Otto’s Jey Crisfar (left) and Bruce LaBruce: which one’s the zombie?
BRUCE LABRUCE: A RETROSPECTIVEat the Royal Cinema, Thursday through Saturday (December 4-6). See Indie & Rep Film. Rating: NN
It must be exhausting being a provocateur. You always have to stay ahead of the curve, you always have to figure out what the next great offence will be.
Will your bleeding-edge movie still be shocking when you release it six months from now? Will it still seem raw? Will audiences be offended, or will they already have seen far worse on YouTube?
Professional provocateur Bruce LaBruce made his name shocking film ?festival audiences in the 1990s. His feature-length works No Skin Off My Ass (Saturday; Rating: NNN), Super 8½ (Saturday; Rating: NN) and Hustler White (Friday; Rating: N) garnered serious attention for their calculated blend of thuddingly empty dialogue and hardcore fetish porn.
By the time he released The Raspberry Reich (Thursday; Rating: NN) in 2004, his aesthetic was well enough established that no one was particularly shocked by the graphic sex and the ranting proclamations of Susanne Sachsse's anarchist terrorist. It was just Bruce being Bruce.
You know how it goes. You hang around long enough, you become respectable, even if you work in stump porn.
LaBruce is getting his first retrospective this weekend, tied to the Toronto premiere of his newest feature, Otto; Or, Up With Dead People (through December 11; Rating: N), his gay zombie movie.
Like most of LaBruce's movies, the quality of the work doesn't matter; the intent is that it be talked about. Otto is a mess of bad writing and worse acting, broken up with random sex and a climactic orgy.
The "zombie" aspect is either ineptly realized or intentionally amateurish. Deliberate or not, it's a gimmick that doesn't work. And the long, pointless scenes of Jey Crisfar shuffling around in grey makeup and a torn hoodie while handsome men come on to him are, well, long and pointless.
The sex is explicit, if that's what you're after. But it's not particularly interesting or compelling, and it says nothing at all about the characters. It's just a lot of fucking.
I eagerly await LaBruce's YouTube phase. Nobody's going to ask me to review that.