This Week at the Guild Cinema
Festival of Film Noir, Wal-Mart: The High Cost of a Low Price, and Green
Look what’s playing at the Guild this week. We accidentally lost their ad in our print edition—sorry for the inconvenience, everyone!
Nymphomaniac Vol. II: Pitch-dark existentialist fairy tale zigs feminist zag
Embattled Dutch auteur Lars von Trier's “Depression Trilogy”—Antichrist, Melancholia and now Nymphomaniac—culminates in a revelatory and arguably feminist existentialist fairy tale. Admittedly, it's more Grimms' than Aesop.
All photos courtesy of Zentropa
Antichrist is a magical realist horror show, and Melancholia is a Wagnerian sci-fi epic. Triptych finale Nymphomaniac is an existentialist torture “porn” double-feature. Released in two parts, Vol. I left the audience at terror-struck anticlimax as protagonist Joe fails to achieve orgasm. The psychodrama of Vol. II dances widdershins on a dark, twisty path paved by the sexploitation genre. Where Antichrist examined medieval witchcraft and the history of gynocide and Melancholia expertly manipulated ownership of knowledge and the imagination of disaster, Nymphomaniac explores patriarchy and stigmatized female desire.
With minimal introductory pomp, a soft-focus lens captures young Joe (Stacy Martin) mourning carnal summit. Again the viewer is voyeur to asexual nerd Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård) and present-day Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and their sex-and-fly-fishing tête-à-tête. Joe recalls the inception of her lust—it involves levitation, spontaneous orgasm and the Whore of Babylon. Seligman's weakest digression ever, toward Jesus' transfiguration on the mount, Zeno's paradox of Achilles, and the divergence of essential doctrine of Eastern and Western Church doctrine inspires Chapter One's title.
“The Eastern Church and The Western Church (The Silent Duck)” explores the incongruity of monogamy with Jerôme (Shia LaBeouf)—and attendant pregnancy, domesticity and complex maternal emotions—with Joe's longing to be overfull. Contentment is transmuted, and Jerôme's reluctant consent to an open marriage sets the stage for unfamiliar and increasingly masochistic sex. Highlights include Joe's matchless revamp of fuck-me clothes, an entirely nonverbal encounter with two African fellows, and engaging the services of professional dom K (Jamie Bell). In escalating sessions with sadistic K, Joe's submissive alter ego “Fido” prizes dogged pursuit of the little death above all else. A campy demo of “the silent duck” segues into a hurled teacup, betraying sentimental anger, and the next passage is named for spectacular reflection.
“The Mirror” observes Joe compulsively, injuriously masturbating in an office bathroom and communicating (mostly with herself) in employer-mandated sex addict meetings. She earnestly tries to gain some control over her addiction and consequent self-mutilation. Working the steps means reducing exposure and removing incentive. After witnessing Joe's version of sex-proofing an apartment, you'll never see your bathroom sink or mirrors in quite the same way again. Joe's kilometer-wide stubborn streak rears up just shy of a month of sobriety. She rebels against the twelve-steppers, proclaiming her refusal to erase her own obscenity so the bourgeoisie can feel safe. A tea stain and irreverent references to the literature of Ian Fleming provide the cut-up lead-in to resolution in “The Gun.”
The workaday world isn't for her, and she meets L (Willem Dafoe), who initiates her into the unscrupulous world of “debt collection.” Her general facility with and knowledge of men and their desires and fears proves useful in the world of heavy handed persuasion to pay. L pragmatically inspires Joe to mentor an at-risk 15-year-old P (Mia Goth). In the world of extortion, parenting happens on a whole 'nother level. A mentee acts as a right hand, and as amoral L half-sneers, some might even do time for their surrogate advocate. Joe attends P's basketball games for three years and eventually wins her loyalty at the age of maturity.
Gainsbourg illuminates the role of outsider, a wholly sexual woman whose very existence stands in opposition to the patriarchy of both the Church and secular culture. Seligman delivers a fervent feminist polemic on how Joe's behavior would be perceived entirely differently were she a man: Vol. I's train games with BFF B (Sophie Kennedy Clark) and home invasion by a bitterly jealous spouse (Uma Thurman) would have fallen flat if Joe's chromosomal makeup offered so-called “reason” for aggression and infidelity.
Unabashedly demanding her sexual rights as a woman, Joe serves as a lightning rod for wounded souls in a largely puritanical world. Given his self-professed asexual nature and thus “unique” insight into Joe's story, Seligman declares his superior fitness to judge her goodness. But this is von Trier land. Yet another chance encounter with Jerome tells of the violent prelude to Seligman discovering her in the alley. The resounding, pitch-black ending renders a film marketed as a (black-and-) blue movie into a horse of a different color; and in doing so, it unmasks all its characters' true natures and the commonplace tedium of evil.
Alibi Midnight Movie Madness Presents: Rotgut
When Alibi film editor Devin D. O’Leary (yup, that’s me) isn’t busy writing about movies or talking about movies on “KASA-2 Style” or hosting Midnight Movies at the Guild Cinema, he occasionally finds time to actually make them. Recently he (that is to say “I”) wrote and produced the horror-comedy Rotgut. Shot right here in Albuquerque with a local cast and crew, the film is finally getting its long-awaited World Premiere. The low-budget gala event will take place this Friday and Saturday, April 18 and 19, at the Guild Cinema (3405 Central NE) starting at 10:30pm. Tickets are $8 general admission and $6 students. The cast and crew will be there to participate in a post-film Q&A/meet-and-greet. To give you a little taste of what demented entertainment you’re in for, check out the trailer above.
Alibi Midnight Movie Madness: Cheap Thrills
This weekend’s edition of Alibi Midnight Movie Madness features the sick and twisted black comedy Cheap Thrills. Two broke pals (Pat Healey, Ethan Embry) end up at a strip club drinking their troubles away. Things get weird, though, when a crazy millionaire (comedian David Koechner) and his trophy wife (Sarah Paxton from The Innkeepers) show up and propose a little game—an increasingly dangerous series of dares for an escalating amount of money. And it’s not long before things get downright bloody. It goes down at Guild Cinema on Friday and Saturday night, starting at 10:45pm. As always, tickets are $8 general admission and $6 students.
Alibi Midnight Movie Madness Presents: Short Peace
Who out there is in the mood for a little Japanese anime? Alibi Midnight Movie Madness is back at Guild Cinema this weekend with the newest film from Master Animator Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira, Steamboy). Short Peace is an anthology featuring four short fantasy/sci-fi films, all centered on the past, present and future of Tokyo. One of the films was even nominated for an Academy Award earlier this year. The film screens Friday and Saturday night, starting at 10:30pm. As always, we’ll have doorprizes courtesy of Stranger Factory. Plus, representatives from the upcoming Sabaku Con will be there selling advanced passes. Tickets are $8 general admission and $6 students. Check out the gorgeous trailer below.
Have Some Heart with the “I Heart U” Screening
When he’s not busy coming up with new ways to insult the latest Tyler Perry movie, Alibi film editor Devin D. O’Leary (that’s me, talking in pretentious third person) actually spends the occasional weekend working on local independent films. His latest effort is the romantic horror-comedy I Heart U, for which he provided the screenplay (and did some acting). That film has just been released on DVD nationwide by Camp Motion Pictures. To celebrate, the filmmakers will be hosting a special DVD release party at the South Broadway Cultural Center (1025 Broadway SE) on Sunday, March 16. A free screening of the film will start at 7pm. Cast and crew will participate in a post-film Q&A. DVDs will be for sale in the lobby if you’re interested. In the meantime check out the film’s trailer, which will give you a bit of the film’s schizophrenic flavor.
Alibi Midnight Movie Madness: Journey to the West
Alibi Midnight Movie Madness is back at Guild Cinema for some awesome martial arts entertainment. Stephen Chow, king of the kung fu comedy (Kung Fu Hustle, Shaolin Soccer), contributes this crazed “prequel” to the classic myth of the Monkey King. The film finds a naive young priest named Tang Sanzang (Zhang Wen) trying to save a small village from a trio of troublesome demons. He gets a little assistance in the form of a sexy female demon hunter played by Qi Shu. Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons was the highest-grossing film in China last year. Here’s your chance to check it out in all its over-the-top glory. It shows at 10:30pm on Friday and Saturday. As always Stranger Factory will be there giving out doorprizes. Tickets are $8 general, $6 students.
Alibi Midnight Movie Madness en Español: Memory of the Dead
The Sin Fronteras Festival is running Friday and Saturday at Guild Cinema in Nob Hill. There, you can catch an incredible collection of seven feature films (documentaries, dramas, comedies, thrillers and more) from south of the border—all of them free and open to the public. In addition to the regular lineup, Alibi Midnight Movie Madness has teamed up with the organizers of Sin Fronteras to bring in a special Spanish-language selection this weekend. From Argentina, it’s the supernatural shocker Memoria del Muerte (Memory of the Dead). The film screens Friday and Saturday night at 11pm, after the regular festival. Tickets are $8 general admission or $6 students. Check out the trailer. It’s subtitled!
Hour of the Lobo
Nightlight short illuminates UNM
In the mood for something a bit artsy and altogether local?
Kamiomedia recently released a short media production titled “UNM @ Night.” The short spotlights a variety of beautiful scenes on Albuquerque’s favorite campus—sorry CNM Suncats, but I’m a Lobo—from within the mantle of midnight.
The Kamiomedia video team—Kyle Maier, Amie Gibson and Rico Ramirez—captured images reminiscent of a light show. In some instances, the filmmakers demonstrate their creative expertise by highlighting the glowing colors of campus with special effects like a fisheye lens and slow motion. And nearly all Kamiomedia productions feature original music by the trio themselves. This brief cinematic outing is only one example among many works by the visual and musical artistic collective.
Sometimes I fail to fully appreciate the beauty of my own campus, and this short film gave me a fresh appreciation for UNM's eclectic visual landscape—natural fall color juxtaposed with bright neon. If you have three minutes to spare, check it out below.
Speaking of UNM and short films, swing by the Southwest Film Center—located in the Student Union Building—on Nov. 9 for the second annual UNM Student Film Festival—where more sublime cinematic treats await you.