Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Aesthetics Of Barf

A recent list from The A.V. Club, entitled "I'm trying to rape the viewer into independence": 17 Notorious Living, Working Cinematic Provocateurs," manages to name just about every single director whom I find artistically gifted and yet morally and spiritually misguided: Catherine Breillat, Jean-Luc Godard, Michael Haneke, Lars von Trier, Gaspar Noe, etc. etc. For me the point of cinema is not simply to be emotionally powerful; a good film also needs to add something of value to the viewer's life. Apparently Gaspar Noe's goal when filming Irreversible was "to make viewers feel like they were losing their minds." I have yet to see Irreversible. Unless I was gearing myself up to commit suicide, why would I? The A.V. Club writes that Haneke's films "are so starkly brilliant that they're difficult to dismiss." Can I dismiss them anyway? I mean, stark brilliance in the service of what?

Some of the directors listed here actually do make films with genuine soul and value, such as Werner Herzog, Oliver Stone, and Todd Solondz (although Solondz is possibly borderline). But no list can be perfect. Vincent Gallo's films are more entertaining for the attendant publicity than the actual movies, but at least he isn't laughing in your face. And even I must admit that I may need to see James Toback's Black And White, "a wholly improvised, wildly self-indulgent free-form essay on sex and race featuring a notorious scene where Robert Downey Jr. hits on Mike Tyson while Downey's turned-on wife (a cornrows-sporting Brooke Shields) tapes it all for posterity." Well I'll be damned!

Other highlights:

Michel Gondry Entertained For Days By New Cardboard Box

Economic Stimulus Check Burned For Warmth


Herr Zrbo said...

Vincent Gallo? Eeek, run for the hills! I think I saw him crawling around (literally) in a recent vodka commercial. Saw both Bufallo 66 and Brown Bunny (I think the original 'extra-long!' version) and was not really impressed by either. You can be provacative and still make an interesting movie, you know? Not 'hey look at the dashboard of my car for 90 minutes and then watch me get head from a dead chick!' Sorry, you lose.

yoggoth said...

If that's what your movie is and people still watch it I think you win!

yoggoth said...

Alternative comment: I'd drive 90 minutes for that!

Herr Zrbo said...

Just read a review of Uwe Boll's new movie 'Postal', here's some choice moments:

"The film opens with two terrorists in the cockpit of a plane. Already, the film attempts to provoke a response in a scene that's clearly evocative of the September 11th attacks. As a New Yorker, it felt distasteful, but at the same time, I understood that this was exactly the kind of feeling Boll wanted to get from the audience. The two terrorists argue the number of virgins they can sleep with in the afterlife, only to realize that perhaps their mission is just a sham. They call Osama bin Laden, and see that instead of the 100 (or 99) virgins they were expecting, they'd most likely only get a dozen. Split between the two of them for all of eternity, those wouldn't be virgins for long. Proclaiming the reward insufficient, the hijackers decide to turn the plane around, but only moments before an angry mob of civilians breaks through and crashes the plane into the World Trade Center."

"The brutally sharp imagery of the first scene is rarely rediscovered. Yes, there are a few disgusting moments. Did I ever want to see Dave Foley's penis while he relieves himself in the bathroom? Not really. Did I want to see an incredibly obese woman get in bed with a scrawny in-bred hillbilly? Nope. For some reason, these gags aren't able to produce the laughter caused by some of Hollywood's other gross-out moments. Remember the nude wrestling scene from Borat? Somehow, Postal misses the mark."

"Other than the opening plane hijacking sequence, only one other scene really challenges the taboos of filmmaking. In one of the film's big gunfights in the Little Germany theme park, the camera zooms exclusively on the innocent children being slaughtered in the crossfire. Bullets burst out of the kids, as they fall to the floor, dead or wincing in pain. It's a horrible sight, but Postal does it with such enthusiastic fanfare. We wish the rest of the film could be as daring."

"Uwe Boll does make an appearance in the film, in one of the strangest meta moments in a film I have ever seen. The on-screen Boll introduces himself as a filmmaker, one that has enraged critics through his continued adaptations of video game movies. He explains how he's able to finance his films, and the Little Germany theme park: through Nazi gold, obviously.

Boll introduces the Crotchydoll, and then makes an aside about how all the the children in attendance are making him horny. Moments after saying he's a pedophile, the creator of the original Postal video game gets into an altercation with Boll, claiming the infamous German director had ruined the movie. The two trade punches, and ultimately both get killed in the ensuing firefight. How does Boll die? He gets shot in the crotch. As he bleeds from the groin, he falls to the ground, whimpering "I hate video games." What are we supposed to take out of this scene? I'm not exactly sure."