Sunday, June 28, 2009
Bad Lit review of Solar Anus Cinema
"Chicago-based filmmaker Usama Alshaibi is the modern master of transgressive cinema."
By Mike Everleth
Iraqi-born, Chicago-based filmmaker Usama Alshaibi has collected ten of his short films made between 2001 and 2008 for "Solar Anus Cinema." This DVD shines a light on the transgressive director’s interest in the female form primarily through a series of highly stylized film portraits of women.
Nine out of the ten films included are short profiles of women that run just a few minutes long. The tenth film, the longer running narrative "The Amateurs," I’ll deal with below. But, with the portraits, sometimes the object of them is Alshaibi’s wife, performance artist Kristie Alshaibi, but mostly he has convinced other women to pose, strut or writhe in front of his camera’s leering gaze.
The antecedent to Alshaibi’s transgressive work here is Richard Kern’s 1993 "My Nightmare," an autobiographical fiction that has the director fantasizing about getting it on with a sexy nude photography model while in “real” life the model is repulsed by his come ons.
For his own female portraits, Alshaibi rarely inserts himself into the action, but his presence is always strongly felt in each piece. While the women are typically posed alone in a studio, Alshaibi’s moving camera constantly reminds us that his subjects are never by themselves, that they are sharing their space with a director who runs his camera over their bodies, soaking in the whole of them as well as their individual parts. Sometimes it’s by an aggressive camera that races and moves in, out and around its nude or barely-clad subject, other times it’s a static camera locked on a tripod that still achieves the same effect through cutting between close-ups, medium shots and full body shots.
Also, whereas Kern explored his physical fantasies in "My Nightmare," Alshaibi’s own realized fantasies are purely what we get: Visual. Alshaibi seems genuinely fascinated just by the mere bodily existence of these women. With the exception of his own wife, the women are purely objectified. They are objects to be viewed and admired and there is no tension that Alshaibi wants to touch any of them. His camera’s piercing gaze is all the penetration he needs.
read the full review on badlit.com