Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Order - From Matthew Barney's Cremaster Cycle 3|
Actors: Fast Ali, Peter Donald Badalamenti II, Matthew Barney, The Mighty Biggs, Mike Bocchetti
Director: Matthew Barney
Genres: Drama, Educational
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Rent, don't buy, but what are you waiting for? Rent now!
Robert P. Beveridge | Cleveland, OH | 11/04/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Order: From Cremaster 3 (Matthew Barney, 2002)First off, let me just say that the disc is misrepresented by most people. Yes, it's a teaser DVD released in anticipation of the full Cremaster boxed set (which was supposed to be out 16 September 2003, and is now pushed back vaguely to "sometime in 2004"). No, it's not a hundred twenty minutes of Cremaster 3, which ran three hours in the theaters. It's thirty minutes of Cremaster 3 that occur towards the end of the film. So at the prices you're seeing it selling for at amazon, ebay, etc., it's not worth it unless you already know you love Cremaster (for reasons specified below).As a rental, though, The Order is an absolute must. I don't know whether Matthew Barney created the subsection of Cremaster 3 called The Order with an eye towards releasing it as a teaser, but one way or the other, it works fantastically. The Cremaster Cycle is that rarest of oddities, a series of films that have managed to become wildly popular despite having content that would leave the average filmgoer walking out scratching his head and saying "what on earth did I just sit through?" For that matter, most film snobs will wonder the same thing. Cremaster is like the Ezra Pound's Cantos of modern film; you'll enjoy it on the surface, but there's much more to be found if you happen to be up on such topics as Biblical history, the Masonic initiation rites, the Paralympics, and other such cultural obscurities. But don't let such a thing stop you. I know there's a lot of you out there who just have a thing for men in kilts. You get that, too.Cremaster 3 is an allegorical tale detailing the construction of the Chrysler Building and linking it to the construction of the Temple of Solomon. The Order is a piece of this (filmed in the Guggenheim Museum, a gorgeous space made even more so by the film's set decoration) that deals far more with the Temple of Solomon aspect and the focus on the Masonic initiation rites. The protagonist is the Masonic Entered Apprentice (played by Barney). He starts at the bottom of a large cylindrical room with a spiral walkway that goes up five levels, with each level being a degree of Masonic initiation. Needless to say, this is not easy; he can't just walk up, but must climb, and each degree has a particular challenge he must face; an aggressive chorus line, a battle between two New York punk bands (Murphy's Law and Agnostic Front), a love interest (Paralympic gold medalist and Olympic athlete Aimee Mullins), The Five Points of Fellowship (you tell me, I have no idea) and, at the pinnacle, the Architect of the Temple of Solomon and the Chrysler Building himself (played by artist Richard Serra).Like the rest of the film, the Apprentice's assent is not a linear thing; he bounces back and forth between levels, trying to figure out what's going on as much as we are. Pieces of each puzzle are scattered throughout, giving the whole thing an odd, Myst-like feel. (In fact, the Apprentice does not end with Serra, but on a lower level; non-linearity at its finest?)Where the DVD of The Order may become purchasable for the average Joe who finds himself enamored with the Cremaster films is in the bonus material, which is what stretches the disc out to the promised 120 minutes. There are six full songs from each band to be found if you dig around enough, and a whole lot of outtake footage from each degree; various shots taken from various angles that extend each degree into a mini-film of its own (for example, the chorus line on the first level, who actually get maybe four minutes of screen time in the finished piece, do a whole fifteen-minute routine. The choreography is wonderful, and one wonders why you never see such things in actual chorus line performances).For most of us, though, The Order is bound to do exactly what it set out to do: what our appetites for the whole boxed set. If there's as much bonus material in the box as there is on this disc, it's going to be huge, and wonderful, and worth whatever Palm Pictures ends up charging for it. See this now. **** ½"
T. Crockett | Ballwin, MO | 02/15/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Cremaster Cycle is a series of five films shot over eight years. Although they can be seen individually, the best experience is seeing them all together (like Wagner's Ring Cycle) - and also researching as much as you can beforehand. To give you an idea of the magnitude, it has been suggested that their fulfilment confirms creator Matthew Barney as the most important American artist of his generation (New York Times Magazine).
The Cremaster films are works of art in the sense that the critical faculties you use whilst watching them are ones you might more normally use in, say, the Tate Modern, than in an art house cinema. They are entirely made up of symbols, have only the slimmest of linear plots, and experiencing them leaves you with a sense of awe, of more questions and inspirations than closed-book answers. The imagery is at once grotesque, beautiful, challenging, puzzling and stupendous. Any review can only hope to touch on the significance of such an event, but a few clues might be of interest, so for what it's worth ...
