Anyone who knows me knows that I like reading books or articles of the so-bad-it’s-good type. As I have previously noted, Slant, a site dedicated to the fevered mental off-gassing of a bunch of straight white cis dudes who think they’re movie critics, provides copious entertainment. For today’s jollies, we turn to Chuck Bowen’s review of Anna Biller’s Love Witch.
Well, perhaps review is too generous a term. That implies a result both descriptive and analytical. Yes, there is [exhaustive] description in Bowen’s lucubrations and some ostensibly evaluative discussions. Mostly, though, it’s an incredibly intense experience orchestrated by an author that either a) won six consecutive Most Overheated trophies in the Annual Euphuistic Society’s Awards for Godawfullest Prose, b) needs an editor with a better bullshit detector to put a damper on that, c) gets hopped up on hella cough syrup before sitting down to the computer, or d) several of the above.
Basically, Bowen argues that, in the case of The Love Witch, form follows function. The use of bright, sensual Technicolor and other objectifying techniques from classic 1940s and 1950s films evokes the sensual pleasures of objectifying the performers. At the same time, the constant insertions of modern details remind the viewer of the messy, dehumanizing results that come from uniting objectification and desire. He could have just said that, of course, but did he? Nooooooooo.
Instead we have to slosh through a bunch of fucking metaphors [literally]. Bowen demonstrates his “cleverness” with statements like “Desserts are emphasized by Biller with a carnality that also rivals Elaine’s allure, as she rhymes sex and violence with immaculate pastries and sauces.” He caps his pièce de résistance with the claim that “The Love Witch is an earnest and haunting dramatization of this war [viz., between self-loathing because of one’s desires and the joy in gratifying one’s desires]. Appropriately, it’s both a pastry and a dildo—dipped in acid.” What the hell are we talking about here — a condom-wearing eclair that’s taken a bleach bath? How would the puff pastry shell maintain its structural integrity if it were soggy with hydrogen peroxide solution? Why is no one asking these important questions???
This review is the textual equivalent of Paul Jenkins’ infamous Lamborghini Gallardo stuffed with pudding and flying off the edge of a cliff. It’s ludicrous wankery created by a smug criticaster who thinks that overdoing it = cleverness.