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Flesh and Fantasy

Price's formalist side may be seen in Bottle Can (1993), a montage of TV bar rolls and (mainly) outer-space imagery set to a hypnotic mantra encouraging the listener to "relax," and Run (1994), a study of birds perched on a wire that uses visible splices and skewed framelines to produce an additional grid, but he is best known for his confrontational imagery. The notorious Sodom, which has been screened in a number of different versions (and proscribed by a variety of festivals) since 1990, could be the illumination of Jerry Falwell's unconscious— a horrific assemblage of 1970s gay porno films retrieved from a dumpster in Boston's Combat Zone. Accompanied by Gregorian chants and interspersed with crowd scenes from biblical epics, this luridly discolored tangle of limbs, orifices, and bruises is brilliantly edited— both for its abstract rhythmic and all-too-representational qualities.

Looking but not seeing: Huppert in The School of Flesh
courtesy of Stratosphere
Looking but not seeing: Huppert in The School of Flesh

Details

The School of Flesh
Directed by Benoit Jacquot
Written by Jacques Fieschi from the novel by Yukio Mishima
A Stratosphere Entertainment release
Opens February 26

'Luther Price: Imitation of Life'
At the Museum of Modern Art,
February 25
At Thread Waxing Space,
February 2628

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Easier to take, Price's 1994 Jellyfish Sandwich is a no less remarkable demonstration of his montage pyrotechnics. The filmmaker juxtaposes brief shards showing Hawaiian tourist spots, Hong Kong boat people, Chinese ideograms, World War II bombing footage, and bits of televised football (upside down and backward) to transform air war in Asia into a macho spectator sport. Scoring this material to a slightly speeded-up medley of Carpenters songs, Price successfully meshes his found images by overworking the film surface and creating deliberate frameline jumps. The effect is funny as well as epic. Like the best narrow-gauge films, Jellyfish Sandwich is a criticism of the mind-boggling waste inherent in even the cheapest commercial filmmaking.

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