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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.
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.
The Daily Word in V.23 No.16, H&M and Neutral Milk Hotel
The latest issue of your favorite alt.weekly—that's us, the Alibi—is chock-full of rad content. To wit, test your New Mexico news savvy with our weekly pop quiz, Crib Notes.
Read, critique and even comment on—as Facebook commenting is now live on alibi.com—an editorial, "Department Corrections," about the DOJ's findings in its investigation into APD, many unanswered questions and the future of our city.
Check out Alibi Film Editor Devin D. O'Leary's review of Jonathan Glazer's Under the Skin, you know, that experimental sci-fi flick starring Scarlett Johansson as a predatory alien siren.
Four Up delivers deets on Zimbabwean electric protest songs by Thomas Mapfumo & the Blacks Unlimited—this one's tonight!—and poptastic electro, pop-punk, alt.folk, and bilingual feminist hip-hop concerts. (Live music is one of the finest anodynes available.)
Genevieve Mueller reports on Albuquerque's growing, thriving improv scene in "Yes and ... Where Do We Go From Here?"
Gail Guengerich gets her French-American fusion on in "Ouvrez La Bouche."
In search of new tuneage? Read our micro reviews of new releases from NEEDTOBREATHE, The Tower and Todd Terje in Sonic Reducer.
From Nuevo Mexicano artist/architect William Lumpkins serigraphs and felt-tip pen drawings to bibliophile pr0n, an urban renewal keynote and hangs with famous authors in a Fe movie theater, stay art-smart with Culture Shock.
Are you getting your RDI of Pulitzer Prize-winning feature writing?
Hip Swedish fashion empire H&M is coming soon to Burque.
Catch the Neutral Milk Hotel reunion tour tonight in Burque.
Best of Burque
Rock the Best of Burque Ballot
Vote for your fave _____ via our virtual polling booth
An annual Burqueño ritual arrives. Voting for Alibi’s Best of Burque reader’s poll is open, and this year’s electronic ballot awaits your exquisite, unparalleled taste in everything from politicians to art, from butchers to bars and beyond. To vote, sign up for an account at alibi.com; the signup process literally takes less than 60 seconds, and we won’t share your email address or send you anything you don’t request ... ever. Promise. So create an account, get thee to the ballot and vote! The deadline for finalizing your ballot—which you can totally start, save and return to, by the way—is Tuesday, March 18. Visit alibi.com/bobvote to get started.
love is the drug
Don’t Suffer in Silence: Send free Love Notes to the object(s) of your affection
In Woody Allen’s 1975 Russophile-lit satire Love and Death, Sonja (Diane Keaton) dispenses some of the best love advice ever captured on celluloid.
“To love is to suffer. To avoid suffering one must not love. But then one suffers from not loving. Therefore, to love is to suffer; not to love is to suffer; to suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love. To be happy, then, is to suffer, but suffering makes one unhappy. Therefore, to be unhappy one must love or love to suffer or suffer from too much happiness.”
Sure, as that Nazareth song goes, love hurts, scars, wounds and mars. But the payoff that sometimes accompanies ardor, passion and devotion is pretty terrific. So, whether you’ve already locked down your sweetheart or not, send a sweet or sexy—and did I mention free?—Love Note to your beloved in the Alibi’s Valentine’s Day issue. Love Notes must be 14 words or less and be submitted by noon on Feb. 5 at alibi.com/lovenotes. Caveats: Don’t use your sweetie’s last name, but pet names and initials are cool. And while we’re well aware that haters gon‘ hate, these are Love Notes. It’s totally free, and creating a user account at alibi.com is a breeze. In the immortal words of Marvin Gaye, let’s get it on.
The Daily Word in guns, ACA and retouching Lena Dunham
Y'all are probably all aware of and experiencing the early stages of news fatigue over the Roswell school shooting, but it seems callous not to mention it. The particulars: one 12-year-old boy with a sawed-off shotgun, a very brave teacher, two students hospitalized (one stable, one critical) and a community suffering from disbelief, fear and, for many, PTSD. Our warmest thoughts are with you, Roswell.
New Mexican enrollment in insurance via healthcare.gov "soars" to 7,500 NM residents.
In Alibi-centric news: Dustyn Deerman wrangles with common resolutions in Make Changes, Not Resolutions; test your NM news savvy with our weekly pop quiz, Crib Notes; Spike Jonze got Joaquin Phoenix to fall in love with his operating system in Her; get your bass, hexabilly, hip-hop and free jazz-improv on with Four Up; comedian Bill Burr talks trust, evolution and fans in Walking the Line; and Gail Guengerich says Hello Adieux.
Alien Tap Room eyes Nob Hill.
Sea sponges can sneeze, y'all.
Jezebel is offering a $10,000 reward for Leibowitz' original, unretouched photos of "Girls" powerhouse Lena Dunham, shot for this month's Vogue.
Photo by Kyle Johnson
Seattalite of Love
Space Needle-adjacent garage and R&B-infused sextet Pickwick's tour hits Burque this week. Pickwick toured in support of household names Black Joe Lewis and Neko Case this past fall, but the soulful alt.rock six-piece gets top billing on this tour. The band self-released their debut full-length, Can't Talk Medicine, last March, and the 13 tracks produced—including Richard Swift cover “Lady Luck,” which features powerhouse Sharon Van Etten on vox—pay respect to '60s and '70s soul, funk and rock while maintaining an upbeat, you-can-dance-to-it vibe.
