Sunday, July 29, 2007

MIFF report 2


How can you look at this face and not be moved to pity?

I’ve long been ashamed that we in the privileged west have allowed the humanitarian crisis in France to go unchecked for so long. As I type, hundreds of thousands of middle-aged, cigar-smoking dudes with hairlines receding as fast as their youth face discrimination, litigation and even plate-throwing in their own homes. Their crime? To desire nothing more than a string of hot young mistresses to sleep with on demand.

Now I know what you’re thinking: how could we even know that this terrible situation has been going on for so long? Most of us couldn’t even point out France on a map, let alone understand the complex cultural differences which separate us. It could be like Middle Earth over there for all we know. But really, we can’t plead ignorance. For decades the national cinema of the country has been desperately trying to draw our attention to this plight, and a great deal of the economy’s film industry has sought to justify every rotund and heavy-jowled Frenchman’s basic human right to a string of hot young mistresses to sleep with on demand. I’m surprised there hasn’t been some sort of international aid system set up. You know, sponsor a middle-aged French guy unable to find a string of hot young mistresses to sleep with on demand. I can picture the commercials now, tugging at the heartstrings as droopy-lidded Gilles is shown mournfully seated outside a café on his own, dejectedly tearing a hunk from his croquet monsieur and stuffing it into his down-turned mouth. How long can you look away?

Exterminating Angels is, then, a desperate cry for help. It follows a film director, played by the film’s director, as he embarks on a soul-searching mission of self-help. He does this by sourcing a number of hot young actresses willing to masturbate for him in exotically appointed hotel rooms. That’s pretty much the whole film right there, and it was inspired by the true story of this same director’s previous legal battles after he ran some auditions in which women were asked to do the same thing and weren’t too happy afterwards. Clearly we need to see that any suffering caused by the whole affair was wholly on his part, though to be honest anyone actually watching this film will do more than their fair share of suffering too.

I can’t even be bothered looking up the director’s name since the very memory of this flick makes me want to unscrew by head and rinse out my brain with a good flush of Draino. It’s less erotic than it is laughable, but even any chuckles of derision which it might inspire are quelled by the constant feeling of disgust that underscores the viewing experience. Probably not the perfect date movie, then.


"Hey, where's your other arm?"

Speaking of which, who could go past a lavish documentary exploring the world of bestiality? This stunning feature recreates, Errol Morris style, the subculture of US guys who take their horse whispering to the bedroom. It was inspired after the director read of the true case of a man who was admitted to hospital and died from massive internal bleeding after his colon was ruptured during a little horseplay. What this director uncovered was a sprawling web of animal enthusiasts whose tastes are a bit out there.

Surprisingly, it’s nothing like the film the subject matter would have you expect. It almost entirely shys away from the more obviously lurid aspects of the material, and instead gets deep inside the minds of these guys who, incredibly, can’t see how their actions might just be a bit unacceptable to most people, and probably enter the category of animal abuse. Their delusions make for fascinating viewing, and there’s nothing graphic to confront your sensibilities too badly – though leaving things to your imagination can sometimes have the same effect. It’s one of the more beautifully shot things I’ve seen for a while, and if there’s one thing that’s certain it’s that this is a helluva conversation-starter. Once again, though, maybe not first date material (unless pets are at concession prices).


Anonymous said...

You were at Exterminating Angels? So was I! I actually did find it laugh-out-loud hilarious, especially during the last half hour. I had to clutch my face in an effort to not guffaw loudly. Amazing. Amazingly shit.


Anonymous said...

Perth Theatre Company recently staged 'The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia' by Edward Albee. It was an excellent production and Albee's script explores the same animal lovin' as 'Zoo'. Worth a read.