The Null Device

Posts matching tags 'matthew barney'


A recent interview with Björk from the Observer. In it, she talks about Medúlla (apparently a reaction against the whole soul-crushing Bush zeitgeist), and mentions that she's working on a soundtrack to husband Matthew "Cremaster" Barney's next film and compiling a CD of cover versions of Army Of Me, the proceeds going to Unicef.

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Recently I saw the first three films in the Cremaster cycle. They were interesting, rather odd, occasionally disturbing and possibly a bit too long. How could one describe the Cremaster films to someone who hasn't seen them? Well, if you took some David Lynch films, threw away everything but the weird bits, and multiplied the remaining bizarreness by itself, you'd have a fairly decent approximation, only perhaps without the ornate sets and costumes.

Cremaster 1, which I think was the second film made, was the simplest so far. A scantily-clad woman (or two identical women) under a table in one or both of two Goodyear blimps makes a hole in the table and uses it to grab grapes from above, which she arranges in patterns on the floor. The patterns are echoed by lines of dancing girls in the American football stadium below. The patterns are apparently meant to represent stages of development in the embryonic sex organs or somesuch. Anyway, it was an interesting concept, though could have probably been done in half the time. The image quality seemed a bit poor in places, as if it had been filmed on some sort of videotape. Also, the differences between live action and computer graphics were a bit obvious, though the audience probably didn't come in to pick them apart.

Cremaster 2 was described as a "Gothic Western", though that would be ascribing a bit too much in the way of plot to it. It ostensibly concerned Gary Gilmore, a murderer executed in Utah, and also had some sort of insectile symbolism and (for some reason) Houdini, played by Norman Mailer. I liked the part with the heavy metal band jamming along with a swarm of bees, and the petrol station with the two interlinked cars was also nicely atmospheric, in a Lynchian sort of way.

Cremaster 3, the most recently made one, started off with the story of the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland, and then had some hapless soul plucked from under the ground, and locked in a vintage car which was then crushed into a block of scrap in a demolition derby/Masonic ritual killing inside the Chrystler building. Masonic symbolism and Celtic folklore kept reappearing in it, culminating in a sequence like a game show with video-game music. Which all sounds interesting, except for the fact that it went on for 3 hours, which is a bit long for that sort of thing.

All in all, the Cremaster films look like the sort of fare that, in decades to come, will probably end up being projected on the walls of trendy bars/behind art-punk bands at gigs (unless impeded by sweeping paracopyright laws/DRM totalitarianism, of course).

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