Wednesday, June 13, 2012

You're gonna miss me : A Film About Rocky Erickson


91 min  -  Documentary

 "You're gonna miss me, baby... when I'm gone." Those are the words of rock legend Roky Erickson, lead singer/songwriter of the 13th Floor Elevators, a musical group that turned the late 60's on its ear with sounds not heard before in the mainstream music scene. Erickson was the lynchpin of a brave new world of rock'n'roll, creating a sound that would soon be copied by many, and commercially exploited by many more, but all the while, the young rock star was experimenting with the usual lassortment of mindbending drugs... LSD, cocaine, heroin... and when he needed help the most, the authorities opted to instead lock him up, calling him insane and determining that he could not function in society. Ultimately, they were right... but only because they made sure of it.

Roky Erickson endured a lot at the mental hospital he was sent to. Electric shock therapy, countless 'legal' experimental drugs, and the kind of four-white-walls atmosphere that is created to contain madness, not cure it. When Roky was finally released, he wasn't the same guy, but he was functioning. Moreso, he was functioning enough to restart his musical career in an entirely new direction, with a sound that once again broke all the rules. Sure, the words were all about demons in his head, but the records sold and the people paid to watch. For a while.

Fast forward a few years and we meet Rocky's future self; a schizophrenic individual in a house filled with clutter, with radio antennaes hanging off every piece of table space, and everysingle appliance in the house on at the same time. Sitting peacefully among the high-volume din, Rocky seems content among the racket, as if the collective sounds from three strereos, two TV's, kitchen appliances and even a video camera had blocked out the voices in his head at last. His aging mother, showing ample signs of delirium herserlf, works hard to look after her son, but ultimately just doesn't see that she's enabling his sickness, rather than fighting it. Rocky degenerates, and his mother isn't far behind him when the youngest son of the Erickson family decides enough is enough...

Director Keven McAlester was granted incredible access in the making of this film, seemingly able to go as far into this family unit as he needed to in order to do his job. Nobody warns him off, nobody loses their temper, and even when Roky clearly doesn't want the cameras around, he's almost reticient to say so. This is a dysfunctional family in the extreme, but it's a family that got that way not through meanness or anger, but through playful fantasy and a distinct lack of touch with reality.

In a way, it's that lack of streetsmarts that allows You're Gonna Miss Me to be a beautiful film worthy of the great singer's legend. Deep down you can see that all Rocky ever wanted was to be a boy, play some music, and be happy... 

( you need the Divx Plus Web Player for Windows or for Mac to watch this!!!) 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Age 8 and Wanting a Sex Change: Gender Dysphoria

As experts consider a review of UK guidelines for treating transgender children, this film follows a number of children in the US who told their parents they were born in the wrong body.
In America, children under 16 can be prescribed hormone 'blockers' to prevent the onset of puberty, with a view to then follow with hormone treatment to become their new gender. This film follows the American experience.
Eight-year-old Josie was born a boy but has been living as a girl for two years since revealing the full extent of his feelings about his identity to his mother.
Kyla is also eight. She was born a boy but loves anything pink and sparkly, has grown his hair, and is preparing to return for school after summer dressed as a girl for the first time. She says: 'If I had to wear boys' clothes and be a boy for the rest of my life, I'd probably die.'
They have both been diagnosed with gender dysphoria.
Sixteen-year-old Chris, who was born a girl, started testosterone treatment at 14. He now has a deep voice and plentiful body hair, and shaves regularly.
These children and their parents reveal what it is like to face life-changing questions, giving a frank insight into a subject most people never have to consider. (Channel 4) 

Swallow the pill






Gender identity disorder (GID) is the formal diagnosis used by psychologists and physicians to describe persons who experience significant genderdysphoria (discontent with their biological sex and/or the gender they were assigned at birth). It describes the symptoms related to transsexualism, as well as less severe manifestations of gender dysphoria. GID is classified as a medical disorder by the ICD-10 CM and by the DSM-IV TR. It is likely that the new version of the DSM will replace this category with "Gender Dysphoria."Some authorities do not classify gender dysphoria as a mental illness, including the NHS which describes it as "a condition for which medical treatment is appropriate in some cases."
Gender identity disorder in children is considered clinically distinct from GID that appears in adolescence or adulthood, which has been reported by some as intensifying over time. As gender identity develops in children, so do sex-role stereotypes. Sex-role stereotypes are the beliefs, characteristics and behaviors of individual cultures that are deemed normal and appropriate for boys and girls to possess. These "norms" are influenced by family and friends, the mass-media, community and other socializing agents. Since many cultures strongly disapprove of cross-gender behavior, it often results in significant problems for affected persons and those in close relationships with them. In many cases, transgender individuals report discomfort stemming from the feeling that their bodies are "wrong" or meant to be different.
Many transgender people and researchers support the declassification of GID as a mental disorder for several reasons. Recent medical research on the brain structures of transgender individuals have shown that some transgender individuals have the physical brain structures that resemble their desired sex even before hormone treatment. In addition, recent studies are indicating more possible causes for gender dysphoria, stemming from genetic reasons and prenatal exposure to hormones, as well as other psychological and behavioral reasons. 
One contemporary treatment for GID consists primarily of physical modifications to bring the body into harmony with one's perception of mental (psychological, emotional) gender identity, rather than vice versa.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The man who ate his lover: Penis delicacy

On 9 March 2001, Armin Meiwes, a computer engineer from the tiny village of Wüstefeld in Germany, cut off the penis of Bernd Brandes, a software designer from Berlin.
The pair had met on the internet and shared cannibalistic erotic fantasies, culminating in their both trying to eat Brandes' freshly severed penis. Three hours later, Brandes was still alive, but slowly bleeding to death. Meiwes decided to finish him off by stabbing him in the throat, and then eat 20kg of his flesh, taking the time to film the whole thing.

Single man meets radical male masochist on the Internet. On their first date, the masochist offers up his penis as main course in a romantic dinner for two. After some teething problems over the best way to prepare the food, the two men enjoy a meal of garnished genitals. Satiated, and feeling woozy, the masochist is led upstairs to the bathroom, where he is left to bleed to death. Hours later, our host pops in to see how his date is doing, and finishes him off with a knife to the throat. He then butchers the body and barbecues the meat.
 Rarely has a criminal investigation aroused such ghoulish curiosity or raised such difficult questions about the dark places that the human mind can go.
Amid the media scramble surrounding the recent courtroom drama, there has been a clamour to understand and to explain this behavior, which, incidentally, is not even illegal under either German or British law. In desperation, we turn to science for answers. What can rational objectivity tell us about such irrational acts of violence and mutilation? Perhaps not very much. But with little else to go on, we must be content with what morsels of knowledge we can find*

*A psychoanalytic interpatation that might help us understand
 The oral-sadistic phase of infantile libidinal organization is the second part of the oral stage, as described by Karl Abraham; it is also known as the cannibalistic phase. During this period incorporation means the destruction of the object, so the relationship to the object is said to be ambivalent.
It was in a passage added in 1915 to his Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality that Freud introduced the notion of an "oral" organization that he also described as "cannibalistic": "the sexualaim consists in the incorporation of the objecthe prototype of a process which, in the form of identification, is later to play such an important psychological part" (1905a, p. 198). The evocation of "cannibalism" served to underscore certain features of the oral object-relationship: the incorporation of the object and its characteristics, identification with it, and, at the same time, greed and destructiveness.
Abraham (1927 [1924]) subdivided the oral stage into two parts: first, an early oral phase dominated by the pleasure of sucking and described as "preambivalent," because the breast is not yet conceived as at once good and bad, both frustrating and gratifying; and secondly, an oral-sadistic or "cannibalistic" stage, occurring later, during the second six months of life, and contemporaneous with teething, which sees the emergence of the wish to bite and to incorporate the object, destroying it in the process. Instinctual ambivalence makes its appearance during this second phase, as incorporation becomes destructive. The oral-sadistic phase is thus characterized by the advent of aggressiveness, by ambivalence, and by the anxiety associated with the destruction of the loved object and the fear of being devoured in turn by that object. Elsewhere, in the context of a discussion of interaction, attention has been drawn to the way in which the child's cannibalistic instincts can revive those of the mother (Golse, 1992).
Freud used the model of cannibalistic devouring and the intrapsychic effects of ambivalence in his study of melancholia (1917e, pp. 249-50). In mourning, he argued, the lost object was assimilated into the ego, incorporated as in the totem meal. Once magically incorporated in this way, it was conflated with the ego, which could either draw strength and power from this (as in identification or the totem meal), or, alternatively, fall victim to attacks from within from this ambivalently cathected object (as in melancholic self-reproach).
Melanie Klein radicalized Abraham's account of a destructiveness linked to orality and to object-love, going so far as to say that libidinal development as a whole is completed only once the innate destructive instincts have been integrated into it. In her view the whole of the oral stage was oral-sadistic in nature, indeed it was the high point of infantile sadism. The libidinal wish to suck and incorporate was combined with the destructive aim of scooping out and emptying the object. In herEnvy and Gratitude (1957/1975, pp. 180-81), Klein defined envy of the breast as bound up with oral greed, in which the destructive component instincts predominated: the desire to attack and destroy the object was not tempered by the gratitude generated by good experiences with the mother. This primal wish precipitated the split between the good breast to be retained and the bad breast to be expelled. Klein thus returns via this account of primal oral desire to the idea of a differentiation between ego and non-ego that is secondary to that between good and bad, as organized by the mechanisms of introjection and projection specific to the Freudian model.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Benny's Video: Teenage killer with a camera


