Amoeblog

AFI 2012 - The ABCs of Death (2012)

Posted by Charles Reece, November 18, 2012 10:41pm | Post a Comment
abcs of death poster

Lets just say this film is NOT for the morally conscious.
-- Timo Tjahjanto on his "L is for Libido"

The ABCs of Death
is a collection of humorous horror shorts from around the world, each based on a letter of the alphabet -- so you know going in that, percentage-wise, some of it won't be very good. However, there are a truly inspired few that make enduring the whole worthwhile. What you'll learn, if you didn't already know, is that Americans aren't very good at making horror these days, Asians are the best, with the French and Mexicans falling somewhere in between.

The best of the bunch is undoubtedly from Indonesia, Timo Tjahjanto's "L is for Libido."  Two men are chained to chairs, forced to masturbate to whatever's put before them on a stage. The last one to ejaculate gets gruesomely eliminated, while the winner goes on to the next round, with something even more heinous being put before him and his new opponent. Without giving any of the shock value away, I'll just say that the forced fetish spectacle was sufficiently evil to get the asshole sitting next to me who couldn't stop playing with his cell phone (a video arcade was coming from his seat) to finally pay attention and leave in disgust. A good horror film can't be ignored. Despite Tjahjanto's claim of amorality, there's actually quite a bit going on here. I'm thinking about the assumption of passivity in gaze theory, both on the part of the spectacle and on the part of the spectator. What's being shown in front of the camera is under its controlling gaze (typically, this is thought to be women, objectified and fetishized), while giving the viewer the false impression of being in control of that gaze, when in fact the gaze has been ("always already") structured for him (men tend to be assumed to be in the role of the scopophiliac). The short manifests this theory as horror: the men are actually subjugated to a spectacle beyond their control. But it's unlikely to win many feminist converts, because it's played for laughs (of the gallows humor variety). The problem in gaze theory is that the spectator isn't passive, a mere product of interpellation, which is made comically apparent through sanguine literality. Intentional or not, Tjahjanto has created a perverse satire of Laura Mulvey's theory.

Continue reading...

AFI 2012 - Interview with Olivier Assayas

Posted by Charles Reece, November 5, 2012 06:49am | Post a Comment

Olivier Assayas discussing his student radicalism and new film about those years, Something in the Air
(which has a better French title translated as After May, but we're not supposed to know to what the
"May"refers over here, I guess).

AFI Fest Review: Carré Blanc, Into the Abyss

Posted by Charles Reece, November 20, 2011 11:18pm | Post a Comment
carré blanc poster

Writer-director Jean-Baptiste Leonetti's first feature-length is a re-imagining of Soylent Green by way of Children of Men. That is, the poor are used as food, but there is a pervasive concern for keeping the world populated (represented by an omnipresent count, the 'white square' of the title being most literally the recurring digitized zero). Instead of being the structural underbelly of bourgeois society (white-collar squares), in this dystopia, violence has risen to the surface as their defining privilege to act out the most barbarous of urges while the disadvantaged (those paradoxically less inclined towards sociopathic behavior) are left to hold up a genteel appearance. Violence is the master signifier here: corporate training consists of a variety of sadistic tests to see if the employee has what it takes to move up the latter. He or she has to think outside the (white) box to pass onto the next level (shitting on others who haven't made it as high). Understandably, no one wants to have children in such a world.   

into the abyss poster

Werner Herzog's new documentary is thoroughly described and critiqued by Lorrie Moore over at the NYRBlog, so I don't have much to add. Despite being ardently opposed to the death penalty himself, Herzog manages to portray the various lives involved in the execution of Michael Perry for the murder of three people in the Texas town of Cut and Shoot without polemics. It's expected of Herzog to make great documentaries, and Into the Abyss is no exception. What I enjoyed the most was the way his patented drollery complements what his subjects have to say. As he stated in the Q&A, he had no wish to condescend against Texans, and there are no narcissistic "gotcha" moments with which Michael Moore made his reptuation. Instead, Herzog understands the depressive redneck milieu, laughing at the more surreal stories rather than at the people doing the telling. These are people who've known little but violence, death and crime, so they tend to share the director's bleak view of life. 

November 9, 2011: Beyond The Black Rainbow

Posted by phil blankenship, November 9, 2011 09:24pm | Post a Comment
Beyond The Black Rainbow movie ticket stub

November 9, 2011: Silver Bullets

Posted by phil blankenship, November 9, 2011 09:20pm | Post a Comment
Silver Bullets movie ticket stub
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