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In 2007, Matthew Barney and Jonathan Bepler began a new collaborative project inspired by American author Norman Mailer's 1983 novel Ancient Evenings, set in pharaonic Egypt. The project ... See full summary »
Dave Bald Eagle,
John Buffalo Mailer
It's a bit difficult to look at this film, because it's hard to figure out what it is. At first you think it's rife with symbolism, that useless tactic that can be "figured out" and then explained as great movie-making. But the way Barney forces us through long, long takes -- silent -- I think is intended to make us evaluate the images not as symbols but simply as images, and that's a lot more artistically credible, to my mind. Yes, Barney has offered up his explanation of the film as being some visual allegory of gonads and whatnot, but I think that's really only interesting from a little joke perspective. The importance of the movie is in the way it resists explanation. It's hypnotic in its way -- you could watch the dancers on the football field emulate the grape formations in the blimps above all day.
There are some really strange images we see, the women picking out grapes from underneath a table, or the molds of Vaseline atop them. But Barney isn't much of a filmmaker (there is very simple editing, and the film looks as if it was filmed in the '70s); he's an artist who happens to be using film as his medium at the moment. For this reason the film doesn't feel alive as a film -- it is cinematic, a succession of moving static images, but it's really just a bunch of posing. From the smoking fashion models and from Barney. 7/10
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