Yes, absolutely, no argument whatsoever — Robinson Devore‘s Zoo (ThinkFilm, 4.25) is, visually, a very lyrical piece of work. Sean Kirby‘s cinematography, especially when taking in the beautiful scenery in and around Enumclaw, Washington (i.e., the final home of a man who died from a perforated colon after having anal sex with a horse, which is what the film is more or less about), is undeniably captivating.
And here’s N.Y. Times writer Dennis Lim and his editors paying a respectful tribute to the fact that the film’s lyricism “is startlingly at odds with the sensational content.” And in a tidy, well-written way that makes the film’s subject matter seem almost as natural as picking peaches or playing stickball.
I’m sorry but there’s something profoundly troubling about talented filmmakers and a highly respected publication like the N.Y. TImes giving their earnest and thought- ful attention to a ridiculously perverse (the term I’m most comfortable with is “diseased”) sexual practice. This is precisely what red-state theologians deplore about liberal blue-state values — there are almost no absolute rights or wrongs, and therefore almost no sexual practice outside of the molesting of minors is considered out of bounds. Every form of wick-dipping under the sun is afforded a certain dignity.
I asked Devore at a Sundance q & a if any “zoo” types had ever looked into having sex with elephants in African game preserves (i.e., on the presumption that the larger the sexual organ, the greater the sexual pleasure for the receiving male). Devore smirked and shook his head and said, “There’s always one person who asks a question like that.”
Of course, it’s entirely within the realm of logic to ask such a question, and the fact that Devore (or perhaps Dennis Lim) would regard such a question as antagonistic and beyond-the-pale is precisely what’s wrong with the blase p.c.-attitude types who can look at perversity of a certain kind and call it a fitting subject for an unusual art film, but then turn around and draw lines and act dismissive when it comes to another, equally absurd form of perversity. Does the notion that human- animal couplings may be an affront to nature and basic decency even enter their minds?
Perhaps as they’re thinking this over, “zoo” types and their friends might want to look at the eyes of the horse in the above photo and ask themselves if they’re seeing calm or comfort, or perhaps a degree of alarm.
Oh, and by the way: Lim (or his editor) gets it wrong by saying Zoo was known during the Sundance Film Festival as “the horse-sex movie” — the coinage was a little blunter than that.