious daughter issues, albeit depicted in a considerably less sensational fashion.



Although oftentimes overlooked due to America’s dominant Anglo-Saxon roots, the Dutch played a pivotal role in influencing the cultural and political climate of early America. For example, a 1657 religious clash between Peter Stuyvesant—the last Dutch director-general of the colony of New Netherland from 1647 until it was ceded provisionally to the English in 1664 and renamed New York—and Quakers led by John Bowne resulted in the Flushing Remonstrance, which ultimately served as the basis for religious freedom in America. While it is somewhat hard for me to imagine Dutch cowboys (incidentally, auteur Sam Peckinpah’s paternal family, which was involved with the Old West, originated from the Frisian Islands), the covert influence of Calvinism on the western genre is unmistakable and certainly put to intriguing use in Koolhoven’s Brimstone where a singularly wicked Dutch Reformed Church reverend act as a sort of symbolic devil of sorts in the still untamed land of the great American frontier. As depicted in the film, the Dutch immigrants have come to the U.S. because they believe that their motherland has become fair too spiritually degenerate and they truly believed that their new homeland is thee literal ‘Promised Land.’ Scorning his fiercely frigid wife due to the fact that their daughter still prays in Dutch, the Reverend, like so many of his contemporary kinsmen, is rather serious about ridding himself of his Dutch identity (incidentally, many of the original Dutch-Americans maintained their native tongue as demonstrated by the eighth President of the United States Martin van Buren who, despite by a sixth generation American, spoke Dutch as his first language). In that sense, the film reveals the American tendency toward deracination and eventual cultural retardation. Indeed, the good Reverend aggressively advocates the eradication of his first language in both his church and household, yet he and his flock are easily the most literate and cultivated people in the film, thus demonstrating the innate absurdity of the so-called melting pot. 




 Undoubtedly, one of the most intriguing aspects of Brimstone is that Koolhoven was able to incorporate the Calvinist angle in a surprisingly cinematic fashion, or as he explained in an interview with creativescreenwriting.com, “There is an idea of predetermination in Calvinism, and I wanted to hint in the movie that things are in a way predetermined. Just as an example, if a character gets shot in the head, at some previous point in the movie that character will touch their head. If somebody gets knifed in the stomach, they’ll touch their stomach earlier in the film.” Of course, the idea of predetermination becomes rather perverse when one considers the film features incestuous father-daughter rape, patricide, suicide, white child sex slavery, infanticide, unjustified whore lynchings, archaic glossectomies, etc. Needless to say, the film does not exactly feature a positive portrayal of Calvinism, but I doubt Koolhoven is any sort of religious scholar despite his religious upbringing as his film features the same sort of one-dimensional critique of Christianity that one would expect from the average Hollywood Hebraic hack. Luckily, Koolhoven is not as arrogant as the average Tinseltown Christ-killer and his anti-Calvinist tendencies do not seem to be motivated by mere atavistic hatred or resentment like the average chosenite. Notably, underrated Dutch auteur Adriaan Ditvoorst did a much better job criticizing Christianity with his sardonic anti-Biblical epic De mantel der Liefde (1978) aka The Mantle of Love, but I digress.  Personally, I think Koolhoven has repressed spiritual longings and Brimstone feels like a warped expression of that.  Unfortunately, Koolhoven lacks the nuance of a fellow lapsed Calvinist like Paul Schrader, who at least lends a certain humanity to the Dutch-American religious community depicted in his rather visceral flick Hardcore (1979).



 An undeniably ambitious and meticulously constructed 148-minute epic with a surprisingly provocative non-linear narrative that is divided into four Biblical chapters, Brimstone tells the somber yet sordid and sadomasochistic tale of a tongueless young mother named ‘Liz’ (Dakota Fanning in arguably the greatest and most mature role of her entire career) and why the mere voice of a false prophet Calvinist reverend (Guy Pearce) that randomly reappears in her completely consumes her soul with dread and disgust. Indeed, it is only long after he has committed a couple grisly killings and two of the four chapters of the film have passed that the viewer finally discovers the Reverend’s true connection to Liz and why he is so ruthlessly and wickedly determined to abduct the heroine and make her pay for her supposed sins so that he can ostensibly redeem himself from his own pathetic purgatorial existence.  At the beginning of the film when she is first introduced, Liz seems to be somewhat happy, albeit mute, as she works as a midwife with her little daughter Sam—a virtual ‘mini-me’ that practically worships her vocally-challenged mother in the sweetest sort of way—who she uses sign language with when communicating to women in labor. Although her 14-year-old stepson Matthew (Jack Hollington) somewhat resents her since she has replaced his own deceased mother, Liz has a loving, if not somewhat naive and somewhat weak, husband named Eli (William Houston). Despite her seemingly happy home life, Liz has a somewhat vague haunted expression, as if she is doing everything she can to hide the internal pain that plagues her soul.  As the viewer learns as the film progresses, Liz is a survivor in the truest sense, though, rather unfortunately, everyone she seems to love and care about is killed in quite horrendous ways by the all-jealous and all-vengeance Reverend.  Surely accursed yet completely undeserving of her seemingly perennially nightmarish plight, the heroine is indubitably is a virtual symbolic punching bag in terms of the brutality and lack of fairness and justice in the world.




