Thursday, July 23, 2009

Want major misogyny with your gore? Sarmiento/Harel's DEADGIRL arrives

"I am not going to watch any more of this." TrustMovies said that aloud and angrily a half-dozen times before he realized that he was indeed going to watch more -- in fact, all -- of DEADGIRL, the bizarre, ugly, shocking and ground-breaking (yes, a film can be both juvenile and ground-

breaking) movie co-directed by Marcel Sarmiento (shown at right: Is that blood on his pants?) and Gadi Harel, and written by Trent Haaga.

The fact that Deadgirl appears to be perhaps the most misogynistic movie ever made will automatically entice certain viewers to its fold. Yet it becomes clear along the way that the movie-makers are somehow aware of this fact and are shoving it in our faces to make us deal with it in a manner we haven't previously come near. Their setting is high school, that venue of bullies and peer groups, flaming hormones and the first big battleground in the war between not only men and women but differing types of boy-men. In this case, the division's between those who initiate and those who, under duress and some protest, go along for the ride. Basically, though, the question is Chicks, right? Whadaya gonna do with 'em?

What they do with them in Deadgirl is barely to be believed, which is OK in its way, because (spoiler ahead) the movie knocks down one genre door after another as it morphs from what initially appears a teenage trauma movie into something like an updated River's Edge and then into a kind of high-school Hostel that goes on to reinvent (yet again) the zombie franchise. Along their route the movie-makers -- by design or chance (more likely in the manner that all artists, good and bad, tap into their subconscious) -- bring up the subject of the female. How the male looks at her, wants her, gets her, uses and abuses her. And, to some extent, why. It's the latter that marks the movie as one made by youngsters. They're on to something, and they know it, but they can't quite bring their ideas to artistic resonance. (What David Cronenberg did with William Burroughs' Naked Lunch was a great success in this regard. And Boaz Yakin came pretty close just last week with his Death in Love, though that film is more misanthropic than misogynistic.)

Deadgirl's cast is game, good-looking and -- given what it is asked to do here -- better than most you'll encounter in this teens-make-trouble genre. It is also probable that the demands of commerce played the largest part in the final cut of the film. Today's audiences must have their blood, gore, sex and sleaze -- in reams and bushels -- and if you deal in symbol, metaphor or subtlety, you'll leave out the young macho guys who make up the lion's share of the audience and must have the obvious to "get off" on -- the question of "why" be damned. I am not sure what females will make of the film, but I will read any distaff reviewers with great interest. In fact, I hope Camille Paglia sees the movie and reports on it. (I had hoped to wangle an interview with this filmmaking duo, but it looks like this will not happen. If it does, I'll post later.)

Meanwhile, Deadgirl, according to its PR people, has been deemed too controversial to release in any conventional week-long-or-more manner. Yeah, right. Believe me, if they thought it would make enough money, they'd release it around the globe and on the moon. But instead it will play, via its distributor Dark Sky Films, only at midnight shows -- and only this coming weekend. After which, 'natch, it will arrive on DVD. Am I recommending it? Of course -- with caveats -- and if you've read this far into the review, you've been properly warned.

You can see Deadgirl at the following locations across the country (and one in Canada), with personal appearances noted by an asterisk:

Music Box Theater- CHICAGO
3733 N Southport Ave
Chicago, IL 60613
(773) 871-6604
Screening July 24th & 25th @ midnight
*Cast member Jenny Spain in attendance for Q&A

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema- AUSTIN
320 E 6th Street
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 476-1320
Screening July 24th & 25th @ midnight
*Director Marcel Sarmiento in attendance on 7/24 for Q&A

Grand Illusion- SEATTLE
1403 NE 50th St
Seattle, WA 98105
(206) 523-3935
Screening July 24th & 25th @ midnight

Inwood Theater- DALLAS
5458 W Lovers Ln
Dallas, TX 75209
(214) 764-9106
Screening July 24th & 25th @ midnight
*Director Marcel Sarmiento in attendance on 7/25 for Q&A

River Oaks Theater- HOUSTON
2009 W Gray St
Houston, TX 77019
(713) 524-2175
Screening July 24th & 25th @ midnight

Nuart Theater- LOS ANGELES
11272 Santa Monica Boulevard
West Los Angeles, CA 90025
(310) 281-8223
Screening July 24th @ midnight
*Cast members Noah Segan & Shiloh Fernandez and Writer Trent Haaga will be in attendance for a Q&A

Sunshine Cinema- NY
143 East Houston Street
New York, NY 10002
(212) 330-8182
Screening July 24th & 25th @ midnight
*Director Gadi Harel in attendance for Q&A

Fantasia Film Festival- MONTREAL
Screening July 24th @ midnight

(All photos courtesy of DEADGIRL,
except that of Mr. Sarmiento, which came via the IMDB.)

No comments: