Saturday, September 26, 2020

John Waters Programs SALO and CLIMAX as Art Movie Hell at the Drive-In for The New York Film Festival

The New York Film Festival not only had John Waters do the poster for the festival they asked him to program a drive in pairing from hell. It's going to play in a drive in the Bronx (details here) and it full of art house exploitation films. Its a pairing that is not for all audiences, or even most audiences. What follows is a repost of my review of Pasolini's SALO from 2013. And my thoughts on Gaspar Noe's CLIMAX which I recently caught up with on Amazon Prime

Everyone fixates on the steamed chocolate but Pasolini’s film is more than that. Yes it’s a difficult catalog of cruelty but there is something more to it. If you want to be sure of it consider that the film is still be talked about forty years on. Yes on some level the film can be compared to women in prison film, but outside of the exploitation crowd who seriously discusses those? Well yes some of us do, but they don’t cross over to a wider audience.

Pasolini’s film is based on a book by the Marquis de Sade but reset into the 120 day period toward the end of the Second World War when Mussolini was out of power and the Salo government ruled the country. It tells the story of the a group of rulers who go insane and indulge their every twisted whim until the populace revolt and kill them.

As I said at the start the film is a catalog of increasing nasty set pieces of abuse. The film is alternately boring and horrifying. I’ve seen the film any number of times and I’ve been troubled by it each time. On some level the film can be easily dismissed much like films like say the Ilsa films starring Dyane Thorne. Some of the political posturing is trite and the violence is over the top and aimed to simply shock, but at the same time Pasolini is working on a deeper level. He is making us complicit in the events on screen. We may not be taking part but we are witnessing and the longer we stay the more complicit we are. It’s as if Pasolini is trying to find out how long will we watch these terrible things. Apparently as long as he shows them to us.

He is also giving a warning that while people will, for a while kowtow to those in power this is a point where they will hit back.

I don’t particularly like the film, I don’t know if you can, and I think we should probably worry about anyone who does. It is a film I admire a great deal.

I first saw the film because I had to see if the film was a horrifying as I first heard. In a weird way I was disappointed (and to be honest, I still am). Sure there were atrocities on screen but outside of that the film really is boring. I finished the film and pretty much dismissed it as an art film of the most pretentious sort. Then something happened, I started to revisit the film now and again, and eventually picked up the Criterion edition. It’s not that I particularly like the film, rather the film makes me to think and ponder things. I’m engaged with the film on more than the visceral or emotional level, it’s a film that gets my mind going. I’ll come across something and it will trigger something that will make me want to take another run by the film.

The film is not for all audiences, or even the majority of audiences, but for those who can handle dark graphic places and don’t mind pretentious art films mixed with Grand Guigol blood and poo I think you might want to give the film a go. I have no idea what you’ll think, however many years on I’m still trying to figure out what I think, but its worth a shot.

Gaspar Now continues his slide into boredom with a film with more pretentious bullshit then anything substantive.

The plot has a bunch of dancers going to an abandoned school (or a couple of room there in). After they dance for about an hour the LSD that was in their wine kicks in and everyone goes crazy.

A pure form over content mess is full of deliberately staged sequences, dull overhead shots and lots of dancing. It's a film where Noe is hiding the emptiness of his plot and themes with "look ma ain't I great" wizardry. Yea some of the shots are cool and the music kicks serious ass but the rest of this is really boring. 

Why are we watching this? I don't know. I only think I was there because the director said it important to be there. I think he is wrong. There is nothing here, worse anything that Noe had to say he had said before and better.

Forgive me but Noe has been in a slide since he burst on the  stage. I STAND ALONE was a wake up call. IRREVERSIBLE is arguably his best film. His segment in REDISTRICTED is stupid. ENTER THE VOID is an intriguing idea that just goes on way too long. LOVE is dull porno that exists just for bad 3D sex and now  CLIMAX which is useless.

Noe is of very little interest to me now. He is like the pretentious artists I used to come in contact with when my brother was part of various artists associations. These are the people who would do things like spray painting a beer cooler with a can of paint and then sell it to stupid people for  several hundred dollars because they needed rent money and knew they had suckers on the line. Noe is the artist and anyone giving him money or paying to watch his film are suckers.

Not worth your time or money- even for free.

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