 Unfortunately, Liz’s life of relative normalcy almost immediately becomes a nefarious nightmare when the good Reverend unexpectedly arrives at her local church and begins his cryptically self-denigrating ‘fire and brimstone’ homiletics routine about the perils of false prophets. Indeed, literally the same day that the Reverend—a well groomed authoritarian type with a fairy large and intimidating scar on his face—shows up at church, a pregnant woman goes into labor inside of said church and Liz must make a horrific choice in regard to the pregnancy and ultimately takes upon herself to kill the baby by crushing its skull so that the mother does not die in childbirth.  While Liz immediately accuses the Reverend of somehow orchestrating the tragedy, her husband Eli simply cannot believe that the (un)holy man has the assumedly supernatural means or harsh amorality to carryout such a depraved act. Not long after the tragic incident, the dead baby’s heartbroken father, Nathan (Bill Tangradi), shows up late at night at the family's farm while drunk on whisky, sets a wagon on fire, and then begins shooting at Liz’s house in a desperate attempt to kill her. Ultimately, the Reverend shows up and acts the part of a noble hero by coercing Nathan into going home.  While Eli believes the Reverend is a hero, Liz certainly knows better.

 Against Liz’s wishes, Eli invites the Reverend into his home to thank him while the heroine hides in another room with a petrified expression on her almost ghostly, porcelain-like face. When Eli temporarily leaves the room, the Reverend, who can sense the heroine's presence, reveals his true feelings for Liz by stating as she lurks behind a wall, “I know you’re there, and I know you can hear me. You may have no tongue, but there is nothing wrong with your ears. Why do doubts rise in your heart? Why are you troubled? How do you sleep at night? How does it feel to be a murderess? Do you know why I am here? I’m here to punish you. Do you love this family? I’ve looked at your daughter. She’s almost a young woman already.” Needless to say, the Reverend’s words positively petrify Liz, but it is not until much later in the film that the viewer comes to understand why the heroine is so abjectly afraid of the menacing man of god.  On top of quite symbolically slaughtering the family’s flock of sheep to such a savage degree that he rips an unborn lamb out of one of the beasts' wombs, the Reverend eventually disembowels Eli and then makes him suffer in hellish agony by wrapping his intestines around his neck like a noose. Before his son Matthew puts him out of his misery by blowing him away with a shotgun, Eli tells Liz to take the kids and flee to his father’s home in the mountains. Of course, the Reverend follows, but the viewer has to watch two flashback chapters before the films picks up where it began in the first chapter. 




 As the film progresses, the viewer eventually discovers that Liz is actually the extra estranged daughter of the Reverend and that she is living under a fake identity that she borrowed from a dead friend. In fact, Liz, whose real name is ‘Joanna,’ was so adamant about changing her identity and starting a completely new life for herself that she dared to personally cutout her own tongue so that she could assume the identity of her tongueless prostitute pal ‘Elizabeth Brundy’ (Carla Juri), who had her tongue dismembered by the girls' mutual ultra sleazy cowboy pimp Frank (Paul Anderson). Although born into a devout Calvinist family, Joanna aka ‘Liz’ eventually ran away from home and was forced into prostitution after a series of tragic and just downright disgusting and depraved events, including the violent suicide of her meek mother Anna (Carice van Houten), the coldblooded murder of her outlaw would-be-lover Samuel (Kit Harington), and incestuous rape at the hand of her own depraved daddy, among other things. Notably, all of these horrible things happened to Liz when she was practically still a little girl shortly after her period in a scenario that brings sick irony to the Reverend sermon, “The serpent said to the woman, ‘You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate. And then the Lord God said to the woman: ‘I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth. In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.’”

