“Fundament”: I Survived The Shit Show!

Don’t ask me how I survived all five hours and 53 minutes of Matthew Barney‘s film “River of Fundament.” There were only two intermissions, and long lines at the bathroom. But I managed. I Zen-zoned for long stretches of the piece, just as I do at Wagner’s “Ring” cycle. Why did I brave the winter cold to trek to the Brooklyn Academy of Music to see “River”? Two words: Norman Mailer. The film is based on his novel “Ancient Evenings,” which I perversely adore. It is about Menenhetet, a peasant who becomes a general in the army of Ramses II, discussing his life — he was reincarnated three times through various mystical acts that often involve coprology. What’s coprology, you ask? An obsession with excrement. Yes, “A River of Fundament,” — which contains appearances by such as Elaine Stritch (!), Fran Lebowitz (!), and Jonas Mekas (!!) — basically says that life is a load of shit. It does so with occasionally beautiful imagery. It gives new meaning to the word longueur. I survived it, so that you don’t have to.

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