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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

A Hole in the Head and Urine: Good Health (review)

by MaryAnn Johanson

Put on your magnetic bracelet, gaze into your crystal, and align your chakras. Now you’re ready to journey into the world of “alternative” medicine and pseudoscience devotees director Eli Kabillio explores in these short documentaries. Hippies looking to expand their minds take the concept a tad too literally in A Hole in the Head, engaging in the ancient practice of skull trepanation, which involves drilling a hole in the skull right through to the brain. Trepaners claim it increases the blood flow to brain, resulting in an energy rush, a druglike high, or a more relaxed attitude toward life. Adherents of uropathy say much the same thing in Urine: Good Health, asserting that drinking one’s own urine (I know: yuck) or even injecting it directly into one’s own veins (double yuck) is like vaccinating yourself against every malady known to humankind, from acne to AIDS and everything in between. Doctors and surgeons and other experts interviewed in both films agree that neither trepanation nor urotherapy make the slightest bit of scientific sense, and do no good (but probably also do little harm). But from the research librarian who avers that there had to be a good reason why Neolithic medicine men cut bits of their patients’ skulls out, and so we should too, to the nun who preaches the Biblical support for gulping down your piss, the capacity for the human mind to fool itself into believing the weirdest and more unsupported things is astounding, and will leaving you shaking your head in wonder. Pit logic against “consciousness expanding” and pharmaceutical conspiracies, though, and you only need one guess which one will come out on top. Kabillio’s too-balanced reportage makes it clear that he gives more credence to crackpots than they deserve, and that he’s not entirely convinced that reason and science merit the final word.
A Hole in the Head
viewed at home on a small screen
not rated

Urine: Good Health
viewed at home on a small screen
not rated

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