Cleansing the doors of cinematic perception since 2006, or earlater

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

"Come and get your yarbles!" ZARDOZ: British Acid Cinema v. 1


Once upon a distant UK future, or stretch of its past long buried in the bog and/or under small beach pebbles of Stonehenge-y time, savages in maskies roamed and rode, shooting and raping all they may survey, and worshipping a giant stone head that floated gamely o'er the rolling green Irish hills and occasionally spat them new guns and ammo. And when it could get no weirder, the head would sprachen in a booming manly voice a kind of population control mantra, about how shooting semen from your gunny cock is bad and shooting death from a cocked gun is good, or raping must come with killing, lest more bullets in the future wasted be. The booming voice at odds with what sounds like something passionately scrawled on the bathroom wall by a sophomore who'd just read Jung's "Man and his Symbols" while watching Wizard of Oz on acid, not an injudicious idea in itself, but not with a mind polluted by DSB (a dorm is a terrible place for, ahem, privacy).

Ever the marauders, of these masked savages Zed (Sean Connery) did gamely sneak aboard the floating head and kill its man behind the curtain (with his painted twirly 'Painting for Surreal' Groucho mustache), thus having the whole head to his own, only to have it touch down behind a force field and land him in the presence of a group of intellectually advanced immortals living off the land in a perfect encounter group breathing exercise one-mind mime troupe sense of order.



Adorned only in taffeta robes so clearly demarked 'Eloi' as to affront any rambling Bevin Boys' morlock coterie's cognizance of couth, these fey libertines don't quite know what to make of our young thug from the other side of the bubble. Zed's mind's been wiped in advance so they can't scan him (they play his memories on the projector) and find out what happened to the guy in the painted mustache, whom they know. Some of the girls, especially in the scientist ladies, particularly lovely Consuella (Charlotte Rampling) react with hostility to Zed's sexy shirtlessness. His pheromone-and-hair dye musky musk has upset the zero point population growth balance (no children for thousands of years --sounds like heaven). Conseulla demands his immediate destruction, but other head scientist, May (Sara Kestleman) wants to probe his, ahem, "mind" first in case some part of the mystery is buried in the firewall, so to speak. To access this information, May may need to take Zed literally under the sheets.



If, on paper, all this sounds randy and oh so 60s-early 70s, what's wrong with that? Unlike the smirky post-Porky's 80s and the inevitable feel-bad-about-smirking 90s, ZARDOZ is from an era all about psychedelic openings (to free love and eastern philosophy and renewed interest in the far-out writings of Castaneda, Jung, and Burroughs) but after awhile these openings became as a giant universal mouth of macho hungry ghost gimme gimme. In other words, only when sex was plentiful could man move beyond sex. But before then, for a glistening period of around fifteen or so years, self-awareness led to a form of macho beyond Freud's "one direction" sense of phallic symbolism. Joseph Campbell's Hero with a Thousand Faces led to Iron John and the men's movement. Yeah, the real men's movement, not dopey Alt-right trolls but hairy dudes banging drums in the woods. Come then and scroll through my Jungian memory banks:

To Freud, a gun was a phallic symbol, i.e. ze penis, but Jung's break with Freud went the opposite way too, stating that the penis was also a gun, i.e. neither was the be-all-end all anymore than a Tarot card is only a paper and ink; this more enlightened less sex-obsessed frame of thinking, for Jung the idea of "the phallus" wasn't necessarily tied to some infantile anxiety formed at the first sight of mom's "missing" genitals, but something truly mythic down to the DNA of life itself. This is the phallus as pure signifier, en par with the yoni / circle / zero, i.e the phallus was the '1' and the yoni the '0' of a binary symbolic code.

You can tell John Boorman knew and was heavy into all that stuff, as more than any other Arthurian filmmaker, he felt the connection; he was spearheading a new self-aware sexist macho psychedelia, one beyond the duality of shame/pride; lust/disgust, and even death/life. In fact, Boorman was so badass about it he'd even adorn Sean Connery in an orange diaper!

