River of Fundament

350 minutes

I survived River of Fundament. Just barely. Which seems to be exactly what director Matthew Barney expects of anyone who sits through his nearly six-hour epic. As he told the New York Times last September, "I think it does push the limits of what people can take, but it should be like going on a journey that affects you physically." Your response will likely be something like revulsion. As with his jizz-laden magnum opus The Cremaster Cycle, Fundament's central imagery involves the stuff within us. Breast milk, piss, blood, and semen all make appearances, but mostly, Barney's interested in shit. And shit is presented, in all its nauseating glory—either seeping out of someone's rectum or piled in a wet pyramid. Gross as it is, it's used here as a pungent metaphor for the cycle of death and resurrection, especially as it plays out in Fundament's chief source material: Norman Mailer's 1983 book Ancient Evenings.


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Film Credits
Matthew Barney
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ellen Burstyn, Elaine Stritch, Debbie Harry, Paul Giamatti, Salman Rushdie