Not since Warhol has a visual artist made movies as masterfully as Matthew Barney. "Cremaster" describes a muscle in the testicles, and Barney's career-long subjects--masculinity and the biological, rather than societal, roots of male behavior--are given a hypnotic treatment here. Barney organizes the movie as rigorously as if it were an argument; but rather than rhetoric the movie is powered by dream logic. For an image such as the soon-to-be-killed gas-station attendant sniffing around Gary Gilmore's car--two sixties beauties joined with a mass of canvas like Siamese-twin mutants--you'd have to go back to the top shelves of Kenneth Anger and David Lynch. Filled with genital prostheses and heebie-jeebie-giving hive imagery, CREMASTER 2 has a hidden, hivelike structure that suggests a way out of out post-MTV, post-web-surfing image surplus. Barney has at times seemed a preening poseur; CREMASTER 2 reveals him as focussed in his private ecstasies as Cocteau.
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