ZARDOZ, Zardoz, King of the Brittons!

 From top: Zardoz, Monty Python, Wizard of Oz, Zardoz, Tron

Clearly, Boorman understood, deep down, some of this shit was plain crazy, but as far as loopy but pungent satires on the vanity at the heart of masculine identity, this fuck-all fractured crystal light show is most prescient today. Had anyone been listening to it at the time, instead snickering, it may have woken us up to the value of death as the only key to life.


But at the time, which was 1974, we weren't necessarily ready to have our yarbles handed to us with a stern warning and an extra magazine cartridge. We just saw Sean Connery with his black ponytail and traffic cone orange diaper riding a horse and a big stone head flying around and rolled our eyes in embarrassment. Of course, he would be the only fertile still-erect male in an isolated society of enlightened hot chick immortals, his big red bulges gazed upon lustily, flanked by a sparse sprinkling of symbolically neutered male elders and Bellamy-ish escorts. Of course the immortals stand around in multi-colored robes that evoke one of those planets on Star Trek where alien Aeschylus reads poetry aloud and the wardrobe person can air out the togas still in mothballs since the 50s biblical epic heyday. Add to that the kind of randy tosser pulp premise used already in everything from Ulmer's Beyond the Time Barrier, to Queen of Outer Space, Cat-Women of the Moon, Missile to the Moon, Invasion of the Star Creatures, and so forth.

But time has shown us that what really spooks us (in the US especially) about ZARDOZ is that it helps illuminate the position of Boorman as the great chronicler of castration anxiety and it's perhaps that anxiety that kept us (okay, me) away from the film so long in the first place. Emasculated in jumpers, "them panties", or even (below) wedding dresses, Boorman's oeuvre never shies from (figurative) crotch shots (as in Walker's final punch to the gangster's crotch in Point Blank [1967]). In facing the dread of castration anxiety so astutely, Boorman's films have Freudian breakthroughs right there on the screen. But first, the squirming: before Burt gets a chance to shoot arrows at rednecks, and Richard Burton gets to throw Linda Blair against a wall and start to strangle her while half-molesting her at the same time, there must be all sorts of humiliation and threats, from demons, rapists, and immortal hotties with brain freezing crystal rings. Running from the problem just gives it more juice--you got to clamp down hard and don't let go, like a pit bull on the schvonce.



Taken as an infantilizing hybrid of anal phase fixations then, Zed's macho hairy chest and that orange outfit might somehow tap into into the kind of revulsion most children feel for their own diapers by the age of three -- I know it turned me off at the time (I was seven in 1974). But now, grown into middle-age, Zed's infantile garb is as bemusing and unthreatening as it is for the immortals within the sanctuary. Personally, a vast regimen of SSRIs have removed 95% of my sex drive and I couldn't be happier about it. Maybe that's why now I understand how the UK's weird macho fey switcheroo makes boys into men by first making them women. Connery's Zed is somehow now all the more masculine for being so feminized, so objectified. Cleaning up the table and setting out dishes as the 'adults' discuss his fate at lunch (whether they should ice him or let him live), he's like disaffected puppy, his sexual heat is the equivalent of soft black velvet painting sad eyes. He doesn't have to do anything--he's like a woman on a pirate ship where only half the crew are 'gentlemen.'

DEATH BEFORE DISHES

As a side note, I used to love to watch nature documentaries as a kid. All the death was just fascinating, but now the endless stream of fear, hunger, death and birth that is the ecosystem of the ocean--my poor krill--makes me feel like I am waking up to the fact Earth is a prison it takes thousands of lifetimes to escape--if ever. With every gulp some whale is devouring enough little lives to populate a country. But it doesn't end, for gobs of krill come alive in little eggs again, just to be eaten by something that will itself be eaten. How many times have we all died as tiny little krill or shrimp or plesiosaurs? How billions of deaths have we experienced, how many traumatic rebirths, all within that same salty gross ocean? ZARDOZ helps us indirectly wonder whether our slow poisoning of the seas been something the sea (as in the collective consciousness continuum of all marine life along the vast, endless food chain) wished upon itself. Whether man's pollution is the sea's reverse-Zed deliverer from all that fear, pain, heartbreak and hunger?

