Matthew Barney  

An artist who uses film as one of his mediums to deliver his 'high-art' symbolism. Doesn't actually make movies with plots but uses bizarre symbolic visuals to explore concepts, delving into the depths of a thought or a process, but only extracting an abstract visual representation of it instead of delivering an idea or at least a meditation on it. Loved by pretentious art-critics, a curio for weirdo enthusiasts, beyond reach for everyone else. Also famous for being married to Björk.


Cremaster 1-5          
A cycle of art films totalling over 6 hours that are a mix of Lynchian bizarre atmosphere, Jodorowsky's surreal symbolism, and Greenaway's detached abstraction. While this may sound interesting, the main theme revolves around symbolic interpretations of the development of the sex in the womb ('cremaster' is a testicle muscle). That's right; six hours of biological or developmental symbolism with no plot and almost no dialog. The imagery includes things like: Two women in Goodyear blimps crouching under tables, pulling down grapes and arranging them, the arrangements affecting a dancing team in a football field below to move into different formations, a Satyr tap-dancing around a hole in the floor, tended by ugly fairies who put things in his pocket while two racing cars race in opposite directions, a death-metal vocalist covered in bees while growling into a phone, lots of boring landscapes, a murderer waiting in a gas station, his car linked to another through a large tube, Masonic rites, a gory dental operation which causes a man's intestines to fall out, etc. A masterpiece for artsy elitists who like obscure references and for cult-movie idiots who praise these things without a clue as to what is going on, but endless drivel for the rest of us.

Drawing Restraint 9  
Hovering behind this highly experimental film is a theme of using restraint for creativity, understanding and growth. To this end, the most highly stylized Japanese customs and rituals are pretentiously adopted in many of the scenes, then distorted and bastardized. Some vaguely new-age themes of whaling and humanity's both dependent and abusive links to nature are also touched upon, the changing laws in Japan on whale hunters, and a bizarre ritual taken by Barney and Bjork to transform into whales. At first there's beauty, structure and form: Fossils, Japanese gift-wrapping, dancers, precise shipping work and construction, an esoteric shape is repeated in the kitchen and on the decks where what may be whale oil is poured and transforms into blubber in reverse, there are bathing and dressing rituals where Barney mixes Japanese tradition with ugly symbols of fur and other indescribable oddities, and of course, a tea ceremony. Then it veers into bizarre and shock aesthetics, involving a whale spine, dismemberment and stripping of human flesh as part of the transformation ritual, obviously drawing parallels with the stripping of whales. All of this is accompanied by either Bjork's minimalist experimental soundscapes probably attempting to sound like whale-song, and traditional Japanese readings, song and grunting. What does it all add up to? Nothing but unrewarding pretentious art.

Hoist (Destricted)  
One of several short movies collected in a video called Destricted which deals with sex, porn, and art. Barney does the usual bizarre genital symbolism, this one with a penis, a crane, and the rubbing of a penis against machinery. Don't know, don't care.

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