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Matthew Barney: No Restraint
Matthew Barney No Restraint
Actors: Gabe Bartalos, Matthew Barney, Barbara Gladstone, Peter Strietmann, Bjrk
Director: Alison Chernick
Genres: Documentary
NR     2007     1hr 11min

Documentary ) World renowned artist and filmmaker, Matthew Barney plowed the waters off the coast of Nagasaki to film his massive endeavor, DRAWING RESTRAINT 9. This documentary journeys with Barney and his collaborator Bj...  more »

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Movie Details

Actors: Gabe Bartalos, Matthew Barney, Barbara Gladstone, Peter Strietmann, Bjrk
Director: Alison Chernick
Genres: Documentary
Sub-Genres: Documentary
Studio: Ifc
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 05/01/2007
Original Release Date: 01/01/2006
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2006
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 11min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 1
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

A boatload of goo and other odd sights
Clare Quilty | a little pad in hawaii | 05/24/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)

"I think Matthew Barney is a consistently intriguing artist, but I must admit I generally find the criticism of his work far more interesting than the actual product he creates; the response is often richer than the statement. And while that sounds like an insult, I can't think of many other artists who occupy such a unique creative situation. Michael Bay, maybe?

Barney's sculptures and his video installations are a chunky milkshake of surrealism, egoism, metaphor, vanity, pretension, imagination, cliches both unintentional and subverted, and often lots and lots of goo. He spends a lot of time reflecting on Gary Gilmore and the mechanisms of the scrotum, and his films have featured such aged, awesome monuments as the Utah salt flats, the Chrysler Building and Norman Mailer (in the role of Houdini). Barney, too, often turns up, either dancing or climbing or crawling or facing the odd ordeal of having live airborne doves connected by strings to his penis.

There's almost no way to describe his work without sounding tongue-in-cheek to some degree, but on many levels I really like it. His languid, usually glacial pace, however, is no laughing matter. Even as someone who checks it all out, I've suspected the long running times have something to with the possibility that, if things moved any faster, these installations would be a lot harder to take seriously; they might be indistinguishable from some of the videos by underground bands that aired after 1 a.m. on MTV during the mid-1980s.

"No Restraint" is both a brief history of Barney and a look at his latest work, "Drawing Restraint 9." We get a good look at his early pieces -- workout equipment encased in Vaseline; taped footage of the former college football star creating art while being pulled away from his work by bunjee cords -- as well as glimpses of his Cremaster series. But most of the movie concerns the making of "9" in Japan and on a whaling ship. Much petroleum jelly is harmed during the making of this film.

If you're interested in Barney, you'll probably be interested in this. But as I watched it I wished the filmmakers had taken a different approach. Their style, like Barney's, is clean and very bright and paced on the draggy side. I would've liked to have seen this documentary go in the opposite direction and present its subject with a little more inventiveness and energy, something that didn't look so much like an electronic press kit. As it is, "No Restraint" is informative but it lacks that engaging, atypical hook or approach that can make a film like this really sing."
Great arts gotta be difficult?
Peter Rose | 08/04/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This certainly aint for viewers who are looking to be entertained. I spose since the days of Raphael and Co great visual art hasnt really been big with the box office-at least on the first take. Not saying that Barney is right up there but his ideas are pretty interesting and I suspect profoundly complex. It took me many years to finally figure out that the criticism around Joseph Beuys (one of Barneys main influences) was only getting the mans breadth of vision rarely and now the same thing seems to be happening with this guy. Basically he is a shaman, alchemist and rash sportsman. He doesnt have the European restraint (sorry) that characterises the continental tradition but he is on the mark when it comes to subject matter and novel angles-especially the whaleship film (The central subject of this doco) and his adoption of diverse petroleum products. Like Beuys, he wants to heal the growing rift between the nature and humanity, materialism and psyche, East and West, sport and art , Cain and Abel. (From a materialist point of view this is just ridiculous and an unconscious skepticism will probably colour the experience of watching the film) He in effect goes into the belly of the whale and revisits history with some surprising twists. If your interested in art that will still be discussed in years to come- it addresses the root cause of fashion rather than participating in it- then this is the Barney has said somewhere, its best to see the drawings then the doco and then watch the film...but even then the latter is challenging. Moreover the doco really is more an adjunct to the greater body of the mans work and so needs to be considered in context. The is art for people who are serious about what art just might be able to do beyond entertainment. Its the kind of film that you have to work at...I found that I had to read a lot of stuff on Beuys, and others in the arena, see the film which is the subject of the doco and then ponder a whole lotta other stuff...synchronicites to do with Pearl Harbour, Melville and Whale boat attacks ..and so on...I think great art just keeps unveiling the depths long after the others are forgotten...Difficult but worth it."