Absolute absurdity on the moors.
  • Absolute absurdity on the moors.
Sunday I spent that long watching Matthew Barney's entire Cremaster cycle (five films), plus the add-on movie De Lama Lamina, which depicts a naked, terribly beautiful man installed in the underside of a Carneval float that's rolling down the streets of Rio. The float is powered by a giant, spinning camshaft that the hidden man is busy coating in Vaseline and cotton, and then arching up and humping. The film ends with scenes of a gluey, milky substance gushing up through thick soil. Yup.

"WHY?" That's what the artist Tony Weathers wanted to know when I announced I was going to the marathon. I am not a particular fan of Barney or Cremaster (which has its final nights at SIFF Cinema tonight and tomorrow). I'm uninterested in defending it against its critics, who call it ridiculously overproduced and potentially so enigmatic as to be meaningless. Those things are true.

I guess I went for a few reasons: Curiosity, humor, and I'm a glutton for punishment. And obligation—I'd never seen the entire cycle before.

A wonderfully, horribly ugly faerie.
  • A wonderfully, horribly ugly "faerie."
I'd already seen 1 (Bronco Stadium, Goodyear blimp, grapes, stewardesses, Busby Berkeley; Dave Schmader and I live-blogged it until we were forced to stop) and 2 (creepy old lady, heavy metal, explicit fucking involving hive-like labia and a clear-plastic corset, Norman Mailer, the murderer Gary Gilmore stuck in a tunnel connecting two cars at a gas station).

But I had only seen parts of 3, 4, and 5. The third installment is the star: shot at the Chrysler building, starring Barney, Richard Serra, a gaggle of Irish gangsters, and a woman wearing a pair of heels that cut potatoes. It also involves an unfortunate series of sequences involving a leprechaun and a giant wandering around the moors. You know he is a giant because when he steps, the scene shakes. This is absolutely absurd. 3 is also approximately 50 percent too long.

Camshaft humper!
  • Camshaft humper!
I was taken with 4, actually, the first film to be shot (they were made out of order)—and the scrappiest one. With its repetitive structure toggling between a race between two motorcars and Barney dressed as a tap-dancing satyr (who knew he was a tap-dancing talent?), its horribly ugly crossdressing trio of redheaded "faeries," and its cheap handheld feel, it has more in common with video art than Hollywood film. This one, and 5, are playing tonight and tomorrow. You can nap through much of 5. Then wake up again for the camshaft humper.

Day In • Day Out returns this summer, August 12th thru 14th!
Featuring The National, Mitski, Mac DeMarco and more! Full lineup and tickets at dayindayoutfest.com