Notes from New Sodom

... rantings, ravings and ramblings of strange fiction writer, THE.... Sodomite Hal Duncan!!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Another Mad Project

So, in my continued quest to find the most impractical project in the world, I came up with an idea for an experimental movie. I blame it on too much Jodorowsky myself; I recently watched El Topo, Fando Y Lis and Sante Sangre in quick succession, with a little Bruce La Bruce (Raspberry Reich) thrown in for good measure, and a sprinkling of John Waters's Cecil B. Demented just for fun. They brewed in my head, and suddenly I found myself thinking of a sort of... metafictional mockumentary, I guess you could call it.

The idea: OK, so this auteur of a documentary director decides to make a contemporary retelling of the Gospels, starring himself as Jesus... but not in the traditional manner, with actors and sets and shit. No, instead he's going to basically re-enact/reconstruct the various scenes in modern settings, filming without permission on cameraphones and suchlike, and see what happens as it goes along. Like, the whole thing should be constructed as much from faux YouTube and news footage as from anything; it's sort of a documentary about the making of itself.

I mean, he's out on the streets preaching; he's interrupting church services to denounce the latter-day Pharisees; he's using video editing techniques to perform miracles -- and, as the narrative presents them, they are miracles. As in some crazy William Burroughs book, he's "editing reality." Film a withered hand, pan up to jacket sleeve, cut; switch the person in the jacket, action; pan down to normal hand, cut. Playback. Cut to cameraphone footage of crowd reacting to the healed hand, as in some David Blaine street magic malarky. Shit like that. Camera tricks and an unreliable narrative? Maybe, but it's presented as actual miracles. And this latter-day miracle-worker has the same effect on the authorities, natch, as young Yeshua did in his day. Cause you know he would, man. Shit, I reckon he'd put Pullman, Dawkins and Hitchens to shame in his attacks on the religious establishments.

So think Cecil B. Demented only done for real, by someone who's slowly getting sucked into his own messianic role. Think Kenneth Anger taking his message out onto the streets, making cinema as an occult ritual. Think Derek Jarman doing Christ as a queer. (Cause hey, "Beloved Disciple," man. Not to mention that bit cut out of the Gospel of Mark.) Think of this film-maker gaining the notoriety of Marilyn Manson, as the Christian Right gets up in arms about the "false prophet." Think of the Sermon on the Mount as a talk show interview. Think of the man who preached poverty and threw the moneylenders out of the Temple, how he might react to a televangelist telathon, say. Think of the protagonist in a face-to-face confrontation with Christian Right protesters outraged at his queering of Christ, challenging them to "stone the sin, not the sinner."

(Cause that's a scene I want to write at some point, somewhere, a line I want to use. Hate the sin, not the sinner, eh? Well, fucking stone the sin, not the sinner. Come on then! Can you do that, you self-righteous motherfuckers? Can you? Can you throw a stone at the "sin" you hate, and not break the skin and bone of the "sinner"? No? But you think you can hurl words as weapons without the same harm, words with all the weight and force of your pious contempt? Here's the fucking stone, ya bastard. Do it, if you can: stone the sin, not the sinner, motherfucker.)

Of course, to do the film properly, you'd have to have a film-maker who was actually willing to play into the metafiction by acting as the director character himself. (With a cameo for yours truly as the writer of the script he's working off, the John Baptist to his Jesus in the narrative, heh.) And you'd want to do as much of it as possible in that guerrilla cinema mode. Like, go out there and get in the faces of some Westboro Baptist fucks, and see if you can get the footage you need. So throw in some Werner Herzog while you're at it, in terms of obliviousness to personal safety.

You see what I mean by "impractical," yeah?

Anyways, as I was scribbling down some notes, trying to organise the source texts into potential act structures and scenes, it occurred to me that a fair whack of the gospels consisted of the parables, which aren't exactly cinematic. I can't think of any Jesus films -- The Last Temptation of Christ, The Passion of the Christ, The Greatest Story Ever Told, etc. -- that actually make use of them. But, well, a somewhat cracked idea kinda occurred to me, as I read a couple of them, that what might work is doing them in voice-over as a stand-up routine -- like you might get in a documentary on the life of Bill Hicks or suchlike, dig? Hell, the Parable of the Rich Man and the Beggar already reads like a joke. All it takes is a little twist this way or that... and a bit of canned laughter, the more artificial the better.

Cause I'd want it to be vaguely creepy, you know, like that faux sitcom bit in Natural Born Killers. I mean, some of those parables are all lovely and Jesusy, and some you can actually play with a bit of wry humour, but there's some that are, well, big on the "weeping and gnashing of teeth" that sinners are in for. And frankly some are just plain fucked up. Like that one about the vineyard workers who work all day and get paid the same as the ones who worked for an hour. Dude, how anyone can read that and not see the owner -- i.e. God -- as a complete fucking cunt, I have no idea. Yeah, some of that stuff is just messed-up.

"... and tortured the shit out of him!"


"But without letting him die!"




So, yeah, long story short, I ended up with a forty minute... well, monologue, I guess, which is currently called "The Parables of Jesus Motherfucking Christ, Live at the Palladium." It's not a text story I can flog to a magazine; with the laugh track a major ingredient, it's something that, I reckon, really has to be heard rather than read. And in the absence of a film-maker bugfuck crazy enough to use it in the context intended, I have fuck all idea what to do with it. So I thought I might as well post up the first part for your... entertainment? edification? whatever. Don't know that it's that funny, but hey, it's not actually a stand-up routine, more a... work of twisted experimental audio art. There are four parts and an encore in total, so if bizarro blasphemy is of interest to you, by all means let me know and I can maybes make it another direct sales thingy. Otherwise... enjoy?

The Parables of Jesus Motherfucking Christ - 1. Seeds & Weeds



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any chance of a transcript? For some folks, despite it being best heard than read, it's not even a possibility.

It could be a faux documentary, you know, if anyone's not willing to go the cut up reality show routine. It'd be as effective, and if it were marketed as being real, like the briar witch project (naturally, if you were to find someone nuts enough to do that, then it'd sell itself). Joaquin River's gone off his bend, I heard, so might try and pitch that at him?

Also, reminds me of this flick I saw recently, what would jesus buy

It has its moments, especially with the over the top evangelist Billy.

3:10 pm  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

I'll try and post a transcript of that sample tomorrow. Was going to do it just now, but then thought that given the content, it would make a neat Sunday sermon, heh.

And, yeah, Joaquim Phoenix does seem quite... apt. Especially with the mad beard.

5:04 pm  

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