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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride

Zoo (2007, ***)

WRONG, WRONG, WRONG, WRONG, WRONG . “Little Miss Chris Marker” this is not. Robinson Devor’s darkly bruised essay film on taboo, Zoo, finds him rejoining the writer, Charles Mudede, and cinematographer Sean Kirby, who together made the hypnotic slice of Pacific Northwest weirdness, Police Beat (2005). There’s some murkiness about which of the actual participants zoofphield.jpgin the events are heard or seen on film, and I’m content to consider it a fictional essay. Zoo, follows the reaction in the Washington after a gathering of “zoophiles,” who gathered on a ranch to have sex with horses, which was then legal in that state, led to the death of one man, whose handle, possibly from AOL, was “Mr. Hands” from a perforated colon. (There are three incredibly brief and distant bursts of imagery that are explicit.) As a succession of impressionistic reenactments, Zoo, visually, is one of the most beautiful films I’ve seen this year. The way one image follows another is often majestically constructed, which makes one wonder what they will do next with a less unsavory subject. The fleet, assured, satisfying editing is very busy, with intermittent traveling shots that hold the weight of gravity. Dark color and shadow are bolder in Zoo, than brightest light. (The ecstatic fracture of Olivier Assayas’ Demonlover (2002) also comes to mind.) Perhaps the taboo transgressed here is not bestiality, but the boundaries of cinematic genre. It’s unsettling more in its stylistic extremes than its ostensible subject matter of taboo otherness and self-justifying perversion. At moments, it also resembles a Clare Denis project photographed by fine arts photographer Gregory Crewdson. [Zoo expands to Austin on May 25.]

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“I find it hard to believe that it’s pure machismo. It’s too simple of a thought. I don’t know what the reason could be. I also think that it makes sense that, as time goes by, filmmaking should become more of a women-dominated activity. To me, of course, I feel like it’s going to happen. It seems to me that, especially for a certain cinema with its own language, you need to take a lot of risks. And women receive a type of education that allows much more for failure than the type men receive. It is easier for a woman to take risks than for a man. But I’ll also tell you another thing, women need to learn to master the tools, to solve technical problems, to control unscripted situations. There is also a totally macho attitude that many women have internalized in terms of not solving certain technical problems on their own. That also makes them a little less capable… Female DoPs often think that their technical area is limited to pen and paper. And that’s wrong. You need to learn a lot of things to be a good DoP. For me, machismo breeds both a masculine education and a nefarious feminine education. Macho culture engenders an education for men and another for women. The education for men we already know, and is easily criticized. And the nefarious education that machismo has for women is exemplified by women who ultimately ignore how to use tools, who—when something breaks, or when it gets dark—are rendered useless and get desperate. Women who do not even know how to build a fire. They don’t know how to deal with these situations, because these were activities that have traditionally been delegated to men. That can make us… not very… prone to achieve certain things. For me, we first have to fight against our own education, and also against an external model of erasure that has rendered women less capable than men in certain fields.”
Lucrecia Martel

“When my first book came out in 1978, and Carter was president, the top tax bracket in the US started, at that time, at one hundred thousand dollars a year; the federal income tax was 70 percent. Now, that may be excessive—I mean, it certainly was excessive—but the people who are rich now are psychotically rich. It’s stupid amounts of money that people have, and they pay no taxes! And they are allowed to make money in ways that you were not allowed to make money before. So there used to be all kinds of laws in this country. All kinds of regulations: usury laws, laws that regulated the amount of interest you were allowed to charge, bank regulations—all this kind of stuff. These were laws made by humans. They could be made again by humans. There is no reason why people should be allowed to make billions of dollars. It’s a stupid amount of money. It’s just simply stupid. And no one earns a billion dollars. You earn twelve dollars an hour. These are stupid amounts of money. No one should have them.”
~ Fran Leibowitz