Criptic Critic Conscience and Known for it

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Intimacy - film review by Tao Wells

I wrote the film off sixteen years ago. I just re-watched it. Back then I'll say that my values were more hardcore, I was front line punk social activist antagonizer, by simply having survived the neo liberal war still working in the camps that were once my halls of proud accomplishment. I had studies film theory, and genre's with Peter Falkenberg , the creator and director of The permanently radical Free Theater in CHCH, and this big beautiful American guy I can't remember NZ. In 1997 I submitted a thesis for genre study in film that was rejected for it was said The genre i wanted to study, technically did not exist yet, I was still too early, pre wave. That somewhere it had been decided that this was policy. And as radical as that film studies department was, being also the German dept, and theater department and I think somehow aligned with American studies, which was beautifully anti-capitalist. Most of these departments are gone now, with a shift of the sand from a rotten hand. Ah we were having fun. I learned Akido and how to defend myself against three attackers simultaneously with out even getting out of my bar stool.

It was and still is one of the most stunning moments in my life, where education, theory and practice paid off, really became real and helped me. After seven years of battling art school I was ready for something real. The genre I was into was gay cinema. Am I gay, who knows? I can tell you right now that I remember enjoying the excitement of their boldness, their license to shock and entice, the visual world of something so 'repulsive' right there in your face. I wanted to know could I look at it, could I see it, this that I found revolting. Could I still see the beauty and therefore grow learn and listen inside this culture. I was looking for support. My own culture was thin on the ground. An American immigrant to two American cultural exile parents, ex-peace core during Vietnam, these guys brought down the major in the town i was born in, and the millionaire who was pimping him. I saw something going right in queer cinema that was working. They laid out a followable narrative that was simultaneously accept me on my own terms and let me conform to your norm. It was an S&M tautology that I would later recognize, feel empowered by and love in author film maker critic, Chris Kraus' work. I wonder if queer culture is much of a force these days, well i have heard of the LGBT or something movement so I guess a shift in label is pretty significant, in it's inclusive formalness.  That shit must be good for the young, I remember the day Universities outlawed Mankind, for gender specificity. That really was a revolution that we didn't know would happen but was certainly in the air. Something, someone, must have give.

The film stars my hero and someone I keep wanting to call Keri Hulme, but it's Kerry Fox, such a great name for a starlet. Kerry of course blew me and the rest of the country I wanted to call home, away with her performance as profoundly depressed and insightful writer Janet Frame. In the autobiographical film of the book with the same name, An Asian At My Table (thank you Raybon Kan, you are my hero). Angel, well it was a much more christian back drop of a country then, I mean you probably could be locked up for speaking directly to god, and me being a god, shit. ( You are a god, we are all gods, like the Greeks had it, only literally, we are little shits, and use our powers poorly). Kerry's career was I thought killed by this film. It had her sucking dick in it which was way radical for mainstream media and film, let alone avant-garde gay cinema. The fact that it was ugly sex, dirty, grimy and poor, made it unacceptable. Beyond any 'artistic' merit. I mean this grime stuck. The poverty, watching it now is so intense, like an Ethiopian hunger child in a walk up flat next door It is watching it again, of course a brilliant film. As accurate now as then. Contemporary. A kind of blindnes we seem to appear willing to demonstrate the will in having. How is this trick begun. Who's sending the signal?

But back then I only saw 'attempt at', it fitted in with English 'realism' socialist cinema, so the working class aesthetic was already a river running against me watching it. But this too the film anticipates boldly, writing it into the plot, Kerry is not only a thrill seeking cock sucker she was an actor who had flashes of brilliance she had nothing to show for, that no one would do anything with, except stand and stare. She stood for all NZ art and culture that wasn't capitalist suck up shit. All art that wasn't capitalist propaganda, but social, care for each other live and die art. It was like as if, Marx came down from heaven, and in a moment you awoke from a sudden darkness to be revealed that you now sit in the seat of power and Marx is handing you the keys to dismantle capitalism and the ghost of communism begins to take shape in front of you and for a second you think you see Stalin and panic, but really you know this is a trick and you reach out into the darkness only to notice your desire melt with your will. The power of such keys being too great for any one person, the power corrupting absolutely. Without fail or fault. Clean corruption, smooth transitions, those willing to do the job.

Kerry fox had such great titties, there was this scene from My Angel, where she briefly escapes the cold wet rock of NZ and is in some kind of southern euro holiday, splashing water in the sun, telling every one that she was a writer and that being interesting to everyone around her, she suddenly being important noticed and not ignored. Her large point breasts had that tautness you see in nervous starlets carrying just a little weight to get the giggles in a way that electrifies the flesh with a nerve jolting stun that never fails. Well it didn't and doesn't on me. The liberty of those boobs stirred me, not to mention make clear the contrast of how my own tits are treated in this country, cold damp wet miserable rock. God damn it there is sun here! I'll shake my tits yet.

What went totally over my head, was the great gulf of time that I couldn't recognize, at late twenties, of the thirties. That time when the glow falls off and the habits of youth become a cage, and even the escape routes become cages, these floppy open doors. The post marriage, post kid holocaust landscape of burning bodies and no language left to exercise a right or two of passion, no rites of passion, just grinding screw jamming tighter and tighter against the side of your head, till where you beg for the rat to chew your face off, enter your skull through your eye and take out the brain doing this to himself now.

Of course the upside is good, again invisible cause it's never depicted with out material wealth, and as we all know; material possession, own you! It's like showing a prison camp and saying see there's a beach, that painting on the wall, get out your here. Paid for in advance. This movie shows the folly that is the position from which one falls up, falls no where, that there never was a judge a council of experts raining down on you approval or disappointment, that it was just you making it up in your little head, And of course this is going to hurt but nothing you can't survive or maybe thrive if allowed if given encouragement. Ah encouragement, see how far a little goes, Socialist Arts OF NZ since the end of world war 1.  Encouraging people to encourage themselves to give a little criticism of the system that depends on criticism to run. Social Democracy. The opposite of Hitlers and more.

This Film and Kerry are single handedly holding up our bargain end of the deal as cultural ambassadors for global Socialism (of which this experiment in emo liberalism has been fun, entertaining but ultimately swept to the dust bin of banal social histories. Compared to the kind of encouragement socialism gives you, capitalism is fading like a hungry ghost right before me. Ah will you go I wonder.

" At one point I thought that if what we did together was all that you wanted it was because you knew more than me. I thought you had found something. I thought you were ahead of me, and that you would tell me what you knew. That was the really great thing, that some point in the future, you would tell me what you knew. But of course you just keep your gob shut" 

- Delivered "Jay" played by actor Mark Ryance, now widely regarded as the greatest stage actor of his generation. Written by Hanif Kureishi, Anne-Louise Trividic and Patrice Chéreau 

Patrice Chéreau I didn't recognize then as the director of a film that like it or not had deeply impressed me, Queen Margot. Violence taken to it's absurdity, where it is true and with this lens he tells a period drama of historical significance. With the actor,  , as Margot, just glowing in every scene. A true specter haunting europe. He must have been at the time of making Intiamcy, too cool for School, which might explain it's radical dialogue passing the producers. What was radical about it, the lyrics weren't selling a dream, they were awake. 

Intimacy is a radical feminist film, Kerry Fox is a radical female leader, a role model, certainly for my kids. The writers must be thanked, to switch the roles of the jealous woman to the man, to give her the cuckold, makes a change, but to send in her kid, friend of her lover but  doens't know that her mothers a fucker in the middle of an argument where she doesn't know what she wants or should want, and he's just angry that he doesn't either, even though his equipment keeps going off like on a meter. Cause they'r ol grown up now and the fairy tales and lies that they tried out to keep a beat to dies out. And what's left is something way bigger, more important but takes a courage they have not used their lives up till then preparing for, so they fall short. It's here where the state could lend a hand, let us all stop work when we felt the need to, not participate laying bricks for a prison, but feel the real free breeze of an institution that is a practice of freedom from need, that supplies a basic list of wants so that we can all get on with living in the detail we are in. And stop, weed out the parasites that need to be challenged in  broad daylight, in darkest holes. 

Stay in a relationship that is sick for the child care, you can't afford to leave. What's that like men? You build the world to your rules, what's a women suppose to trade, no longer a mans world. 

"( man speaking) You'll never be an actress!" 

"You don't even know who I am, You don't even know how to hurt me,  if you knew me a little, you'd know that what you call my lack of talent, sure it makes me suffer but it won't kill me" 

 - Claire played by Kerry Fox. 

Shit I 've just realised that it is a remake of Last Tango in Paris. Only this time, they are both middle aged. It's a middle age crisis film, with out the youth as an escape route.  The death of the myth of free sex, Men the hardest are the softest.  Where he is more physically attractive than her,  her realness blows him out into the water. He drifts, she delivers and leaves. Then the sound track to David Lynch's Lost Highways comes on, David Bowie's master piece Outsider "There is no hell, there is no shame, there is no hell like an old hell, there is no hell".

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