As if he could instinctively smell the scent of her first drop of menstrual blood, the Reverend became completely sexually enamored with Liz after she had her first period and soon came to the conclusion that he should marry and procreate with his daughter.  Unfortunately for the Rev, Liz is a fighter that learned from the pathological passivity of her mother to never submit to the depraved desires of an overbearing brute.  While the suicide of her mother gave the Reverend the perfect opportunity to make her his wife, Liz ultimately decided to runaway from home and take the risk of fending for herself in the quite dangerous and morally bankrupt realm of cowboy country, hence her first occupation as a prostitute.  Spending her best teenage years as a pussy-peddler at a cathouse with the fitting name ‘The Inferno,’ Liz encounters some of the most unsavory, brutal, pervert, and just plain degenerate men in the Old West, but none of these foul fellows are quite as cruel as her own distinctly fucked up father.  As someone that was deflowered by her own daddy, Liz is naturally able to tolerate a couple cruddy cowpokes creaming in her cunt.  In fact, she is depicted as being quite bored by sex with johns.




 Using the words of Paul the Apostle “If any man thinks that he is behaving himself unseemly toward his virgin daughter, if she pass the flower of her age, and if need so requires, let him do what he will; he is not sinning; let them marry” as a rather creepy and desperate yet nonetheless seemingly biblically sound rationalization, the Reverend intended to make his daughter Joanna/Liz as his wife, but he was only able to rape her once before she managed to get away and thus was never able to consummate the incestuous marriage. On top of raping her, the Reverend murdered Liz’s first true love Samuel—a kindhearted convict and killer that she secretly hid in her family's barn for a number of days, if not weeks—after he dared to attempt to stop the (un)holy man from ritualistically raping his daughter on a church altar. Needless to say, becoming a prostitute was a small price for Liz to pay after being raped by her preposterously prideful progenitor. Of course, it was while Liz was working at ‘The Inferno’ whorehouse that her father was finally able to catch up with her after a number of years of looking for her in the hope of finally consummating their marriage.  Needless to say, Liz was not exactly interested in becoming her father's lawful fucktoy.  Indeed, instead of being defiled by her daddy a second time, Liz, who has turned into quite the bad bitch after a number of years of commercial sexual debasement, opts to slit his throat and set him on fire, hence her almost otherworldly dread and fear when he somehow returns many years later as depicted at the beginning of the film in an assumedly all-powerful undead form. On top of being a spiritually schizophrenic puritanical zombie of sorts, the Reverend is all the more murderous, displays a supernatural level of strength, and is seemingly immortal, or at least until he dares to fuck with Liz’s tiny blonde daughter Sam.  While the Rev manages to demonstrate he is a master sniper by shooting and killing Liz's stepson from a great distance in the middle of a blizzard, he is not exactly as efficient when it comes to dealing with his own severely emotionally damaged daughter.




 Near the very end of the film, the Reverend poetically declares whilst in literal flames just before his daughter delivers what may or may not be a fatal blow via gunshot, “People think it’s the flames that make hell unbearable. It’s not. It’s the absence of love.” This quote and a couple other quotes from the film reveal that the Reverend is not simply a perniciously perverted monster, but a grotesquely tragic figure who, despite his many glaring flaws, is a hopeless romantic at heart who is forsaken with falling in love with his own teenage daughter. In fact, the film’s portrayal of the Rev inspired film critic Glenn Kenny to reveal his lack of testicular fortitude and moan, “In any event, by the finale, it is entirely clear that the Reverend is the character with whom Koolhoven actually identifies. Gross. I wonder if President Trump can extend that travel ban to The Netherlands.” Personally, I can only hope that Koolhoven most closely identifies with the Rev as it would be rather pathetic, impotent, and emasculating if he felt close to the heroine, but I sincerely doubt it as the character is far too contrived to be an expression of the auteur’s somewhat dubious soul.  Indeed, while Liz unquestionably takes up most of the screen time, the Reverend is ultimately the most nuanced and unforgettable character in the entire film, as a ludicrously lovelorn figure comparable to Vincent Price's eponymous character in Robert Fuest's The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971), albeit way more fucked up. While Koolhoven has stated in various interviews that he wanted to do something new with the western genre by depicting the supposed inordinate misery that women suffered in the American West in comparison to their male counterparts, I somehow doubt that he, like many so many other male feminists, really gives a serious shit about female suffering, especially since certain scenes in Brimstone border on torture porn and they oftentimes have a fetishistic S&M/BDSM quality that would certainly get some women wet and some men hard, but I digress.

