Carlos Atanes  



Underground Spanish director that makes a wide variety of bizarre short movies as well some full length movies, often with a sci-fi theme, and always with a light touch and a very strange sense of humor. His weirdness usually feels weird for its own sake without the atmosphere of someone like Lynch, and is therefore always different and challenging, but not rewarding. Not reviewed here is the near-conventional sci-fi film Próxima, a reality-bending movie that is like a light-hearted Tarkovsky as made by a sci-fi fanboy with aspirations of Philip K. Dick.

Of Some Interest

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions  
An artsy, metaphysical, low-budget sci-fi dystopia film. The future is absurdly politically correct, with feminists in charge who donate their wombs to Notre-Dame, drink a lot of milk, forbid physical contact, blow up the Eiffel Tower as a phallic symbol, are all-knowing and make men choose sadistic punishments for themselves. An expressionless, emotionless, mute man offers a way out via his ability to connect with alternate realities, in this case bizarre virtual reality worlds, and subversive internet worlds where men are aggressive and where men and women touch each other lovingly or sexually. Lots of difficult symbols are used of nature, an obsession with sounds, a dead cat, the movie offering pretentious inscrutability, as well as some idea-oriented sci-fi and touches of humor. The ending drops the fourth-wall to disorient the viewer and demonstrate a metaphysical jump in reality.

Gallino, the Chicken System  
Atanes delivers another genre-defying low-budget slice of weirdness that is more palatable than Maximum Shame and more playful, combining the metaphysical sci-fi of Proxima and FAQ with his fetishes for various viscous fluids. In his own words, this is a 'pornophilosophy' movie. A man in search of the girl in his dreams wanders Antarctica, encountering the owner of a poultry restaurant, which launches a movie-length discussion of various nonsensical philosophical ideas as they pertain to sexual penetration and chickens. Still with me? Various characters slowly become interconnected, an actress from another dimension who can only be seen through pornoscopic vision, a mysterious Countess, a Texan chicken mogul with a terrible accent, a movie-maker that uses invisible film and who tries to connect to multi-dimensional worlds with the help of two strange girls, his critics, and a man called Power who can control the neurons in a girl's system that create orgasms. 'Fisting' achieves metaphysical importance as a way of penetrating worlds, pornography becomes topography, the human body is a donut, chicken drumsticks get more oral sex than a porn star, and everything becomes interconnected on a map. A dream becomes reality due to its incoherency, and the Barber's Paradox provides a key to the link between worlds, with a tunnel through gift-wrapped carton boxes and chicken glory holes eventually bringing on inter-dimensional beings through sexual geometry. Not that any of this really makes sense, but if you like warped metaphysical dream-nonsense through symbolic pornographical filth, then this is your movie. It just too-often feels like Atanes is getting lost in his fetishes rather than in his movie.

Worthless

Codex Atanicus  
Three bizarre shorts by Atanes: Morfing is a self-referential vanity project dealing with Atanes himself and his movie-making life. A fan drools over him, other actresses curse him out, he crawls through a hole in his Producer's office into a surreal backstage where a girl grows an insect arm, and various characters spout nonsensical non-sequiturs and he tries to kill himself, until he is convinced to make a movie about a man babbling through a phallic tube while a girl gets white liquid all over her face. Yeah, my thoughts exactly. The nonsensical Metaminds and Metabodies features some bizarre performances and costumes in a bar where violence breaks out unexpectedly, people talk about some contract, eat bugs, see fish and coked-up sluts in mirrors while discussing skin layers, yellow emperors and pituitary glands. Welcome to Spain shows a surreal meeting between father and son at the airport, which turns into a bizarre gross-out as four characters pin each other down on a staircase while attempting to eat, vomit, masturbate, lick or inject each other. This last one is funny in a crazy way, but the rest is just weirdness for the sake of being weird.

Maximum Shame  
Atanes directs this cult piece of weirdness that made a fuss in underground circles, but is just empty and obnoxious weirdness for its own sake. A fat man and his girlfriend are in bed, the girl going on about the magic of numbers while he thinks about the apocalypse. Before we know it, he crawls under his bed into a dreamworld of: S&M, people as chess pieces, and suffering as a metaphysical philosophy and sci-fi artpiece. Dream-logic sometimes makes an appearance, such as when a man with a spear in his throat starts wondering how the spear can fit under his bed, but mostly it's just arbitrary. There's a dominatrix queen on roller-skates who is so obnoxiously over-the-top that she redefines the act of chewing the scenery. Gags, dentistry tools, leather, chains and barbed wire keep the S&M theme going, as well as imprisonment in a cardboard box. People ramble on about everything and nothing in particular, filled with smatterings of meaningless and random pseudo-philosophy, and suddenly shifting to matters of nose hygiene, leading me to believe that the whole thing is improvised. There are two completely absurd musical sequences, a 'Queen of Catalan Love' spews spaghetti through a magical mirror, and they discuss the penis symbol while chewing on a phallic vegetable as The Pawn masturbates feverishly. The biggest flaw is the horribly thick accented English which makes understanding what they are saying a near impossible task, but the unrewarding weirdness and obnoxious acting don't help either.




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