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Cremaster 3

Reviewed By Chris Parry
Posted 01/25/03 01:30:17

"Is it fair to review a movie you walked out of after an hour? I say YES!"
2 stars (Pretty Crappy)

SCREENED AT THE 2003 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: Cremaster 3 does have a reason to exist. I really disliked it, every self-important, slow moving frame grated against me like a circular sander, driving deeper and deeper into my temple, to the point where I just had to leave, but I can see it has reason to be... for someone out there. Experimental cinema is not normally the kind of thing you'll find playin on cable at 2AM, and indeed I had to venture all the way to Park City Utah to see this, the fifth film in Matthew Barney's series of Cremaster art films. It left me wishing I hadn't.

I should start by saying that I'm clearly not the target audience of the Cremaster series. I could follow that by saying you're not either. In fact, nobody could really lay claim to being the type of person this film is aimed at, unless you wear a black turtleneck, drink coffee products that aren't listed on the Starbucks menu and have received at least one 'cultural grant' over the course of your life.

That pretty much counts all of you out of the picture, I'm thinking.

And yes, it matters. This is not a film with a standard narrative, or any narrative for that matter, it's an arty flick that is guaranteed to go right over your head - unless you spend far too much time talking about symbolism and allegories and the like.

A woman is dug up from the earth and placed into a Chrysler in the Chrysler building. Other cars then enter the room and proceed to destroy the car, demolition derby style. As the cars beat the hell out of the first car, a man goes into the elevator and fills it with cement. Oh, and there's celtic ogres in there somewhere too.

And that's the first half hour.

Now maybe it's just me, but three hours of this stuff just sends me cross-eyed. In fact, you can't even buy these flicks, let alone see them in theaters, since Matt Barney usually only gives out video copies with a purchase of one of his sculptures... which are displayed often in the films.

Those that spent four years of their life watching Kenneth Anger films in college might look down on a chump like myself who finds more meaning in a Hal Hartley flick than a three-hour cinematic 'installation', but I think I'll live. In fact, if I never see another in this series named after the muscle that raises and lowers the testicles, I think I'll be happier for it.

Three hours of your life are too valuable to give them away just to look intellectual for a fleeting moment. Yeah, there's some cool stuff here, but mostly it's art for art's sake.

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