DTD will watch and publish interesting movies.
'The Living End' is a movie directed by Gregg Araki.
'The Living End' is a movie directed by Gregg Araki.
It blow my mind at the time. It was the year 1992. The story, short: Luke is a gay hustler. Jon is a movie critic. Both are HIV positive. They go on a hedonistic, dangerous journey, their motto "Fuck the world".
Since then Gregg Araki made films like: Totally F***ed Up (1993), The Doom Generation (1995), Mysterious Skin (2004) and Kaboom (2010).
All really 'must see' movies.
BLACK humor doesn't get much darker than "The Living End," the story of two H.I.V.-positive young men who manage to turn potential tragedy into a desperate, uproarious celebration of their new-found nihilistic freedom. Doing himself a great disservice, the writer and director Gregg Araki labels his work "an irresponsible movie" when in fact it has the power of honesty and originality, as well as the weight of legitimate frustration. Miraculously, it also has a buoyant, mischievous spirit that transcends any hint of gloom.
Working on a shoestring, Mr. Araki has made a candid, freewheeling road movie that ably represents the boom of gay-oriented talent evident in this year's New Directors/New Films series at the Museum of Modern Art (where the film will be shown today at 6 P.M. and Sunday at 9 P.M.). Among the festival's several entries with gay themes, this is easily the most uncomplicatedly entertaining.
Mr. Araki has managed to make even morbidity seem intrinsically droll, from a character's remark that this is "the first day of the rest of my life" to the slogan "Choose Death" on a bumper sticker. Suddenly, in this film's funhouse universe, even the simplest of platitudes looks mad. Normal life ceases to exist for this film's two main characters as soon as they receive their bad news. And the passion that develops between them, however playful it appears, is truly a matter of life or death.
Wearing his cinematic influences on his sleeve, Mr. Araki acknowledges film makers including Jean-Luc Godard, Andy Warhol and Derek Jarman during the course of his story, and he stages that story with a mock nonchalance reminiscent of Jim Jarmusch or Gus Van Sant. Even the offhanded "Sorry" with which a doctor tells Jon (Craig Gilmore) that he has tested H.I.V.-positive is given an absurdly downbeat, casual spin.
In that context, the film's outbursts of violence seem no less bizarre than its tiny proprieties. And its crime spree is presented as an understandable response to AIDS-induced rage. Like "Thelma and Louise," which it resembles on a more modest and desperate scale, "The Living End" uses crime as a way of extricating its characters from everyday society, and not as an occasion for passing moral judgment on their behavior. Getting out is what matters, not getting even.
Soon after Jon receives his diagnosis, he encounters a handsome hustler named Luke (Mike Dytri), whose more raucous exploits have been separately detailed early in the film. In a campy but crudely executed sequence, Luke is seen stealing a car from two killer lesbians (the screen does not need any more killer lesbians at the moment) and irritably throwing away their audiotapes of K. D. Lang and Michelle Shocked. He is then seen sexually involved with a man who likes to be spanked with a tennis racquet, and who insists that Luke keep score ("15-love").
Luke even witnesses a murder, an event staged with the type of cartoonish exaggeration that Mr. Araki succeeds in making unexpectedly droll. Compared with the more conventional Jon, Luke seems a real rebel, but the two soon overcome their differences to begin a fervent love affair. When they begin having sex, Jon forces himself to acknowledge his recent diagnosis, but Luke's response is typically cool. "Welcome to the club, partner," he whispers.
Mr. Araki gets a lot of mileage out of the cultural climate from which Jon, a film critic, has emerged. "You know what they say: those that can't do, teach; and those that can't teach get 25 cents a word to rip other people's work to shreds," he explains when Luke visits his apartment, which is filled with carefully selected movie posters. It's also said that one of the film's characters is so oversensitive he suffered a lengthy depression when Echo and the Bunnymen broke up. The film easily shifts between these sorts of dry asides (many of them shared by Jon and a woman named Darcy, his close friend) and observations of a more solemn kind. "The generation before us had all the fun," says one of the film's handsome, 20-ish heroes. "And we get to pick up the tab."
The ragged humor of "The Living End" wears thinner as the characters discuss sex, death and the afterlife, and begin to come face to face with their fate. Mr. Araki, for all his playfulness, fully grasps his heroes' situation, and he does not presume to invent an easy escape. Rudely funny as it is about most things, "The Living End" doesn't trivialize AIDS in any way. What it does instead is give vibrant, angry substance to the phrase "till death do us part." The Living End Written, directed, photographed and edited by Gregg Araki; music by Cole Coonce; produced by Marcus Hu and Jon Gerrans.