Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What Is It?

(2005, USA, 82m)
d/sc/ed Crispin Hellion Glover p Crispin Hellion Glover, Matt Devlen ph Wyatt Troll ad Floyd Albee cast Michael Blevis, Rikky Wittman, John Insinna, Kelly Swiderski, Lisa Fusco, Crispin Glover, Steven C. Stewart, Fairuza Balk

The directorial debut of eccentric actor Glover is a heady amalgam of Lynch and Anger. The obscure narrative is interpreted principally by actors with Down syndrome and takes place on at least three levels of the protagonist’s conscious and unconscious realities, with Glover as his super-id in an unpleasant underworld crawling with naked women in animal masks, plus in the "real" world, Balk as a talking snail. The scattershot taboo-busting (multiple snail-killing, “comedy” racism, and a ghastly painting of naked, nazi Shirley Temple) doesn't quite attain the hermetic nightmare quality of Herzog’s Even Dwarves.., the sly wit of Buñuel, or the cold fury of Fassbinder, confessed influences all, but the foregrounding of disabled performers comes off mercifully more like exposure than exploitation, and Glover is realising his vision (continued in the cerebral palsy sex-fantasy biopic of part II: It is Fine! Everything Is Fine!) with a commitment that refuses to be dismissed merely willfully obscene posturing; he’s even stranger than you thought.

© Time Out Film Guide

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