Super 8 1/2 | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Super 8 1/2

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Despite its self-deprecating camp and convoluted plot, there is an appealing honesty to Bruce LaBruce's Super 8 1/2. The director plays Bruce, an over-the-hill porn star trying to restart his flagging career, in part by acting in a documentary about him by an up-and-coming lesbian filmmaker. We see footage from his porno loops and scenes from the film in progress and hear comments on Bruce's own "unfinished" epic, "Super 8 1/2." The title's two obvious references are to Fellini's famous film about his problems making a film and to the low-budget medium of Super-8. But a third meaning is supplied by a woman who suggests that it's Bruce's own overoptimistic view of his own endowment. In the explicit sex scenes, LaBruce moves beyond narcissism to its opposite. As one "critic" suggests in a pretentious voice-over analysis of one of the porn films, Bruce's performances acknowledge the camera, and his self-consciousness suggests a kind of emptiness that works against any sex appeal he might have. The way the film constantly turns back on itself, with its films-within-films and comments on them, leaves the viewer without any firm ground, suggesting the void behind self-absorption. Bruce's agonized cries, heard after the final credits, perhaps acknowledge the terror of that void. Friday, November 11, Chicago Filmmakers, 10:00; Saturday, November 12, Music Box, 11:00.

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