THE WORLD'S A MESS, IT'S IN MY KISS Roddy Bogawa"Pretentious and self indulgent. Viewers will be as bored as the characters." Variety "A victim of its own devices." The Hollywood Reporter
Imitation of lifeJon Moritsugu and co-director Jacques Boyreau have made the unspeakable - a 95 minute film about love, death, cinema, and the boring state of life in the post Reagan/post punk /post modern nineties. Filmed in 16mm black and white that is as contrasty and washed out as its characters, HIPPY PORN mirrors the generation of its existence - at any moment an existence for its makers, characters, and viewers, that seems likely to fall apart, but goes on for lack of anything better. HIPPY PORN is too close for comfort, a machine sputtering and wheezing, resigned to its eventual breakdown and demise.
The poster proclaiming the film as "emptier than kisses, better than death" (later reworked on a flyer as "emptier than kisses, better'n meth"), sums up the plot/life of M, L, and Mick, three "protagonists" attending an Ivy League college. Self consciously apathetic, each of the characters live out distant versions of their desires - M studies the "Aesthetics of Crime" hoping to learn about titillating murders but finds it's another "boring major", L isn't interested in sex but steals nude and mutilation pictures from the one hour photo shop where he works, Mick really wants to be in a rock band but only writes school papers on what it would be like to be in a rock band. In an early scene of the film, L asks M for a cigarette. As L is smoking, M picks up her bags to leave, walks three steps, drops her bags, and then lights a cigarette of her own. The camera stays in the same position, denying the "action," as if knowing M has no where to go but two feet to the right within the frame. In a later scene, which is both funny and visually beautiful, L and M go on a shoplifting spree to cheer themselves up. L and M massage their breasts as a distraction (handheld camera by Boyreau, with graphics flashing "STEAL YEAH") then, after their escape (filmed in slow motion), L comments, "most of what we stole was junk, but that's the point." This momentary spurt of energy in the film (resembling a bizarre, updated Gun Crazy compressed into two minutes and made HIPPY PORN) is immediately offset by the next scene - slow, shot from far away, asynchronized sound, washed out. Life, as one character acknowledges in the film, is "long stretches of boredom punctuated by moments of fun."
Mick and M begin their love affair while hunting rats in the sewers, and at first it seems their relationship might change things. But terminal boredom ("sex is highly overrated") and their inability to communicate ("what do you say to each other when it's over? Nothing, I left before he woke up.") dooms the affair. M, L, and Mick can't look outside themselves because there is no longer any inside or outside. They are their own subject and absolutely unimpressed.
Grammar of hell / appropriation and pasticheJon Moritsugu is Dennis Hopper (of the Easy Rider and The Last Movie period) gone post punk. He cannibalizes Hopper's flash frame techniques and non- linear interventions to energize the dead weight of the narrative lulls, thereby substituting a sixty's hippy sensibility with a punk abandon. Moritsugu explores the emptiness of the "realm of the cinematic dead" while simultaneously being enthralled with the details of its decomposition. In the opening of the film, M runs over a cat on the way to school. While the camera holds on the dead cat and the buzzing of flies, going in and out the cat's mouth, gets louder and louder, M speaks her first line of dialogue which is simply, "Sorry." HIPPY PORN is Godard's Weekend remade by Warhol's Factory, a road movie about the End of the Road. The Pure Beauty of Decay.
In a short scene, Mick spray paints his clothes, snorts the fumes, and between the last gasps of his high, he gives a pseudo-academic lecture on the genealogy of punk from Johnny Rotten to Iggy Pop to Richard Hell to Marlon Brando to Errol Flynn, etc... In another segment, Mick reads his sophomore paper titled, "I Sing the Body Divised: Dismemberment as Universal Signifier in Rock Music." These aren't anti-intellectual jokes but poignant moments that underscore the division of experience from cultural readings of the events (or non events). In Andy Warhol's film, Vinyl, an "adaptation" of A Clockwork Orange, the relationship of Gerard Malanga, Edie Sedgwick, or any of the other characters to the story or narrative is fleeting at best. The disjuncture between Malanga, Sedgewick, and the others as actors in the film or playing themselves is inseparable. Similarly, there is a compelling dialogue between the characters M, L, and Mick and their real life counterparts Liz Canning, Victor E. of Aquitane, and Marek Waldorf, that speaks with lucidity and honesty. This is artifice, but then again, it isn't. To their filmmaking credit, Jon Moritsugu and Jacques Boyreau capture truly great performances - Liz Canning and Victor E. of Aquitane perform a surreal cabaret number, Marek Waldorf brushes his teeth while doing a "primitive" dance to a punk song. To their nihilistic credit, Moritsugu and Boyreau structure their cinematic forms and experiments to imitate life - confused, bizarre, and often banal. At one point, L says, "I wish there was a way to fast forward to the good parts." Thing is, you can't. If Andy Wahrol once revealed the glamour of "fifteen minutes of fame," Moritsugu reveals the humdrum life after that brief bliss.
As I said, I want a show of my own-called Nothing Special.
The world's a Mess, It's in my Kiss
There is no nostalgia in HIPPY PORN for failed utopian visions. Art, learning,
writing, sex, and punk have become symptomatic rather than redemptive. It's
hard to label the film cynical as
to do so would imply there is something better to aspire to. The last line of
dialogue, "I never found out why he...", isn't even allowed to finish. When M gets
kicked out of school for slashing paintings in an art show and Mick kills himself
to "get attention", one gets the sense that these events are all part of the entropy.
No drama, no emotional shifts, no climax. George Bush was elected president
with a platform that guaranteed "four more years of the same." At the time, no
one questioned what the "same" was, or meant. HIPPY PORN dives headfirst
into the reality of Bush's vision, revealing the horror of the "same" - a world
without transcendence, a world
of steadfast parameters.