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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Monday, March 07, 2011

entry arrow2:19 AM | Ka-poof

Of course you have seen Gregg Araki's Kaboom [2010] before. It's a more glittery rehash of his ill-fated pilot for MTV titled This is How the World Ends, which should have aired in 2000 but got cancelled before we could catch the fate of all those high school kids facing screaming death as their bus falls down a ravine. (It is not as if this has not happened before. Araki's Splendor from 1999 is essentially a glossier photocopy of his first film Three Bewildered People in the Night from 1987.) That Kaboom and This is How the World Ends share a plot point in that plummet underlines other similarities: the lost boy with desire issues, the lesbian best friend with the vengeful witch of a lover, the mother who dispenses familial bond by phone, the Los Angeles in candy-colored vision of the Apocalypse, and so on and so forth. Only in Kaboom's case, we've got the fuller story in feature-length format: the lost boy has father issues, which involves cults, the number 19, magic powers, spiked cookies, a red dumpster, strange dreams slowly coming true, men in animal masks, surfer dude roommates with homoerotic vibes, red-haired women with vomit and disappearance issues, perky girls with wild sex drives, men called Messiah with wild streaks, the whole gamut of Araki's strange universe. Sure, it looks and sounds like the old Araki films which we used to love, after Araki's creative departures inMysterious Skin, which was a success, and in Smiley Face, which was a dismal failure. Sure, it may be familiarly frenetic and deliciously paranoid. But it does not have the sexy off-kilter charm and the sense of teenage existential gravity the old films carried with them. I am horrified to note that this film succeeds only as an experiment in needless regression. Have we outgrown Araki? Perhaps. I am, in fact, already quite irritated by the same empty pleas for sexual "fluidity," his urgent posturing to be "sexually undefined"; here is a gay filmmaker who makes blatantly homoerotic films -- but treats gay sex as both comedy and afterthought even as he peppers his scenes with too many heterosexual couplings of such steamy nature you had to ask yourself: "What's up your butt, Gregg?"

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