But to get that deep into ZARDOZ first we have to get past that tacky sci-fi cliche of the fertile man with hot space bitches standing in line for his seed, that Men's pulp magazine cover mask, the booming voice and smoke and fire, to see the true man-behind-the-curtain of that seed itself. Are we men or are we marauders? Zed is named thus for a reason. Man is here, screams the ocean, there shall be no more arrivals! Our pollution is a liberator that will free the blighted hungry, scared, and dying from any more than another century of endlessly reincarnating woe. I poisonally guarantee it.


HOOLIGANS OF SATURNALIA

If the male fantasy (BARBARELLA-ish) pulp aspect makes ZARDOZ too camp for the Kubrick set, what keeps it too Kubrick for the camp set? It's the lack of genital supremacy, of sex drive overall, the very things that hamstring Britain's past attempts to mine the same male fantasy vein (DEVIL GIRL FROM MARS and FIRE MAIDENS FROM OUTER SPACE). Here in Boorman's future, the 'eternals' are all polymorphously perverse, way past such tired schticks as reproduction, death, or presumably genital-based ejaculatory orgasm. Neither aging or reproducing. the only wrinkle is when one of them disagrees with their unified mind's opinion and refuses to acquiesce; he or she cast out, sent to some kind of eternal wedding/Princeton Reunion pavilion out by the stables, forced to endure old age (and the same old Caretaker-style records) for all eternity rather than die peacably. These rebellious immortals, labeled renegades, are sometimes guilty of nothing more than bad vibes (which unnerve their 'group mind) and who could avoid them? No matter how lovely it is in this small 20 acre or so place--all around a lake with an old castle commons, inflated dry-cleaning bags around various bushes to denote a kind of oblique The Prisoner vibe--staying longer than a few weeks must be hell.

Luckily, the hour of their deliverance is at hand. The specter in Masque of the Red Death  fused with Conan the Barbarian (compare his sneaking onto the head and killing all aboard to Conan and his friends' unprovoked raids on Set's temples) and Alex in Clockwork Orange (whose brute savagery is initially controlled by a brutalizing form of aversion therapy but then recognized as a valuable social tool), Zed frees us up to escape liberal stasis and return to a time when hedonistic amphetamine-amped savagery saved us all from tough decisions, morals, trash night, and guilty consciences. It's a lot to cover, but fracturing itself along fault lines that bridge Dr. Strangelove to Barbarella, it has endured as a continually renewing announcement to the world that he, Boorman, can be as much a macho priapic/cold misanthropic, less geometrically precise but still bonkers to the point of mind expansion/Dark Heart of Conradian consciousness as Kubrick.

Can't he?

Maybe not, but you can tell he 'gets' it, gets the deep shit Kubrick's digging up, and he doesn't steal, just acquires a similar shovel and starts excavating in his own backyard, confident if he has to look farther than that, he never really had it in the first place. And he doesn't need a Terry Southern to apply black humor (ala Dr. Strangelove), Boorman's the sole writer.  He follows his own drummer and if that drummer should veer of a cliff, Boorman's macho enough to beat it all the way down

We're all hooligans in the nursery
But, despite Boorman's savvy about the 'viral' nature of overpopulation and the paradoxical nature of symbolic castration, labeling ZARDOZ a masterpiece is bound to cause concern to those who trust your masterpiece-labeling skills up to that point. For this alcoholic, growing up in the 70s in a progressive elementary school I was taught about ecology and overpopulation from the get-go, so it disturbs me that nowadays were so terrified to even bring these concepts up. Maybe even '74 was a bit late for it. Soylent Green had come out the year before, but that was American, with Chuck 'Moses' NRA Heston, so even your bible-thumping aunt couldn't argue it. At any rate, '74 was too late to catch the acidheaded 'enhanced' midnight movie crowd (PS - for the most part, see comment at end of this post!). On the other hand, Zardoz was also too trippy/pretentious for the pop dystopia pre-Star Wars crowd (Logan's Run, Omega Man).

Whatever, it's found a crowd with me, at last --it only took me ten tries, over the years. Waiting... for the key moment--I finally made it to the livin' end--not even noticing Sean's ill-advised dyed-black chest hairs and douche pony tail. I just had to be in the other room for the first half, listening. Absorbing my way inward, like a louche amoeba.

What I noticed most this time was the spirited fey death drive of John Alderton (future star of Wodehouse Playhouse) as 'Friend' (who takes a shine to Zed and winds up ostracized to the Pavilion as a result of bad vibes) and the limpid mouth and layered freckles of Sara Kestleman  as May (left), the chakral intensity of her lysergic inhalations of Zed's pheromones, a lust regarded with some suspicion (and veiled jealousy) by Consuella pronounces banishment to May and death to Zed when she catches them frolicking under May's magic sheet. I finally knew I loved Zardoz during this under-the-sheet seduction/analysis. Kestleman's freckles and big eyes and mouth alive with lysergic breath work under the colored sheet - using the womb-ish magic of the under-sheet shot to imbue a simple sheet with magical sci-fi energy from little more than what looks like a faded tie-dye. She makes me swoon with her royal Shakespearean desire! Taking her cue, May's loyal ladies line up to get laid by old Sean, and in exchange give him via his (male) Alexa-type voiced crystal computer ring, all their combined knowledge so he'll know how to destroy the thing that binds them to their lives with no chance for true, real death.

And lo and behold, I really relate to a lot of the crazy split-subjectives and all the mass mind meditation and heavy breathing. I mean I really REALLY relate. (Imagine me saying that last part while rolling over you, pulling at your collar). The Immortals' whole vibe is one of those 70s theater encounter groups, or any tight-knit acting class or troupe that does little weird everyone vocalizing and waving their arms in unison outcasting or accepting one of their number into the group mind, the way EST paved the way for a billion offshoot 'encounter groups' for people afraid of being touched or opened up to get to their own heart of it all.


DON'T DERIDE YOUR MAN'S ARCHAIC REVERIE

And for all its juvenile wish fulfillment, the one rooster in a big henhouse fantasy ultimately SHOULDN'T BE DERIDED as it stems from a very real archaic programming that nowadays is expressed only by Mormons, sheiks and walruses. To be the virile heterosexual male alpha specimen in some cool utopian colony - all the women young and nubile and easily put under the sway of your fresh pheromones-- all competition sidelined, no virile male for miles... ah, what a dream. For lonesome men on the prowl, hunting in pairs as young male lions often do in between the time the alpha male kicks them out of 'his' pride and the time they take over another's, this fantasy sustains them. We don't act on it - we know it's too much work just dating one girl, being a serial monogamist; two or more always find out about each other sooner or later and get pissed and you lose them all, and they and their friends and future friends spread shit about you forever more. Hardly worth it. So in the end, the smart fella knows that if you're a straight male in a 'normal' community, it can only ever be a fantasy, a way to placate our archaic male drive without doing any real damage. We suppress it completely at our peril.

Zardoz expresses it, while at the same time undoing it, and that's maybe the thing that keeps audiences away. Our secret memories of those old sci-fi tales and Heavy Metal comics mustn't be exposed to the air and sniffed over by super intelligent women who could kill us with a wink.

On the other hand, if we don't flinch from their stinging gaze, we just might get lucky. Biology is a peculiar thing.

Dig this groovy statement by the iRing (their male version of Siri or Alexa) when discussing Zed's propensity for laying around in his cage, dreaming, a hobby which the Immortals find to be a huge waste of time: "Sleep was necessary for man when his waking and unconscious lives were separated," and that plus their longevity is a clear explanation for their enormous power, their mental faculty which gives them more or less the ability to age each other through group mind telepathy and live in a life of perfect order and balance.


