Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Oh Sensibility (1970)

Directed by:
Kurt Kren
Otto Mühl

I have no problem with avant-garde or underground film. However there is a difference between innovative cinema and senseless, stupid garbage. If you'd like to know more about this particular group of filmmakers and what they wanted to accomplish during the 1960s and early 70s, go ahead and do a web search of either Otto Mühl or "Vienna Aktionists." I can't personally figure it all out, but I'm sure it all made sense to them. Perhaps drugs helped. Here you get a few minutes of their usual; people who don't like wearing clothes behaving strangely and doing "shocking" things. Actually this one doesn't even contain their usual material, which are things most of us reserve for the bathroom. Instead the filmmakers decide to drag a defenseless animal into the proceedings. And just like the chicken co-stars of the same group's MANOPSYCHOTISCHES BALLET (1970), this bird doesn't survive to see another day after they're done with it. Still, even if it had, I doubt it would have ever be the same again after having its head stuck inside mouths and, uh, other dark places I cannot mention in this review. After a few brief shots of naked people dancing around and rolling on top of each other (set to annoying tinny music), this cuts to a bed where a man and a woman play around with the bird in a rather unwholesome way. They grab it by the neck, roll around with it, lick it and smash it between their legs. The guy smacks the girl with a belt a few times. The end. It's all a deep and stunning metaphor for... Well, probably nothing. Or something only they know or care about. It didn't interest me in the least.

I read a 2002 interview with director Mühl where he claimed to do films like this to "provoke moralists" and said the bird was going to be killed anyway, so he "made love" to it first. In the same interview he claimed he entranced the bird with "dance-like movements" before they filmed, and that the bird returned the favor by also putting him in a trance and then "went about" with him willingly. However, what any sane person actually sees is an understandably terrified animal trying its best to get the hell away from both Mühl and the female performer the entire time. Obviously we're not dealing with someone quite right in the head here.
Most of the shorts from the same "filmmakers" are now available on a two-disc compilation set through a company called Subterranean Cinema.


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