I finally forced myself to watch Richard Wolstencroft’s ‘Pearls Before Swine’ (1999) – I found it to be an incoherent mess. In a way, it is sort of like a ‘Superfly’ for people with vaguely neo-fascist and white nationalist tendencies. It is the story of an anti-hero as he goes about his days and nights being the dude that he is, taking the idea of various scenes from the life of a criminal anti-hero, “Showing the man in his element,” while building up to a larger plot. Basically, the sympathetic biopic of a bad-guy.
The movie stars fascist shock-jock, Un-pop cultural provocateur, enfant terrible, Industrial Music doyen Boyd Rice (NON). Pearls Before Swine had its moments. Yet on the whole, the movie seems so appallingly bad that watching parts was more of a duty than a pleasure. Where it is not appallingly bad, it is actually a bit funny. I am not certain the director intended humor, however.
It had real potential, and I think if Boyd Rice was well directed he could pull off some interesting rolls.
Of the couple of chuckles it affords are scenes like the amusing Doctor Who rant between Rice’s character Daniel, and his Partner-Swinging, Coke snorting, S&M party girlfriend Christy (played by Lisa Hutchinson). The “Shut the fuck up” dressing down and talking-to, delivered after a rant about media violence and the fall of Rome to a slightly submissive and whiny party guest Isabelle, (played by Baby Lemonade Lamarr – credited as Baby Lemonade Lamare, she is one of the few reasons to watch the movie) was also vaguely funny, in a mean spirited way.
The magazine buying scene staring Death In June’s Douglas P was also pretty funny. I am not sure if it was meant to be funny, but it was.
Shall we eviscerate the movie more? No, but I would like to offer three (and only 3) reasons you might find yourself wanting to avoid it.
1. Boyd Rice simply does not act. He does not show himself to be a talented actor here. You could make the argument that his entire career involves a bit of acting, but he is not acting on top of his established persona. He seems to have been channeling the astral body of a still-living Keanu Reeves; Rice’s portrait of Daniel is stiff as a board, and certainly heavier than a feather. He essentially plays himself. Shockingly so, one supposes. He does play himself with some panache and tongue-in-cheek humor, I suspect the man knows his public persona is a parody, a rather singular one. Playing himself is a sort of recursive parody of a parody, double negatives make a positive.
Many out there are probably not interested in almost two hours of Boyd Rice playing himself in drag as a pop-culture addicted, psychopathic, oddly laconic, (when not monologue-paraphrasing “Might Is Right”) everyday dude who simply happens to be obsessed with violence, sex, and drugs to unhealthy degrees. Maybe some Boyd Rice fan-boy out there, normally furiously engaged in wanton acts of frottage against his mattress while watching the DVD, is considering an Aurora style hit on me for pointing this out. While I highly advise against wanting to kill me for the temerity of simply pointing out a blindingly obvious fact – it’s bad for the soul after all – I do understand if such people may feel this way.
2. Nothing about the movie was remotely convincing. This makes it impossible to suspend any disbelief and sense of the believable. This is important, the ability to convincingly induce your audience to enter the world of the movie. Here, attempts to induce me to suspend disbelief and passively receive the movie, as a fly on the wall sympathizing with the characters, just induced a couple of half-ironic chuckles. The only half convincing scenes were the sex scenes. I actually suspect that some of the fucking was real. Not all of it, but at least some scenes with Lisa Hutchinson’s ‘Christy’ character. If the sex wasn’t real, then it was damn convincing.
The sex scene involving Rice and Baby Lemonade’s character Isabelle seemed almost deliberately funny and, well, bad. Perhaps both actors were taking a piss at Wolstencroft in their own private joke.
Of course, seeing a middle-aged Boyd Rice in coitus may not be a turn on to most people, and may be more of a reason to fast forward to the non-sex scenes, whereupon the viewer will once again find herself, or himself, bored mindless and stiff by utterly non-convincing dialog and scenes.
Oh, I forgot, the coke snorting scenes looked vaguely convincing. Sort of.
3. Richard Wolstencroft attempts to do badly what Tarantino does, less badly, with a smaller budget. Whether Wolstencroft, or Tarantino, were both simply conjuring the zeitgeist independently, or one subtly influenced the other, is unclear. Actually I couldn’t give a damn. I find Tarantino’s repetitive set of cliches annoying in excess, and almost two hours of Wolstencroft badly doing the same was nerve-grating.
Pearls Before Swine could have been a decent movie, and I have no doubt the cast, at least, had fun making it.
A few people will really like this movie.
One such group are Death In June fans. Much of the movie was a hint dropping advertisement for Douglas P’s post-industrial vaguely neo-Nazi (kinda sorta, nudge wink, elbow in the side) neo-folk music project [is Death In June a ‘band’, a ‘group’, a ‘project’? One finds words and labels rather defiant here.]
Secondly, people who like seeing middle-age adults, looking thoroughly bored out of their minds, absent mindedly snorting random lines of coke at the drop of a hat, shooting homeless teens for fun and social-hygiene duty, and occasionally bang, while delivering wooden speeches and monologues on the virtues of Nazis, the edifying effects of violence on a populace, Doctor Who, and S&M chic – all in the name of the sanctity of art and artistic integrity and free-speech courage before the stultifying effects of a PC regime..
Thirdly, Boyd Rice fan-boys. But this goes without saying.
There are a few others who might like it – this list is in no way inclusive and some readers may find their subset not listed.
Fourth, people who like seeing Baby Lemonade Lamare groped and tossed around on a sofa like a rag doll spinner. She’s hot, in an adorably skanky kind of way.
Fifth, people with a more sublime sense of irony than I have.
I mentioned that the movie had its moments. It did. They were scattered about, and gave some entertainment and amusement. Of course its overall philosophic pretensions were a bit ludicrous, and Boyd Rice’s acting got real old, real quick. This said it, like many things, had its upside… somewhere.
One other point of favor, Rice’s character doesn’t come off as a wuss or whiny bitch. In an age of media characterizations of males, in particular white males (along some social agenda I have absolutely no clue about, I suspect) as utter dufus like whiny spunkless twits, it was refreshing to see a character with an excess of testosterone, seemingly in direct proportion to his utter lack of a moral compass or ability to self-reflect, which is not exactly a good thing but one can only ask for so much nowadays. Boyd Rice ‘played’ an amoral and psychopathic, reptilian, pop-culture obsessed, sex machine – but one with balls enough not to fear showing off his hairy manly chest with slight man-boobs, or subjecting us to his Doctor Who opinions (which I share).
Somehow this impresses me. Sort of.
Pearls Before Swine is too terrible of a movie to be an arrant disaster. Stealing a page from George Orwell who called Kipling among the best of good-bad poets, Pearls Before Swine is a good-bad movie. An awful mess its awfulness actually has an upside somewhere and can, on moments, provide some entertainment and amusement. I wouldn’t go as far as saying it also provides “something to think about” – unless you’re the kind of person who finds Marilynn Mansion lyrics and Might Is Right to be particularly deep sources of personal philosophy. If this is the case for you then heaven help you, I have no further useful advice.
The good-badness of the movie is one saving grace that keeps it from the ranks of Howard the Duck or Killer Clowns from Outer Space. Somehow Pearls Before Swine has something to offer to the canon of vaguely underground pop-culture chic movies. It might actually help someone get laid.
Somewhere, on some Straight/Goth Wednesday Night, at an otherwise gay dance club, somewhere in the world, a clever boy might find himself chatting up a Suicide Girl wannabe or two and luring them back to his pad to watch this artistic, subversive, post-industrial music sound tracked, “controversial underground work” or something like that. I have no doubt it is possible to use this movie as a pretext to getting laid, this being the banal reality of things, and I’m sure someone has used this movie and a couple of glasses of absinthe with sugar cubes as a reasonable “hey, let’s hit my place” pretext.
I doubt this is the movie’s purpose, however if this is the movie’s purpose, in the universe and divine economy, then who am I to ridicule it?