Drawing Restraint 9 Matthew Barney

I can tell you that this film is part of a series that art-star Matthew Barney has been working on since 1987; I can also tell you that it takes place on a Japanese whaling vessel, features Barney and musical collaborator Björk in bizarre outfits, the creation of a vat of gelatinous something and a tea ceremony. What I can't tell you is what in the Sam Hill is going on in this thing. The director appears to be Peter Greenaway without the cruelty; he's a master stylist whose art world references sail over mere film buffs' heads while they pass the time with compellingly bizarre imagery. But where Greenaway at least offers a standard narrative on which to hang his pictures, Barney is unfettered by such limits, and gets his weirdo mojo on in a big way; this might be manna for those with the art background to get him, but everyone else is left out in the cold. This is not to say that the film is invalid, but buyers beware: there are long shots of the sea, gelatine congealing, colourful ceremonies and "I don't know what" that are guaranteed to test the patience of the uninitiated. The IMDB claims that the film "concerns the theme of self-imposed limitation," though I'm not sure how the pair slashing each other's legs achieves this, and "continues to show Matthew Barney's interest in religious rites," which might mean prior knowledge of Barney is a prerequisite. I feel pretty safe in saying that this is not the Barney film to start with, but that could just be because it was the one I started with. In any event, it's the work of an intelligent and boldly stylish man that I can't get my head around. (Restraint LLC)