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Drawing Restraint 9

USA/Japan 2005
produced by
Matthew Barney, Barbara Gladstone (executive) for Restraint LLC
directed by Matthew Barney
starring Matthew Barney, Björk, Sosui Oshima, Tomoyuki Ogawa, Shigeru Akahori, Kei Takahashi
written by Matthew Barney, music by Björk, special makeup effects by Lloyd Matthews, Gabriel Bartalos, animatronics by Frank Ippolito/Atlantic West/Film Illusions, visual effects by Matt Wallin/Mantron

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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A big Japanese whaling ship is going on another voyage to the ice seas. Eventually, 2 Caucasians (Matthew Barney, Björk) are picked up, he is shaved, she is bathed, they are put into ridiculous animal costumes, meet their host (Sosui Oshima), who tells them about the ship having been scarred by a big whale years ago, a scar that goes much deeper than the slight bump in the ship's hull. Then the room of the two guests is flooded with salt water and cod-liver oil, and the two start ripping off each other's flesh and devouring it as if it was the most natural thing in the world. At the same time some big artifact the ship's crew has picked up from the sea starts to transform, and eventually, it seems everything - artifact, ship, Caucasian guests - is turning into a whale ...

 

A film made up from striking visuals with hardly any dialogue to distract from them, and a great score by Björk to go with it ... but boy, is the film boring. It takes almost two and a half hours to bring its story across, and it doesn't hesitate to really tread out many of its less interesting scenes just for their looks. The arthouse crowd and festival goers are bound to love this film though because of its easy-to-grasp animalist and green message, and there is nothing to say against the film's message - but against its delivery that is full of heavy-handed metaphors, wannabe-intellectual references most of the audience are bound not to understand without a manual (and if an audience needs a manual for a film, that's clearly the filmmaker's shortcoming) and wannabe artsy shots that too often lack actual meaning.

All that said, Drawing Restraint 9 is not the worst film ever, it is after all visually captivating and the weird ending is kind of cute, it just could have needed a lot of tightening and a much more thought-through approach to become a really good film.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
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Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD