“Life is beautiful. Really, it is. Full of beauty and illusions. Life is great. Without it, you'd be dead.”
“Although it has failed whatever it had tried to do, at least the attempt was made. 2001: A Space Odyssey made a hugely ambitious jump in the style of narrative in film, and its hailed as a classic to this day, and one of my favourites. Would I have liked 2001 if I hadn’t heard the praise? Maybe I wouldn’t have liked it, but it’s almost impossible to avoid prerequisite opinion.”
I’m not sure what Gummo is trying to tell me, but what’s most important is I don’t care. Doesn’t matter how anit-feline you are, or how much arm wrestling you have, I still don’t care about Gummo. Don’t get me wrong, I love weird movies, they really add an extra dynamic to the often-deprived industry, but ever so often there comes a movie so weird and pointless, it just defeats the purpose of making the film. However, this film has gotten a lot of praise from a small group of people, like most semi-experimental independent films, you either hate or love them, especially if they are ‘weird’. I say weird very loosely, since people think Donnie Darko is weird. However, it isn’t really, it’s just a complex narrative, but it’s still conventional as far as structure is concerned, weird is when you start to change narrative structure and reasoning. Gummo is a perfect example of this, sometimes it can be brilliant i.e. Eraserhead, and sometimes it’s a disaster i.e. this movie. However, to be fair, it’s like flipping a coin, you tend to go either way, how often does a coin land on its side? Well for some it was a life changing experience, for me it was an experience causing me to slam my head into the wall until the pretty colours kept me entertained.
So you’re probably asking yourself, what is this about exactly? Well the best I could make of it was a bunch of random nothingness, cat genocide, taped nipples and a bunch of rednecks arm wrestling. According to my friend Rotten Tomatoes, “the teens of tornado-scarred Xenia, OH, kill cats, tape their boobies, arm-wrestle, bathe, cross-dress, huff glue, avoid perverts, pay to have sex with retarded girls, lift makeshift dumbbells to the strains of Madonna's "Like a Prayer," fight, cuss, shave their eyebrows, undergo cancer treatment, euthanize senior citizens, and pee on passing cars.” I guess that’s how you describe the whole affair, a bunch of random stuff, piled on top of each other.
Gummo’s major problem is it succeeds in exactly what it’s trying to do, which is not always a good thing. Gummo is like a toilet, sure you can scrub it till its shiny, and you can add things on the side to make it smell pleasant, but it’s still a toilet, a clean toilet and a dirty one doesn’t make either more innovative or exciting, just the cleaner toilet is more tolerable. That is exactly Gummo’s problem, its story is nonsensical and boring, you can explain how its suppose to be like that, or that Gummo does this well, but in either case, it’s doing bad well. Gummo despite some promising scenes and interesting prospects, loses its novelty, and becomes boring and vile.
The performances are portrayed mainly by redneck friends of the Harmony (that’s the director’s name), and yes they are as bad as you would expect a bunch of random rednecks acting to be. There are a lot of child actors, and anyone who knows me, knows that I absolutely hate child actors, hate them, hate them, hate them! More than often Gummo suffers from actors looking at the camera, despite this though; acting is not as bad as it could be. Since the actors have to only portray random people, they don’t need much depth to any degree. And the main character Solomon, doesn’t do a bad job. Sure, maybe I like him mainly because of his quirky appearance, which would make him brilliant in any good movie; he was actually an actor with potential.
To Gummo’s credit, it’s quite a good looking movie. But of course so is Avatar, but unlike most independent films and exploitation films, Gummo doesn’t make me want to gouge my eyes out, and for those reason Gummo does have some great disturbing scenes, it’s a shame it was all put together as good as the Troll sequels, but at least the ideas are there, somewhere... What Gummo succeeds in though, is its rare scenes of brilliance, as it can be very disturbing at times. What Gummo doesn’t realise is shaving your eyebrows may be disturbing, but not when it’s just someone randomly shaving her eyebrows for no apparent reason. Gummo for me often has a bit of Charles Manson, which really is appealing, but again, it doesn’t fit. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9QXY80OxS0&feature=related
However, before I lock the keys and throw them away, Gummo must be given some praise. Although it has failed whatever it had tried to do, at least the attempt was made. 2001: A Space Odyssey made a hugely ambitious jump in the style of narrative in film, and its hailed as a classic to this day, and one of my favourites. Would I have liked 2001 if I hadn’t heard the praise? Maybe I wouldn’t have liked it, but it’s almost impossible to avoid prerequisite opinion. As much as we try to be truthful and unbiased, to watch an old, or even new release movie usually has a stamp of approval (or disapproval) before you can make you decision. Therefore, it can be said Gummo challenges these issues, although I would say its deeper message is a lot shallower, or shrouded than 2001’s overall premise and theme, at least Gummo challenged the convention to begin with.
Overall, Gummo is polishing shit, in a weird boring way.Gummo’s message remains shrouded and unknown, that’s to assume there is one to begin with. It would perhaps be acceptable if the stories had some relevance to one another, but they have none, and in the end, we just waste our time watching people abuse and kill cats, which is fun for about 5 minutes, but we still have an hour and 20 minutes to go.