Raspberry Reich, TheReviewed By Tony Hansen
Posted 05/14/04 20:10:39
Hey, kids. Do you like gay porn? How about terrorism? Imagine this: your watching "Die Hard" and in a quiet moment Hans Gruber approaches Karl, rips off his clothes, and precedes to sexually ravage his terrorist companion in the most graphic way imaginable. (If you want, you can throw John McLane into the mix as well. It doesnít really work with this analogy but itís your fantasy, so, do whatever you like.) If this terrorist homosexual hanky-panky is something that appeals to you, or if youíre simply intrigued by the complex notion of politics mitigated by sexuality then you should definitely still not see this movie. "Raspberry Reich" is an awful, awful film. Itís trite, pretentious, and condescending. For those desiring an interesting political message, you will be bored. For those desiring erotic homosexuality, you will be bored stiff.To explain, the Raspberry Reich is a terrorist organization in Germany bent on destroying bourgeois capitalist constructs through a homosexual revolution. In order to gain attention to their cause, the group decides to kidnap, and hold captive, the son of a wealthy industrialist. The leader of the group is Gudrun (Susanne Sachsse), a woman so passionate about the insane rhetoric that spews forth from her mouth that she cannot even stop spouting slogans while engaging in sex. Her message is one of revolution through doing the nasty. But she doesnít intend for this to include ordinary, run of the mill ideas about humping for freedom. No. You see, heterosexuality is the opiate of the masses. Homosexuality is the true slayer of the all that is hegemonic in the world. The problem? Her ragtag, small group of minions arenít gay themselves. So, in order to be true revolutionary heroes, they must go through the process of getting gay. This leads to a sex scene, followed by another sex scene, and another, and another, until the film ends. Of course, this is a simple way of looking at the film and, to be fair, it should be said that Raspberry Reich does contain moments which are a bit more low key. There is, for example, a scene where the camera watches a single man masturbate. Itís an effective and welcome break from the tiring graphics which precede and follow it.
Make no mistake, then, Raspberry Reich is purely pornographic. This isnít the opinion of some rambling puritan, this is what director Bruce LaBruce, at a screening at the Sundance Film Festival, had to say about his own film. Itís pornography and itís meant to be pornography. Just to make things a bit more interesting, LaBruce laces the film with intensely silly and pretentious political statements in order to turn his skin flick into satire. And admittedly it works to a certain extent. In theory the film could be funny and it could be thought provoking. There is something, for example, a bit interesting in taking sexuality, which always seems to be tangentially affecting even the most bland politics, and making it the politics itself. When an innate sexual power creates political power, searing social commentary is possible.
The problem for Raspberry Reich comes not from its message but from its delivery. The film is sooo boooring. Now, Iíll admit. Iíll come clean. Iím straight. So itís possible that my staying in the closet has taken away from some of the titillation that could be had from watching this gay porno. It doesnít do anything for me, especially when viewing it in a room full of 250 other people. And as a film viewer it doesnít do anything for me when every scene seems to lead its audience into a money shot. (Truly, LaBruce uses money shots like Michael Bay uses jump cuts. (Oh, poor Michael Bay Ė always being mocked.)) The whole affair is just tedious. Is there anything less interesting than watching the same ideas and actions repeated every ten minutes for the length of an entire film?
Now, LaBruce does try to make things a bit more visually interesting by flashing key words from the filmís political diatribes onto the screen. LaBruce seems to want to make his film appear comically like a commercial. But in reality the affect in this age of over-stimulation is about as dynamic as an episode of Sesame Street, although less informative. (In fact, Raspberry Reich is a bit like a counterculture, adult Sesame Street, with all the ideas and messages flashing on the screen, preaching to the world to grow up and become gay.)Ultimately, though, "Raspberry Reich" scared me straight. Iíve never seen a longer 90 minute film. Sexploitation has never been so dull.
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