We Are the Flesh (Tenemos la carne), 2016

©  Arrow Films, Drop-Out Cinema, Donau-Film 

I am you and you are me. We are alone, but not alone. We are trapped by time, but also infinite. Made of flesh, but also stars.  

– Matt Haig, Reasons to Stay Alive

We’ve chosen you by chance. Chance is the most dangerous criminal to ever roam the earth

Mariano

No more lies.

Batman

Tenemos la carne by  Emiliano Rocha Minter is bizarre, depraved, mad, maddening, and pointless. The latter can be under rug swept since We are the Flesh has been marketed as an art-house outing; the festival circuit was run over by this monstrosity under the shiny, glittering, irresolute umbrella of everything art, everything, which even remotely resembles the chocolate sequence from Sweet Movie, 1974.

Minter opens his film with heavy breathing, as the feature comes to life from a ‘fade from black’ and a close-up of a bearded man (the wackiest looking person in a film after maybe Denden from Cold Fish, 2010), emptying the day’s acquisitions (it looked like bread to this pilgrim) into an industrial-sized barrel. Minter goes on to show us the unkempt man, in tattered clothes mixing goo by stirring the contents of the barrel with both hands; ugly, bulky, dirty, stone breaker’s hands. Noé Hernández as Mariano is detestable to look at. He is filthy and speaks balderdash, “Love doesn’t exist. Only demonstrations of love“, when he is not making gas or pounding on the single tom tom snare left behind (and looking like that ape from 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968) like the rest of the world, which is in ruins, like the tom tom that is taken away from the rest of the parts that make an entire drum-set, it reminded me of Whiplash; or when he is not getting high on some kind of home-made concoction of some dangerously potent shit  (the camera switches between a blank screen and a strained face of Mariano, lying on a mattress placed on the floor). After that, the birth canal of a horror allegory takes things further (and into a brick wall). 

Looks like she’s gonna blow… She does.

We are made to assume that the world has ended. Yes, ended. The eventuality is such. We are dealing with warped ideologies, a misshapen ethos that looks like a limp penis. I’m not just saying that; Minter, who also proudly wears the writer’s hat for this carbuncle of a feature film has one of the characters say it out loud, “What a funny looking dick you have“. The world has either been ravaged by wars or plagues or something worse than both calamities combined. The earnestness is such that it is left for the viewer to assume cruel conjectures, and that is when Flesh starts to come apart. Slowly at first and then it crumbles right in front of our eyes; tearing at the seams. 

A frantic, rebate Joaquin Phoenix (Forgotten) is shown living in isolation. He trades the gas he makes for eggs. Later in the film, he reveals to Lucio (Diego Gamaliel) that he does not like eggs, just the cartons they come in. 

Just what the fuck is going around? 

Duct tape. All I can think of is the new Batman trailer and the ripping sound, with small, rapid loud whirring variations that it makes when a man’s face is being covered with it, “No more lies” 

Now, wait just a second here. All that happens in the first half-hour of the overwrought feature? 

Yes, and I did not say overwrought. 

The framing is close to perfect, making almost every shot of the groaning film a treat to watch (it is also deeply conflicted like this statement). Then the camera starts to move in towards its subjects. A push zoom that slowly creeps up to a profile and then does a 360-degree flip a couple of times, perhaps to convey an inebriated state of mind. It reminded me of a music video, Come Live with Me by Massive Attack directed by Jonathan Glazer, who also directed Rabbit in your Headlights by Unkle, which has a man (presumably mad and raving and crashing into oncoming traffic in a tunnel) who resembles Mariano, of this film in his incentivize and exasperating antics. Actor Noé Hernández puts up a strenuous show, intense, formidable, and clamorous. He is very unlikeable. We start to detest his presence from the second or third time he comes on-screen. Now, that is some prosperous acting.

This is a film where each scene transition takes the viewer by surprise, with its sound design or extreme visuals. Scenes that make Gaspar Noe‘s (Love) efforts look tame in comparison. This is an extremely taxing film to watch, with a stringent credo and an even more immovable ideology. We are the Flesh is exultantly demented and threatens us with odd camera angles. It even goes as far as taking the Brown Bunny, 2003 route, and shows to us the act of fellatio being performed by actor María Evoli. 

The sexual intensity of Noé, the transgressions, you say? Penetration in heat vision (that rhymes)? Pink for the vagina, blue for the pulsating ding-a-ling and smoking the johnson, the blumpy in full color, Eastmancolor and all. Necrophilia? Porn, you say?

Art is what they say.

Bullshit is what this sinner man has in mind.

The only redeeming moment from the film is shot under the sheets, with a woman not doing what we were deceived into thinking; instead, Fauna (María Evoli) howls and makes animal noises and moves her body as if having sex with her on top. That and the casting of Noé Hernández as the crazed Mariano.

Are we watching a film inspired by Alejandro Jodorowsky‘s The Holy Mountain, 1973? Is this the film that Bernardo Bertolucci never made (and instead made Dreamers, 2003, thankfully)? Or is it a follow up to Ken Russel‘s grotesquely brutal, The Devils, 1971? It could also be part of the French new extremist wave of provisional ethos, which ends up making frogs out of men.

Mariano writhes on the floor covered in amniotic fluid, the characters walk around naked on the set, setting the course to a Flavian ending (Pasolini would be proud), they talk in prose, lust and desire and perverse intentions are spread all over the set like rancid butter, We are the Flesh is out to offend and it succeeded in making this hardened sinner-man turn his eyes away from the screen for those god-awful moments when the unspeakable is being put up for show n’ tell. My goodness, what is this Minter guy thinking?

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, 1998  also comes to mind for its pure adrenaline that Dr. Gonzo (a young and plenty stored Benicio del toro) and Raoul Duke (a balding Johnny Depp wearing size forty-eight Aviators and smoking through a plastic filter) extract from a real human brain. You could join the dots but I’ll spell it out for you just as much; as observed above, it starts with bread and ends with a whole human body being fermented (just imagine the high from the moonshine and raw eggs being smeared on a woman’s breasts – hold on, that was a Nikos Nikolaidis film, The Zero Years, 2005. The point here is that the influences are aplenty and apparently all from conspicuously grotesque sources. The trouble, it seems, is in the balancing act that Minter seems incapable of. We are the Flesh suffers from lack of adequate satire (in the face of a hard X rating), and its pushing of the envelop, which in my humble opinion did not need to be pushed any further for a film that suffers from such trifling ideals.

I’d recommend it for the sake of differentiating an overtly sexual film from an overtly sexual film with a solid purpose, unlike this entanglement of film spool.

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