Monday, January 9, 2017

Emiliano Rocha Minter's WE ARE THE FLESH further pushes the sex-and-violence envelope

Were it not for the use of the same time- and place-setting word -- twice -- in the press material describing this new movie from Mexican filmmaker Emiliano Rocha Minter, viewers like me might not be so easily taken in by WE ARE THE FLESH. God knows, the filmmaker himself never uses this highly descriptive phrase. He proves much too canny for that. He simply shows us a very grungy, dirty, crazy-looking enclosed space, then lets our imagination do the rest. Into this space an even crazier-looking man unloads his heavy cardboard burden and then begins preparing what might be the least appetizing meal ever captured on film.

Señor Rocha Minter, shown at right, would have us wondering "Where the hell are we?" And were it not for that all-purpose/oft-seen-and-heard phrase which we reviewers were sent and that quite dutifully and immediately fills in all the blanks, we might still be wondering. I will not use that phrase in my review and will hope that you don't get wind of it elsewhere, because it simply makes things way too easy. Despite its use, the filmmaker does provide some clues that indicate that something other may be happening. For instance, where in hell do those eggs come from? Wouldn't their continuing existence indicate chickens, too?

Into the environment of our weird but rather sexy little hermit (nice job by Noé Hernández, bearded above then post-corpse clean-shaven below) comes a pair of siblings who explain that they have been wandering the city for days and are very hungry. (The duo is played by María Evoli, at right, two photos below, and Diego Gamaliel, at left). Our oddball host feeds them and almost simultaneously begins feeding them a line of bullshit about all barriers having now been broken so we can give in to our darkest impulses, especially those involving sex or violence.

Before you can say incest, sis is sucking on bro and bro is fucking sis. And yes, this is all viewed hard-core style. (I did mention envelope-pushing in my headline, right?)  And, as our hermit watches all this while jacking off, we get a nice dose of double voyeurism, to boot.

Further, our host appears to have a heart attack while climaxing (the "little death" leads to the big one: shades of John Garfield!), but before long he is back again and weirder than ever, taking the threesome into murder, cannibalism and goodness knows what else.

The film's pivotal scene -- and maybe its best: it's as oddly moving as it is grizzly -- involves a military man, kidnapped and sacrificed for his blood and body. This leads to an orgy and the appearance of many more people than we've so far seen, and then to an ending that changes everything.

Rocha Minter's clever sleight-of-hand is the most impressive thing about the film. Though it is full of darkness and occasional bright shards of light (as below), it also offers some visual oddities like the major sex scene (done via rather needless and artsy posterization effect), plus a moment or two that capture our "heroine's" face in a singular manner (above), and unusual shots of a vagina and penis/scrotum, all at rest.

The orgy finale, which looks something like a particularly bad night at the old Studio 54, is followed by that game-changing denouement. And if this is not quite enough to lift We Are the Flesh into horny-porn greatness, it will at least leave those viewers who've stuck around for the duration a few things to mull over. And, yes, you could call this a "mixed review."

Being released in a dozen or so cities across the U.S. via Arrow Films -- unrated, I would images, due to its hard-core scenes -- the movie opens in Los Angeles at Laemmle's Arhya Fine Arts this Friday, January 13, and in New York City on January 20 at the Cinema Village. Elsewhere? Yes: It will also open for weeklong runs in Texas (in Laredo and San Antonio) on January 13, in Denver and New Orleans on January 20, and in San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Columbus on January 27. Special screenings throughout January and February include El Paso, Houston, Phoenix, Cleveland, Portland (Oregon) and Albuquerque. 

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