This utopia is the dream of every loving group of 'awakened' individuals who've ever collectively fallen in love over a psychedelic outdoor weekend together (set and setting being so crucial). If they have achieved 'total consciousness," then meditation takes the place of sleep and almost every other need. "Second Level" as the Immortals call it seems to be a communal shared alpha state where bad vibes can lead to your arrest and aging of up to five years. Ah laddie, there's always one wally or murph trying to drag the zeppelin down. If only my tribe back in the 80s could have spooked them off with collective humming, I might be immortal to this day.

I've told you about those glorious stretches of time I've experienced (this much later in my fisher king solitude) when unconscious and conscious lined up perfectly, as if in sublime eclipse, and I could see with my eyes closed or open, all was illuminated and inseparable; I realized that we never see total black with our eyes closed - there's an electric field and with the right confluence of elements we can 'focus' that field and realize it's really just a seriously out-of-focus image. It's clearly what Boorman was going for that total consciousness of dreaming third eye / consciousness two eyes - all open at the same time. Of course, too much of that leads straight to the psych-ward unless you're so charismatic you're covered head-to-toe in protective cult underlings who make sure your every step is strewn with roses... and if that happens just try and keep your ego from running amok and becoming 'that' type of cult leader, the male lion who boots the young men out of the tribe so he can marry all the young hotties. Boom, his clarity is gone. 

Either way, no eclipse lasts forever, not in these short life spans, surrounded on all sides by petty droogies and dimwit doctors. Such openness of mind relies on a complete suspension of all judgment, fear, and avoidance. This leaves you very vulnerable to oncoming traffic.

(Clockwork, Goldfinger: Paradoxically, these Brit cock-and-ball stories are way
more macho than Leo avenging (yet again) his murdered child and/or wife (below)
in The Revenant:

YARBLES, AND HOW TO LOSE THEM

Let's return to the subject at hand, castration or fear thereof. Successfully completed reproduction, from the 'gleam' in your father's eye to your firs sharp inhale, spanked by a hand almost as big as you are, kick-started into the world like a wonky television-- it's one looong castration. The schlong goes in, bur it don't come out; if you have any yarbles they're long gone.

Emasculation and neutering affect our British macho man at every turn, from the laser coming right at Bond's crotch in 'ahem' Goldfinger to Clockwork's Aubrey Morris clasping hard down on Alex's niblik back at the house where he's spatchka-accruing to be right as dodgers for this after. In America, home of the wee narcissist manchildren who need to stand on crates hidden under the frame and have ramps built for them to kiss their willowy ginger co-stars, our balls are so precious that we refuse to even mention castration, as if the words themselves are serrated-edged. Puer aeternus complexes rouse Maria von Franz from a stone sleep; the ginger beer equation, set up by half-dead spouses, advocates a tired guilt over rowdy strutting. Just making flirty eye contact dooms a girl either to smash cuts to joyless animalistic rutting (on HBO or AMC) or stalking (HAIR, FEAR and whatever's on Lifetime). The only guys badass enough to 'go there' as in castration are Tarantino and Rodriguez (as in RR's Planet Terror). (2) 

As Leland says Mesa of the Lost Women, this is my order: be nice unto all ages, and sans sexual advances. Believe me man, if the girl likes you that way, she'll let you know. If not - presume she doesn't. The problem facing most guys is that when they're most desirable is when they're less likely to realize it, but also that--thanks to media--they confuse being attracted with being attractive, and the first problem invades the second, so that hearing a girl you like doesn't like you like that makes you furious, for it forces you to be aware you're misreading signals. In other words, your ego is such a bitch it uses your own insecurity to turn you into a persistent douchebag. It makes it harder for every other guy and girl to get together when genuine attraction is constantly misconstrued and confused with random 'hitting on' girls by guys who just figure they'll play the numbers.

