‘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)

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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)

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Zeitnah gesehen: The Mule (2018)

Als einer hinter seiner nüchternen – mit dem Auge auf Regisseur Eastwood, sein Alter, seinen Hintergrund als Filmemacher würde mancher sicherlich eher zu dem verschämten Lobwort “klassisch” tendieren – Fassade eventuell filmarchitektonisch ausgeklügeltster Film des vergangenen Jahres gibt “The Mule” schon mit seiner zeitlich versetzten Einleitung den Takt vor für das, was ihn in den kommenden so gut wie zwei Stunden antreiben wird: Eine Dekonstruktion fast des gemeinhin mit visueller Opulenz assoziierten Scopeformates, spezifischer jedoch dessen, was zwischen den dazugehörigen Kaschierungen der Leinwand so gerne verhandelt wird. Träume, Freiheit, insbesondere auch räumlich gedachte Sehnsüchte. Die Weite des so oft in diesem Seitenverhältnis sortierten amerikanischen Westens, sie ist schlicht und speziell in Erwartung des zu Beginn von zartesten Auslösereizen angetäuschten Vorstadtcowboyaufrührertums aus dem letzten “großen Abgesang” des Eastwoodschen Werkes – “Gran Torino” (2008) – nicht hier. Aneinandergereiht an ihrer statt: Unzählige Möglichkeiten der baulichen Obstruktion. Sich von dem anziehenden Rechteck des Bartresens, an dem Earl Stone (Eastwood) der Tochters Hochzeit auslassend versumpft, wegbewegend zu den in indirekter fotografischer Analogie vertraut wirkenden Flachbauten ein jeder amerikanischen Vorstadthölle, zwischen denen nun die Enkeltochter zwölf Jahre später ihr Hochzeitsbesäufnis begehen darf. Weiterlesen…

‘The pain of being a woman is too severe!’ – The films of Roberta Findlay: The Altar of Lust (1971)

    In the dime stores and bus stations
    People talk of situations
    Read books, repeat quotations
    Draw conclusions on the wall.
    Some speak of the future
    My love, she speaks softly
    She knows there’s no success like failure
    And that failure’s no success at all.

    (Bob Dylan – Love Minus Zero)

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Public Access (1993)

Bevor es das Internet gab, war der Offene Kanal das ungefilterte Sprachrohr der Bürger. Er war das authentische Beispiel eines nichtkommerziellen, demokratischen Medienangebots. Was würde wohl passieren, wenn man den Offenen Kanal ernstnehmen würde? In Public Access jedenfalls wird er zu einem perfiden Manipulationswerkzeug des Status Quo.
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‘The pain of being a woman is too severe!’ – The films of Roberta Findlay: Tenement (1985)

    Iron trees smother the air
    But withering they stand and stare
    Trough eyes that neither know nor care
    Where the grass is gone

    (David McWilliams – Days of Pearly Spencer)

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