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The Pervert's Guide to Cinema (2006)

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THE PERVERT'S GUIDE TO CINEMA takes the viewer on an exhilarating ride through some of the greatest movies ever made. Serving as presenter and guide is the charismatic Slavoj Zizek, ... See full summary »



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THE PERVERT'S GUIDE TO CINEMA takes the viewer on an exhilarating ride through some of the greatest movies ever made. Serving as presenter and guide is the charismatic Slavoj Zizek, acclaimed philosopher and psychoanalyst. With his engaging and passionate approach to thinking, Zizek delves into the hidden language of cinema, uncovering what movies can tell us about ourselves. Whether he is untangling the famously baffling films of David Lynch, or overturning everything you thought you knew about Hitchcock, Zizek illuminates the screen with his passion, intellect, and unfailing sense of humour. THE PERVERT'S GUIDE TO CINEMA cuts its cloth from the very world of the movies it discusses; by shooting at original locations and from replica sets it creates the uncanny illusion that Zizek is speaking from 'within' the films themselves. Together the three parts construct a compelling dialectic of ideas. Described by The Times in London as 'the woman helming this Freudian inquest,' director ... Written by P Guide Ltd.

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Release Date:

16 January 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Manual de cine para pervertidos  »

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[first lines]
Slavoj Zizek: Cinema is the art of appearances, it tells us something about reality itself. It tells us something about how reality constitutes itself.
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Features Rear Window (1954) See more »

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Freud on brilliant parade with a mind-expanding look at the powers of cinema, and what makes up fantasy and/or reality
22 February 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

There's the danger with the critic/philosopher Slavoj Zizek with his film, directed by Sophie Fiennes, which takes together a wonderful amalgam of silent, horror, sci-fi, surreal and other contemporary thrillers together to make his points ofr Freudian comparisons to overload. But in the Pervert's Guide to Cinema he also makes even the more far-reaching points a point of departure from any other analysis I've seen on a collective section of films. While it doesn't cover the expansive territory Scorsese's movie documentaries cover, the same attachments are there, and Zizek has a definite love for all of these "perverse" examples and films, primarily the work of Hitchcock, Lynch, Chaplin and Tarkovsky. Yet one shouldn't go into seeing this- if you can find it that is, I got to see it almost by luck- thinking Zizek will just try and dissect all of the psycho-sexual parts or parts referring it in an obtuse, deranged manner. If anything he opens up one to points that might never be considered otherwise- would one think of three of the Marx brothers as representations of the Id, Super-Ego and Ego (Harpo's example is most dead-on for me).

He's not just one to take on the classics though, he also considers the food for thought in The Matrix and Fight Club- in representations of the split between fantasy and reality and if the matrix needs the energy as much as the energy needs the matrix for the former, and in the attachment of violence in dealing with one's own self as well as ones double in the latter. He even throws in a piece from the pivotal moment in Revenge of the Sith when Anakin becomes Darth Vader, and the implications of shunning away fatherhood under that back mask at the very moment his children's births happens elsewhere. The ideals of fatherhood, male sexuality, the male point of view in turning fantasy into reality (at which point Zizek rightfully points to as the moment of a nightmare's creation), and female subjectivity, are explored perhaps most dead-on with Vertigo. This too goes for a scene that Zizek deconstructs as if it's the Zapruder film, where he dissects the three colliding points of psycho-sexual stance in the 'don't you look at me' scene in Blue Velvet.

Now it would be one thing if Zizek himself went about making these sincere, excited, and somehow plausible points just face on to the camera or mostly in voice-over as Scorsese does. But he goes a step further to accentuate his points of fantasy and reality, and how they overlap, intersect, become one and the same, or spread off more crucially into some netherworld or primordial feeling for some characters (i.e. Lost Highway) by putting himself IN the locations the films take place in. Funniest is first seeing him in the boat "heading" towards the same dock Tippi Hedren's boat heads to at the beginning of the Birds; equally funny is as he waters the Blue Velvet lawn he goes on to explain the multi-faceted points of Frank Booth; only one, when he's in Solaris-like territory, does it seem a little cheesy. But Zizek seems to be having a lot of fun with this set-up, and after a while one bypasses the potential crux of this gimmick and Zizek's words come through.

There were some films I of course would've expected, chiefly from Hitchcock and Lynch, but a treat for movie buffs come from seeing two things- the movies that one would never think of seeing in a film about films titled the Pervert's Guide of Cinema (top two for me would be the Disney Pluto cartoon and the exposition on Chaplin's films, albeit with a great note about the power and distinction of 'voice'), and the ones that one hasn't seen yet (i.e. the ventriloquist horror film, Dr. Mabuse, Stalker, among a few others) that inspire immediate feelings of 'wow, I have to see that immediately, no questions asked.' Zizek is a powerful writer with his work, and puts it forward with a clarity that reminds one why we watch movies in the first place, to be entertained, sure, but also to have that actual experience of sitting down and having something up there, as he put it, looking into a toilet. It's probably one of the greatest films about cinema, and in such a splendidly narrow analysis of how Freud works its way into films regarding desire, the Id/Super-Ego/Ego, and of the supernatural in fantasy, that you may never see...unless distribution finally kicks in, if only on the smallest levels.

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