Monday, 4 October 2010

Gregg Araki's Teenage Apocalypse Trilogy: Nowhere (1997)

Nowhere (1997) is the third and final installment of Gregg Araki’s Teenage Apocalypse Trilogy. Imagine if the cast of Larry Clark’s Kids (1995) dropped acid, had a wash and moved to Los Angeles – That’s Nowhere. Jam packed full of rampant libidinous teens that exist in a multicultural colourful pop-art dystopian fantasy, watching Nowhere is like what happens if you read Naked Lunch and then fall asleep. It’s fucking bonkers!

Araki’s muse James Duval is at the centre of the action, his character Dark Smith is the embodiment of the apocalypse. He edits tapes as a means of attempting to take control of his life, his girlfriend (Rachel True) can’t commit to him nor a gender, and his heart and mind become a mass of bubbling confusion after meeting Montgomery (Nathan Bexton) and his race to find love prior to impending doom begins. The theme of alienation follows Dark like a heavy cloud, eventually taking on literal form in a scene involving a ghastly explosion that would make Franz Kafka proud.

However, Nowhere is not as straightforward as that. Various interconnected sup-blots constantly evolve in varying degrees of bad taste. The film sways constantly between notions of sexuality, love and death, sometimes all at once. The cast is thick and creamy with ex-teen idols and squeaky clean US TV stars that are more than willing to dip their toes in subversive dirt.

Jeremy Jordan plays a hip and super-cool band-member who becomes embroiled in a self destructive relationship with a dominatrix duo. Traci Lords, Shannon Doherty and Rose McGowan’s characters vomit mindless teen vernacular prior to being assassinated by a gun toting lizard which leaves them reduced to three singed sets of teeth braces. The bravest and most peculiar of all of the cameos is ex Baywatch star Jaason Simmons, who plays himself. He bemoans his fame, lures a fan into his lair and then savagely rapes and brutally beats her, ultimately driving her to a graphic suicide. Oh dear!

Brutal rape aside, Nowhere is actually stunningly beautiful to watch. The sets are dazzling and often overshadow those acting before them. As mentioned in my previous TAT posts, Araki’s sets/signage often consumes the characters as a means of conveying their insignificant positions within the world. Imagery is everything. There is not one second that hasn’t been intricately stylised. Any still from any scene would look glorious on the wall of a modern art museum. Araki brings the apocalypse to a head with a bundle of celluloid confusion that encapsulates nihilistic teenage mentality and delivers a tasty expressionistic banquet for your eyes to devour and your brain to decipher. So this is how the world ends, not with a bang but with a pop!

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