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slant

The Deadman

A DEAD MAN LIES NAKED, sprawled across a bed. From somewhere there’s the oppressive drone of a buzzing fly; a nearly naked woman flees the scene. Peggy Ahwesh’s and Keith Sanborn’s take on Georges Bataille’s story “The Deadman” begins like art-house pulp, an adults-only Kiss Me Deadly, but it quickly becomes something less comfortable. This is not warmed-over noir, it’s sex—raw, erotic, pornographic, maybe even feminist. So strong you can smell it.

During the ’70s, feminist intellectuals here and abroad—Laura Mulvey wrote the landmark “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” in 1973—established a new framework for making and thinking about experimental film, one predicated on psychoanalytic theories of sexual difference. By the mid ’80s, though, the sexual-political imperative of feminist film theory had too often calcified into a sort of scholastic orthodoxy. To paraphrase Arthur Kroker, it

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