Friday, April 26, 2013

The Pervert's Guide To Ideology (2012)

WHO: Sophie Fiennes directed this.

WHAT: If you saw Slavoj Žižek holding court on screen in Fiennes's 2006 feature The Pervert's Guide to Cinema, you know what to expect here: an often light-hearted lecture by one of the world's most colorful philosophers, illustrated by clips and wry recreations of set designs from twenty-four films, among them They Live, Jaws, Triumph of the Will, The Fireman's Ball, and one of Žižek's all-time favorites, The Sound of Music. I have not seen this "sequel" yet, but I understand that instead of investigating the cinema itself from the often contrarian (thus perverted- in the non-sexual sense of the term) point of view of its host, as the 2006 film did, The Pervert's Guide To Ideology utilizes cinema as a lens through which to re-examine our preconceived beliefs about society, history and ideology itself. How successful it is at this has been debated since its world premiere last fall. For a sense of the debate, try this Keyframe Daily post from last November.

The comparison may seem specious once I see it, but I can't help but think of parallels to Christian Marclay's The Clock, which also excerpts from cinema history in order to make the viewer ruminate not so much on movies and their formal qualities, but on their social uses and issues rippling far beyond the screen or the walls surrounding it.

WHERE/WHEN: San Francisco International Film Festival screening tonight and on May 5th at 9:15 PM each night at the Kabuki, and at 3:30 on May 1 at New People

WHY: Since I haven't seen The Pervert's Guide to Ideology, I can't exactly recommend it, but it does appear to be one of the titles cinephiles might want to consider seeing today, the first full day of the festival. Others include Raúl Ruiz's swan song Night Across The Street, the critically-lauded fishing documentary Leviathan, and the latest from Takeshi Kitano, Outrage Beyond

These are just educated guesses; tomorrow I'll start posting about SFIFF films I've actually seen. But not having seen a film hasn't stopped me from mentioning it on this blog before (though I try to be careful to make sure it's clear whether I have or haven't) and the festival itself is promoting sight-unseen SFIFF picks by six local celebrities and a sports team. For truly informed suggestions for what to see over the next two weeks it's best to consult critics who have actually seen the films they write about. Again, try Keyframe Daily for links to reviews and capsules by just such critics.

Connections between The Pervert's Guide To Ideology and other films in the SFIFF program are probably legion. But I have seen one film that shares with it an engagement with The Sound of Music: Scott Stark's Bloom, which is part of the Shorts 5 program of experimental works screening tomorrow and this Tuesday. Two films Žižek is reported to excerpt are screening at the Castro over the next few days, though not at the festival: A Clockwork Orange and Brazil. I looked in vain on the list of 24 for a title starring the just-announced recipient of the Peter J. Owens Award: Harrison Ford, but he's nowhere to be found. Nor did he appear in The Pervert's Guide to Cinema; the clip of The Conversation used in that piece was not one of his relatively few scenes.

HOW: Perverts Guide To Ideology screens digitally, as it was made digitally (although the clips it excerpts from were shot on film, thus perhaps representing too much of a compromise for the most hard-core film-as-film purists).

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