The Living End Reviews
Though it's obviously dated now, I still found it quite compelling viewing with a unique style. Craig Gilmore in particular is great as Jon. Very sympathetic character. Won't be for all, is pretty bleak and confronting, but I found it worth the rewatch.
In THE LIVING END, Luke finds himself in a lot of bad situations, but being a guy living with HIV, he approaches them with mild apathy. A couple of man-hating lesbians pick him up with the intent of shooting him in the face (after they belt out a long, painful list of synonyms and euphemisms for the word "penis"), a dude picks him up for a Tennis racket spanking session only to be stabbed to death by his jealous wife, and a gang of homophobes with bats tries to beat him up in a parking lot. In a contrived plot turn, he meets up with Jon (Craig Gilmore), a (pretentious) movie critic and fellow homosexual who has just "joined the club" of those living with HIV. Luke pulls Jon out to the fringes of society with him, using their disease as an excuse to let loose their inhibitions and do as they please. You're not going to find people behaving like victims here, instead they use it to rather irresponsible ends, which makes sense given that Araki has declared this an "irresponsible movie."
THE LIVING END has most of Araki's irritating artistic tics, from acts of extreme violence that are perplexing in their randomness, to corny nihilistic dialogue that seems to be stuck in a juvenile mindset. And yet there is an earnestness to THE LIVING END that is endearing. Neither Mike Dytri nor Craig Gilmore are particularly talented as actors, yet their scenes together have an intensity that is hard to capture, an intensity that is elevated by the four-by-three videotape look the cinematography has. After seeing this movie, it's easy to see why Araki has the following that he does, I don't think anyone was making films in the New Queer Cinema movement the way he did, and certainly no one treated the subjects of homosexuality and HIV with such youthful swagger and fuck-all bravado. While I don't love his work, I can't help but admire the guy. I can honestly say there isn't another director out there who makes films the way he does.
Though "historically" and "culturally" this along with Mysterious Skin (a better film) are Araki's most meaningful movies,"The Living End" is also my least favorite of his. None of the rich colors and set design that would define his later work, is present here, instead it's all sound, fury, which contrary to popular belief does sometimes signify, it's just that in 2010, it's says allot less than it did in 1992. A valiant reaction against attempts to humanize AIDS carriers into eternal victims, by allowing them to become fantastical outlaws (doomed by fate) but outside of this marginal (though valid) position, there isn't much more to enjoy.
Killer soundtrack. Same old Araki-dialogue. Familiar Araki tone. Reccomended to those who understand Gregg's style.