‘The pain of being a woman is too severe!’ – The films of Roberta Findlay: Psychogeographic coping on Fire Island

    I’ll find a place somewhere in the corner
    I’m gonna waste the rest of my days
    Just watching patiently from the window
    Just waiting, seasons change

    BRIAN ENO – I’ll Come Running

    Just keep on like I do and pay no attention. You’ll find that people always will complain about the atmosphere, either too hot or too cold too bright or too dark, days too short or too long.

    FRANK O’HARA – A True Account of Talking to The Sun on Fire Island

Weiterlesen…

‘The pain of being a woman is too severe!’ – The films of Roberta Findlay: Mascara (1983)

    Deep in the heart of a lonely city
    I wandered sad and all alone
    Then in the heart of a lonely city
    I saw the girl that I want for my own

    (John Leyton – Lonely City)

Weiterlesen…

‘The pain of being a woman is too severe!’ – The films of Roberta Findlay: Fantasex (1976)

    Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
    Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality

    (Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody)

Weiterlesen…

The typography of bidding farewell: Buddies (1985)

“Buddies” – the cinematic swan song of noted gay pornographer Arthur J. Bressan Jr. – is a highly unusual film, less as a result of the obvious notion evoked by a small scale and utterly devoid of explicit sex chamber piece between just two characters of importance, more because of its striking insistence to structure a visual narrative entirely around its main character’s chosen profession. David Bennett (David Schachter) is a timid young typesetter through a voluntary programme assigned as buddy to formerly outspoken gay rights activist Robert Willow (Geoff Edholm), a man inescapably and quite miserably dying from AIDS in the dull confines of his hospital bed. Both men slowly grow accustomed to each other, share sometimes heated, sometimes aperitive discourses on coming out, the pitfalls of publishing ardently anti-gay voices epistles first, then a good laugh watching old holiday videos and lastly the scant intimate moments their surroundings and Robert’s illness permit. Hardly a minute of film is lacking either man and yet almost everything we see stems directly from the eyes of David, or rather his hands – for they create what we absorb. Stories of last breaths sighed in the shadows, of individuals turned into mere numbers by the frightening grip of a cold, non-selective pandemic defying any try at emotional apprehension. Weiterlesen…

‘The pain of being a woman is too severe!’ – The films of Roberta Findlay: The Oracle (1985)

Two highly distinct approaches become discernible when taking a closer look at Roberta Findlay’s post-porn career in mainstream filmmaking. The, be they gritty or be they tender in nature, highly personal stories told in the quite straight “Tenement” (1985) and “Lurkers” (1988) as well as the madcap insanity prevelant in in the more tongue in cheek than anything else “Blood Sisters” (1987) and this one, her very first film post transitioning. More in line with the snarky, self-deprecating public persona the introverted directress created for herself than her remaining filmography, they revel in a unique, utterly off-beat understanding of humor while falling somewhat flat in their more traditional conceptions as horror films. In contrast to some of her greatest achievements in Golden Age pornography, they are always two steps away from outright comedy, playing the game straight and yet sabotaging the expecations of a horror crowd with small, intentional but never narrative based acts of directorial transgression. Big guy John Fasano fleeing the scene in the most hilarious fashion imaginable and the way Elizabeth Rose’s glasses seem to prefer viewing directions of their own volition otherwhile – weird flourishes like these place “Blood Sisters” in its own goofy corner equal steps adjacent to completely serious and satirical peers. Even more than Findlay’s sorority girl slasher “The Oracle” utilizes these interfering agents to bridge what would otherwise be considered barren gaps in a drawn out horror narrative – with sound being, as per her unmistakable habit, one of the prime instruments. Weiterlesen…

Midnight Confessions #03: Taboo II (1982)

    You know that’s incest?
    That’s why its so hot!

    (Siblings Sherry and Junior McBride in everyday conversation)

Weiterlesen…

The Unexciticist – Upsidedown Cross (2014)

With advertising making it appear as something of a wild crossbreed between Friedkin classic “The Exorcist” and “Her Name Was Lisa” (Roger Watkins, 1979), William Hellfire’s “Upsidedown Cross” sparks some rather diverse expectations and ultimately subverts them all. Opening with a nearly twenty minute long sequence chronicling Nadine’s (Erin Russ) bread-and-butter job as a nude model in the most unagitated way imaginable, the spirit of Watkin’s bleak reflection on lifes slowly burning away in erotic industries of differing nature is very much channeled. Even somewhat mirroring the way the New Yorkian mad hatter employed rooms coated in myriads of expressive colors to spur his narratives, one important difference though is discernible from the get go. There is no pretense that any of this is – and be it only in a temporary pull-the-rug-from-under-your-feet way – real. That’s not paint laughing from your walls but deep red variations of bath towels, old curtains and improvised color stainers of similarly somber fabrics hung up to conceal two different yet closely related kinds of emptiness. Red, the color of love – it is perhaps the most important fixture in Hellfire’s film, doubling for passion where there is none to harbor. Weiterlesen…

‘The pain of being a woman is too severe!’ – The films of Roberta Findlay: Lurkers (1988)

New York City possesses quite an interesting facial layout in Roberta Findlay’s cinematic universe – cheeks blooming with the brightest red excitation can muster up, planted right between them a pallid nose frozen stiff by sorrow and social iciness and throning above this dichotomy a pair of eyes filled with the marvel of discovery, experimentation, the ability to combine all these emotional extremes on the silver screen. She really was one of the great chronists putting this lively, in the good as well as the bad, mega city to record – and yet it does not seem to exist in her up to this day final theatrically released feature. Sure, pinpointing single shooting locations is easy enough to do, even for someone who’s never taken a bite from the big apple (like me). But in the end they’d still remain nothing but peripheral driblets of reality trickling away in the only real fairytale she ever told. There was a potent grittyness about her post-porn work in horror cinema that is inexplicably absent here. Much rather coated from head to toe in a vague uneasyness highly remiscent of her pornographic magnus opum “From Holly With Love” (1978) it is quite fittingly another superb score by Walter E. Sear sounding the depths of human and beyond-human emotion in “Lurkers”. Weiterlesen…

‘The pain of being a woman is too severe!’ – The films of Roberta Findlay: From Holly with Love (1978)

“La photographie, c’est la vérité et la cinéma, c’est vingt-quatre fois la vérité par seconde.” – in a nutshell: Cinema is truth at 24 frames a second – is an often quoted wise saying by French cinema stylite Jean-Luc Godard. Well, when speaking about Roberta Findlay’s cinema though his German counterpart Rainer Werner Fassbinder seems to have been closer to the truth for once. “Film ist Lüge, 25 mal in der Sekunde.” – Film is a put-on, 25 times in each second. It might not always be as integral to the appeal as it is in “From Holly with Love”, but Findlay’s flow of imagery is a lie, a beguilement involving just about everything – her intentions, feelings, the undersold wisdom that lies buried in her work – and extending to externa of her filmography. Golden Age of Hollywood smuggling as a coping mechanism for being forced to work on projects she took no immediate interest in or even found distasteful, the elaborate (and even I have to admit it: screamingly funny) stand up comedy routine “An hour of self-deprecation with Roberta Findlay” most of her rare public appearances have a tendency to evolve into sooner or later – it’s all part of the deal. Weiterlesen…

‘The pain of being a woman is too severe!’ – The films of Roberta Findlay: Snuff (1976)

    When I get to the bottom I go back to the top of the slide
    And I stop and I turn and I go for a ride
    And I get to the bottom and I see you again, yeah, yeah

    (The Beatles – Helter Skelter)

Weiterlesen…