Starting with the title. The 'Cremaster' is a muscle that acts to retract the testes. This keeps the testes warm and protected from injury. (If you keep this in mind as you view the piece it will be easier to find other clues and make sense of the myriad allusions to anatomical development, sexual differentiation, and the period of embryonic sexual development - including the period when the outcome is still unknown. The films, which can be viewed in any order (though chronologically is probably better than numerically) range from Cremaster 1 (most 'ascended' or undifferentiated state) to Cremaster 5 (most 'descended'). The official Cremaster website contains helpful synopses.
Cremaster 3 is the longest (3hrs) and most complex of the Cycle. It charts the construction of the Chrysler Building and looks at the forces of spiritual transcendence (which can in itself be taken as a metaphor). It quotes Lombardi: "Character is an integration of habits of conduct superimposed on temperament ... Character is will, exercised on disposition, thought, emotion and action." We have a mythological prologue, then an Apprentice who scales the Chrysler Building by means of one of the lift shafts and takes part in a Masonic ritual. Before winning his Masonic instruments he must become the master of lust and his own ego. This penultimate stage is set in a section called 'The Order' comprising Five Degrees of Initiation.
The Guggenheim Museum (which houses a parallel exhibition) describes the Cremaster Cycle as "a self-enclosed aesthetic system consisting of five feature-length films that explore processes of creation." As film, the Cremaster Cycle is one to experience in the cinema if you have the opportunity to do so, or to experience and re-experience at leisure on DVD (the boxed set is promised for late 2004 and will be a gem for lovers of art-cinema fusion).
Barney plays the Entered Apprentice and his opponents include the Order of the Rainbow for Girls (who look a lot like the Rockettes), Agnostic Front and Murphy's Law (two New York Hardcore bands), Aimee Mullins, and Richard Serra. Molten Vaseline, dental surgery, a demolition derby by vintage Chrysler Imperial New Yorker cars and a gorgeous creature who is half-cheetah/half woman all figure in this latest edition of Matthew Barney's fever dream. Much of the action takes place in two New York landmarks, the Chrysler Building and the Guggenheim Museum, as well as at the Saratoga Racetrack (upstate NY), the Giant's Causeway (Ireland) and Fingal's cave (the Scottish Isle of Staffa).
Don't look for a DVD set anytime soon (or anytime at all)
Steward Willons | Illinois | 03/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My main point in writing this is to counter the spotlight review that gives false hope of a Cremaster Cycle DVD set release. I am also taking the opportunity to comment on Barney's reasons for not releasing the films commercially. This is based on my personal research and I hope it's useful to some that may spend long hours trying to find any news of a possible DVD release as I did.
Matthew Barney has stated many times that he will never release his films on any form of mass media. His reasons have the do with the physical sculptures that he sells. He sees them as limited edition art objects and, therefore, to reproduce them would be wrong. I believe he produced six laser disc copies of each of the five films, which sold in elaborate sculptural cases. He is allowed to circulate prints for massively expensive screenings as major museums, but he feels it would be wrong to duplicate his art work.
I see it from a more economical standpoint. His films are incredibly expensive to produce and they're all privately and personally funded. Why settle for $20s per DVD when you can get hundreds of thousands for each museum screening? Perhaps it's a mixture of both. But, why use the medium of film for something that six people get to personally enjoy? We have that expectation with a painting or a photograph, but the medium of film lends itself to mass duplication. Besides that, any film employs many many individuals (actors, technicians, etc.) and it really seems like a huge waste of effort if it's going to such a limited audience. Some composers write totally uncompromising music with almost no commercial appeal, but they still disseminate them through traditional means. It's not as if no one would buy these.
I respect Barney for sticking by his ideals, but I wish he would let the rest of us in on his work. As I write this review in early 2007, the films are currently playing in Germany. It's not like most of us can drop everything and fly over there to check them out. They haven't been in the states for a while and who knows when they'll be back?
I'm giving the DVD five stars based on the small part that I've experience both there and through some of his massive picture books. I wish I could say I've seen them all, but then again, I'm supposed to be reviewing the DVD itself - the product you can actually buy."
Staple for fine art gurus
Grasshopper | 09/11/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Matthew Barney is continually scrutinized by artists and critics alike.Ignore them and see his work for yourself.Matthew Barney successfully combines both his visual and conceptual ideas in the Cremaster series through an orchestrated, cinematic production of five Cremaster cycles, shot and released out of sequence. The Order (Cremaster 3) is just one of those cycles, but is the final of the series, bringing closure to his project which has been produced over the course of a few years. The Order takes place in the Guggenheim Museum of New York, where a Tartan-clad Barney scales five levels of the Museum to confront different challenges before gaining his rite-of-passage. I won't spoil the excitement.This dvd is cutting-edge to the modern art scene, and the only affordable version of Matthew Barney's project that has been released to the public. With an interactive feature that allows you to watch the entire cycle, each section individually, or all five sections (angles) simultaneously, I'd say anyone who purchases it is getting one hell of a deal."