105 min 

Director: Michael Haneke

Benny (Arno Frisch) is obsessed with violent imagery and his bedroom is a shrine of screens and video equipment, his instruments of contact with the world. We see enjoying playing back the scene of a pig being shot dead on the farm where the family spends holidays. Using the stolen weapon to kill the pig Benny (accidentally?) emulates the scene with a school girl he brings back home, creating the tragedy that is the moral crux of the film.

Haneke (director of The Piano teacher, Funny Games, White Ribbon, Cache, and more)  alludes to theories of hypereality formulated by the late philosopher Jean Baudrillard who said that media imagery has replaced reality. This is the theory that explains the gruesome main action in this film, a murder by a teenage boy who's been desentitised to real life by overexposure to electronic images. Benny is the child of an affluent couple living in a loft decorated with Pop art somewhere in the German part of Western affluence. It is a clinical vision of the post-industrial world in the information age, which Haneke captures well with a controlled, polished and bleak mise-en-scene. The characters in the film look as if they are not quite alive, no longer sentient beings.

One of the most revealing, strong moments in the film is not the murder itself, which is presented in almost banal fashion, but the sequence when the boy confesses his crime to his parents by showing them, deadpan, the video footage of the murder. Seeing the film go back on itself to a diegetic audience makes the crime scene almost unbearable when it is replayed. Sharing images gives them more power, it seems. In fact, some of the sequences shot on video, which work as 'films within the film', especially the elegiac Egyptian scenes, are very haunting and gloomy. They are like watching humanity at the end of its journey. Haneke plays well with the contrast between celluloid and electronic imagery and uses the latter to great effect.

Benny's Video brings up some pertinent questions to our media-saturated world even though it belongs to the pre-Internet age. But one thing remains the same: the need to experience reality. Haneke has Benny say that he did what he did 'to see what it was like'. In a world where reality is experienced more often than not through representation, the instinct to 'experience the real' may come out very distorted in the process, with no moral bearings to guide it. Benny, with his cold, mask-like face, is a frightening visualisation of techno-numbness...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Final Flesh: Porn goes apocalyptic avant-garde

Dir. Vernon Chatman

[Drag City; 2009]

After a prologue explains that the atom bomb is about to drop, we’re shown a family of three (mother, father and adult daughter) sitting around a kitchen table, deciding that they will stay and “die with dignity.”  The mother and daughter give birth to various food items and the father tires to climb back into the womb, and then daughter relates a dream.  We see a mushroom cloud, then another trio of actors in a different apartment who believe they are in the afterlife: they recite more humorous nonsense about God, death and the apocalypse and enact more bizarre skits before the action shifts to another trio in a different room, then another…

 For Final Flesh, we’re going to break with tradition and provide four different “indelible images,” one from each segment of the film.  A girl breastfeeds a porterhouse steak; a woman in a jeans, a tank-top and a skull mask threatens a man on his deathbed; a couple make out by mashing the skulls drawn on their backs together; a young lady in black lingerie performs a wedding ceremony on two corpses lying side by side.