 Naturally, it is only fitting that the heroine of Koolhoven's film is an (ex)prostitute because, as Georges Bataille once wrote, “With prostitution, the prostitute was dedicated to a life of transgression. The sacred or forbidden aspect of sexual activity remained apparent in her, for her whole life was dedicated to violating the taboo.”  Somewhat ironically, the prostitute is a revered figure in classic westerns as indicated by the timeless whore-with-a-heart-of-gold archetype, so it is somewhat curious that Koolhoven would portray pussy-peddlers as a much loathed figures that are frequently mutilated and hanged by overly eager bloodthirsty hicks.  In Koolhoven's mind, women only become prostitutes as a result of some form of male abuse, as if women completely lack agency. Of course, it is no coincidence that Brimstone—a film that prides itself on breaking taboos—was directed by a lapsed Calvinist, as it is symbolic of the very real spiritual degeneracy of the Netherlands as a whole and how the nation went from Puritanism to legal pot and prostitution virtually over night, just as the equally degenerate Germans went from attempting to ridding themselves of racial aliens during the Third Reich to attempting to commit virtual collective suicide via low birth rates and mass immigration.  Indeed, for or better or worse, there is no question that the film was directed by a spiritually sick man with a busted moral compass and no amount of insincere feminist posturing is going to change that.  Undoubtedly, it might be better to describe Brimstone as the ‘first anti-Calvinist western’ instead of the ‘first Dutch western,’ as the film is first and foremost as rather resentful work of contra Calvinism that just features too many cowboys to feel even remotely Dutch.




 Somewhat unfortunately, in his rather revealing interview with creativescreenwriting.com, Koolhoven expressed a special affinity for proudly pozzed pop filmmaker Quentin Tarantino and his intricately cuckolded negrophile anti-westerns, or as the Dutch auteur himself explained, “DJANGO UNCHAINED looks at that period through different eyes, showing the black experience, and my movie looks at the era through female eyes. They’re both movies that look at history in a different way. It’s not something that I really thought about as I was writing BRIMSTONE, but at some point I realized that even though I made a movie that is completely different from DJANGO UNCHAINED, I think they are in some ways spiritually connected.” Of course, in a certain sense, Koolhoven is right as his film, not unlike Tarantino's celluloid cow turd, is a product of its particular pathetic zeitgeist and thus an unwittingly damning expression of the spiritual degeneracy, gross emasculation, moral retardation, and senseless nihilism of the contemporary Dutch male. Undoubtedly, it is the ultimate disgrace to the genre that a perverted part-injun podophile and proud ethno-masochist like Tarantino would direct a Western—a style created by proud white Americans that reflects, quite literally, true and virtuous white supremacy of the classic nation-building sort—as he personally lacks any of the qualities of the traditional western hero, hence his nasty knack for nappy-headed degeneration and groveling feet fetishism.

Naturally, as the bastard broad of a sexually promiscuous single mother that would expose her son to various black boyfriends during a time when only the most irredeemable white trash proles engaged in such dysgenic behavior, Tarantino would grew up to be the virtual spiritual nemesis of western genre maestro John Ford.  While Django Unchained (2012)—a film that is a grotesque insult to the classic Sergio Corbucci spaghetti western Django (1966) that it borrows its name from—is indubitably vapidly buffoonish neo-blaxploitation porn for anti-white bloodlusting negroes and racially schizophrenic white liberals and wiggers—Tarantino would completely outdo himself in terms of self-flagellating faggotry with his follow-up ‘neo-western’ The Hateful Eight (2015), which is notable for featuring loudmouth alpha-spade Samuel L. Jackson forcing a Confederate soldier to suck his STD-ridden prick just before killing him in a scenario that can only be described as negro power style sod sadism. Undoubtedly, for reviewers to complain about the supposed ‘twisted brutality’ of Brimstone yet no so much as make a peep about the truly otherworldly masochistic cuckolded fantasies featured in celebrated shabbos goy Tarantino’s melanin-marinated westerns just goes to show the sort of collective moral insanity and racial retardation that plagues the conspicuously kosher mainstream. Additionally, while Koolhoven’s flick might have been directed by a degenerate man that clearly has hang-ups in regard to both his own gender and ancestral faith, the film never succumbs to the cartoonish gynocentrism of Tarantino's two volume foot fetish fantasy Kill Bill (2003).  Indeed, Koolhoven's film might feature various examples of female strength that border on the patently absurd, it also features a lot of female weakness and concludes on a bittersweet note that reminds that viewer that, quite unlike the Hebrew-helmed Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), even female heroines are not invincible and that this planet has always been and will always be a man's world.




 Although Koolhoven clearly intended to directed his own equivalent to Erich von Stroheim’s Greed (1924) in terms of sheer cinematic grandeur and misanthropic magnitude, Brimstone is ultimately a flawed cinematic curiosity that is, in my humble opinion, slightly inferior to the director’s rather ambitious early feature AmnesiA. In terms of epic flawed westerns directed by assumed megalomaniacs that people either seem to love or love to hate, the film certainly deserves to be compared to Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate (1980). Don’t get me wrong, I think the film is considerably overlooked in the United States where it barely played in theaters and received scathing reviews from a number of mainstream film critics, but it might be a little bit of puffery to compare it to a genuine masterpiece like Charles Laughton’s The Night of the Hunter (1955), even if it shares superficial similarities, as it is simply not a film of the same artistic caliber. Indeed, aside from being somewhat flawed in the narrative sense and featuring rather awkward dialogue and delivery of lines (it should be noted that Koolhoven, who speaks fairly good English, originally wrote the script in Dutch and then later had it translated into English), the film suffers the virtually artistically fatal flaw of lame leftist virtue signaling, namely of the innately inane quasi-feministic sort.  As an anti-Marxist Pasolini fan, I can certainly overlook the politics of a flick if it is artistically genuine, but the anti-Christian and feminist posturing of Brimstone just does not feel completely authentic, as if the director included such repugnant elements in the hope of receiving praise from the right film critics. While a totally preposterous piece of prosaic pussy juice, Kelly Reichardt's Meek's Cutoff (2010), quite unlike Koolhoven's film, at least has a certain undeniable authenticity about it as far as feminists westerns are concerned.

Not unlike Tarantino, albeit to a less critical degree, Koolhoven seems to be a moral savage that has drank the cultural Marxist Kool-Aid and feels it necessary to emasculate himself in a less than sincere fashion by creating a world where all powerful men are evil and virtually all women of victims of said men, as if the West was not won mostly via the blood, sweat, and tears of courageous men that were quite literally willing to risk their lives to make a better life for their wives and children. Naturally, it is a sad irony that is a seemingly spiritually castrated man would tackle a genre that is notorious for being fueled by pure and unadulterated testosterone, but then again Brimstone still has its odd virtues and can certainly celebrated for, if nothing else, its decidedly darkly romantic tone.  In a sense, the film is an artistic tragedy of sorts as it is so close to being a great film, thus making its flaws all the more unbearable to accept.

In terms of its anti-Calvinist angle and somewhat frivolous and phony feminist subtext, Brimstone can certainly be compared to Robert Eggers' somewhat more immaculate horror flick The Witch (2015).  Unfortunately, both films were clearly created by spiritually castrated ‘nu-males’ that somehow see it as a necessity to use their genre films as a means to criticize the patriarchy while depicting teenage girls as the most enlightened of beings.  Personally, I just think these beta boys worship the nice and fresh cunts of hot teenage girls.  Either way, nothing screams beta-male more than directing a film where strong and masculine males are depicted in an excessively negative light, as only a resentful wuss would be compelled to do such a thing.




 Although Irish poet William Butler Yeats once insightfully wrote, “Sex and death are the only things that can interest a serious mind,” one has to wonder if death is more arousing to Koolhoven than sex as Brimstone is indubitably at its most erotically-charged during its death and torture scenes. Indeed, whether it be a man being strangled by his own intestines or some sadistic hick almost chocking to death a whore during a session of capitalist coitus, the film takes both a fetishistic and ritualistic approach to death while at the same time portraying sex oftentimes in an oftentimes grotesque and uniquely unpleasant fashion, thus revealing the director's somewhat warped latent Calvinist tendencies. In short, as Brimstone and some of his other films demonstrate, Koolhoven seems to be compelled by a ‘Todestrieb,’ as if his films are the visceral expression of atavistic impulses associated with being descended from a long line of anti-sex Calvinists.  In that sense, Koolhoven's film can certainly be compared to Dutch auteur Jos Stelling's excellent directorial debut Mariken van Nieumeghen (1974) Mariken from Nieumeghen.

