As part of this year's Moscow International Film Festival, the Cine Fantom Club showed a lot of interesting cinema, including the amusing and even a bit sentimental movie by Matthew O. L. Way: "The Genital Warriors".
The original title sounds a bit medical – and not without reason: The confused action flows from the screenplay of a patient in a psychiatric hospital. Everything written on his pages is visualized like "unprocessed video stand-up" from the perspective of a crazy old comedian named Frank, with the usual stand-up poetics of free expression .
Inspired by a vivid life lived as a love affair and pervaded by determined attempts to make a film about it, he reflects on "Gender differences in the experience of love and their effect on the career of a film director's organism." This is the guiding principle of everything that happens in the movie. It starts out as a story about the fantastic adventures of two not-so- young women in the past (Lena and Barbara) who meet by chance and find out that they've loved the same man for all their lives – while intermittently directing their attention at his friend Viktor. With a mighty shotgun, they go back in time to annihilate the source of their disease... pardon me... their all-encompassing emotionality. They encounter their adored object (Frank) in a continuous process of filming, while in the present he invites each of them to his film premiere.
Everything becomes so complex that towards the finale, doubts crop up as to the number of co-authors working on this screenplay. The heroes have so many faces – they're constantly doubled and tripled. Young, old, old in a second variation and yet another: several Lenas, Barbaras, Franks and Viktors make up a wild departure from "Being John Malkovich". Maybe the personality of the "original" screenwriter, Frank – whose self- consciousness issues and artistic imagination offer virtually unstoppable flights of fancy that he ultimately reveals to his doctor (who at the same time is Viktor) – is simply split up into multiple personalities. In particular, he highlights episodes in which his older ego meets his younger one. Maybe Frank is inspired by all of the other patients in the psychiatric hospital to create this whole tangled pattern that finally reveals itself as a film in which a movie about love is shot.
Despite the great variety of relationships presented, the bottom line seems to be that the multiple Frank-Viktors and Lena-Barbaras don't feel adequately loved. Some decide to justify their feelings in attempting creative acts of heroism, while others are sad, practice libel and divide the world into human beings and men.
Frank's film also takes the form of a strange sentimental drama in which, as in the eerie "Bugsy Malone", pure and innocent children mime loving adults in an idyllic relationship – the quintessence of love, intimacy and an artistic-creative experience for both sides (men and human beings). For the premiere, all the "egos" get together including these idealized lovers, veterans of the sexual revolution and – if you believe Frank's crazy script – rather flamboyant John and Yoko (a separate, Homeric story features them), who in no time at all become excited by a performance on the topic of war and terrorism.
"The Genital Warriors" by Matthew O. L. Way, and the whole motley crew of funny- reflective Frank-Viktors and dangerous-amorous vixens – Lena-Barbaras – has an amazingly twisted and no less confusing script, but is also a very captivating movie. It seems that the actors very freely – and sometimes going beyond the call of duty – are "having fun" with their adventures in time and emotions – adventures simply and casually supported by shooting different types of cameras. From love to hate, as well as from the county fair to madness, it's basically not very far. According to Way, that's the life style of the warriors among men and human beings.
by Leda Timofeeva, The State Institute of Art Studies, Moscow
From the bimonthly newspaper "Cine Fantom", published just before the 36th Moscow International Film Festival, which began on June 19th, 2014.