Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Fascism and Fancy Pants
PEARLS BEFORE SWINE (1999)
D. Richard Wolstencroft
This ambitious 35mm feature from Australian underground filmmaker Wolstencroft is almost like a love letter to the work of Noise music artist Boyd Rice who also happens to star in the lead role. Rice's philosophies on fascism, racial aesthetics, cultural S+M and many other things are quite present throughout the narrative. This is a unpleasant and challenging movie, that in many ways is a breath of fresh air, even if it is trying to offend you.
Boyd Rice plays Daniel, a hitman who takes hi work very seriously. Irregardless if he is snuffing out political targets, or simply homeless people who are clogging up the Melbourne streets. Him and his two assistant buddies get a kick out of the existentialism of their work. Daniel has a live in girlfriend named Christy (the busty Lisa Hutchinson) who doubles as a dominatrix who has become bored with her work because she cannot take the clients to the ultimate edge that would be killing them. Daniel spends a lot of his free time watching documentaries about Hitler and the third Reich, ruminating about the Fetishism of the Nazi's and how the Fascism involved was something that should have been appreciated more for the sheer misanthropy and movement of will it took to achieve. He also spends much time philosophising about the S+M culture and societies need to be dominated and controlled. When he is not killing clients, he is having group sex with another couple, or debating the merits of violent movies with them. He finally gets another gig to kill an author named Morton Buggs whose erotic fiction us stirring up extreme fanaticism in the underground. Seems that is is more than just pornography but an extremely politicised tract that is causing quite a little rebellion in the way people think. As Daniel researches Buggs he starts to realize there are more questions out there than things he has clinged too, leading to a climax that is actually pretty clever.
The movie is awash in late nineties underground culture references, starting with the casting and philosophies of Boyd Rice who also does the impressive noise music score. But we also get references to Jim Goad's "Answer Me" zine as Rice wears a T-shirt that simply says "rape" on it, referencing the infamous Issue #4 of Answer Me aka The Rape issue that was banned. In case you don't get the reference Rice picks it up in a bookstore and comments on it. Morton Buggs book is called "Pure" a reference to Peter Sotos banned Zine of the same name that got him watched by the police and eventually arrested. With Bugg's somewhat modeled after Sotos it seems. The film itself fits securely within the "aesthetic terrorism" movement of the 1990's that spawned artists such as Marilyn Manson, Trevor Brown and many others.
The movie is a low budget affair with obvious limited resources. There is not a lot of camera movement making for a unfortunately static movie. The acting is also fairly dire in most cases. The only person rising to the occasion being Boyd Rice, while never being what you would call good, he is always compelling more because he is playing himself on screen. The director has a cameo as an investor in a bar that gets beat down and eventually killed. Lisa Hutchinson who plays the girlfriend is a great looking gal with a powerful set of 'lungs' but when ever she opens her mouth her acting nosedives several point. But she looks great in S+M fetish gear and that is probably why she was hired.
The movie is fairly hard to come by. It was released in a two disc set overseas at one point with the director's over feature films BLOODLUST but I believe that is long out of print now. Scour the used DVD places or grey market to try and find it.