Amoeblog

Domination & Dragons: Georges Bataille's Story of the Eye (2003) & How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

Posted by Charles Reece, December 19, 2010 11:29pm | Post a Comment
georges bataille's story of the eye

Andrew McElhinney's adaptation of Georges Bataille's perverse classic, Story of the Eye, is transgressive in the way Lady GaGa challenges our notions of sexual identity. Its cast seems to have come from gay S&M clubs, Korn videos and Midwestern strip joints. I don't have Phil Donahue to tell me what middle America is thinking any more, so maybe the sight of a pierced black cock that looks like a Subway sandwich is still provocative up in Bakersfield. I'm certain my 95-year old grandmother would rather watch her soaps, but so would I. I knew I was in for a boring ride when the film opened with actual footage of a baby's birth, as if Hollywood still had Rob and Laura Petrie sleeping in single beds. Then came a scene with the Korn extra controlling via a joystick two dancing women with torsos painted to look like faces under big top hats. Guess what the joystick is replaced with through the magic of montage. Hasn't the phallic joystick become such a frozen metaphor at this point that it's literal? This is hardly the metonymic eroticism Roland Barthes once analyzed where eyes, eggs and breasts become signs of each other through cleverly structured vignettes of abject sexuality. Whereas Bataille's love story begins with a decapitated cyclist, McElhinney shows the application of a condom to promote safe sex! After about 5 minutes of gay porn involving a bleached blonde sailor boy pitted against the aforementioned Moby Dick of, umm, deli sandwiches, I began to fast forward, looking for anything involving buttocks and egg cracking, but to no avail. Maybe it's old-fashioned to be thinking of the halcyon days of transgression, however McElhinney's sexual terrain would've been flyover country back in de Sade's time.

apocalypto sacrifice

You're better off watching Apocalypto, where Mel Gibson displays true Bataillean flair by taking his time in showing a Mayan sacrifice. As with the mortification of Jesus' body in The Passion of Christ, Gibson eroticizes the sacrificial act, beginning with the arduous walk up the steps of the great temple to the removal of the victim's heart to his beheading and then to the tossing of the headless corpse down the steps. (Inspired, he goes on to show another sacrifice, albeit it in not quite as much detail.) In both films, pain builds until it's released through violent ejaculation. Gibson was particularly interested in why a civilization like the Mayans (one could ask the same of the Romans), rationally capable of creating such architectural marvels, would treat another human so cruelly. For Bataille, it had to do with the material baseness of any rational structure, society's blindspot, or the madness that makes it all possible. Against the ratio of the Hegelian master-slave dialectic, he suggested that Aztec sacrifice (which Gibson had considered using, but went with the Mayans instead) was a way of resisting the reduction of human life into pure exchange value. While the slave can be exchanged in a rational system, the sacrifice is pure excess, or waste, and can't be used for anything else. In this manner, it becomes sacred ("heterogeneous"), suggestive of something beyond the homogenizing structures their culture placed upon them, and was therefore a foundational act.   

Continue reading...

Fightin' Side of Me: Frontier(s) (2007)

Posted by Charles Reece, July 4, 2010 10:14pm | Post a Comment


Next up in my survey of contemporary French horror films is Xavier Gens' Frontier(s). As can be surmised from the title, the horror affect centers on the question of boundaries, both in transgressing them and being bound by them. Most literally, the five main characters -- Yasmine, aka "the final girl;" her brother Sami; her boyfriend Alex; an awkward, Muslim kid, Farid; and a big, blonde dickhead named Tom -- are making a run for France's borders in the near-future after stealing some loot during a widespread riot on the eve of the National Front (NF)'s winning the popular election. This spatial separation of the inside from the outside -- particularly the urgent need to escape -- is the objective correlative for what follows.

(I'll be discussing plot points as needed, so spoiler alert and don't expect a linear plot summary.)

frontier(s) yasmine

Perhaps the most commonplace hypocrisy constituting the modern Right's ideological stance is that in promoting deregulation and mass privatization of supposedly everything, the one object that remains for them entirely objective, defined solely from the outside, and thusly constituted by the law, is the body. They are, for example, consistently against drug legalization, outré sexual practices (defined as anything outside of the ventro-ventral procreative technique with the opposite sex), suicide (various State-regulated killing of another's body is okay) and, of course, abortion. Yas, no longer having that last liberty available to her at home, flees to the border with her larcenous comrades to abort her pregnancy elsewhere, not wanting to raise a child in the encroaching fascist dystopia. This plan is foiled when the group encounters the Geisler family, a Eurotrash version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Continue reading...

(In which the author returns from the hospital.)

Posted by Job O Brother, May 30, 2010 01:53pm | Post a Comment
job o brother hospital
I'm too sexy for my Intravenous therapy.

Well, dear readers, I have returned to you after an opposite-of-glamorous stay at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center where I was hospitalized for five days. In the words of French philosopher Ferdinand de Saussure, “Je n'ai pas aimé cela.”

Continue reading...