Jane Arden & Jack Bond    

Jane Arden was an artist, working in theatre, eventually getting involved with radical feminism and anti-psychiatry, before joining forces with Jack Bond to make films. She used film to explore mostly personal or feminist issues, channeling her taste for avant-garde theatrics into a film medium with Bond's help. Their films are wildly experimental and ignore narrative, exploring the mind and thoughts of their protagonists via a wide variety of techniques including provocative dialogue, theatrics, surrealism, non-sequitur dream-logic and free expression. This collaboration ended with her suicide in 1982.

Of Some Interest

Radically experimental movie by the Jane Arden & Jack Bond duo, shortly after which Arden committed suicide and Bond refused to release it for a long time. The subject is Joseph Sapha (Arden's own son), who can read thoughts, who led a self-destructive life with drugs and general rebellion, and finds himself lost in a severe identity crisis, his fears of the past merging with doomsday visions of the future, eventually losing touch with the present and his own self. The movie is like an art-video-mix-tape of images, narration, memories and radical, futuristic psychological experiments attempting to pierce through this haze and help Joseph regain his identity and confront his internal damaging 'circuit'. The majority of the movie is tedious, albeit different, many of the scenes seen in grainy blue to convey the feeling of living inside a broken mind examined by machines and doctors, and some scenes are in jerky slow-motion painful to the eyes. His personality and life are very uninteresting, Arden injects completely gratuitous scenes of feminist commentary dripping with misandry, a woman's life and sexuality is explored which seemingly has nothing to do with the rest of the movie, and modern physics is shoehorned in as yet another dull-witted attempt at linking it with any exploration that has to do with time and memories. Finally, in the last half hour, the movie starts to drop hints of interesting questions and starts to have an atmospheric effect, but it's too little too late. Mostly tedious, with some points of interest, but if you want to see something similar done right, try the vastly superior Possible Worlds.


Other Side of the Underneath, The  
A suicidal woman is dragged out of the river and taken to a mental asylum where radical treatments and performances take place. Jane Arden brings her feminist theatrical troupe from the stage to film, adapting her play The Holocaust, and they pull out all the stops to make this an intense, avant-garde, and insane experience of women having a mental breakdown. Translation: If, for some insane reason, you feel like watching 100 minutes of women working themselves up into hysteria, depression and madness, and perform provocative, symbolic, avant-garde pieces to convey radical, straw-man-patriarchy-hating-feminist thoughts, then this is the movie for you. Two women, one naked, perform a 'relationship', starting by arranging mirrors in front of each other, and ending with a kiss and violence. A woman acts as a child in bed with a lamb, her mind being warped by an insanely creepy and annoying clown. A bride is buried in the ground while images of war are projected around her. A woman sobs her way through a scene of unadulterated emotional breakdown over nothing in particular. Another exposes and punishes her sexuality against a backdrop of Christian props, another is crucified, and yet another satirizes famous female celebrities in a provocative performance. And so on, until they go out on a bizarre communal picnic, after which a man pleasures a woman sexually, all the while an angry woman rapes her cello for the soundtrack. A truly insufferable and dated product of its time. Germaine Greer would be proud.

A muddled incoherent mess of a movie featuring the fractured, muddled mess of a woman's mind recalling her life, marriage, affair and separation. The movie never attempts to tell the story, nor does it explore the personalities involved, since it is only interested in every snippet of memory, whim, bubbly thought, and nonsensical utterance that is in her head, and events that happen or happened to her are awashed in surrealism from the viewpoint of a schizophrenic. The odd scene here and there does work, such as the surreal scene of her psychiatric session in a shower room with the doctor only interested in playing golf and obviously in love with himself. But for the rest of the time, we get non-sequitur dialog; people never talk to each other, except to utter artsy whimsical dialogue at each other. Interestingly, the closest thing to a conversation is with her ex-husband in a restaurant, and that is as awkward as it can get. Her 'free', laid-back, meaningless fling is constantly paralleled with a heavy, broken, and annoying relationship with her husband. There are scenes of naked women being beaten into submission and masochism, Freudian symbolism, a bizarre scene of naked men having a messy pillow fight in a shower, characters interchange via dream-logic, the many women in the movie often seem like different representations of the same woman, and in between we have to bear many random scenes that seem pointless or unconnected. In short, incoherent, unrewarding, interminable and insufferable self-indulgence that felt like it took ten hours to end.

36 minute experimental short made while Arden was on a spiritual quest, exploring other cultures, their experiences made into psychedelic video-art that attempts to break the way we see things using editing, colors, sound manipulation and so on. Translation: Somebody took drugs, had a few talks with some Sufis about transcendental meditation and reality, filmed them chanting and performing rituals, and made this film. Random images of the swimming pool are supposed to take on new meaning, empty sentences are warped through sound filters, psychedelic colors and effects are super-imposed, and so on. At least there is some nudity to distract you from this boring self-indulgent twaddle that the Sufis are probably laughing at.

1999- by The Worldwide Celluloid Massacre Table of Contents