That this extends to middle age is what's most perverse. That said, I'm not one to shy away from the company of younger people. My theory is that there's the person who says no to his drive to go cavort with the younger generation, and the guy--like me--who trusts the inherent goodness within himself and is willing to ridiculous to his wife and every other girl his own age, He'll see them sulking on the sidelines, glaring from behind strollers as he walks with a girl young enough to be his daughter if he'd had kids at 20. Who does that old dude want to be with, a sulky middle-aged beeyatch berating and belittling his every word and missed dish dirt spot, or some starry-eyed waif who thinks he's charming and sexy, even if it's only because she has an unresolved Elektra complex? The kitchen sink Leighs and the Loaches trundle home, not forgetting to pick up bread and the Guardian--reading in bed to the knots that they keep in a jar by the door, pursuing the 'reality' of the situation like good little aging males, while the Kubricks and Boormans stay up 'til all hours dropping acid with these precocious hot geniuses and contemplating not their crags and sags and graying hair,--but their eternal faces--neither old nor young, neither virile nor withered, neither growing nor shrinking, nor strutting nor cringing, but the eternal face, as frozen as the angry godhead in Zardoz as blank and meaningless as the Godhead in you know what (I shan't spoil it if you haven't seen it.)

Sex doesn't need to enter into it, for with admittance of impotence, acceptance of the state of castration, comes peace and that inherent goodness, and from the flattened decimation wrought by achieving that peace, any number of futuristic new towers may be built. (4)

And when the going gets too weird, Zed eats a single leaf from Mama Mcree's psychedelic flower. One thing leads to another by a kind of parenthetical association that would be lost on American viewers the way it was me if I hadn't just seen High-Rise. But since I had, I felt awareness of some kind of weird British shared secret, the sort where psychedelic mind expansion, socialized education, and the BBC merge together to help the male psyche shatter, so that the phallus becomes the devouring vagina dentata instead of just being devoured by it, and this is truly the union. For your casual bullet had picked its immortal's brain pan destination before you were even born, my son.






IMMORTALITY, A CHUMPS' TICKET


The first thing the old man looking at his ageless self in the young reflection (and vice versa) realizes--be he the old codger played by Peter Ustinov in Logan's Run or the old Bowman looking at himself in the mirror in 2001 and seeing a young astronaut staring back--is that all of his ages are segments of a long, single organism--the head and tail of an ouroboros serpent; the young and very old are closer to each other than they are to the middle (which is why grandparents and grandchildren have more in common than the parents). There's no escape from the void of devouring, and no one shares that certainty more than the old man tail entering the maw of the unborn child who just left it. '

Once inside its scaly tunnels, the 'I AM' part of the surviving soul realizes that even death itself is just a chimera, a tunnel on the endless looping track. Familiarity with acid's perspective allows this 'we are one thing, split into infinity to get a better look at itself' as almost a side effect to the experience of 'frisson.' We get to see how different it would all go down were we unfastened from the signifier-signified chain of structural indemnity and allowed to float free and easy in the zero gravity of Mad Hatter tea party disruption, where word association no longer has any relevance as a game or trick or strategy. 

For example, in a game of word-association, the word 'chair' might provoke a 'sit' response, but the insane/hatter response would be "melon") / and 'milk' doesn't provoke "cow" but a terrified scream of "gloves!" (1) resulting from an archaic memory of touching Bessie's fleshy warm udder once with bare hands at the 4H Fair and how you cried and cried.

Half the time, they're not even real words, but two or three words Frankensteined together in a kind of accelerated overlapping wave collision between free association, bad pun, and scrabble befuddlement. When given full controls of the voice, the subconscious can be terribly glib and--to a sober man--incoherent. To an incoherent idiot, however, cogent as the Dane is wrong. 

If you can breech that structuralist surf, I'd say Zardoz is a film that's the story of a male psyche having a split dialogue with itself and its own adult sci-fi pulp roots--the kind of 'adult sci-fi' that's long gone but was all the 70s science fiction you could ever see, prior to Star Wars. Of course its a dialogue that has no ending. It goes on in the hearts of bull dykes struggling in the heavy mantle layers of some giddy fake-Earth ending to some mid-70s episode of Charlie's Angels (the girl football team episode). (3)

COLLUSION: 

Why and why not are inevitably so linked as to be indistinguishable. Are you going to buy the next world a cup of coffee or are you going to act sulky, alone at the counter like a little bitch, until you're so old that it's considered obscene just for you to even hit on people your own age? A 990 year old in a 20 year old body we call a vampire, but a hit from the side -- end of knee -- end of career. We call that the 80s.

Are you 'winning' or are you awake? You can't be both.

Humility or cock swagger? That's a fine duality. But humble cock swagger? Now I know you're British.

NOTES:
1. Of course that's a reference to Crispin Glover in Wild at Heart!
2.We've already talked about this when I attacked the copouts in Hard Candy and Teeth. 
3. I apologize that this ramble ends with a discussion of the dyke presence in a girl football team episode of Chaelie's Angels episode 41 (season 2), "Angels in the Backfield" but it seemed trenchant at the time, to merge a discussion of men evolving into a male/female whole soul into a female-starring detective series from the 70s chronicling the struggles of a female football team (entering a predominately masculine arena) and one of those rare, rudimentary appearances of lesbians on prime time TV. Alas, while liberated in some areas, it was still very much in to consider gays and lesbians as freaks, deviants, easy targets for stereotyping. It was only the mixture of Anita Bryant's hateful rhetoric (which so turned most of us off we became sympathetic to the gay cause) and AIDs / Rock Hudson, that turned us around more or less for (hopefully) keeps.
4.  I love for example the party scene in Arthur Marks' The RoomMates, where the faculty and co-eds at a groovy college mix together, drinking and flirting but with no harm done, even when it gets down to the underwear. That scene would never play today - there'd have to be a sexual harassment or drug/date rape or some other sordid thing. But here in the 70s (and some of the 80s) sex wasn't so bi-polar, where it's either saintliness or demeaning rutting. Flirting and highbrow theoretics could mix over cocktails as everyone was adults, nothing had to lead anywhere. It was gorgeous. 

4 comments:

  1. For me, first viewing was as a Midnight Movie Double Feature at the Strand Theater in Ocean Beach, CA-- December 1978. It was the second film after Ralph Bakshi's animated phantasmagoria Wizards.
    Wizards and Zardoz. I was about 14 at the time, and the crummy little
    theater was fogged in, both outside and inside, if you follow my drift.
    Hard to see the screen through the acrid haze. The tiny toilets were full of heads of all stripes, and the lobby was a veritable gab fest.
    Loved the combination of these two films, and today it virtually impossible to think of one without the other. They are forever
    inseparable in my mind. Zardoz is perhaps my favorite early 70's film, and it absolutely drives my family and friends crazy when I even mention it, as if it is some mutant talisman, never to be discussed in polite company.

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  2. thanks for sharing that hazy memory - sounds indelible. I've been meaning to get to WIZARDS, but I covered all of Bakshi's work for the Muze search engine back in the day and left him feeling the need never to return. WIZARDS especially has way too many rotoscoped shots that are basically just WW2 stock footage with horns drawn on the Wermacht helmets. Gotta love the Peter Falk voice of the lead wizard though, and that the climax where he just shoots him!

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    Replies
    1. Wizards can be, for sure, a bit excessive. Love the dreamy synth music though, and the voice over by a Sally Kellerman clone.
      I think it's the audio component of that film that really gets to me. Voices, weird music montage bait-and-switch, sound effects from the cassette era, just something so tangible and odd.
      As for Zardoz, also the sounds intrigue me. The tapping of the prophylactic balloons brings out moans of ecstasy from the fluids; haunting tinkling, and the rather sexually frank expressions of all the women in the film. Charlotte Rampling at her most insidiously carnal. Connery looks like he's having fun for once. Not as dour as he often is.

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  3. Erich have you seen Assayas' latest Personal Shopper yet? Cant't wait for your review of this one

    ReplyDelete

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