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Matthew Barney: No Restraint (review)

Oh my. The Village Voice calls this “an astonishingly voluptuous skeleton key to Matthew Barney,” who is “the most important American artist of his generation,” according to The New York Times. Well. Call me a philistine, but I don’t get it. But hey: that’s okay. The New York Times’ chief art critic, Michael Kimmelman, is on hand in this documentary to explain why saying “I don’t get it” is not a valid reaction to Barney’s work. So you must take it with a grain of salt when I say that this making-of look at Barney’s bizarro film Drawing Restraint 9 feels far more like a DVD extra to that film than a standalone movie in its own right. I suppose it’s quite cool and weird that Barney’s work on this project involves a sculpture made of 45,000 pounds petroleum jelly assembled on a Japanese whaling ship — it’s all a commentary on Japan whaling culture, you see — but I don’t feel particularly any better informed about Barney’s supposed importance as an artist now than I was before. But I do know that Bjork, his girlfriend and costar in and composer for his film, thinks he’s a genius. I probably could have deduced that on my own, though. Extras include some truly interesting time-lapse photography of what happens to 45,000 pounds of Vaseline when you let it solidify from a liquid, as well as interviews with Barney, Bjork, and Kimmelman. [buy at Amazon]

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MPAA: not rated

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