Undoubtedly, the following words from Nietzchean anarchist Georges Bataille seem to offer some insight into the overly sensual murders of Koolhoven’s film, “Erotic activity, by dissolving the separate beings that participate in it, reveals their fundamental continuity, like the waves of a stormy sea. In sacrifice, the victim is divested not only of clothes but of life (or is destroyed in some way if it is an inanimate object). The victim dies and the spectators share in what his death reveals. This is what religious historians call the element of sacredness. This sacredness is the revelation of continuity through the death of a discontinuous being to those who watch it as a solemn rite. A violent death disrupts the creature’s discontinuity; what remains, what the tense onlookers experience in the succeeding silence, is the continuity of all existence with which the victim is now one. Only a spectacular killing, carried out as the solemn and collective nature of religion dictates, has the power to reveal what normally escapes notice […] Everything leads us to the conclusion that in essence the sacramental quality of primitive sacrifices is analogous to the comparable element in contemporary religions.” Although just speculation, I have a feeling that the rather visceral and sacrifice-like murders depicted in the film are a degenerate subconscious attempt by Koolhoven—an atheist that had a religious upbringing—to express certain latent spiritual tendencies. Needless to say, Koolhoven would probably benefit from readopting his Calvinist faith and laying off too much exploitation trash lest he devolve into a spiritually deformed creature that is as hopelessly morally and aesthetically bankrupt as Tarantino. 





 While Brimstone would have the viewer believe that the Old West was a virtual hell-on-earth for all women, the fact remains that, even during that time, Western women were the freest and most privileged women in the entire world. Indeed, it is no coincidence that a long dead kraut fart like Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) would complain of “…our old French notions of gallantry and our preposterous system of reverence – that highest product of Teutonico-Christian stupidity.” After all, only the metaphysical affliction of feminism and its related comorbid spiritual diseases could inspire the esoteric white knighting depicted Brimstone. In fact, the thing I found most disturbing about the film is that it was produced by a male mind, even if it is not all that strange for a male mind to create scenarios where a very young and nubile dame like Dakota Fanning is forced into sexually compromising positions (though she is never actually depicted nude). As far as westerns are concerned, Hollywood golden age maverick John Ford would have probably deeply loathed the film, or so one would assume from his less than pretentious remark, “I like, as a director and a spectator, simple, direct, frank films. Nothing disgusts me more than snobbism, mannerism, technical gratuity... and, most of all, intellectualism.” Speaking of Ford, he practically perfectly described the Reverend’s curse and a central theme of the film when he once stated, “Love is the tyrant of the heart; it darkens reason, confounds discretion; deaf to Counsel it runs a headlong course to desperate madness.” Plagued by perennial aimless peregrinations in a metaphysical purgatory of the heart, the Reverend is nothing if not the most hopeless of hopeless romantics and a character that reveals that auteur Koolhoven is a passionate man that makes passionate films, even when they are tragically tainted with lame leftist posturing.  Despite its flaws, Brimstone is indubitably unforgettable and a cinematic work that merits subsequent viewing.  Undoubtedly, were Koolhoven to be ‘red-pilled’ and receive so much needed lessons from the writings of Nietzsche, Spengler, Evola, and Weininger, he could probably become a great auteur, but for known he seems to be plagued by tactical nihilist tendencies that compel him to subvert primordial archetypes, hence his weakness as an artist.  After all, there seems to be an innately repellent quality in the artistic creations of someone that seems to be ashamed of their own genitals, just as their is something quite loathsome about someone that goes to great pains to besmirch and defile their own ancestral faith and culture.  If one learns anything by watching Brimstone, it is that Koolhoven seems petrified by the concept of the Old West and he, quite unlike so many generations of American males, really does not have an innate understanding of the romantic quality of being a cowboy and gunning down redskins.



-Ty E

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Donald Trump just wants whats best for America and Americans, he is perhaps the last best hope for the United States.

John Carpenter said...

Just with regards to the list of countrys in the first paragraph that were involved in the making of the film: Its such a shame the British were allowed to throw in their tuppence worth, all those other countrys are fine but whenever the British get in on co-productions it immediately throws a monkey wrench into the works and completely ruins the movie.