A lovingly overblown piece of terrorist-chic trashfilm, Bruce La Bruce’s Raspberry Reich peoples a Berlin underworld with Baader-Meinhof cultists who lionize revolutionary pinups like the Symbionese Liberation Army, Che Guevara, and the Weathermen. Their leader, the statuesque, faux-blonde Gudrun (set-chewingly played by Isabella Rossellini analogue Susanne Sachsse), spouts slogans like “the revolution is my boyfriend,” “death to the fascist insect that preys on the life of the people” (a delightful SLA hand-me-down), and “heterosexuality is the opiate of the masses,” persuading her all-male comrades to copulate together as an act of “homosexual intifada.” La Bruce depicts their ruttings in stylish triple-X sequences that could be the aesthetic pinnacle of contemporary male porn were they not designed for comic and decorative effect, rather than mere testicular catharsis. Bopping along to an electropunk soundtrack (one hopes W.I.T. was chosen ironically), Reich is surprisingly tight for the often ultralongform La Bruce. While lightly ridiculing the retro-revolutionary discourse of today’s activists, he nonetheless allows his film to partake in the factionist fashions it lampoons, complete with Richter-style halftone blowups of the would-be insurgents adorning the walls of their hideout.
Would that some glimmer of style or originality appear in Georges Bataille’s Story of the Eye, a wannabe-transgressive maladaptation of the surrealist novella, composed almost completely of three cringingly conventional, clumsily shot hardcore sex scenes. Add clunky symbolism (a man twiddles a joystick while watching freaky dancers) and clichéd stock-footage choices (human birth, the Zapruder film) and the result is relentless, pretentious tedium. Director Andrew Repasky McElhinney, who earned critical lauds for his Romero-esque A Chronicle of Corpses, appears to think this project is frightfully meaningful and audacious, but this skin-deep flick is merely art-school sophomoric, unwittingly cornball, and counterrevolutionary.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 14, 2004