Welcome to Screenage Kicks - a blog concentrating on the lurid, feral excitement of on screen 'punk attitude'.

Bare with me, this blog is in it's tentative stages, but I hope to cover a wealth of cinema that influenced punk, was influenced by punk, or is in itself - pure punk. However my definition of 'what is punk?' is based on notions of attitude, subversion, rebellion, transgression, visceral excitement, self exploration, boundary breaking, abandon, and both brutal realism and wild escapism. A broadbased appreciation of life changing or challenging movies, having little to do with prescribed identikit cliches of 'punk'. The concept of 'punk cinema' by it's very existence should challenge the notion of what is, and what is not 'punk cinema'. Reflecting this 'break the rules' outlook my writing will vary wildly between flip fan-istic enthusiasm and more serious academic investigations and insights, depending on my mood (and level of aggression).

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Sweet Movie

Sweet Movie 

Socially and personally - politically transgressive jet black comedy. One of the finest 'head-fuck' films of the 1970s. Part of the Yugoslavian film movement known as 'the Black Wave' the film is rooted in the motivations of the global counterculture of the 60s that were by then, stranded in the 70s and being forced to deal with the death of the leftist hippy dream under the all consuming tide of consumerism and fractured societies.  Employing disturbing imagery and modes in a provocative, questioning, analytical, self reflective and socio-politically critical  way  which pointed towards the deeper elements of the oncoming punk (situationism, anarchy, the dialogue between left and right, socio-political discourse) movement. In that  manner it sit's somewhere between Jodorowsky's El Topo and Derek Jarmans Jubilee - with extra Eastern Block politicking and some John Waters 'shock camp' thrown in for effect. All bases are covered, uncovered, dissected, digested and spewed out in a stream of bizarreness that veers from dark hilarity to even darker moments of genuinely disturbing discomfort - sexuality, sexism, feminism, mental illness, perversion, cruelty, automation, pedophilia, communism, fascism, rascism, power, greed, corruption, the natural, the unnatural, homosexuality, scatology, fame, desire, obsession, oppression, regression, revolution, repulsion, control, abandon, freedom, enslavement, the themes are literally endless and it's startling how much director Dusan Makavejev packs into it's duration. Wrapped loosely around two main narratives that provide  frameworks for the subversive themes and startling imagery. The imagery is jarring, shocking, repulsive, sexy, poetic and layered with cryptic metaphor, but always startling in it's beauty, these rich associative montages may be amongst the finest of such cinematic mechanisms in cinema full stop, rarely do we see such modes of screen expression taken to such extremes. A truly unsettling aesthetic, as the mise-en-scene both enticingly seductive in its weird beauty yet repulsive in its darker moments creates a refreshing 'out there' piece of work. High camp imagery melds with high art, this footage often deliberately sexy or sexualized, almost surrealist, often ridiculous, is intercut with original real field footage of second world war atrocities. There is no safe way to view this film, your perceptions and comfort zones will be challenged at every turn. It's about as punk as it gets. 

1 comment:

  1. Dusan Makavejev’s “Sweet Movie”/SWM (1976) is about two irreconcilable social strata our specie is fatally polarized on (p
    aralyzed) – rich and poor (strong and weak, leaders and followers, deciders and the docile or the rebellious), about their psychology, so different and so unbreakably linked, and about their respective madness as a result of their permanent struggle and the impossibility of their unification. In other words, SWM is a film about the tragic impossibility of a real democracy in a too proud age of formal democracy. Makavejev analyzes two types of violence (that of the rich and that of the poor), coming as a consequence of the impossibility of a reconciliation between those on top and those on the bottom of the social hierarchy. According to the film, the violence of the wealthy (sovereigns) against the poor (the dependent ones) – triggers violence of the poor that sometimes surpasses that of the wealthy in its intensity and meaninglessness. By depicting the destiny of two protagonists, one with a conformist position towards the rich (Miss World, dreaming to exchange her virginity for marriage with a billionaire), and the other with a revolutionary position and sweet dream about a militant liberation of humankind (Anna Planeta moving about Europe on a ship with a giant smiling and crying figurehead of Karl Marx), Makavejev rejects the both attempts to solve the problem of inequality and injustice as sentimental and inadequate. While Miss World personifies the common superstitious idea that the poor can find life on the outskirts of wealth (in a condition that they will be persistent: hard working, in their efforts to get closer to its center), Anna Planeta personifies the two historical trends of rebellious resistance – the Soviet “socialist” (under the banner of Communism) and Western mass culture with its consumerism, freedom of sailing sales, pseudo-prosperity, sexual liberation and entertainment (as a “pragmatic” mini-Communism “equalizing” rich and poor in the utopia of general porous-prosperity). Makavejev’s directorial style in SWM is unique by a semantic distance between the intentional “juiciness” of his visual images and their meaning. Makavejev is a shock therapist of viewers’ blunted perception of the reality as a way to awaken their cognition. His aesthetic canon can be defined as anti-propaganda aesthetics, as a masterful undoing of what ideological propaganda, be it “socialist” or pseudo-democratic has done to human thinking. The film examines why attempts to create real democracy are failing again, in front of our very eyes. In 21st century when the wealthiest 1% (with their intellectual servants and conservative propagandists) advance under the banner of pauperization programs for the 99% through austerity measures, the cultural and aesthetic radicalness of Makavejev’s thinking and style in SWM can be appreciated much more today than it was in a more democratic years when the film was released. Makavejev masterfully combines fiction narratives and documentaries, mock documentaries and semantically stylized images to create a multi-narration about the human existential and political predicaments in today’s world.
    Victor Enyutin