At Bookkake Towers, we have a subscription to the excellent STACK, which pops an interesting independent magazine through our letterbox every month or so. Last month it was the turn of Electric Sheep Magazine, the very Bookkake-appropriate “deviant’s view of cinema”.
The most recent issue takes, er, issue with “Tainted Love”: doomed passions and secret obsessions. Among excellent articles on Berlin cinema and the intricacies of vampire love (spurred by the creepy and rather good-looking Let The Right One In), I got hooked by an article on Tsai Ming-Liang’s The Wayward Cloud. Elena Gorfinkel unpicks the themes of alienation and nihilist sexuality in the Taiwanese director’s work – what she calls his “formalist perversity”.
In the humidity of deep summer, there is a drought—water is scarce, taps have run dry. The city of Taipei has resorted to drinking watermelon juice…. Here is where the brilliance of the scene directly following the opening shot is viscerally felt. We see a woman in a nurse’s outfit lying on a white bed—between her legs is a halved red watermelon, both concealing and transforming (into) her genitalia… Literal and figurative collapse onto each other—as the watermelon gets fingered, licked and juiced by Hsiao-Kang [Lee Kang-sheng], and as his partner, Japanese porn star Sumomo Yozakura, performs her pleasure vocally in concert to the the rythms of the slapping rind against her inner thighs. (If this description reads too disconcertingly fecund, it only evokes the corporeal effect that Tsai’s film produces in the viewer).
No, Ms Gorfinkel, not disconcerting at all, but teasing, yes. Obviously we had to go and find the film immediately, and it’s very good indeed: all long, languorous takes, highly stylised erotic tableaux and minimalist urban fantasy. As well of plenty of sex, involving watermelons, lizard costumes, water-saving showers, song-and-dance routines, and much else. Unlike Ms Gorfinkel, we won’t tease, and the opening scene to which she refers is excerpted below, but we highly advise you to seek out a DVD or screening soon.
The Wayward Cloud is available on DVD in the UK from Axiom Films. Electric Sheep Magazine is a product of the rather wonderful Wallflower Press, a fairly new publisher specialising in cinema and the moving image, and you can treat yourself to regular doses of strange and independent magazines by subscribing to STACK.
If you didn’t see Isabella Rossellini’s Green Porno series of extraordinary shorts for the 2008 Sundance Channel, hie thee there now. Rossellini impersonated, and soliloquised on the sexual habits of, a series of insects including the fly (above), Praying Mantis, and earthworm.
In an interview over at The Daily Beast, she makes a good, Bookkake-esque point about the nomenclature:
Listen, I took advantage of the fact that there’s a certain fixation in people about sex, and that’s why I called it Green Porno. I was very aware that the name was provocative, and there’s a lot of people coming to our site who think it’s porno, and then they get a nice little film. There’s a titillating interest in sex, and I took advantage of that in making a film about how the animals have sex instead of a film about how they take care of their babies. If we made a film called Different Ways To Be Mamas, we wouldn’t get the same hits.
Excellent news, however, that Sundance have comissioned a second series, focussing on sea creatures. And if any well-heeled Bookkake readers are planning to attend The Language of Love in the Italian Renaissance at the Metropolitan on December 9th, where Rossellini “will read in Italian, English, and French from great love poems and dialogues on the nature of love, as well as from the immensely popular bawdy verses of the period”, we’d love to hear a report.
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