Tuesday, September 18, 2012 at 7:30pm
Todd Haynes's Assassins: A Film Concerning Rimbaud + Todd Phillips's Hated: G.G. Allin and The Murder Junkies
155 Freeman Street, Brooklyn
Assassins: A Film Concerning Rimbaud
Todd Haynes, 16mm, 1985, 43 mins
Hated: G.G. Allin and The Murder Junkies
Todd Phillips, 16mm, 1993, 60 mins
Todd Haynes's rarely-seen first film, Assassins takes as its subject the violent love between poets Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine. Presaging the concerns of Superstar, Poison, and Velvet Goldmine, it’s a Godardian essay that cannily plays with the artifice of its own student-film limitations, while reveling in the rough beauty of lo-fi production. The sounds of Iggy Pop and Throbbing Gristle are juxtaposed against fragments of a deadbeat costume-picture; elements from the lives of Genet and Fassbinder bleed into those of Rimbaud and Verlaine. As critic Chuck Stephens observes, Haynes transforms Rimbaud into “an absinthe-stained vision of the French poet-rapscallion as a snot-nosed protopunk, marauding through turn-of-the-century Paris, spraypainting MERDE À DIEU! on an ivied château wall.” Rimbaud becomes an image of the artist as homosexual outlaw, and his first words in the film are stolen from The Thief’s Journal:
I owned to being the coward, traitor, thief and fairy they saw in me. And it staggered me to know that I was composed of impurities. I became abject. Little by little I grew used to this state. The scorn in which I was held changed to hate.
If Assassins argues for Rimbaud as a queer ancestor to punk, then Todd Phillips’s Hated investigates one logical conclusion to punk’s inner drive toward abjection in the service of anti-fame. Allin was notorious in his lifetime for performances that included on-stage nudity, self-mutilation, defecation, and suicide threats. Some of his shows ended with Allin descending into the crowd to attack audience members, and his tours were often interrupted by jail sentences. Influenced by the history of mondo film and the reconfigured ethical boundaries of documentarians like Nick Broomfield, Phillips not only delivers a queasily close-up view of Allin’s seemingly uncontrollable appetite for public atrocity but takes an equal interest in the slackerish young hardcore enthusiasts who flocked to his shows. Phillips also applied the strategies of exploitation cinema to the film’s production, financing its completion with alleged credit card scams and the sale of Hated posters signed by mass murderer John Wayne Gacy. Allin died only days before Hated’s premiere, and the film’s subsequent tour was greeted with appropriately criminal reactions: cinemas were vandalized, audience members stabbed, and at one university in the Midwest, the projectionist was beaten nearly to death and the auditorium set on fire.
Tickets - $7, available at door.
Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 7pm.