..if there's one concept the French are really, REALLY good at it's nihilism. This is probably due to the fact that they're a pack of hypocritical cowards, that love to pick fights, but to not actually fight them..And when it comes to culture, they are 'experts' at nihilism. I've recently been reading the excellent 'Watchfiends & Rack Screams', a collection of the late-period writings of French nut-bar visionary, Antonin Artaud. An ex-surrealist, Artaud spent most of his life in mental asylums scribbling a feverish poetry that explored the boundaries of human-physicality, yet he despised sex, so instead or yr 'Salt, Saliva, Sperm and sweat' (asper Phillip Brophy's experimental short film), yr left with ;Salt, saliva, sweat and ...*cough,cough*, Kaka! Yep Artaud was a pretty out-there case, and he's poetry of self eruption, while at time hard to read, seems to get under yr skin. It's pretty powerful, abstract stuff, but reading it, it's undeniable to see how his work influenced the likes of Jim Morrison, Patti Smith, Bukowski, Arrabal, Jodorowsky, hard-core metalheads and self-headjob-giving performance artists amongst others. That he was kicked out of the surrealists for being anti-politics and Marxism adds to his enduring legend and their subsequent demise as a relevant creative movement..
..Artaud started his own movement called THE THEATRE OF CREULTY in which he used extreme performance relating to the body, sound and vision to 'shock and awe' audiences.. Mexican surrealists like Arrabal and Jodorowsky were heavily influenced by Artauds' THEATRE of CREULTY and recently watched a torrent-bootleg of the oh so very nihilistic and French and Artaud influenced movie LA VIE NOUVELLE by French experimental-nihilist film-maker Phillipe Grandrieux, which could be described as a CINEMA OF CRUELTY circa 2003. Now I been reading about Grandrieux for a while, especially here and here. And just like every other these uber-hip film that 'everyone must-see' that you read about (no different to the music of the same must I add), it's almost impossible for the average-schmo like myself (who is always curious to expand the parameters to these types of culture) to actually see (or hear). So after about a week of torrenting, I was able to download a bootleg of this film. Luckily the film has very little dialogue, it plays like a silent film, that gives it vastly more visual and experimental edge. Let me just stress now, if you like David Lynch you will love this film, if not, stop reading. The story basically revolves around a love-triangle that revolves around an Eastern European sex slave her captor and an American client. The film uses a very natural, modern visual style for the most, made up mainly of close ups, shaky handheld and natural light, as is the norm for contemporary Euro-cinema. But Grandrieux takes things an extra step utilizing blur, out-of-focus and night-vision to push the film into a really edgy, surrealistic realm. The film plays a lot like one of those really nightmarish Chris Cunningham videoclips where everything is based on extreme claustrophobic sensation, and the threat of extreme violence lingers at the edge of every frame, made even more powerful by the fact that no-one really says anything. Obviously the paradigm is sex and death, throw in the location of Eastern Europe - where life is cheap, nasty and very COLD - and you have a dark nihilism personified. Music and sonics play a big role in this film. The whole film has that dark-industrial drone through it that bedrocks the feel of pervasive thread, and the throbbing 'doof' of the sex-club makes the film come off like some post-decadent techno nightmare. Throw in Grandrieux's dizzying 'concrete' visual style and you've got the cinematic equivalent of a Jeff Mills Detroit-techno album. LA VIE NOUVELLE is a dark, modern, nightmare, where the human soul is bought,sold and pulverised at 125bpm.