I know I've said this before, but you can tell a lot about a band by their web presence, and pickwickmusic.com even lays bare their original lyrics—which are pretty darn impressive. Scope the group's cover of The Primitives' “The Ostrich” at bit.ly/ostrichredux to get a sense of front man Galen Disston's impressive vocal range. Experience Pickwick and Canuck “death country/frontier rock” trio Elliott BROOD at Launchpad (618 Central SW) tomorrow night. This 21-and-over show revs up at 9:30pm, and admission is $8. Launchpad • Wed Jan 15 • 9:30pm • $8 • View on Alibi calendar
The Daily Word in pit mining, DOJ probe and slaughterhouse slander
In Alibi-centric news, our second issue of 2014 proffers: a Crib Notes websclusive; Odds & Ends; a review of the Coen Bros. latest, Inside Llewyn Davis; deets on three (metal+mariachi, Americana, bluegrass, EBM and no wave) concerts in Four Up; the November/2013 edition of Last Month in Music; an interview with acclaimed author Ruth Ozeki; and a review of Chopstix.
The New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC) voted unanimously to reject a delay of revised copper pit mining rules.
ICYMI: This past weekend in Santa Fe, Cormac McCarthy's ex-wife, Jennifer McCarthy, surprised her current boyfriend by hiding a handgun in her vagina ... after a heated argument about extraterrestrial life.
A DOJ probe into Albuquerque's officer-involved shootings approaches its final stages.
Roswell horse slaughterhouse Valley Meat Co. announces its intent to sue NM Attorney General Gary King for slander, harassment, conspiracy and abuse of process.
After a "Sopranos"-esque traffic incident, Chris Christie celebrates dashed presidential hopes by apologizing and firing a key aide.
The Daily Word in promises, fast food and danger
Roundhouse Roundup reports that the guv will not push for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in New Mexico.
As part of its investigation into APD, the DOJ will host an invite-only meeting with community activists.
“Twin Peaks” co-creator Mark Frost isn’t aware of any Lynchian intentions to shoot new footage for the cult teevee show’s 25th anniversary. Translation: Sometimes a cryptic Laura Palmer reference is just that.
McDonald’s exploits Japan’s craving for disgusting cheese fries.
City Council bans the sale of e-cigs to minors.
Even in a polar vortex, boiling water can burn you.
So many knives, so little time.
Thank yee for your contributions, Carl Petersen.
The Daily Word in listmas, life on Mars and sousveillance
In Alibi-centric news: test your knowlege of New Mexico news with this week's Crib Notes pop quiz; queue up our top 10 films of 2013; scope a listmas index/self-critique of our 2013 music review coverage; 2-Up delivers deets on Sleep and Phantom Lake gigs; learn what the very best thing to happen to art in ABQ in 2013 was; and, last but certainly not least, read the Alibi's 2013 food resolutions. Happy 2014, y'all.
"Old New Mexico" gets a "Jeopardy" category on Friday.
That wasn't a recession, y'all. It was just the product of efficiency, says futurist.
Sousveillance art, yo.
An A/V Album Listmas
You’ve already heard—and perhaps even joined in on—the anti-listmas chorus. But for some reason, people like lists. There are statistics to back that up. When I review albums and EPs, I tend to stick to ones I love. With that in mind, feel free to peruse A/V from my “best of” list below ... or not. Whatever you do, please seek out music that challenges and excites you in 2014.
On to the A/V listmas ...
Jewels of the Nile Ad Astra (Records Ad Nauseum)
Holly Herndon Movement (RVNG Intl.)
Tannhäuser Gate Tannhäuser Gate (Function Operate)
Thalia Zedek Band Via (Thrill Jockey)
Dani Shivers Jinx (Prima Crush)
The Haxan Cloak Excavation (Tri Angle Records)
Petra Haden Petra Goes to the Movies (Anti)
Pharmakon Abandon (Sacred Bones)
Dirty Beaches Drifters / Love is the Devil (Zoo Music)
TAHNZZ Xila (Sicksicksick Distro)
Dracula Lewis U$e Your Illu$ion$ (Hundebiss Records)
Julia Holter Loud City Song (Domino Records)
Anna von Hausswolff Ceremony (Fat Possum)
Soft Metals Lenses (Captured Tracks)
Factory Floor Factory Floor (DFA Records)
Blondes Swisher (RVNG Intl.)
Pop. 1280 Imps of Perversion (Sacred Bones)
Patrick Cowley School Daze (Dark Entries)
Monuments Age (Mannequin Records)
Oneohtrix Point Never R Plus Seven (Warp Records)
Frankie Rose Herein Wild (Fat Possum)
Crocodiles Crimes of Passion (Frenchkiss Records)
Melt-Banana Fetch (A-Zap)
Vice Device/Void Vision Vice Device/Void Vision (Accident Prone)
Christian Death Only Theatre of Pain (Burger Records/Frontier Records)
Goitia Deitz Dream Meridian (Cut Mistake Music)
L.I.E.S. Music for Shut-Ins (L.I.E.S.)
Bassekou Kouyate & The Ngoni Blues Band at Outpost Performance Space
Register Now: Toys for Tots 2014 at Alamosa Community Center
A Better Life at National Hispanic Cultural CenterMore Recommented Events ››