DREAMSTORY

Stanley Kubrick: Eyes Wide Shut [Warner Brothers]

“That’s what you say now, so at this moment you may even believe it.” (1)

1. A yuppie nightmare movie segues into the enigma of its director’s death. There are no more questions that could be answered. As there were previously no answers to be had. The director could be anonymous. But the author too is dead. Schnitzler died in 1931 and his traumnovelle lays it out: traum as dream and as trauma. The two almost interchangeable if it is that the dream is that which can present the ‘demand of the other’ and present it in such a way as for us to feel it as a pressure to respond (to our ‘other’ so to speak). But dream is fantasy too and the core here, the propulsion, comes as an imaginary infidelity. That it is desire that is beyond the demand. But is it good? Is it bad?
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MINISTRIES OF THE ORGASM

‘Sexpol’ in Reich and Makavejev

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On the night NATO blew up the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavian (Serb) director Dusan Makavejev’s film WR: Mysteries of the Organism was shown for one night only at the NFT in London.
Given that ‘WR’ stands for ‘Wilhelm Reich’, and ‘organism’ flimsily disguises ‘orgasm’ (a euphemism supposedly urged by censors), it’s hardly surprising that institutional Western bohemia has loved the work since it it first appeared in 1971. Portly, bearded English critic Raymond Durgnat, the author of a recent monograph on the subject, claims it on behalf of all those turned off by ‘unpleasure’ in Godard and Brecht. Nearly 30 years later, free love and ideological boxing have disappeared into demographic margins for error (at least as practices), but Reichian notions of sexual ‘repression’ and organic psychology have taken over the asylum, so to speak, setting the policy agenda for the coming century.
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“LONG LIVE DEATH”

On Pasolini’s Salo

The attempt to deny differences is a part of the more general enterprise of denying life, depreciating existence and promising it a death where the universe sinks into the undifferentiated
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Being one of the most celebrated films that has yet to be issued with a certification by the British Board of Film Classification, Pasolini’s Salo is perhaps the most controversial of all banned films in a list that includes Clockwork Orange and Straw Dogs. In many ways it is easy to see why Pasolini’s film has created such a furore. Critically acclaimed yet hardly ever seen, Salo, from its banning in Italy to its seizure by the Met’s Vice Squad in August 1978, is possibly the most provocative and disturbing political film ever made. [Read more →]

Wag the Dog

11 days before the election the president is suddenly facing a sex scandal after disappearing into his office with a teenage girl. He is leading in the polls but something has to be done, so a task force is set up, led by Robert de Niro, and it is decided the thing to do to get the sex scandal out of the headlines is go to war. To manage and produce this media event the services of Hollywood producer Dustin Hoffman are employed: [Read more →]

Autotraumatisation – On the Movies of John Carpenter

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(Curfew, Curfew) As we grow more accustomed to the control of the urban environment through surveillance, zero tolerance zones and regeneration projects it seems as if we inhabit a social world that is policed by technology and is obsessed with security. Just what this technology secures us from is as encrypted as the microchips and cables that power it. Maybe it secures us from ourselves: a constant reminder that we are being ‘watched’ which comes to strengthen the internalisation of those mechanisms of paranoia and stasis that an inherited morality has already instilled. Thus the surveillance camera becomes an externalised metaphor for a vigilant super-ego… the eye of the father… the gaze of the manager… and in this way #we are assured that somewhere, someone is watching a monitor and checking that a consensual social equilibrium remains untroubled, vigilantly making sure that there are no signs of a ruffled surface, no over conspicuous indications of a step-out-of-line. But surely it is naive to assume that what can be seen is all that there is and that fear can be dispelled by such totemic pieces of technology as cameras and monitors. Such devices are as protective as the soporifics of entertainment and the cyclical chatter of a celebrity-fuelled media, but in no way do they successfully eradicate trauma and the persistence of social-irrationality. Perhaps worse, the idea that we are protected proliferates into a culture of overprotection where every foible and tension becomes something that needs to be medicalised and returned to an enervated ‘normality’. In the nightmare scenario it seems as if the surveillance camera, charged with eradicating fear, is now becoming programmed to detect dangerous levels of adrenalin and to take photo-fits of those who glow with a surplus of undirected energy.
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