 The conceptual art premise of sending a non-erotic script to beacted out by pornstars-for-hire might be weird enough, but when that apocalyptic screenplay requires the bemused amateur actors to bathe in the tears of neglected children and recite lines like “I just creamed my demon” after being slapped, we’ve traveled beyond the snarkily experimental into the realm of the existentially deranged.  All the world’s a stage and these men and women play many parts; if some of those roles require them to pour ketchup in a conch shell and poke at it with a turkey baster while moaning orgasmically, then maybe that’s just how this universe rolls.

Swallow the pill

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tearoom: Vintage glory holes

For two weeks in the summer of 1962, using a two-way mirror, police in the central Ohio town of Mansfield secretly filmed the activity in a public men's room in the town square. The surveillance recorded dozens of men having sex, resulting in more than 30 prosecutions for sodomy, with at least a year in prison time for each.

Decades later, acclaimed filmmaker William E. Jones  acquired the Mansfield footage while working on another project. The images so fascinated him that he's been screening it, unaltered by further editing, as the 56-minute Tearoom.

Shot without sound, in grainy color 16 mm, it's a stunning document. The men range in age from their 20s to their 60s. They are white and black, fat and thin, in a banker's suit or name-patched mechanic's uniform. Faces humorless, eyes on the door, they masturbate, give handjobs and blowjobs, and perform anal sex; a few exchange money. 

The Andy Warhol Museum screens the film. 

(16mm film transferred to video, color, silent, 56 minutes, 1962/2007) 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Tarnation: The life of a queer boy and his schizophrenic mom

Your greatest creation is the life you lead

Tarnation is an autobiographical documentary film about the very personal experience of growing up with a mother who was suffering from a schizoaffective disorder, an episodic illness in which both affective and schizophrenic symptoms are prominent within the same episode . It tells the story of three generations of a Texas family. The film was made in 2003 by Jonathan Caouette. He created a collage of still photos, Super-8 video tape, answering machine messages, video diaries and early short films, from the previous nineteen years of his life . It cost just over $200 to make the initial film. Some well-known producers, including Gus Van Sant, spent more money enhancing its technical qualities to bring it to a wider audience.

Tarnation is essentially a film of two parts. The first recounts the author's childhood and teenage years as affected not only by his mother's psychosis but also by her lengthy absences from his life when she was sometimes hospitalised for several years at a time. It tells of his first teenage experience with marijuana, obtained from a drug dealing friend of his mother, which was actually spiked with PCP, resulting in his first admission to hospital and the diagnosis of depersonalization disorder . A core symptom of this syndrome is a subjective experience of unreality, as if dreaming, in which the individual feels that his own feelings and/or experiences are detached, distant and not his own, a quality that the film definitely manages to convey at times. This part of the film also tells the story of his mother Renee's life from her early days as a beautiful child model to a teenager who embarks on a lengthy course of twice weekly Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

The second part of the film deals with the period after Jonathan has left the family home in Texas and moved to New York, where he meets his partner David and begins to work as an actor. His mother comes to visit him there a few years later and he begins to build an adult relationship with her more closely than ever before

The film uses intertitles to tell the facts of the story, speeded up sequences, slow motion frames, multiple images and other special effects to express his inner turmoil.As well as giving us an experience of Renee's mental illness, Tarnation also vividly depicts Caouette's own mental health struggles from drug induced hallucinatory experiences, depersonalization disorder and deliberate self-harm to anxiety and panic. Tarnation is a documentary film about the whole experience of mental illness from a very personal point of view that gives the viewer a real sense, affectively, of being in close proximity to significant mental disturbance. Tarnation doesn't hold back on portraying the pain and chaos that can be part of life where psychosis is present.

The act of making Tarnation could be described as 'creative play' involving the imaginative creation of the film as a transitional phenomenon that helps him to process the highly charged, difficult emotions that exist between him and his mother

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