Cremaster Cycle 1-5

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Movie Review by Neil Ryan

Starring: Richard Serra, Matthew Barney, Aimee Mullins
Director: Matthew Barney

Matthew Barney (lauded as “the most important American artist of his generation” in the New York Times) has taken almost a decade to complete his CREMASTER CYCLE: five films which can be viewed in isolation, varied combinations, or as a whole if you have got six and a half hours (and endless reserves of patience) to spare. Relying on imagery and symbolic repetition rather than dialogue and incident Barney’s creation is an audience-splitting enigma. Rarely can there have been a more obvious example of one man’s “sprawling, hallucinatory quiltwork of gorgeously shot scenes” (Time magazine) being another man’s pretentious and arty ennui-fest.

There needs to be a place for experimental and challenging work in the Cinema and Barney’s work has clearly struck a chord with a select band of high-brow critics (“the first great fusion of art and cinema since UN CHIEN ANDALOU” – The Guardian). Personally, I was bored and enthralled in equal measure. Only without the enthralled bit. Iconic casting (including Ursula Andress, Norman Mailer, amputee model Aimee Mullins, sculptor Richard Serra) and some arresting images manage to inspire interest, but this is systematically enervated by Barney’s penchant for elongating scenes of limited or repetitive activity into enthusiasm-sapping longueurs.

2 out of 6 stars