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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

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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“With every table in the dining room occupied and me, the only waiter, neglecting the needs of a good fifty patrons, I approached Roth. Holding out Balls as a numbness set into the muscles of my face, I spoke. “Sir, I’ve heard you say that you don’t read fiction anymore, but I’ve just had my first novel published and I’d like to give you a copy.”

“His eyes lifting from his iPhone, he took the book from my hands. He congratulated me. Then, staring at the cover, he said, “Great title. I’m surprised I didn’t think of it myself.”

“These words worked on me like a hit of morphine. Like two hits. It felt as if I was no longer the occupant of my own body. The legs had gone weak, the ears warmed, the eyes watered, the heart rate increased rapidly. Barely able to keep myself upright, I told him, “Thank you.”

“Then Roth, who, the world would learn sixteen days later, was retiring from writing, said, in an even tone, with seeming sincerity, “Yeah, this is great. But I would quit while you’re ahead. Really, it’s an awful field. Just torture. Awful. You write and write, and you have to throw almost all of it away because it’s not any good. I would say just stop now. You don’t want to do this to yourself. That’s my advice to you.”

“I managed, “It’s too late, sir. There’s no turning back. I’m in.”

“Nodding slowly, he said to me, “Well then, good luck.”

“After which I went back to work.”
~ Julian Tepper

“Any form of physical or sexual assault is a very serious matter, potentially a legal matter. But I’m also wondering, what about having some kind of “extreme asshole” clause? I know lots of people who have been abused verbally and psychologically. That’s traumatizing, too. What do we do with that?  It takes a lot of energy to be an asshole. The people I admire most just aren’t interested in things that take away from their ability to make stuff. The people I really respect, and that I’ve met who fit this definition, have a sense of grace about them, because they know that there is no evolving and there is no wisdom without humility. You can’t get better if you behave in a way that shuts people off. You can’t! You don’t have all the ideas necessary to solve something. You don’t! I’m sure if you spoke to Harvey in his heyday and said to him what I just said to you, he would believe that he accomplished all that he had because of the way he behaved.”
~ Steven Soderbergh