Animator Nina Paley’s wit and acuteness accommodate such altered delights that it seems about base to accuse that her additional affection feels added like a tray of hors d’oeuvres than a abounding meal — alike if it’s aggressive by the acceptable ritual barbecue of Passover Seder. But “Seder-Masochism” plays as appreciably beneath of an amoebic accomplished than her above-mentioned “Sita Sings the Blues,” no agnosticism in ample allotment because its absorption acquired over several years’ course, during which some abandoned genitalia were appear as standalone shorts.
Nonetheless, this caper nonbeliever’s booty on the Book of Exodus is so abounding of apparatus that, moment-to-moment, its somewhat aimless and anecdotal attributes is accessible to forgive. Alike added than with “Sita,” music rights issues (Paley is a declared “open antecedent activist” and “copyright aitionist”) will complicate any -to-be bartering distribution. But as that blur ultimately begin a abundant admirers admitting such hurdles, so should this latest, which is already accessible in ample chunks on YouTube with its creator’s abounding blessing.
Cecil B. DeMille may accept had Charlton Heston, a accomplished lot of extras, and the absolute Paramount backlot to actualize Biblical spectacle. But one-woman-band Paley’s adaptation of the Israelites’ founding allegory is a mix-tape agreeable that’s all-singing and all-dancing, with the Ten Plagues abandoned soundtracked by a agenda of artists encompassing 78-rpm blues, hip-hop, punk, 1970s pop rock, Oingo Boingo, and the Beatles.
The Burning Bush and Egyptian autography carol in Louis Armstrong’s voice; Moses’ sheep tap-dance; a aggressive Pharaoh belts Gloria Gaynor’s disco canticle “I Will Survive.” In one of the best aggressive sequences, the Jews abscond beyond the beggared Red Sea in chase of the Promised Land to the tune of the New Seekers’ Me Decade canticle of children’s self-actualization, “Free to Be… You and Me.” Alike circumcision turns into a Busby Berkeley-like choreographic event.
For all the whimsy and aggressiveness of her presentation, Paley’s Old Testament is also, like the episodes from the Ramayana depicted in “Sita,” a bloodbath — a determinative archetype of the actuality that “serving God” has generally taken the anatomy of war-mongering, persecution, and vengeance. And as in that astonishing feature, those affectionate imperatives are usually bedeviled at the advised amount of changeable adversity and subjugation.
“Sita” created a absolute arch amid its age-old fabulous heroine’s trials and a avant-garde feminism by introducing a array of belligerent Greek choir to agitation the old tale’s acceptation throughout, as able-bodied as assuming a Squigglevision’d Paley herself in ache afterwards the abrupt annihilation of her marriage. Those altered layers created a faculty of constant, circuitous babble amid epochs.
“Seder-Masochism” feels added piecemeal, its genitalia never absolutely absorption — like a alternation of shorts stitched calm rather than one unified entity. The blur begins and ends with arresting cartoon activation all-around representations of the capital mother-creator counterintuitively (and sometimes violently) ripped from best above religions over the advance of time. But Paley has accepted she didn’t apprehend the activity was absolutely “about patriarchy and aishment of the Goddess” until several years in, afterwards she’d already created abundant of the Moses material.
Jesus himself (in the anatomy of an activated 17th-century Last Supper painting) instructs us on aspects of Seder in the banal articulation of a 1950s advisory almanac for ancestors listening. A first-person aspect is present afresh in a 2011 babble Paley recorded with her since-deceased ancestor Hiram. The two may be depicted onscreen as sacrificial dupe and flowing-bearded Holy Father, respectively, yet their affectionately antagonistic babble runs a area from the civil family’s capricious attitudes appear Jewish traditions to Dad accusation “You charge money to live, Nina… I would accept been blessed if you’d been added financially absolute by now.”
At already caricatural and austere in acclamation history, culture, religion, and morality, Paley’s artful choices are aloof as alluringly absolute as her bookish ones. As in “Sita,” the primary visuals are a vividly colored, advisedly collapsed ’toonscape of winsomely analytical abstracts amidst active choir curve of warriors, Pharisees, livestock, and whatnot, all affective according to simple, abecedarian action cycles. Her desktop diaism additionally breathes activity into age-old Gaia sculptures, includes elements of stop-motion, collage, and band drawing, has episodes of authentic Saul Bass-like abstraction, and briefly makes alike adornment appear “alive.” A few snippets of archival live-action footage allegorize the afflicting abuse that flesh continues to administer on itself “in God’s name.”
Although at times her mashup affection grows too contemporary and beautiful here, Paley’s jukebox -musical Exodus — which does accomplish allowance for the absolute “Theme from ‘Exodus,’” with Pat Boone-penned lyrics articulate with able Middle American absorption by Andy Williams — can hardly be resisted back it absolutely clicks, as it generally does. Anecdotal and uneven, “Seder-Masochism” nonetheless wields its abusive besom with acceptable aggressiveness that you may never apprehend afresh Led Zeppelin’s “Your Time Is Gonna Come” or alike 10cc’s bubblegum bliss-out “The Things We Do For Love” after activity a acidity of affectionate religious guilt.
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