maggie gyllenhaal

FILM REVIEW: “River of Fundament” is craptacular (in a good way)

The latest art-film epic from Matthew Barney, seven years in the making and five hours long, is inspired by Norman Mailer's "Ancient Evenings"

Every morning, when Matthew Barney showed up on the set of “River of Fundament” to begin that day’s shooting, he looked around at whatever bizarre army of cast, crew, and literati he had assembled, and said “I know this sounds crazy, but hear me out…”

At least, that’s how I imagine it. This three-part experimental opus from the artist who brought us “The Cremaster Cycle” fifteen years ago runs over five hours in total, and is one of the most insane, visionary, hubristic, obscene, sacramental, and memorable films you’ll ever come across. Writing about this movie is like dancing about architecture, as they say. But here goes anyhow:

“River of Fundament” is, at its heart, a tribute to Norman Mailer, the American novelist to whom all the adjectives in the paragraphs above could also apply, and who played Harry Houdini for Barney in “Cremaster 2.” A good portion of the first section of “River of Fundament” takes place in a replica of Mailer’s Brooklyn brownstone apartment, where a cross-section of New York’s literary and cultural elite has gathered to pay homage.


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